Montag, 27. Februar 2012

Gallery // Vol I -{ RELIKT'S FPSC VERSION}

To keep the memory of my hard work with FPSCreator intact and to show you all the roots of my current Unreal Engine Project: Here some screenshots from the old Relikt. (titled Relict).

I find that as far as I was able to go with FPSCreator, I did a pretty good job to overcome its odds with this. Actually, it surprises me in retrospec how far I took this project that started as a little thing to relax and design some medieval levels.

I might give you some more old work sooner or later on here.

Why I bother you with that old junk? :) Well, I don't really get much sparetime anymore so concider it a bit more filler until I get you the next big bad update on this ;)

Thanks for checking this out!

- Adrien

Montag, 20. Februar 2012

Review // Dear Esther

Dear Reader,

not only does my humble little blog about my humble little Indie Gamedesign Hobby now celebrate its 2000 Visitors, I also want to review other independent game's out there, air my thoughts on it and provide an overall enjoyable read. I would like to start this new part of my blog with the recently released "Dear Esther".

I downloaded Dear Esther without even knowing what kind of game it is. I was expecting some sort of scary riddlesolving adventure with a lot of physicbased puzzles. However, this is not the case... at all.

The first thing you notice as soon as you launch "Dear Esther" is the art. Oh! The Art! The wonderful vibrant, yet dark and uninviting ocean. The weathered, scared coast... the wonderfull, slightly surreal sky and all the love to the detail and the sheer realism of the map. I would concider this to be one of the most beautiful games I've seen so far. However! Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and I can imagine that a lot of players, the Xbox generation, will concider the game to look "dated."

I like to say that Dear Esther is, visually, the exact opposite of Crytek's "Crysis". While Crysis excells in technique and the mathematical part of visual design (Shaders, Meshes, PostProcessing) but (for me) really flops at artdirection and ambience, Dear Esther is fantastic when it comes to the art itself. (Feel, Athmosphere, Colors, Impression,Textures) while being a bit minimalistic in technical terms. I haven't researched it but I'm pretty sure "Dear Esther" runs on the source engine. I just got a certain feel for the gears behind a game. It comes with the trade (If I'm wrong, blow me!) A friend told me that the game was a mod prior to the stand alone game but I dont know for what game. I just guess Half Life².

If you look close, you see what simple techniques have been used to achieve these breathtaking visuals. The foliage that covers up the vivid coastline is made out of simple planes that turn towards the player as he moves through it. (this really works for the grass, but I found it out of place for the fluorescent mushrooms later in the game.) The rocks and a lot of meshes have a fairly low polygoncount which makes them look a little off sometimes and a bunch of textures in the outdoorpart of the game seem oversharpened. You should be able to enjoy it on a dual core with a geforce 8 / 7 series graphics card or similar ATI type.

So! Here I am on this coast. The game introduces with a letter written in a sad undertone which sets the mood just perfectly. I then try to swim... which makes me drown in an odd way. After an almost whispered "come back". I returned to the shore. Amused by that, I entered the worndown, nearby lighthouse and a flashlight got switched on automatically I instinctively tried to turn it off with the "f" button. ... nothing happened. The attempt to interact with anything in the lighthouse turned out to be quiet disappointing aswell so I left. My alter ego automatically ducked as a seagull flew escaped the lightouse and flew over my head. My further journey along the coastlines, amazed by the beauty of the sea's horizon and with my constant companion: The guilt stricken lines to a certain Esther. After my analytical interest in the game started to fade my mind started to venture astray from the game while playing. Me too, I was once taking long walks along the coastlines of the netherlands, thinking about lost love and how I messed it up royally, caressed by the strong winterwinds blowing from the sea. A cocktail of anger, emptiness and sadness inside... and I rage quitted the game.

At this point I was almost mad at the game for bein nothing but a sad, depressing take on solitude and despair. It took me some time to realise that it was not ment to be a game, but art. So I played it again. This time finished it. This time, I loved it.

Something on the visuals that has to be mentioned in an extra paragraph are the surreal waterloaded caves. They are, to put it in one word: Astounding. While they don't look realistic in any way and differ from the outdoor visuals (this time we see more normalmapping and other shader effects) they are just gorgeous. Beautiful leveldesign here. It was sheer fun to explore them. I took some screenshots for you guys: Enjoy.

As I exit the caves, its dark outside and the story pretty much unfolded itself for me already. I won't spoil anything but I can tell you this:Its pretty much what you expect it to be after the first few lines spoken. No twists, no surprises...but well written and surprisingly good voiceacting.

