Portobelly Production Journal #54


Last week we were focusing on completing our critical report for Personal Professional Synthesis so that took up the majority of the week so I was unable to work much on Portobelly. This week I aim to complete all the major technical aspects of the game as we only have two weeks left. This will allow me to spend the last week polishing the game and fixing bugs.

Below is a discussion we had go over our plans for the next two weeks.

Fig 1 - 23 04 2019 Meeting

Fig 2 - Initial attempt at slam screenshake

Fig 3 - Slam with less screenshake

Fig 4 - Slam screenshake settings

One point that got raised multiple times during playtest feedback was that many players were not using the slam ability as they felt it didn’t have any impact. To give the slam more impact when making contact with the ground I decided to add a screenshake/camera shake when the player makes contact with the ground during a slam attack.

When a giant explosion goes off on screen there is a slight delay, after which the screen appears to shake, as though the camera were responding to the jarring force of a shockwave caused by the explosion. the end result is the perception that a hugely weighty impact has occurred.
— Swink, S

Fig 5 - Slam with impact particle emitter

Visual effects appear to be caused by another object, but are not the object itself [...] Through deft manipulation in the hands of an animator, that sequence of frames played back will cause the object to appear to have weight and presence and volume and all that good stuff
— Swink, S

After many discussions with Will (the artist) we decided to buy a VFX asset pack of the Unreal Marketplace so that we did not have to make all of the effects in the game. As Swink states VFX add weight and presence to actions I felt that the slam attack needed some form of VFX to compliment the attack. This effect matched up with the screenshake really sells the effect and I made the particle emitter scale with the size of Belly.

Controller shake can be a bit of a blunt instrument because the motion is always rotational, but it can be used to great effect in games where it is cleverly fit to the metaphor presented. A gun has recoil, for example, and that motion is something rumble motors can simulate well. Most modern console shooters use a constant rumble effect to enhance the sensation of firing of a machine gun.
— Swink, S

Using Swinks example I decided to add some controller rumble to the game when the player uses the slam ability as the controller we are using for our game supports this feature. I made the effect send a vibration that falls off quickly after it was activated. This effect is increased the larger Belly’s size is. I feel that this effect works well as it provides the player with physical feedback when they have activated a slam ability.

Fig 6 - Changing the detonator so that it requires a slam to explode the boulder with VFX

Fig 7 - Only trigger the detonator when the player uses a slam

Part of the level in Portobelly involves exploding a rock using a detonator which would explode the rock when triggered. Before this detonator would trigger when the player got close to the object but I wanted the object to trigger when the player used the slam ability so that the player had another chance to use the ability to progress. As the slam ability inflicts damage I used the any damage event to trigger the rock exploding.

Fig 8 - Detonator plunger animation

Fig 9 - Plunger animation blueprint

Using assets Will created (a box and handle for the detonator) I managed to make an animation for them using a timeline in blueprints. This time moved the plunger down when the player slammed on the top of the detonator.

Fig 10 - Test the spline mesh system for creating a fuse for the detonator

I created a spline system that would generate meshes that would follow the spline path. This system will be used to create a fuse or wire connecting the detonator to the explosives. Using a spline allows these complicated mesh paths to be created quickly and allows me to move objects along the path for example with a particle effect that will show that the fuse has been lit.

Fig 11 - Particle emitter moving along the fuse path slowly (footage sped up)

Fig 12 - Particle moving along the fuse triggers the explosion

Fig 13 - Moving a particle along the fuse spline blueprint

Using the spline path I controlled the location of the particle effect so that it move along the spline as if the fuse was lit. To make the fuse particle trigger the explosion I created a variable that would store the distance of the particle effect along the spline so that when the effect reached the end of the spline the explosion would be triggered. To finish this effect I will need to make the dynamite sticks and fuse effect disappear when the explosion is triggered.


Figures List

  1. Rees, O (2019). 23 04 2019 meeting. YouTube [video] 23 April. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMWN67QMFsE&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  2. Rees, O (2019). Initial attempt at slam screenshake. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  3. Rees, O (2019). Slam with less screenshake. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  4. Rees, O (2019). Slam screenshake settings. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  5. Rees, O (2019). Slam with impact particle emitter. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  6. Rees, O (2019). Changing the detonator so that it requires a slam to explode the boulder with VFX. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  7. Rees, O (2019). Only trigger the detonator when the player uses a slam. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  8. Rees, O (2019). Detonator plunger animation. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  9. Rees, O (2019). Plunger animation blueprint. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  10. Rees, O (2019). Test the spline mesh system for creating a fuse for the detonator. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  11. Rees, O (2019). Particle emitter moving along the fuse path slowly (footage sped up). [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  12. Rees, O (2019). Particle moving along the fuse triggers the explosion. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].

  13. Rees, O (2019). Moving a particle along the fuse spline blueprint. [offline]. [Accessed 24/04/2019].


Swink, S. (2008) Game Feel A game designer’s guide to virtual sensation. 1st ed. Publisher unknown.