Before20 update - 7min demo video

Well well? it's been a while hasn?t it?

A few months since the last level design posting on the Sumea forums. This has mostly been contributed to two things.

1) I moved house. Packing, moving, cleaning and unpacking was a total bitch to be honest. My room was pretty damm easy. The rest of the house was filled with the compound shit of a whole families 10 years stay. Needless to say it took a long time and many trips to the tip.

2) My sister visited around this time as well. And by visited; I actually mean she spent 6 weeks with us. I?m not on the best terms with my sister. And creative work is hindered when her 3 year old comes into my room every 15 minutes. Bounces on the bed and steals DVDs.

It wasn?t a total loss. I got some game design work done. Including documents and a game review. And I?m a believer that nothing is a total waste of time.

However. I do have something special included with this update. A video!!!!

7 minutes long. While not a perfect piece of level design and sporting a few bugs. I do hope it impresses some of you guys on the search for people not just with talent. But those who are willing to learn and are trying passionately to get into the industry. [Honestly though. I wouldn?t call myself talented. Skilled is a better word. Skill is earned. Talent comes naturally.]

A good deal of features is covered in the video. While the quality isn?t the best, take a hard look for some elements. These include:

? Triggered and non-triggered Particle effects like steam ? energy ? beams ? trail emitters.
? Use of the Karma physics engine to create movable static meshes.
? Moderately complex scripted sequences.
? Cinematic Sequences.
? Triggers.
? Water and damage Volumes.
? Animated textures and Textures using Alphas.
? A wide range of textures and static meshes.
? The use of animated static meshes ? Movers.
? SkyBoxes used for outer space.
? The use of zone-portals and anti-portals to maximize performance.

As I?ll say again. The movie has its fair share of bugs. And the screen capture program I was using has chopped down the quality of picture. However at 640x480 and at 30meg one can?t complain.

You can watch it here:
http://rapidshare.de/files/27039817/try2.avi.html

The reason for this video being made is that I?ve just posted and mailed off my midyear folio and design application to a few studios around Australia. The hope being. That with any luck these folios will reach someone who will give it the time to look over the content discs. It would probably be better if I didn?t say whom I sent these resumes too. I?ll tell you one thing though. While the possibly of getting a industry job merits sacrifices and money. Printing and posting just one folio cost me $18.

Personally I?m quite tired of playing the waiting game. And if the job isn?t going to find me. I?m going to find the job. Whether it is level or game design.

Well guys, fingers are crossed. And hopefully something will come of all this. I?m sure hoping it does. Until next time.

Cheers.

Scrow's picture

nice work caroo, it's clear you've put a lot of time and effort into the level.

i have some comments though, for the actual video rather than the level itself (which looks great imo).

I dunno if it's the capture, compression/codec or player on my end, but at times the video becomes really choppy to the point of been more like a slideshow. Does it look that way on your machine when you play the video? I'm wondering if it's a problem with my puter or the video.

The actual image quality also gets really pixelated and blurry too. What codec and settings are you using?

btw, is that you for the voice over when the warning goes off? It's so funny hearing an Australian accent for those sort of things... I suppose I'm accustomed to hearing american or english accents for voice over warnings [:)]

Caroo's picture

i used a divX codec. the problem was however that any higher quality of image wouldve made the file anywhere between 90-400meg.

The parts where it cuts image or becomes laggy is when my computer is chucking a hissy fit for running two high ram guzzling programs at a time. the level and the capture program.

its not perfect. but im not complaining for 30 meg. and it shows all the important stuff.

nexx's picture

Any chance of a downloadable, playing version? Would love to give it a play through myself. It appears you've added a little of everything which is really cool :)

Unfortunately I couldnt really see much in that video (17mb of which is the uncompressed audio). You could try the dumpframes console command to get the best output ([url="http://www.ataricommunity.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=486128"]tutorial here[/url]) as it doesnt capture in realtime. Widescreen can also make a big difference.

And yeh aussie voices do sound weird in some media. I guess we've become americanized ;)

Caroo's picture

i'll give it another go and see if i can get a clearer picture with a smaller screen size. As for giving you a playable demo. While it might not look like it there are a large number of handmade textures and staticmeshes done by myself.