The final ascension is, as you would expect stunningly beautiful... yet very sad. So ist the ending.
I was actually surprised and strangely moved by it. I left my computer with a strange feeling in my I just watched a very moving  and dramatic  movie.

This game shows what videogames can be and that there is no genre that it can't be.
The Art, the poetry, the symbolism. Obvious yet subtle at once is just great work.
It is what indiegames stand for and what movies have lost over the years. Is it boring? yes! To most gamers it will be... especially the lag of game in this game will make most people loose interest. Is it overpriced? yes! 8,99 for an hour of game"play" is too much especially as it has zero replay value. Would I recommend it? Yes! To everyone who enjoys "different" things as much as I do and who cares about our art form is this a must play.

One final complaint: The cameramovement is really... it sucks. It feels like you are controlling a camera in a 3D editor. I would have wanted this a little bit less static.

Trivia: I noticed a silhouette walking away from me and later on standing on a rock watching me in the game. Can you find it too? =D

Thanks for reading and give it a try if I made you interested. You can get it on steam. Its developed by "the chinese room". Just don't play it if you are suicidal.

Typos can be kept. No charge.

I am Wolf and I approve this review.


Freitag, 17. Februar 2012

Old News // Some old Models

And now to fill the gap to the next more up to date blogpost some old models:

Thanks for checking this out! i'll be back with updates on my more recent projects ASAP. Sorry for the delay but I have a fulltime job now. I'll go into detail on that in another post, until then. Take a look at that scifipistol, I think its actually pretty cool.

Take care!


Sonntag, 12. Februar 2012

UDK//Relikt - Intermezzo

Whats new?

I have a fulltime job now...and its awful! XD But still, even though I didn't think that I would I still can't resist gamecreation 

So this keeps going.

This week I started to work on level 1 and its gameplay mechanics. It involves breaking out of a prison by picking locks and breaking walls. UDK offers a lot of features to set up destructible environment pretty fast.

A Amnesia inspired physics system was also a lot easier than I thought but I think I already mentioned that.

There are, however, still no enemies. Its a part I might pick up towards a later development state.
I was thinking about applying a body to the maincharacter. Hooking it to the camera like in Dark Messiah or the likes. I'm not so sure about the idea yet as the game will involve some climbing and swimming, a lot of jumping and the result might be a little clumsy.

The guys who made thief³ managed to get great there should be some way for me to get the job done aswell.

I was also thinking about a book system. Books and letters are important in the game, but I know that least of us are really big on reading stuff in I decided to build in a "summary" features that shows the contents of the letter/book summed up by pressing left click.

Visually I have done little, but this cave is nearing its beta version: Screenshots might appear too dark on some systems. The screencapture tool makes them darker, I dont know why:

I will change this temple entrance thing...that yellowish lighting really blows.

There is a pool of swimable water here...if you can see it.

Yeah! these came out way too dark.... that happens >.<

Check by next time for the final version of the courtyard level and whatever else I accomplish within next week.

Dienstag, 7. Februar 2012

Old News// FPSC: {Wolfs Guide To FPSC} -Episode 3- General Hints

 PUBLISHED: 23rd December 2011 on TGC forums

Its been a while since my latest tutorial and I have to disappoint you right away: This one won't have any pictures.

In fact, I fried my mainboard and I am typing this one on my netbook.

So lets jjump right in, shall we?

In this tutorial I will demonstrate 10 tasks you should perform if you are using FPSC and 10 mistakes you really dont want to do.

Lets start with the more positive tipps:

I mentioned this already on various occasions but I'm hinting to it again: There are extra texture maps for your stock scifi lamps in your texturebank. These have all sorts of different colors and make a great addition to your entitybank. If there is one thing we aren't having too many of already, it are lightsources and lampmodels. To get these working:
Open your texturebank and check the name of the textures.
Copy the FPE Files of the lamps in your entitybank and rewrite the texturepath within. (You can do this using the Windows editor).
You are now having a large number of extra lightsources...remember: Making copys with different scale values amps up you mapping possibilites even more. And that gets us to the next point in our list.

