8 May 2016

BleakV2 Devlog One - Camera

It's been a fair while since anything's been posted about BLEAK, and that's partly down to the fact that as a University project, it's been handed in and everything has begun to come to a close.

However I'm not resting on my laurels, instead I'm rebuilding Bleak to make better use of the things I've learnt whilst making Version 1.

Biggest change? No more UnityScript.

A full list of intended changes will be coming soon, as well as a download link for the 'completed' Version 1, once I've worked out the legalities of releasing something made with an Educational License.

Above is the state that Version 2  is at as of right now, nothing much at all other than basic camera functionality, including camera rotation and movement. Next up is zoom, and from there I break ground on recreating building placement.

22 April 2016

Devlog 22-4-16

Long overdue Devlog, but I've been busy.

 here's the new look opening scene, I'm still experimenting with the building layouts, hoping to break up all of that blue. There's more off screen that's shown later because the camera continuously rotates.

those amongst you with eagle eyes and a ban from the Zoo might have spotted that 'QUICKSTART' has been replaced with 'NEW SANDBOX' It's a whole separate game mode that allows you to build away with almost every asset in the game, free from the concerns of products, population etc. Also pictured is the new Notification system, with more examples at the bottom of this post.

All the academic buildings have been modelled and textured, and ground's been broken on the Prisoner buildings too! whoop whoop!

And here's the promised dump of Notifications, a healthy mix of relevant and comical.

10 April 2016

Bleak Devlog 9-4-15

Hey all.

Sorry it's been so sparse lately, had a break for Easter then took a bit longer than expected to get back into the swing of things.

First off, some bad news D:

Bleak's hand-in deadline is in three weeks. That doesn't mean no more Bleak, but probably less for sure.

But brace yourself for crunch time, thing's are about to go down :D

Here's what's been added and changed in the past week:
Some more work's gone into the overall look, tweaking the colour correction and re-enabling HDR really seems to make it pop.

Bunch more building's have been added as finished models, with everything else being filled in as temporary greyboxes. From left to right we have; Endgame Academic housing, Rocketfuel cracker, Midgame Academic Housing and the Chemical research Lab.

The old 1x1 solar panel was just too useful as a spacefiller, so it's been replaced with this bigger tower setup.

context-sensitive warning messages if there's something wrong when placing a building. Current criteria include:

  • not enough materials
  • not enough population
  • Colliding with something
  • Not enough money

And some more attention's been given to the tooltips on the more important UI. It's a work in progress for sure as I work out the best wording for things. Prisoners are certainly worth more than just saying THIS IS.

15 March 2016

Devlog 15 - 3 - 16

Work is ongoing on regarding the readability of BLEAK. Newest addition is this thingamajig, a fairly substantial map kindly showing the player the ratios and production chains of all the buildings in BLEAK. Nowhere near as complex as those in Anno, but still valuable and pertinent information.

Also experimenting with adding a UI shadow to break up the shape between the production map and the Context menu.

The next steps for this menu is adding in more information into the small tooltip space, and hooking up the icons to the building list and actually being able to place buildings from there.

Exciting stuff :D

3 March 2016

Devlog 03/03/2016

Super small update today, because it's only one evenings work :D

The initial demolition sequence now involves a fleet of shiny yellow bulldozers in front of the enormous crawler!

2 March 2016

Bleak Comparison #1

So I was given the USB stick containing the pre-Christmas submission I made for BLEAK.

It's now march so I wanted to show you what two months work means.
It's a large image, so you might need to click it to show it in full.

Generally, everything's a little bit more polished. There's more image effects being used, the UI for the most part isn't using placeholder graphics, and the tone of the game's been made grittier through the colour correction.

There's a loading screen in between map selection and the main scene, primarily in order to avoid a period of the game appearing to do nothing whilst it loads a relatively asset heavy scene.

1 March 2016

Devlog 01-03-2016

Slightly larger than usual update today, probably because there's been about a week since the last update.
I've started experimenting with Colour Correction, since a few people have commented that raw from Unity, the game seems very blue, and kinda bright. As it stands, the saturation of everything's been brought down, with the blue channel being lowered a little more. Experimenting with colour grading also produced this monstrosity:

It's now impossible to accidentally select more than one building to place. Previously clicking multiple times would instantiate multiple buildings, and they'd trigger eachother and wouldn't let you place any of them. Not anymore, as this GIF shows.