And to this end the total asset sets for the level are 180meg [due to no compression on the textures.]

so if i was to give you a playable version. i would have to send it by disc. and you need a running version of unreal 2004

Caroo's picture

Well. I've redone the record process. Same file. But how in 320x240 and practially NO image blur or degrading. The jumps in the video where due to my computers lack of ram. i can't do to much about that. but this version is match clearer to watch. you can find the link to download int he original post. thank you and please leave comments^^

souri's picture

Woah, nice work there Caroo!

You certainly know your way around with the unreal editor. Very impressive.

Did you make some of those assets in the demo? If you're only showing off your level designing skills, why didn't you use the high quality assets from the standard maps that came UT2K3/4 maps?

Best of luck with the job hunting!

Caroo's picture

quote:Originally posted by Souri

Woah, nice work there Caroo!

You certainly know your way around with the unreal editor. Very impressive.

Did you make some of those assets in the demo? If you're only showing off your level designing skills, why didn't you use the high quality assets from the standard maps that came UT2K3/4 maps?

Best of luck with the job hunting!

Thank you very much mate. And more then happy to answer questions.

For the assets. Excluding the gun models and the HUD. All the textures and static meshes are made by myself. The reason for this is simple:

I felt that while level designer really consists of being a great builder. Being able to piece art assets together to made a fun and playable level is one of the corner stones of level design. And also being able to make scripted events and technical things like particle systems and bot path placing. There is no doubt about that.

However. If I used all the pretty looking assets that unreal2004 had to offer - granted it would look nicer. But it wouldn't have the same game play impact I was looking for in my level. And the problem with mixing their assets with mine is that obviously the quality of assets would jar far too much and make the level as a whole look lazy and cheep.

I'm well aware that these self made assets aren?t the best in texture or meshing. But as a designer who strives towards making a quality product, think of the use of a level designer who can quickly knock up his own assets.

For one it loosens up time for the artists in the group. And the level designer can knock up a full static mesh "dummies" in order to further test and refine the level and game play before the artists go to work making the really good art assets. This is only a minor plus in overall production but it's again one of those things that adds to the polish of the game.

And Souri. You're a total legend for posting my work up on the news section of sumea. This has really lifted my spirits and given me even more energy and motivation to keep going with my goals and tasks.

Thanks a bunch mate.

CynicalFan's picture

Nice effort Caroo. I hope all your persistence and passion pays off for you finally :)

Some suggestions / ideas:

I've never used the Unreal editor and scripting tools, so I am not sure how possible it is to do. But perhaps adding some heavily scripted opponents, like gun turrets to shoot or bypass somehow ? like taking care of a generator or accessing a computer terminal to shut it off. Other opposition might include simple patrolling bots that would also be heavily scripted ? not just a multiplayer bot thrown in ? as part of some ship ?defence? that has been tripped.

On multiplayer bots, I assume that Unreal has them, not sure how much scripting they need or if they can be scripted. If they can then perhaps having a section using them might be good, though I would lean to only using them if I can script them heavily with waypoints, triggers and various behaviour makers, and, if I can make them work within your singleplayer focus ? perhaps used in that end section of your vid which looked like it was kind of lost in direction, maybe they are part of some kind of pirate raiding party ??? or maybe not :/.

As I said, not sure how easy that is to do with the Unreal editor, never used it, especially as it is a multiplayer focused game rather than a singleplayer one.

Another option to take care of the lack of AI use in the demo, is to make another smaller map either as multiplayer level that is bot ready ? with whatever scripting you need for that, like waypoints and various behavioural makers. Or, use another game engine and level editor to make a small single player level using AI opponents.

You've already said so yourself, the art is not your strong point ? though art skills are still a bonus for a designer, and you've shown you aren't afraid to tackle that area ? so this level I wouldn't bother about creating too much in the way of new art, but rather use existing art that you modify for your purposes, if that is required. The point of the level would be to show that you can work with AI opponents, not just script sequences.