Copy the fpe of whatever models you like and change the scale values. If there is no “scale” value in your fpe, just add one (type in “scale = ??? (100 is default)”). This should be performed on the architecture props first as these are most important.
Try not to save your textures as a png with too high quality settings. These can be up to 20 mb in size and cramp up your memory cap. Remember to save in a well optimised format and use a .dds converter that isnt complete bogus.
Same goes for Soundfiles. A music file should be no larger than 10 megabytes. Use OGG or MPEG3 formatted WAV files. (I recommend wavepad)
Try to use shaders only on metalic objects and segments (unless you really know what you are doing). FPSC does not have a built in materialeditor and you might just end up cramping up your memorycap and drowning your framerate if you drench everything in shader effects. Your game can also end up looking awfully artifical and overshaded.
You can find seriously great public domain music on wikimedia commons...check it out!
We are all really jaded with modernday's borderline realistic videogames like Battlefield, Call of duty and the ground yourself back in FPSC reality and what you can achieve in its map editor: Install some oldys again: Get out Project IGI, Return to castle wolfenstein and other can acutally achieve this quality. I see too many new users trying to get somewhere close to the things they see on their 360...forget about that!
Also: Boxes and barrels only where there really could be boxes and barrles. For instance: nobody has some gasoline barrels in his bathroom.
If you write your game's storyline, I do suggest getting some inspiration form games like Penumbra, Amnesia and Outcry...all of these games play in a single location. Remember to think that you want to make an entertaining short game with simple mechanics, not a world war epic. In fact: If you get any inspiration from Call of Duty Modern Warfare, you are doing it terribly wrong. FPSC can not handle any massive locations and warscenes. Nor can you, as a single developer without any experience create such games and design so many different locations. You have to really get into your setting...”feel” the environment and get it into your editor. Make sure that your level has gameplay of at least 4 minutes. (you will most likely not make it any longer without making it really....really boring)
Give your files singlelined names. Name a model “ww2_tank” instead of “ww2 tank”, If you ever import your modelcollection in another will thank me.
Do not use triggerzones only. Get yourself some little transparent boxes you can use as triggerzones aswell. Imagine all the precise perfect spawning you can do if your triggerobject isnt the size of an entire segmentblock If you havent thought about this already, I think this point is the most useful I made in this tutorial.

Alright, I hope I haven't bored you to death... lets get to some...common mistakes and things I learned over the years:

Do not try to design your maps in different software (for example: Milkshape). The only way you could import it is as a bunch of single meshes and you will struggle to get the lightmapping to work correctly on it, to get the collision not completely terrible and of course to assign the soundmaterials. (stepsounds). You will also get bad culling.
Do not completely cramp up your memory cap in your level. It is likely that this will cause slowdowns, freezing loadingscreen or crashes in the builded game. Also: keep in mind that as soon as your level is done, you do not have added weapons, sounds, scripts, enemies and HUDs yet...these will also take up memoryspace and can just cause your level not to build anymore.
Do not try to sell a bear's pelt if you haven't yet shot the bear. Do not try to sell a game you haven't made yet. Also, and keep this in mind, under no circumstances shall you contact more experienced people to make your game for you if you havent the skill and absolutely no experience. If you think you have a great game idea nobody else thought of yet and if you believe that you a far more creative than anybody else: Nobody cares, we all are. Its a huge difference between having an idea and creating it. If you have the fantasy and the skill... go for it, if not: Leave us alone. You wonder why so many games are alike? Well, that has a lot of reasons. Especially in the commercial sector. If you want to make a commercial game....lets roll! Start right now with a good concept. Keep in mind to use only stuff you have a license for and contact publisher only ...and only if you at least have a demo ready (demo...not beta demo). Also... try to get in touch with lower publishers that aren't that popular ( you wont get it on steam...). Or, if you only do it for the fun anyway... distribute it yourself like I do with Psishock. Also, if you just cramp a few modelpacks together in the editor, you havent made a commercial quality game.
Do not make the maps before the gameplay, try to take a “level by level” approach.
Even though I suggest a “level by level” approach: Start with level 2 or 3. Remember to make level 1 at the end. (because you will learn while making your game and you should do the first level with your highest skill... because the player will get his first impression and decide wether or not to keep playing in level 1)
Do not use models from different packs that dont mix well. This should be self explanatory to most of you...but some are … less talented and do things like mixing modelpack 4 and zombie apocalypse characters... or task force 341 with stock ww2 officers which is...awful. It is better to have less models that fit well than a lot of meshes that dont work together at all. If you think about mixing modelpack 6 and 10 weapons you arent reading this tutorial anyway... If 2 meshes from 2 different authors dont really look good in the same scene, make sure to adjust them visually with some good retextures.
Billboard plants dont work well as static meshes... keep that in mind especially if you use high resolution lightmapping.
Do not use small props with a polycount above 1000. Its just a waste of polys and a simplified mesh has the same impact on the player. Remember to keep a good framerate...nobody likes lagging.
You shouldnt try to make remakes of older FPS titles...a fpsc game usally takes 30 minutes to 1 hour... a commercial fps release far far longer... you are also likely to get in trouble due to license inflictions or even ripped models if your game gets attention. It is also likely that your remake ends up far worse than the original,
Dont just work alone...keep checking the forums. To this day, there are people coming across FPSC videos on youtube wondering how to get hands on the gun... its really sad to see that some people actually use the software without even checking what other people do with it. There are even some dudes that bother me with emails and just refuse to register here... for whatever reason. The key to success in whatever you try to do is: Do your own thing, share and check out what your fellow developers do. Read, adapt, create.