There's also a new effect on demolition of buildings involving particle systems and downward-sliding buildings. I'm not entirely happy with it, but work'll continue within the following weeks.

The UI on the main screen's also changed, now it exists solely along the bottom of the screen, balancing the screen more and also getting less in the way.

22 February 2016

Devlog - 22 - 2 -2016

Another set of small changes this week, it's mostly sounds, which admittedly is hard to show in this media. The entrance scene has a helicopter sound effect, and the addition of a faux-rotor on the bottom of the screen.

Next up, in between the map selection screen and the main scene is this loading screen, to negate the loading time of the larger scene
 And finally, building tool tips are slowly being implemented.

19 February 2016

Bleak Devlog 20 - 2 - 2016

Well, since it's probably passed midnight by the time I've finished writing this out, it'll be the 20th's Devlog.

Sorry for the utter radio silence since the 9th, I've been floored by a cold for most of this week.

Here's what's changed:

There's now and optional gridline layer that's toggled by pressing the G key. This, along with most of the changes made this week are from a feedback session from the Director of Design at Supermassive Games, who gave me some very concise and thoughtful feedback

Next up is this:
The top right UI segments have tooltips when you hover over them which are somewhat context sensitive. This is being rolled out across the UI as a whole, and will eventually be available on every relevant UI element.

Finally, a minor change, but the cursor's been changed to this:

9 February 2016

Devlog 09 - 02 - 2016

So recently I've been readdressing the UI within BLEAK. Built up over time, it's inconsistent and kinda bad looking. The first GIF is the first three scenes as they were, followed by as they are now. Readability's better, it's easier to follow, and it's in line with the rest of the UI within the game. 

Additionally, there's possibility of hinting at world building, there's a space for a description for both the companies hinted at, and the places. What happened in the Plymouth Flux State? What's up with Heisen Inc?

Only time will tell

3 February 2016

Devlog 3-2-2016

Nothing much tangible has changed within Bleak, partly due to the fact that this week not only has my dissertation hand in, but the vast majority of the course staff are away in Berlin for Transmediale.

I've been working on a sort of progression system, which involves the buttons for building creation being initially disabled and re-enabled on the fly. I'm happy with the effect on the buttons icon, which reduces the objects opacity whilst the buttons disabled, and brings it back up to full when it's enabled. The only thing I think I need to change is how the transition is called. Currently it's an if statement within Function OnGUI. Next up is changing the button if it's enabled, and hasn't been clicked before. this will also need to be connected to the row of quick access buttons on the row above, so that players know to navigate to other tabs.

Also on the usability front is this faction selection screen, which was described as being hard to follow. Here's it's replacement as it stands. It's a little easier to follow and also has the benefit of using the new UI guidelines

29 January 2016

Devlog 29/1/16

Experimenting regarding UI, this time the Trade panel. As it was, the trade panel wasn't really fit for purpose, being severely overdesigned and missing core features. This soon-to-be-implemented replacement will hopefully be easier to follow and use.

So the main feedback I've gathered is that as of right now is that the progression of the game is a little hard to follow. I've resolving this partly through making the progression more visually apparent through enabling the relevant placement buttons as the prerequisites are met.

And to make things a little easier to follow early on, this lil guy's going to be making an appearance over important buildings:

28 January 2016

Photoshop experiment #1

Experimenting in Photoshop, if I wasn't such a fan of how the UI's developed so far I'd totally try and carry this through into the actual game. grin emoticon

25 January 2016

Bleak - Milestone one, Playtest included

Hi all, had a peer review session and I've got a sizable amount of feedback. I'm going to widen the net somewhat more by uploading the build and asking for further feedback here.

What I've got so far is as follows:

The aesthetic of the finished assets look good.

As is, the game's kinda confusing and overwhelming
It needs a win condition and a tutorial.

Comments and Observations:
The logo on the main screen is very pixelated.
All of the main screen UI is over sized compared to what it needs to be
Maybe slow the spinning on the main screen

Image of the settlement in the map selection screen is quite pixelated (and also outdated)
Crawler segment takes a little too long and could do with being tweaked
Cursor can get lost when it's on a dark background
Maybe add a particle effect on the crawler when it demolishes an object
Swap ALT with ENTER in regards to camera rotation, given the switch from WASD to Arrow Keys.

you can download the game files here from Google Drive. Please bear in mind that this build is Windows only at the moment. A Mac build may be incoming.

