Devblog post #6

Four Nomads
Programming
Art

Four Nomads

The next six months, approximately, will be split into working on our graduation projects and working on Four Nomads and Survive & Thrive.

A side effect of these changes is that there isn’t enough time to manage a team of four people. So as of December last year we had to let Wan and Daniël go. This way we can all focus on our own graduation projects. Going into the future there is a possibility that they will return to Four Nomads, but time will tell.

In other news, as of January 12th Four Nomads has become a true company, meaning that we have been registered into the Kvk here in the Netherlands. This means we can do legitimate business now.

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Besides this all we have been more active on Twitter @FourNomadsGames, posting gifs and images so that we can get feedback on our progress. We will try to continue to do this from now on and keep you up to date on our day to day progress.

Neander

Movement

The past two weeks I have been working on the characters movement again. With the showcase we saw that there were things that needed to be changed.

At first the movement was done by getting a direction from the camera. This could be horizontal, vertical and diagonal, but not all values in between. This made the movement clunky and hard to navigate the world. I changed this so that when the player pushes the right or left button, the character will rotate to that direction. The camera then follows the player. This makes it so that the camera is always behind the character and looking at it. Pressing the forward button moves the character forward and back makes it move backwards. When standing still the player can rotate the camera without rotating the character, so that the player can scout the surroundings. 

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These are steps in the right direction, but I am not there yet. So in the future there will be more changes.

Ambient Audio

This week I also worked on a system for the jungle sounds that our audio designer has made. The solution that we chose consists of nine audiosources that are aligned in a grid the size of a chunk. Every source has its own audio track and together they sound like a jungle. Every chunk spawns its own grid. When walking through the world the player can hear the sounds come from different directions. The audio is also a bit randomised so that it doesn’t get boring. In the end I think the ambients are very convincing and blend in with the world really well. But as always there will be more iterations on it as we progress.

audio_test_02_edit

Food Sources

Jeen had already modelled some foods sources other than the deers meat. But since I became sick a week before the Showcase I didn’t have the time and energy to put it in the build. So the past week I finally implemented the “Shrooms” into the game. They do not yet fill the player’s hunger but you can pick them up. In the coming weeks I will be refining the spawning and we will be adding more food sources so the player has something to gather and eat.

Vertex Colors

Today I started on making a vertex painting tool for Jeen. We can paint vertex colors in Maya and make it look nice, but Unity only  supports one set of vertex colors. But to have variations in colors between plants we need to have the ability to apply more color schemes. So I am working on a tool to make this possible. You can read more about this in the next post.

Jeen

I’ve been really busy these two weeks. So busy I was only able to tackle half the things I wanted to make or refine. But there’s no shame in that for the things I have tackled were really important for the overall “feel”, atleast if you would ask me.

A big thing that bothered me after the showcase was the feeling of the world. It didn’t really feel immersive or a place you want to be. And I don’t mean the good type of place that you don’t want to be in like a spooky graveyard or a demonic fortress. No it looked dull and grey. So I decided that the next thing to focus on would be the “feeling” of the environment. Making it a more inviting scene. I did this in multiple phases and here are some of the things I’ve done:

The shadow color still was a very neutral dark gray / black. In my opinion (and I bet alot of other artists will agree with me) absolute black or gray colors don’t belong in a game (unless it’s a artistic style working with these values).
I’ve adjusted the shaders used by the tree’s, foliage and the floor to contain a color adjuster for the places with low Light Attenuation (shadows).
Another “problem” was that the objects like trees had a hard color contrast with the floor making it feel like they were just placed on top of the ground. Without a history between the two objects. I’ve made a slider within the shader used by trees and foliage that made the bottom of the object the same color with the ground (gradient-wise). The slider adjusted the height to where the gradient on the model would go.

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Texturing the objects with vertex colors made it that we still had our Uv-Coordinates un-used. I adjusted the shader making it that the U controlled the brightness/darkness of a vertex and the V controlled the amount of movement caused by fake wind within the shader.

Thanks to the use of the U from the Uv-Coordinates we were able to fake ambient occlusion within our models. Ambient occlusion itself is hard to bake on the models, because the world is being generated at runtime. So it’s nice to have a way to fake it.

Another part of the shader was a slider that controlled the time of day lighting(color) on a model. By changing the slider the object would lerp between morning, mid day, evening and night colors.

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After all this I came to the conclusion that my shader was totally going out of control, using way too much resources within the game. I decided to downscale it and start over with the knowledge from the older shader.

I replaced the Y-green slider (the slider that blended the bottom of trees and foliage with the color of the ground) with a simple vertex color paintover. I painted all my vertices on the ground level with the color of the ground. Therefore having the same effect as before.

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Old vs New “feel”

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