Landfall

Upon finishing my MSc in level design for games I had reached the point that the pipeline I developed had been tested on a game project, the outcome of which can be seen in a separate post.
However in order to prove the pipeline works for a fully functional and finished game I have began work on my game 'Landfall' which is being created in UE4.
This is intended to be a small game project and should last about 20 minutes spanning 3 levels with multiple paths and routes through the level. 

Design

The core design behind this game is the to encourage exploration and adventure in the player. Inspired by titles such as Metroid and No Mans Sky, I am trying to present the player with a new and weird alien world to explore. By exploring and navigating the planet the player will be able to uncover the secrets which are hidden in the world. This will involve some simple combat with the native species but it is not intended to be an action game. 

Aesthetics

In order to make a game rapidly over the course of a month I knew I needed to go for a more stylistic approach to the artwork. I decided a low poly and faceted style would be simple, effective and also pretty and fun to implement. Using scifi artwork from the 70's as reference I decided on the colours and visual style. I chose muted and pastel colours to represent the scene as I have always enjoyed the softness and relaxed atmosphere they created. 
Using Blender as my core asset creation tool, I begin creating each of the models using basic primitives. These are adapted and manipulated to triangulate and decimate them to make them match stylistically.


Narrative

The narrative of this game has been created to be as implicit and in world as possible. The story is mainly told through the use of an in-game scanning device which allows the player to locate strange lifeforms and historical objects and scan them to add them to their ScanLog. 
By seeking out and scanning all of the hidden objects and creatures in the world the player will be able to uncover the mystery of what has happened to this planet and how to escape. 


UoP Gamejam 2017

Another year and another blog post about the UoP Gamejam, seems like its a once a year blog. 
This year @LeeAnnPicknett  and myself worked on a side scrolling platforming game in the vein of old SNES and Sega platformers but using current gaming technology. We decided on day one we wanted to have very simple controls allowing us to use some USB SNES controllers as our input in keeping with classic gameplay. We chose UE4 as it was the engine I was most comfortable in and the ease of use of Blueprint scripting means that; even though I'm not a strong programmer, I would be able to get the gameplay and functionality implemented. 

The gameplay was to remain simple, the players would move in a 2D space and must avoid enemies and pits of death to reach the goal. Over the course of the levels the players could jump, double jump and dash to break walls and destroy enemies. We also wanted the ability for a second person to drop into the game and join their friend in reaching the end of the level as I have always found that 2 player games are always more interesting and engaging when players are demoing games at the end of the week. 

For the week LeeAnn was focusing on the artwork while I implemented the gameplay and functionality using UE4's Blueprint Scripting. However over the course of the week I did also complete some  of the artwork including the level assets for levels 1 and 3 and the walking Beetle Enemy. LeeAnn modeled the player characters, painted the textures and finally animated them for use in the game. 

By Wednesday the game was mostly feature complete which left LeeAnn working on additional models and textures for the Savannah and Jungle levels as I added a new 2 player Race mode, constructed the levels and implemented the UI and menu systems. 

When it came to demoing the game we found a few pits in the race mode which the players were unable to get out of, breaking the game but the game was mostly a success. There were a few changes which we would have liked to integrate such as: adding sound effects, more stages, re-spawning on player death, more enemy variety, a boss battle, enhancing the visuals throughout the levels and collectibles. However for the 9-5 week we had I believe we did very well and achieved something we are proud of. 

People seemed to enjoy the game and had fun racing their friends. I believe the addition of a 2 player mode made the game drastically more enjoyable and entertaining for the players. 
Overall I believe that this is the best UoP gamejam I have participated in, my game was the most feature complete and fun that I have ever created. Additionally the quality of every other entry in the event was so much higher than it has ever been before. This was a fantastic event and I will happily be returning in a year to participate again.  

The Enemy beetle the player needs to stomp on, dash into or avoid.  


Below is a link to download the game and the blurb from the Itch.io page:


Created for the University of Portsmouth Gamejam 2017 this game is a platformer/racing game. Over the course of a 5 day week teams created games within the University of Portsmouth based on any or all of three randomly selected Wikipedia articles.  
Take control of a genetically engineered beetle as you travel across 4 levels jumping on bugs and avoiding the poisonous flying beetles. You can go it alone or bring a friend to travel through the levels. Or take on each other in the split screen race more and see who is the fastest Beetle Buddy. 
This version of the game removes the pits from the original Gamejam version which were inescapable  and caused the game to be broken. 

The game is available on itch.io 


About the University of Portsmouth Gamejam 

The UoP Gamejam (http://gamejam.port.ac.uk/) takes place every year and has 4 days (Monday to Thursday) of 9am-5pm work before a few hours on Friday morning to finish up and package games before every team demos their games to the other participants and industry judges. 

Game created by @MarcCook_ and @LeeAnnPicknett

Music from OpenGameArt by:



UoP Gamejam 2016


UoP Gamejam 2015

University of Portsmouth Gamejam 2015

Every year at the beginning of June the University of Portsmouth runs a Gamejam open to not only current students but also alumni, independent developers and industry professionals. The event runs for a week; Monday - Thursday 9am-5pm, and Friday until noon when the judging takes place.

On the first day of the event three random themes are chosen using Wikipedia, stubs are rejected but it always totals at three. The themes this year were: The Hawaiian Hoary Bat, Whale|Horse (a rock/post-punk band from Chicago) and Henri Louis (Prince of Guéméné).

I worked with a single teammate [Phill] who handled the programming side of the game alongside the design. Being fans of old-school N64 platformers we would try to emulate the design of games such as Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie in an underwater setting. This did cause a bit of a problem as platformers become a lot less engaging when you aren't jumping or platforming.

The player took the role of Captain WhaleHorse (A seahorse/Beluga whale hybrid) which was our design for the Whale|Horse theme(very loosely). The core idea of the game was to float around a large ocean map and collect coins and keys while fighting off enemies. This was going to end with the unlocking of a treasure cave guarded by ghost of Henri Louis. However over the week we whittled the idea down until the game consisted of collecting coins pearls and keys to get the best possible score before the timer ran down.

During the first day I designed and modeled Captain Whale|Horse which went through a few iterations before I felt content. Tuesday was spent rigging and animating him before putting it into Unity. By this time Phill had developed the character movement and was working on the spring camera. The final days of the week were spent making the environment assets and creating the level. Placing the collectibles caused massive frame rate issues which we figured was due to us not instancing the coin meshes. We removed the movement on the meshes and this brought us up to a usable frame-rate.

Overall the event was a great success with some really cool little games produced. Even though I felt our game could have used some fine tuning (attacks didn't work, enemies didn't animate) and we made some silly mistakes (Not instancing the coin meshes) the pair of us had a really great time developing alongside the other contestants and I look forward to returning in 2016.


Our unfinished, buggy but still playable entry; 
The adventure of Captain WhaleHorse and the quest for Henri Louis' sunken treasure

If you would like to check out some of the other entries or information on the UoP gamejam click here

Blog of Marc Cook

I've decided in order to keep motivated while working i'm going to begin blogging. On this site I will be posting WIP and finished work relating to 3d modelling and games development with occasional forays into 2d and pixel art.
I will mainly be using this Blog while my portfolio website is under construction in order to constantly put my work into a public viewing space.