I am sure that with the work you've done, that working with AI in your levels should be of no problems. Unfortunately many in the industry are just plain thick, and have no idea when it comes to design. So without an appropriate example, they may just assume that it is beyond you when it is really as easy as pissing on a copy of their last release ? if they even have one ;).

I think you've done the hard part already however, as I feel many level designers just do the straight multiplayer map and forget about the singleplayer scripting they'll have to tackle in a professional gig ? and you've pretty much already done that, along with showing some art skills and not to mention passion.

Anyway, just some ideas for you to consider, and all the best getting your first design gig :).

Cheers, CF

Caroo's picture

quote:Originally posted by CynicalFan

Nice effort Caroo. I hope all your persistence and passion pays off for you finally :)

Some suggestions / ideas:

I've never used the Unreal editor and scripting tools, so I am not sure how possible it is to do. But perhaps adding some heavily scripted opponents, like gun turrets to shoot or bypass somehow ? like taking care of a generator or accessing a computer terminal to shut it off. Other opposition might include simple patrolling bots that would also be heavily scripted ? not just a multiplayer bot thrown in ? as part of some ship ?defence? that has been tripped.

On multiplayer bots, I assume that Unreal has them, not sure how much scripting they need or if they can be scripted. If they can then perhaps having a section using them might be good, though I would lean to only using them if I can script them heavily with waypoints, triggers and various behaviour makers, and, if I can make them work within your singleplayer focus ? perhaps used in that end section of your vid which looked like it was kind of lost in direction, maybe they are part of some kind of pirate raiding party ??? or maybe not :/.

As I said, not sure how easy that is to do with the Unreal editor, never used it, especially as it is a multiplayer focused game rather than a singleplayer one.

Another option to take care of the lack of AI use in the demo, is to make another smaller map either as multiplayer level that is bot ready ? with whatever scripting you need for that, like waypoints and various behavioural makers. Or, use another game engine and level editor to make a small single player level using AI opponents.

You've already said so yourself, the art is not your strong point ? though art skills are still a bonus for a designer, and you've shown you aren't afraid to tackle that area ? so this level I wouldn't bother about creating too much in the way of new art, but rather use existing art that you modify for your purposes, if that is required. The point of the level would be to show that you can work with AI opponents, not just script sequences.

I am sure that with the work you've done, that working with AI in your levels should be of no problems. Unfortunately many in the industry are just plain thick, and have no idea when it comes to design. So without an appropriate example, they may just assume that it is beyond you when it is really as easy as pissing on a copy of their last release ? if they even have one ;).

I think you've done the hard part already however, as I feel many level designers just do the straight multiplayer map and forget about the singleplayer scripting they'll have to tackle in a professional gig ? and you've pretty much already done that, along with showing some art skills and not to mention passion.

Anyway, just some ideas for you to consider, and all the best getting your first design gig :).

Cheers, CF

Thanks for the kind words. And thanks more so for the advice.

Right now I'm working on a room with terrain in it. Grass and trees and all that jazz as so far all that?s been shown is man made rooms. This organic room is part of the folio.

As for AI sequences and bots. That's defiantly something that would be better shown in a multiplayer map. Laying down bot paths is simple enough. It's configuring them to abide special things like climbing ladders that gets heads scratching.

Multiplayer maps while easier in most technical cases are still an art. Requiring both teams to be balanced in weapons and points to acquire. If I was to make a map like this. It would make to be an ?Onslaught? type map. [Capture the points] Using unreal assets so it can easily be uploaded onto mod sites.

One thing is curtain though. I have many people to thank at this point. A good few people in the games industry have really tried to support me in my folio and trying to get me a job. While sadly and usually this effort is messed up due to my utter lack of experience most of the time. [In other words, I've got everyone wanting to give me a go except the boss's of most companies, But fairly so due to the fact that the risk of hiring a person such a myself is so high. I can whinge all I like about not being hired [and at times I do.] but on their coin they'll always take the lowest risk.]

It's with the critique of the community that allows me to improve my skills. To keep learning and not simply stop when 'I' think I?m good enough because as good as I think I am. I can always. Always be a lot better!!!

For now. Crossing my fingers that all this free and not-so-free advertisement will get me at least a few interviews. But if not, I'll just have to keep trying.