Monday, May 16, 2016

Top Down Stealth Toolkit v1.2 Update Dev Log #2: Mission Timers & Persistent High Scores

I've been thinking about adding some new features to the End Game HUD apart from the default 'Restart' & 'Exit' options. So it seemed like a sensible option to include time stats for the mission. It could also serve as a lightweight tutorial of sorts for how to implement basic save game functionality, as the high score would have to be retrieved & edited across multiple instances of the game. So basically, new data gets displayed & saved based on comparison between the values of new completion time for the level as well as any existing high scores. Here's a preview screenshot for the same:


The time stats are automatically hidden if the player fails to complete the level, thus leaving only the restart & exit options. Apart from that, the main Top Down HUD also displays the mission timer so that players can keep track of the current status of the game.


That's all for this post. I'm planning to add a few more features over the next couple of days before submitting the update to the marketplace. Nothing major, just a few small feature requests that I've received. I don't want this update to make too many changes to the vanilla 4.11 version as the files are essentially getting replaced unlike the previous update where the updated files were made exclusively through 4.11 version without impacting the 4.10 project files.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Top Down Stealth Toolkit v1.2 Update Dev Log #1: Laser Security Systems

The v1.2 update for Top Down Stealth Toolkit will feature a new Laser Security system that can alert nearby patrol bots upon being intercepted by the player character. 

The user can specify the length, max height, starting laser position, etc directly through publicly exposed variables [screenshot below; variables names subject to change] to easily change the properties of individual actors in the scene. The max height of the player character can also be set to change the color of the laser accordingly, thus providing the player with the tools to time their decisions.


Since the camera & turret AI already showcase how to use direct math calculation & interp to enable both passive surveillance as well as active lock on systems, I decided to use timelines here to drive the laser movement. It's an easy setup, that uses the same Alarm Target actors that are used by camera bots to trigger alarms.


Here's a preview video of the Laser Security systems in action:



For more information, check out the official unreal engine forum support thread at: https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?97156-Top-Down-Stealth-Toolkit

Unreal Engine Marketplace Product Page: https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/top-down-stealth-toolkit

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tower Defense Starter Kit v1.2 Update Dev Log #2: Level Selection Menu

Apart from the Artillery Tower mentioned in an earlier post [Link: http://unrealpossibilities.blogspot.in/2016/05/tower-defense-starter-kit-v12-update.html], the other new feature that will be available in the v1.2 update for Tower Defense Starter Kit is a Level Selection Menu. With this new system, the player can choose from any of the unlocked levels in the project when starting a game. As the player progresses through the campaign, more levels will get unlocked automatically which then gets reflected in the menu & remains persistent throughout subsequent instances of the game. The player can also choose between the default campaign mode or the endless mode before starting a level.

The list of levels as well as information about the selected level are displayed dynamically at runtime based on the information specified in the Level Data Array by the designer as well as the changes that have been made to it throughout later instances of the game. The dynamic nature of the menu system enable the developers to add new levels & the associated information into the Level Data Array without worrying about handmade changes to the HUD.

Moving on to the specifics, the unlocked levels are listed using a scrollbox that uses custom widgets as it's children, while the level information showcases how to use vertical boxes to display UI elements. Apart from the Level Selection Menu, I've added a very minimalist Main Menu as well as some improvements to the End Game HUD. The End Game HUD is now neatly structured using a vertical box which dynamically alters itself based on the end result of the current level. For example, the Continue button is displayed only when the following conditions are satisfied: the player has completed the current level; & there are further levels to unlock after the current level. An additional option has also been added to return to the Main Menu from the End Game HUD.

Here's a short preview video of the Level Selection Menu:


For more information, check out the official unreal engine forum support thread at: https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?102675-Tower-Defense-Starter-Kit-Support-Thread

Friday, May 6, 2016

Tower Defense Starter Kit v1.2 Update Dev Log #1: Artillery Towers

The v1.2 update for Tower Defense Starter Kit will include a new Artillery tower that fires explosive shells to deal area damage at the impact locations. Unlike all the other towers, I decided to have upgrades to the Artillery tower increase the number of explosive shells launched per cycle instead of increasing the damage output per shot.

The Artillery tower blueprint will also enable the user to specify the parameters that influence the projectile path for the shells. You can set it to auto-calculate based on either constant launch angle or constant impact time. 

Constant launch angle is the better option if you always want it to fire upwards before falling upon the target location. If you want the projectile paths to always look like the bomb towers in Kingdom Rush or Sentinel 4, this would be the way to go. It also has checks for height requirements in order to make sure that only paths that lie within the user defined range will be used. 

Setting it to constant time on the other hand, would ensure better predictability, but I don't think that's usually a concern in tower defense games as we don't directly control the towers. It might be more useful in scenarios involving manual control like say, throwing the grenades similar to how it's done in Gears of War. Still there might be use cases that I haven't thought of & hence the feature is available as an alternate mode of firing artillery shells.

Apart from that, there are variables to control the velocity offsets to make sure that the impact locations of the projectiles (especially when two or three are launched at the same time) get randomized around the landing zone.

Here's a short preview video of the Artillery Tower in action:



For more information, check out the official Unreal Engine forum support thread at: https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?102675-Tower-Defense-Starter-Kit-Support-Thread

Unreal Engine Marketplace Product Page: https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/tower-defense-starter-kit