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Unreal Engine Experiments: Dishonored's Blink Ability

Around a couple of months ago, I finally managed to finish Dishonored. I had tried playing it a couple of times in the past but got turned off both times by the starting section of the game, which I still think is one of the weakest parts of the game. Even though it was very clearly trying to make the player develop an emotional attachment to one of the primary characters, it felt more like a chore to me. The protagonist was obviously close to the said character, but none of that resonated with me as a player who was completely new to this world. I was more interested in exploring the world, with its huge whale hunting ships and a new and original setting, but you have to go through a linear and somewhat uninteresting gameplay section. Frankly, I'd rather have the game take me sooner to the scripted story sequences before moving on to the first real mission. But leaving that aside, after having played the game through to completion, I can definitely say that I thoroughly enjoyed t…
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Unreal Engine Experiments: Enemy Tagging System

I've been playing a fair bit of stealth & tactical action games of late and noticed that most of them have some form of enemy tagging systems to help the players form a better tactical awareness about the game world. I generally note down interesting gameplay systems that I come across, in order to study them in detail at a later time. But since this particular mechanic didn't seem like it would take up much time, I decided to jump into the process right away.

I started doing some research on the concept and various approaches taken by different games to implement it. And I took a particular liking to the Metal Gear Solid V's take on tagging systems, with its added support for range display as well as the highlighting of occluded objects. So I decided to go ahead and recreate it in Unreal Engine, and this post is basically a high-level retrospective overview of the implementation process. But before getting into the details, here is a super quick preview of what the end…

Unreal Engine Experiments: Last Known Position Visualization

The blog has been dark for a while now. But the past few months have been a quite fun experience as I got to experiment with a whole host of interesting gameplay systems in Unreal Engine. And I have to admit that the prospect of writing about them is not nearly as exciting as working on them. But I have finally summoned the willpower to get one article published over this weekend. So I figured that I'll go ahead and write about the most exciting project that I've worked on (since the recreation of Blink ability from Dishonored): the Last Known Position mechanic from Splinter Cell Conviction.

As the title suggests, we're going to cover the process of visualizing the player character's last known position (as perceived by the AI). The mechanic itself should be quite familiar to those who have played either of the last two entries in the Splinter Cell franchise. But in case you're not, here is a short animated preview of what exactly the end product is going to look li…

Unreal Engine Experiments: Waypoint Generator

A few weeks ago, I came across an article on Gamasutra about the various types of UI systems used in video games. I was never particularly interested in UI design, but this article piqued my interest in the subject. So I started reading up more on the subject matter and played through a few games like Dead Space and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, both of which were lauded for their innovations in the UI design space. Even with the games being almost a decade old at this point, the UI systems employed by these games are starkly different when compared to most of their contemporaries.

Anyways, playing through Splinter Cell: Conviction got me really interested in the concept of Spatial UI design. Basically, this form of design represents UI elements that are displayed within the game world but are not actually a part of the world/setting. After doing some research on various types of systems that come under this category, I decided to recreate some of these UI components in U…

Unreal Engine Experiments: Prototype Menu System v2.0 Update

About three years ago, I had created a menu system with the intent of having UI elements that could be easily tacked on to all of my projects. The project was released for free on GitHub and had received a slew of updates for a while. But after shifting my focus over to creating content for the Unreal Engine Marketplace, I found myself having very little breathing area for working on side projects. And eventually, work on the menu system was abandoned, though it was still available for public use in its Unreal Engine v4.9 iteration. However, lately, I've been investing more of my spare time on some fun little side projects and to be honest, finding it quite enjoyable and refreshing. So after my recent foray into recreating the Blink ability from Dishonored, I found myself thinking about bringing the project back online and actually seeing it through to completion.

Loading up the project again in the latest version of Unreal Engine, I was surprised to find that it was quite compatib…

FPS Tower Defense Toolkit Tutorial: How to create a new level

1. First, ensure that the default Game Mode & Game Instance class parameters in the Project Settings are set to BP_GameMode & BP_GameInstance classes respectively.

2. Now create a new map, open it, & lay down the floor meshes. Add a Nav Mesh Bounds Volume & extend it to encapsulate all the floor meshes. This will enable AI bots to traverse across the level.

3. Add a Lightmass Importance Volume around the core game space.

4. The next step is to add instances of BP_EnemySpawnPoint to act as spawning volumes for the enemy waves. As can be seen in the next screenshot, I've added a couple of spawn points in my level:

5. Now add a BP_PowerCore actor to the level in order to provide the primary target for the enemy AI bots.

6. The toolkit uses modular grid generators to act as platforms for tower placement. But before adding them to the scene, first, add a BP_GridManager actor. The Grid Manager determines the size of individual grid cells across all grid generators in the leve…

FPS Tower Defense Toolkit Basics: Weighted Wave Spawn Controller

The FPS Tower Defense Toolkit comes equipped with two different types of wave spawning models: one centered around user-defined wave patterns, and another geared towards generating waves based on weighted probability distributions. I covered the former of the two in an earlier article. You can read more about it here: FPS Tower Defense Toolkit Basics: Batched Wave Spawn Controller. Today I'm going over the design of the second model: the Weighted Wave Spawning System.

The WeightedWaveSpawnController is intended to provide the designers with a tool capable of generating waves of AI bots in an automated manner. Unlike its contemporary, which requires the designer to explicitly specify each and every aspect of the wave, we have a system here that spawns units based on a weighted probability distribution. This approach essentially allows us to control the spawn probabilities of different AI classes based on the weights associated with them.
Another factor that helps with the automation …