Nexus: Status Update Week 10

This week we focused mostly on our traversal system as well as some prototyping of our new power mechanic.

As a reminder, the new power system involves the player having two shards at their disposal. At the moment, we are using the sticky light globs from before, but soon they will be replaced with shards.

The shards the player obtains will not only serve as the focal point for power usage, but they will also be a driving force in the environment, on the enemies, and they open up new possible ways to explain a lot of the alien technology. It is a very unique idea and we’ve latched onto it.

With these shards that the player can launch, they will use both of them in conjunction to be able to push or pull objects, add or subtract mass, and even nullify gravity.

So the new system does not remove or get rid of any of the original powers (aside from damage grenade) it simply is just an encapsulation of the powers. It is a system that now guides and manages how the player goes about using these powers.

From this new power mechanic, one of the things the producers have been working on is this Cool Stuff Wall. Daily, we add post-it notes to a wall in our concept room that contains ideas on cool ways to use the new power mechanic.

For this week, we took several of those cool ideas and started prototyping them in a producer danger room (as a reminder, this is what we call our prototyping rooms). We tested out this idea of creating an elevator by sticking a shard on a platform and then one on the ceiling. While standing on the platform you can attract forces between the two shards and it will slowly lift and pull the platform.

We also looked at ways of using the powers for combat. For example we put a shard (again still a sticky light glob) on the floor, which attracts our boar enemy. From there we put one on a column and we attract the two forces and slam the column down on the boar.

We’ve explored some of the cool ideas on the wall and we have many more to test out and prototype. Soon, we will narrow the list down, figure out which ones we like the best, and then decide which ones create the best opportunities for awesome moments in our levels.

Speaking of levels, also this week, the artists have continued making concept art and some more unique pieces for our next level, the Aztec Bridge area. In this area the player will have to cross a giant bridge in an outside environment.

Our artists really wanted to get out of the caves and temples, so we decided to have a portion of the game take place in an outside setting. This would give us a different type of level that would change things up a bit and give us a new set of challenges like skyboxes and global lighting.

What the artists created this week were some of the pieces of the canyon walls, the skybox, and the two main center pieces for the bridge, a Servant Statue and a God statue. For this bridge, the player will have to solve several puzzles in the area.

Once they complete these puzzles, the servant statues will rise and offer their hands up to the Gods. The Gods will then lower down to the servants and accept their offering. In doing so, the two statues connect to make a bridge that the player can cross.

What we have so far for this area is definitely far different than anything we have created for Nexus up to this point and we feel it will be a unique level.

While the producers have been prototyping and the artists have been making pieces for the bridge area, the programmers have been hard at work as well. They have implemented a pretty great start on our traversal mechanic.

For this week, we were able to show off the ability to climb walls of various heights. To do this, the programmers set up a system that is very dynamic. These objects do not have pre-set hand-holding positions and they are not set up as events to climb.

The programmers used a system where rays shoot out of the main character Chris that allow us to judge how high an object is and where it is located in relation to the player. Once the player reaches a distance close enough to the climbable object, the ability to climb is activated and then it uses the rays to determine how high to put the hands.

They then programmatically control the hand positions and which animations to use for climbing. If it is a tall climb, Chris will jump up and grab. If it is a short climb, he will just push off his hands and vault over.

This system is a great first start.  It is big considering that the powers in our game can frequently change the position and height of many of the objects in the environment. So without this dynamic system it would be hard to always determine where, when and how to climb.

We look forward to the continued progress on this system. Having this system being dynamic will help free up a lot of the design as we won’t have to limit ourselves to pre-set heights.

While working on the traversal system, the programmers also implemented a lot of the structure for our new power system so that the producers could prototype the cool ideas. On top of that, they also cleaned up and restructured some of the AI so that it could be easier to create new enemies.

Finally, they also began planning out and mapping a metrics database system that we can use to track metrics, create heat maps, and even use for play testing. They have designed the architecture behind the system and they have developed and application that talks to UDK and acquires time stamps and player location data.

That is about it for week 10. Now that we have the traversal system in and working, we will be tweaking that constantly over the next few weeks to fine tune it. We will also continue our work on the powers prototyping, as well as constructing more of the Aztec Bridge area, which we hope to show next week.

As always, until then, I’ll leave you with concept art. Also, don’t forget to view the Week 10 video status update below!

 

Artwork

Videos

Posted in: Capstone Games | Nexus
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