I thought I would try and summerize the last year of my life in a blog post just as a reminder as what has happened during the year, what I've been doing and what I have learned. It's actually quite suprising how much time you have to learn how to do different things during a whole year O_o
So in general this year I've been streaming a bunch of Art but also a whole bunch of game-development in general.
At the start of year I decided to open one of my old UE3 scenes, a Konoha Scene I made back in 2013. It's made in UDK and it was actually lovely to see it in its glory in DX9 and FXAA but in 4k resolution. I'm super happy that I've kept this scene safe mainly because it reminds me why I love stylized art and how that started quite early for me.
Testing UE5 Lumen Early Access
To try out UE5 I decided to make a quick little scene just portraying a rather empty kitchen relying on mostly the lighting setup to make it look nice. It's actually quite hard to make a really nice interior daylight look without the exposure going crazy and all the windows looking outside becoming full-white. That balance is a very tricky thing to get which I struggled with a lot but still managed to decently succeed with.
I still decided to go for a night shot since I wanted to check what Lumen was capable of when it came to moving objects, lighting through a window and having moving/flickering lights. The rest was doing some blueprint work to get wind, cloth and some moving parts in there all tied to the wind.
You can see it specifically on the window curtains, the lamp and very subtly the cupboard door.
The year I learned Unity
It's also the year I decided to learn how to use Unity. Where I wrote a detailed blogpost regarding being a new user in Unity and coming from Unreal. I had a deep look at the tools they provide for world building and their viability for bigger productions. Since that time I have actually dropped Unity because of several reasons. That said though I did learn a lot and I did produce some art in Unity as well as a whole other bunch of stuff which I will showcase below.
- Learned how to code in C#
- Learned how to Use ShaderGraph
- Learned world building & tools in Unity in general
Created a new? technique for shader-based variation for grass (ShaderGraph)
Learned how to make these types of breakup shaders, this is in (ShaderGraph)
I also learned that you can utilize the Matrix 4x4 Node in ShaderGraph to store data kind of like how Unreal Engine does their Material Attributes. It really sped up workflow when working with bigger graphs.
On the side I was also making some art inside of Unity URP just to get a feel for how it works and what is available to you, this particular scene was inspired by Journey and making use of a sand-shader that I made from scratch plus learning how splines work in Unity.
Made a lil flag shader.
Kiru - The Samurai Arcade HordeMode Game
My prototype hobby game project Kiru actually started in Unity during the Summer Vacation. I was doing a C# Unity course and learning, at the same time I decided to make a small prototype project written in C# , it ended up as Kiru my hobby project. In this particular case I was making a combo system in C# + learning how the animation systems worked in Unity.
After I decided to drop Unity I decided to remake the project in UE5 instead. Currently it's completely made in Blueprints and features
Robust Combo Component System
- Combo Component can be attached to any BP
- Combo system based on Animation State Notifies telling the combo component what attack to execute next using Montages + Interface calls.
- Manages the wind direction and the shaders
Round / Spawn Manger
- A round-based spawning system that uses completely abstracted data to easily add whatever BP classes you want to spawn where the enemies/projectiles etc are responsible for their own behaviors. Ie you can spawn anything and when whatever you spawn is destroyed it counts towards completing the wave.
Enemy Base Class / Projectile Base Class
- Health, AI, Behaviors, Attacks , Projectile Deflection
Custom Character in Blender -> UE5 on the UE5 Manny Skeleton
- Runtime Retargeted for maximum compatibility
Blender to UE5 Manny compatibility + Runtime retargeting
I also learned how to animate in Cascadeur and import the result into Unreal Engine. Animation isn't really my strong suit but it has been a fun side-activity to learn as well during the end of the year :)
Special Jump move implemented in Kiru Unreal, the arrows representing the character direction and the player input direction.
Tenement - Retro FPS Horror
On the side of everything else I also started dabbling in creating a retro-inspired FPS horror game called Tenement. Though its currently on ice. It's kind of hard to show off since its just a very dark game in general made in UE5.
- Real time lighting using Lumen
- Interfaces for interacting with objects
- Reading notes / Using flashlight
- A system for sequential events (ie one event can trigger another event in a sequence setup manually by the user)
- 256*256 sized textures (max), definitely a feature.
I guess that has been the whole year. It went by rather fast to be honest and in the middle of it we also moved apartments. It's been somewhat crazy.
Looking ahead towards the year to come
I don't think I have any ultra specific goals this coming year. In general my approach is just to strengthen my weaknesses.
I need to do more of:
- General Tech Art
- Dive deeper into HLSL
- Tools Programming (Editor Utility Widgets)
- C++ Deeper Dive
- I still do most of my programming in Blueprints would probably be good to spend more time in C++
- Learn more about procedural generation
- I study procedural generation a lot in general but I haven't actually implemented anything myself
- Animation + Tech Anim
- It's been my focus for the last two-three months. I need to go deeper to be able to feel comfortable and achieving what I need to achieve for successfully being able to prototype gameplay + characters.
Hopefully I can do more mentorships and add more value to my patreon as well. I know that not everybody is interested in game-development specifically and want me to do Art-specific patreon content but the truth is that I feel like I want to go beyond "just art". It's starting to be even less important to me than game development as a whole so I think I will stick with it and see where it goes. Art will always be my main strength but I feel like I have the luxary to expand into other areas and should do so while I have energy to do it.
Thank you all for supporting me throughout this year and for following my progress, it's been a really crazy year with lots of learnings, let's look forward to the next :)
Until Next Time!