Since my last post I have completed the design of the level and finalised the general gameplay. I created the maze within the tomb of my level and added events to trap the player as well as a way to exit the tomb to complete the game.
I chose to make a very simple maze that, while not particularly challenging to complete on its own, becomes more difficult due to the darkness that can easily cause the player to get lost and disorientated. The addition of the chasing enemy will also give extra complexity and danger to what is in fact a very simple game. The beginning of the maze starts when the player collects the statue towards the entrance of the tomb causing a large boulder to block the exit. I created this effect by making a simple blueprint that would move the rock when the player interacts with the statue using the "E" key. This then makes the statue disappear, suggesting that the character has collected it, and triggers the movement of the boulder. Later in the project I will add audio events for both the statue collection and the boulder movement which will be implemented via the blueprints.
I added various hallways, doorways, false paths and pillars into the maze to hopefully slow down the player as they try to escape from the enemy in the game. Using a similar blueprint to the statue collection, I created a button in one of the rooms that would move another boulder, this time allowing the player to exit the tomb and win the game. I placed this button at the furthest point from the start in order to challenge to the player as they avoid the enemy.
The above image shows a top down view of the whole maze area. The green area on the floor is the NavMesh which represents the area that the enemy can move within and is used to calculate how it should chase the player using pathfinding. Once the enemy senses the player, it will then start chasing the player along the shortest path within the green area.
Setting this up is very important for my game as it not only will allow the enemy to chase correctly, it will also allow me to dynamically impact the audio of this enemy based on how far away it is from the player along the shortest path. If I were to set up my dynamic sounds to be affected only by the distance to my player, there would be unwanted moments where the player is technically close to the enemy but there is a wall in the way. This means that the path to the enemy is much further away, therefore the danger is minimal and the audio should reflect that.
The enemy in the game is currently represented by a large cube that fills the hallways of the game maze. When the player walks near the enemy, it will relentlessly follow them until it either touches them, killing the player and resulting in a game over, or until the player escapes and wins the game. As the player cannot walk around the enemy in the narrow corridors, it will have to be kited around various obstacles to strategically manoeuvre it out of the way.
I am planning for the enemy to be invisible so that the player will have to carefully listen to their surroundings in order to locate it. This concept will need to be thoroughly tested however to ensure that it leads to fun gameplay rather than frustration. As a contingency, if I cannot get it to work as intended while invisible, I will explore other options such as having the enemy be adaptively invisible or a flickering light source.
Or maybe I'll just keep the big terrifying cube!
The main focus of my project is the audio (asset creation, implementation and innovation). With that in mind, I needed to spend as little time as possible on the level and game design elements. I knew that I wanted to have the level begin in a forest area, progress into a cave which would then lead to a hidden temple. For a quick way to generate a game area, I used the landscape tool to generate an area and carved out the gameplay zone with mountains at the edges to be used as the bounds of the level. I then applied a grass material to the landscape and painted on materials to simulate a dirt path and the outline of my cave. Using materials in Unreal Engine will come in handy later when I add my footstep sounds as I will be able to switch the surface sounds based on the material being walked over.
The next step was to created my cave. I used simple geometry to map out the area of my cave and then surrounded it pre-made rock assets. I sped up this process by reusing multiples of the same rock shape and rotating them, giving the illusion of unique rock formations.
Once this was completed I finished off my starting area by adding trees and a small lake to create a forest environment. While adding these details is mostly unnecessary, I wanted to include them as inspiration for my final forest soundscape.
Within the cave there is almost no available light, preventing the player from being able to see. While I like this idea to an extent, as limited visuals will allow me to rely on my audio abilities more, complete darkness would make the game near unplayable. With is in mind, I created a simple torch light using blueprints that could be toggled on and off. Within the cave and temple this will be the primary source of light for the player.
The final stage of my level design was to create the temple area, where the bulk of the game will take place. Using geometry I created a large enclosed box that will house the dungeon-style gameplay area where the enemy will hunt you down. Once the mazy interior is completed my level will be finalised and I can fully focus on the audio orientated gameplay aspects of the game!
While messing around with the first person template in UE4, I created a simple enemy AI that would follow the player throughout the level until it reaches the player.
This gave me the idea to have a sound attached to this enemy so that you could hear where it is coming from.
Adding to this, I thought that having the sound not only get louder, but have more of a stereo presence as the enemy gets near would allow the player to locate the enemy realistically through sound. I also figured out a way to have the audio trigger an event (stop in this case) on contact with the player.
With these things in mind I have decided to create a game where the player will be chased by an invisible foe (maybe a monster?) that can only be heard. The gameplay will come from trying to avoid the enemy by using their ears and making their way though a level such as a cave or tomb to escape.
On to the level design next!
As my final major project (FMP) is worth a whole module of my degree it needs to be of relatively large scope. I would like this project to be a major part of my sound design showreel that I will eventually send to potential employers, therefore I have decided to create and implement sound into a game. From my research in the field of game audio I have determined that many studios are utilising Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) to create their games combined with Audiokinetic's Wwise to implement the audio. With this in mind I have decided to create my own game within UE4 and implement the audio using Wwise.
As a Sound Design Technology student, sound is obviously the most important part of my project. Knowing this, I have decided that in order to make sound the star of my project I will use simple pre-made visual assets and game mechanics so as to not get bogged down in those aspects of development. In some manner I will make the audio an integral element of the gameplay to allow the sound to shine.
At this stage I don't have a fully fledged idea. I'll see what direction the project naturally takes itself in :)