22 January 2016

Devlog 22/1/16

Hopefully not the last Devlog of January, but here's what's gone down since the last one.

There's been a large push to implement the buildings that currently are not, and here's the point we're at now:
 As you can see, there are many greyboxes which will need to be removed in the coming weeks.
In the image as-is, there are:

  1. Tier One Generic Tenenment, the backbone of your city.
  2. Tier One Generic Farm, The breadbasket of your city.
  3. Tier Two Shale Gas Array, Gotta get the few precious hydrocarbons that are left!
  4. Tier Three CineStudio. Even in the grim, dystopian future that awaits us all, cheap consumable hollywood media needs to be made.
  5. Tier Three Uranium Mine (Placeholder Design) - There's green glowing rocks down there, get them and get energy from them.
  6. Tier One Claypit, The first step in making any building, is making the bricks and making bricks needs Clay.
  7. Panopic Nexus, your home-away-from-home. Hopefully it'll look bigger and better as time goes on, but sadly that's not implemented yet :c.
  8. Housing Authority, the bureaucratic centrepoint to being able to build all those useful things like farms, tenements and clay mines.
  9. University, the central hub for those brainy folks you predominantly hire from.
  10. HMP Bentham, the central hub for those down-on-their-luck folks the afore mentioned brainy folk 'hire' to do the heavy lifting.
  11. NIPS Regional Ofice, The place where you'll negotiate the licensing deals to operate your productions as a franchise of the NIPS conglomerate. They're in everything you know! From Cars to bullets, High end fashion to branded drinks, all is NIPS in the end.
  12. Tier One Coal mine. Not-so-glowing rocks, that you can dug up and burn to keep the lights on.
  13. Solar Panels (x2). Once hailed as the ecological solution to all our power needs, they're not a forlorn reminder that the hopeful years never really paid off. Like the loans given to the Eco-friendly companies that have since folded.
  14. Coal Power Station. It's big, it's ugly but it gets the job done. It also won't be quite the carbon copy of Battersea when I'm finished, I swear.
  15. Academic Student Housing. Where the soon-to-be-brainy folk live.
  16. NIPS Motorcar reseller. Take off the Brittech badge, replace it with a shiny NIPS badge and some faux-wood finish, and you've got yourself a luxury vehicle. 
  17. Tier Two Motorcar Showroom, lack of jobs, food and et cetera dragging your people down? Give em something to strive for, like the new Brittech 119, six wheel drive!
  18. Tier Two Prison Block, despite our best efforts to get it changed, it's still illegal to let prisoners sleep outside, so to utilise this wonderful workforce, you'll need to build some of these.
  19. NIPS Pharmaceutical dispensary, NIPS-Branded headache tablets have been guaranteed to be up to 100% as effective as the generic brand!
  20. Outlet Mall, Under the NIPS Banner you should feel no guilt over fleecing your patrons for everything they have here/
  21. Cineplex, where people go and pay a serious premium to watch a NIPS-Approved flick, whilst stuffing themselves with butter-and-salt drenched polystyrene.
  22. Luxury Outlet, since not even the 1% can avoid being scammed out of their not-as-hard-earned money. 
Still to Implement are:

  1. Tier Two Shale Gas Power Station
  2. Tier Three Nuclear Station
  3. Tier Two Generic Automotive Plant
  4. Tier Two Chemical Synthesis Plant
  5. Tier Two Pharmaceutical Dispensary
  6. Tier Three Rocket Fuel Cracker
  7. Tier Three VAB
  8. Tier Three Spaceport
  9. Tier Two Inmate Processing
  10. Tier Two Labour Yard
  11. Tier Two Assembly Line
  12. Tier Two Market
  13. Tier Three Import Office
  14. Tier Three Sweatshop
So as you can see, I've technically surpassed 50% in terms of actual content. Not quite seeing as many are still using greyboxes, and even more have no assigned variables for actual production or function, but that will come in time.

Here's the screenshot without the annotations, if you're interested.