Okay doke, thats enough gibberish for this tutorial...have a nice evening and: Merry Christmas everybody.

...and yes...I forgot to add episode 3 to the title. You know...gamedevelopers have big problems with episode 3 =P

the formatting didnt transfer from openoffice...sorry for the huge textblocks.

Old News// FPSC: {Wolfs Guide To FPSC} -Episode 2- Mapdesign Part1

Welcome to my new tutorial!

This time I will show you how to plan and create a decent level. This tutorial works together with my older tutorials. You can find them here:

Older Tutorials

Spawning Ghosts and Visions like in some horrorflick

Creating a Ghost Character

Keeping up motivation / getting a game done

Do you're transparent plant textures hide the ones behind them?

Dealing with the 1,85 Memorycap



Quote: "1. These tutorials are being released on an irregular basis.

2. English is not my native language

3. Length and Quality of my tutorials may vary "

Difficulty Level


(List of difficultys)

Beginner : Lets get started

Rookie : Warming up

Intermediate: Medium difficulty

Hard: Needs some knowledge

Pro: Needs a lot of knowledge and experience

Experimental: Haven't figured the whole thing out myself yet


In this tutorial you can follow me step by step on how I approach the creation of an entire level. Keep in mind that Gameplay/Soundambience/Setting up Firefights or placing Enemies in a Horror Game and Scripting will be in another tutorial. This one focusses on the level and the level only.

Part 1

First comes the inspiration. You need an idea for a level first... this depends on your setting. The creators of F.E.A.R for example had to focus on officebuildings and simple backyards. They didn't really need any creative thinking for the setting itself, but for the AI and the firefights later on. Different story for the creators of Prey...the artists had to invent a space ship that can be travelled from multiple graphity zones and was half metal, half organic. However, these studios are working under harsh conditions with releasedates and a limited timebudget. We don't.

In Fact, I often feel a whole week like not doing anything in FPSCreator. Its a great program in short bursts

However, as soon as I have an idea on how to proceed, I usually grab something cool from the fridge and start playing around.

If you are one of those fellas that lag inspiration. THIS WEBSITE has a lot of crazy photos and artworks that will immediately give you some kind of idea.

My tutorial focusses on some big round generatorcore pulsating thing. Don't worry, it has a few more normal rooms. I just wanted to make sure that no one simply copys my tutorial 1 by 1 and claims it his work

Part 2

It would be really handy if you red my „how to deal with the 1,85 Gigabyte memorycap tutorial now...

Some people claim to plan everything on paper first. Well, if its help, feel free to do it, but to be honest... totally useless in FPSCreator for me. Just make your brain work a little bit and think of everything you absolutely need for this map. Then draw the basic layout with segments.

While doing the basic layout you can think off what the player has to do in the level. This one will have very little action and more puzzle solving.

The player has to open the doors to the cooling chambers and shut them down to overload the generators. A total of 4 well placed enemies later on will keep the player on his toes! Don't forget that I will write a tutorial about that LATER.

It has a little ventshaft aswell in case the player decides to jump from the gantry and chek whats going on in the coolingwater of the generator (the idea to add coolingwater came while typing...dont be suprised, I will add stuff on the fly). So he can come back up.

Feel free to test the level now and see how much memory it already consumes.

Part 3

Now we add the essential objects.

These are basic objects that determine what the room the player is in actually is. (For an office: the office desk and the filedrawers)

The doors and the basic architecture. Make sure to get rid of the boxiness of the segment layout.

Now we have the essentials of the level's concept. That generator and some support beams and objects outside of it. This still looks very ...simple to put it nicely. But as you can see, we have a constant framerate of 60 FPS (even though we use some wierd shader) and plenty of room to go.

I retextured this giant screen that is monitoring the darkmatter engergiecore last year...I knew that one day, I will have use for it

3 of the models presented here are made by me, but everything else is from cosmic prophets science fiction pack. This makes it easier to follow for you, I try to use as much stock media as possible on this map aswell.

