The first location I will be building for this project is Jacob’s bedroom so I’ve started by creating a concept image to capture the atmosphere and contents of the room. Jacob’s bedroom represents who he is and will allow the player to get to know him and his interests by exploring it. The plan going forward is to complete this space to quite a high degree of polish, including player interactions, so I can learn more of the engine and pipeline but also have something roughly playable before moving on to the rest of the locations.
What isn’t visible in this is the wall above his desk. Here he will have maps, plans and details regarding the work he has been doing to ‘rebuild’ his home.
Here are the first pieces of concept art for The Blue Edge created by the super-talented artist Thomas Oates.
You can check out his work at ThomasOatesArt.com
Jacob is our protagonist and playable character. In his mid teens. Highly intelligent but introverted. He lives alone in a world breaking at the seams but everyday he works to return to those closest to him, the friends and family he has lost.
These are his working clothes, what he wears as he ventures from his home to repair his ‘world’.
Control gloves allow for fine control of connected devices and also protection.
The black sleeve offers protection and a mounting surface for his homemade railgun.
The backpack contains spare parts and tools.
He also wears a wrist mounted portable computer (essentially a smartphone) that will operate as the players inventory, map and codex.
I plan to add a number of small details that give hints to his life and interests.
The BiMECH is the primary antagonistic force for Jacob. They are the physical manifestation of the faceless mega-corp the Horizon Group, sent to eradicate the remnants of Jacob’s social connections. He has fought and won against these machines in the past but their carcasses stand as reminders to the threat the Horizon Group still poses.
These machines arrived in capsules, launched from an unknown location. Their arrival broke down the world Jacob inhabits when they punctured the Skywall and embedded into the earth.
The is the second update for my first person game project The Blue Edge. Progress has been a little slow as of late but this is what I’ve made progress on since the last update. Apologies for the dodgy frame rate. My 970 broke so I had to switch it out for an older card and capturing has been less than ideal.
I wanted to develop an object based vaulting mechanic as opposed to a general jump mechanic as I always thought bunny hopping around was a bit immersion breaking in-game. What I developed was an object Blueprint with a trigger volume that only allows the player to vault over certain objects at 2 fixed heights. The mesh itself can be changed out for things like fences, ledges, logs etc…. Depending on the height of the object it chooses between 2 different vaulting animations. Getting the transitions to be reasonably smooth and only prompt the player when they are looking at the object was kinda tricky. I think the transitions could be smoother but it’s something I might work on a later date.
I also played around with a little sprite animation for the UI prompt. I hand animated pencil on paper and scanned it in for this. I love the style and might use this for more of the UI prompts (also might experiment with 8bit sprites as well).
The view zoom is something I’ve seen in most of the ‘walking sim’ games I’ve played so I thought I’d incorporate that as well.
The first of my Thunderbirds Are Go season 2 directed episodes “Up From The Depths pt. 1” screened last weekend in the UK. I’m rather proud of how this one turned out. Dark, cinematic, intense, emotional. It has all the ingredients of exciting family television. The episode features a few of my own design contributions including the massive transforming Deep Ocean Surveyor. This started out as a series of rough sketched shapes using the design program Alchemy before I blocked out it’s rough 3D form and it’s myriad of moving parts and various functions in Maya. Turned out to be the most complicated 3D rig we’ve ever used (totally worth it though). The episode also gave me a chance to create my own FAB1 launch sequence and some alternate TB2 and TB4 launch shots.
The miniatures shoot was so much fun, the highlight easily being the lift of the almost 3m long TV-21 model. Size matters.
And then there was the hat. Iconic among fans of the original show. Had to be a special moment. Ben and Nic Foster nailed the music here.
Here’s a clip from the episode.
The first post for my new project which I’m calling The Blue Edge (for now). I wrote what was going to be an animated short film but after expanding the story and world I realised that a First Person video game would provide a really interesting platform. I was inspired by games like Gone Home, Dear Esther and Firewatch in how they used video games as a storytelling medium, not just a button mashing gameplay slog. Letting the viewer explore the world and play the main character themselves would allow me to include far more narrative detail which I could drip feed throughout the experience. Well that’s the plan anyway, it’s very much early days. I have a plot and a lot of world building but making the game is another matter.
The tag line goes something like this: Jacob toils against the atrophy of his world and those that would see it destroyed. His family and friends are frozen in an inexplicable stasis but he will rebuild and return everything to how it was by the only way he knows how…
Unreal Engine 4 is my engine of choice and it’s been tremendously fun to play and experiment with. In this update I’ve included a gameplay video of my first month’s work; just basic movement and interaction mechanics. I started with Unreal’s third person template and basic skeleton, as well as the demo level. These will be replaced soon with Jacob’s actual character model and rig. Currently what I’ve got is basic first person motion that includes the players body. I used Kubold’s Movement Animset Pro, a set of motion captured animations designed for third person games, for all the body motion. There’s currently walking, sprinting, crouching and falling/landing. I’ll incorporate jumping but that will only be over specific obstacles, not a general jump mechanic.
I’ve also incorporated some basic object interaction using blueprints to keep it modular. Objects highlight when looked at in range and display a HUD message which changes depending on whether you’ve looked at it before or not.
Also have a light switch system that displays messages. This was surprising tricky for me as I wanted to keep the switches and lights in separate blueprints. I set up an indexing system whereby each light switch and light was assigned an integer so they would communicate correctly and I could have as many as I wanted.
Picked these Planar Magnetic headphones up a month or so ago and they sound glorious. Beautiful natural sound presentation with incredibly rich bass and the clearest mids I’ve ever heard. You could say that the high end is ‘relaxed’ but that’s easily tweaked. Using foobar2000 run an EQ DSP and give 5.5khz a 5db boost and these headphones become perfect (for the price range anyway). I compared these to a number of other headphones at Listening Post Wellington and I preferred them to even the Sennheiser HD800’s. It’s the balanced frequency range and the ‘transience’ that does it. Apparently transience is how quickly a headphone driver can recover from producing a sound. It sounds abstract in theory but when you hear how tight and precise these sound you understand what that means in practice. These come so highly recommended if you’re willing to go for the $600-700NZ range. I’d say there’s nothing else that sounds this good for under $1000NZ. Oh and they are incredibly comfortable, have a fantastic carry case and a detachable cable.