If you've got any questions, comments etc. Leave them here OR at the end of the month I'll be partaking in the Reddit /r/gamedev Quarterly Showcase!

And before I go, here's one of the films that the cities in BLEAK will be capable of producing:

15 January 2016

Devlog - 15/1/16

So not much development wise has happened, nothing that's tangible and easy to show anyway.

Biggest change is that I took one script, and split it into six separate components because it was physically hurtful to look at given how out of control and overgrown it had become.

But that's not the only thing that's happened. Below is a mockup for what I'm envisioning the Bleak UI to look like, if it's too small, clicking it will take you to the full-resolution version.

there's also a small amount of colour correction going on, which I'll hopefully implement into the game itself soon :D

8 January 2016

Bleak Devlog - 08/01/2016

Still not used to writing 2016. Suppose it has only been a week after all.

After spending some time looking into the changes brought to the project after upgrading to Unity 5.3, which mainly entailed implementing the new SceneManager items, I started to implement more buildings. They're not fully plumbed into the various systems, but that won't take long. The placeholder assets I made are as follows:

These two represent the Coal power station on the left, which will be based on the iconic Battersea Power Station, and the Artistic Bureau on the right. The Artistic Bureau allows you to place space-filling decorative items around your city, like walls, checkpoints, roads etc.

This block of eight buildings belongs to a mid-game resource that until someone takes offence to, I'm naming NIPS. NIPS are an abstracted resource, they're stand-ins for those crazes that appear every few years. Each faction will have at least one building that allows them to create NIPS from one of their finished resources, which can be anything from bottles of SEPSISCOLA, Surplus military munitions, pharmaceutical drugs, and feature films.

This devlog sponsored by Sepsisco. The Sepsis Globule is ©2090 SEPSISCO, INC.

5 January 2016

Devlog - 05/01/2016

Had a lovely break from this project for Christmas, and I hope everyone reading had a good time too.

Getting back into the swing of development by updating the much-ignored character model.

This model replaced the incredibly old placeholder character I affectionately nicknamed Red Pegman all the way back in March 2015. It's done a wonderful job in project since then, but it's no longer fit for purpose. It's way more detailed than it needs to be, given the physical scale of the game. Back to the drawing board then!

So after some brain storming, and some quick sketches, these options were modelled. From left to right we have;

  1. A transparency-equipped texture of the Unicode 'MENS SYMBOL' seen adorning toilet stall doors everywhere. The initial inspiration for the character stylisation, but that's no reason to keep it. This massively drops the polycount, from 156 to 2.
  2. An optimised version of the placeholder model. The distance between the populace and the camera is large enough to negate the benefits of any fine detailing, so I can skimp on the polycount quite significantly, this version has a polycount of 90, which I could conceivably take even further lower, but that depends on how it looks during gameplay.
  3. The original model. This'll only stay if there's absolutely no possible replacement.
  4. A further stylized design based on a lowercase i, Prison Architect uses 'i' to denote people on the UI screen in one instance, so I thought I'd give it a go and see how it looks. This takes the polycount to 78, but much like #2, it could be taken even lower.
  5. The same idea as #3, except rounder, polycount of 138. which is probably too high for a meaningful replacement.
  6. Experimenting with alternate body shapes, this one hints at a figure, bulging out at roughly mid-torso height, and tapering to a point. The memory of Red Pegman lives on! This one's got a polycount of 44.
  7. Same as #5, except with the quite dissonant circular head replaced with an octahedron. With a polycount of only 16, if this looks suitable, it'll help reduce the amount the game has to render.
  8. Same idea as #5 & 6, but more cylindrical. It having a polycount of 60 means it's more than twice as small as the original.
Why am I so focused on the polycount of these models, when in the grand scheme of things, they're incredibly small already? That's because there's going to be quite a few of these characters meandering around the game space, and I don't them to drag the game down to a snails pace.

 Here's a shot of the designs taken from within the game. Even then, this is at twice the normal max zoom, so in normal play you'll struggle to see them like this.

The most you'll see of them are like this, despite the distance, they all seem to he holding up well, apart from #1, which is the very thin black line furthest to the right. This can be easily fixed by scripting a behavior so that the plane always faces the player, preventing it from being seen from a very oblique angle such as what is happening above.

If anyone has any comments, queries or suggestions, I'm happy to help!