You might notice those colosso pipes and the very simple and big models on top of the generator room. Most players tend to focus on what is going on in front of them and what is going on below them. Pits are usually more attractive than heights. Why? Because the player has to look what is going on around him in case an enemy kicks in and of course he is constantly looking for loot and collectables. Feel free to place a lot of items in your map. This can be completely useless junk (for example: there is a lot of food in relict the player can eat that either color the screen a bit different for a few seconds of boost his health 5 points. Not really useful but makes looting and exploring more interesting...this procedure also adds a larger feeling of value to actually good items.)

So keep the upper parts of your level lowpoly and use big items...these wont push your memorycap so hard.

Remember to save your map frequently and leave enough rooms in the places you want to spawn enemies later, so these can walk around.

Part 4

Welcome back, now we actually build the level. I usually work „room for room“ but if you feel more comfortable to work in every room a little bit until its done...feel free to do so. The procedure won't change.

This is the vital part of the tutorial as I teach you now how to add live in static scenes. Thats right... I mean... add the feeling of being in a living environment instead of a FPSClevel. It is import to make the player feel that anything can be anywhere and that everything can happen. Well...or much less epic: Think while mapping.

Lets start with the entrance room. This room has to be interesting to keep the player going on. If its an empty concrete room he will most likely quit the game and come back later or ...never... but we want him to stay in for just a little while longer...keeping him interested.

Lets add shiny stuff.

As you can see, I added 2 Interactive computer terms. Something that pops up a HUD image with a sound. Nothing fancy, but as far as I am concerned...when I play, this is the kind of stuff I have to check out

Other than that its a fairly basic Room. Lets get to the office

As you might have noticed the Map is rather large.

Thats why I have to save polygons.

In this office, there is almost no equipment left, but it still looks a bit crowded

with all the furniture I was putting in. By equipment I mean, books, coffeemugs, pencils, computerequipment. I just added what was absolutely necessary. I've overdone myself a bit with the giant generator thing

Whenever you do an office and you have more polygons to spare: Fill it!

People are supposed to be working there so there is probably a lot of stuff lying around including personal stuff from the emplyees. Adding details as these makes everything look a lot more natural (not in the images)

The cryochambers: Well, some specialeffects like fog etc. would really fit in here. I had nothing suitting ready though so I guess I have to simulate the coldness with light. Note how the maincolor in these rooms is blue? 

All those tanks and equipment is supposed to make it look like a rather complicated installation. Also the door had to look like it can be sealed completely that is why I used the stock Scifi “prison cell” door.

The giant machinethingie in the second cooling chamber is just a T Jungction of the Scificorridor collection. Again, its have to think out of the box.

The generator room itself is supposed to be quiet an attraction.

I made something like that a while ago for the old Shavra Remake where I used a giant orange sphere

but I found a ball of darkness much more suitting for the following reason:

1.It suits the games overall athmosphere

2.A glowing ball would light up too much of the map

The second part is important because, again, we had to save polygons and I crowded up the room with oversized, underdetailed objects. Having them all lit up would make it look bad, but now that they faint a bit in darkness hides their simplicity.

The sphere itself is just a sphere I made ages ago with entity workshop. The shader on it is the fur shader from the ultimate shader collection. Just type it in the searchbox. Note that some shaders will need source mods to work correctly. I don't want to be responsible for a load of complaining threads about not working shader effects.

So, the second hallway room is filled with boxes. I did that because I really havent had much sparememory left and because there will be some fighting going on here anyway and the boxes serve as cover for the hostile.

The rest of the procedure is gappfilling and now we have the raw version of a brand new level.

We just created a fictional place and we can walk around in it and feel the athmosphere. Thats what I love about this software.

Part 4

Additional Infos:

The water is just a larger version of the puddle in Bond1s Metro Theater Pack using the stairwater.fx file.

I tried to provided as much information as possible but you might have noticed that a lot of “how to's” are missing. Well, thats because they do not exist. Mapping in the editor is drag and drop...thats it.

I used mostly stock and Cosmic Prophets entities. You can all get these off the forums for free. I'm really tired of all these “My leveldesign is awful? Yeah! But only because I dont have enough assets...and the software is bad!!” kids.

Part 5

Ingame shots of the final product:

Part 6

Special Thanks again to cosmic prophet for the huge library of assets he provided in his time on the forums that made scifileveldesign a piece of cake for us 

This tutorial has been written within 5 or even 6 days. It contains typos, formatting errors and other drama. But I just dont care

Now beat it! ...but leave some feedback first