Teresa Moontyners – Temple scene, last puzzle

Today I am going to tell you about the last idea I had and which I managed to implement.
I waited before writing this post because I wanted to make sure everything worked, and it looks like I finally did.
I’m going to attempt to explain what I have planned, trying to avoid spoiling any information about the game.

I’ll start by saying that I’m almost at the end of the development of the temple level, I’m still missing some graphic additions, a quite deep test to evaluate that everything works and the final cutscene that will be represented through the animation of the characters, I think it will be quite hard to achieve, also because in my head I already have everything in mind (as if it were a movie), but then when I put the idea into practice, I will surely come up against my limitations.

But having said that, here we are at the heart of the article; the temple level, as you may have read in previous posts, will be surrounded by several puzzles, which, as they are solved, will allow the player to continue the adventure.

I have come up with something a little more elaborate as a final puzzle; this puzzle will be divided into 2 parts, and one of the two will be based on speed of execution (like a Quick Time Event).
The first session of this rebus will be a chessboard to be filled with particular pieces that put in the correct sequence, will unlock the second session that will test your reflexes and reaction time.
I managed to create a mini-game (nothing exaggerated, but being able to get it and see it work, I’m satisfied with many efforts), which will start a timer, and in that time it will be necessary to give the right command to the right destination thus obtaining the solution of the puzzle and the beginning of the final sequence.

I must admit that I spent a lot of time on the logic and all the variables I used to make it work, there were some moments of discouragement with the thought of putting aside the idea and pretend nothing happened, but fortunately I had the perseverance to insist, and get the result I was looking for.

However, I must also confess that I have not yet been able to implement the possibility of continuing the story in one way or another, thus creating two possible endings.
I hope I’ll be able to find a solution for this or, more than anything else, to have an idea that justifies the choices, otherwise I’ll be forced to continue to the last chapter, excluding an ending and leaving the plot of the adventure to the initial idea.

I’ll see you at the next update where I’ll tell you more exhaustively what I thought for the final level.
I leave a couple of screenshots that I prepared for the social networks, in which you can see a rendering made in Blender of a glimpse of the puzzle I told you about.

Teresa Moontyners – Character Animation

A welcome back to everyone.
Today we’re going to talk about Character Animation.
I realized, rereading the previous posts, that I had talked about animations, but I never went into detail about the procedure I use in these technicalities, so here I am to expose my experiences.

I’m going to use Teresa’s character as a representative model, to explain how the skeleton works on 3D characters and their animations.

What is the skeleton of a character?
After modelling one of your characters, you will need to animate it, (walk, run, crouch and many other animations. Creating a skeleton or rig in more common terms, means giving your three-dimensional model a structure with which to move it).

I used this method to make all the animations of the characters, surely there are other methods; however, I got the effect I was looking for, and above all, I managed to make them work on the engine, which was the doubt that worried me the most.

So… let’s cut to the chase, here’s how it works in my case:
After having modeled a character on your favorite program (3Dstudio; Maya, Blender, Cinema 4D, etc.. etc..) you will have in phase of modeling, to position it with a defined pose, it deals with two types of ‘pose’: A-Pose … or … T-Pose (the difference consists mainly in the position of the arms of the man, if their position is inclined towards the bottom, we speak of A-Pose, otherwise if the position of the arms is parallel to the ground, it is T-Pose).

The skeleton is composed of several bones, these bones are placed in the main points of your character adapted to control the influence on that particular area of the man, this means that depending on the effect you are looking for, you can get to create bones for every single finger of the hands with the result of being able to see the fingers bending, or stay at one bone only for the whole hand, obtaining in this way a less detailed animation.

After having created the skeleton and having related your character to it, it will be possible to move the interested bones memorizing their position on a timeline, finally like for the cartoons, running the timeline, you will be able to admire the movement of the character, that is a walk a run or whatever it needs to represent.

All these animations are imported on unity, I think there are more ways to set and use these movements, the one I use is through a controller, which automatically switches from one animation to another following the values of some variables, for example the transition from walking to running, occurs when the variable speed of the character is greater than a certain value and vice versa for the transition from running to walking.

Below is a small video I made where you can see the walking and running animations created in blender, and then imported into unity and in action in the game.

Teresa Moontyners – Temple scene, first puzzle

The summer period is coming to an end and slowly we all go back to our regular life or at least this is what we have been hoping for a couple of years.
I allowed myself a few days of holiday trying not to fall into the temptation of starting Unity and Blender and taking some time to think about the best solutions to propose in the temple level.
Then, as per my nature, as soon as I had some good ideas, I threw myself headlong into modelling and inserting what I had thought into the engine.
So I’m going to reopen this appointment on the development of the game by telling you about the first puzzle you’ll encounter in this chapter.
As I mentioned earlier, the first puzzle is based on a kind of memory game, a sequence of characters to be entered in the right order, which, when solved, will allow you to proceed to the next section.
To introduce this puzzle, I started by modelling a scene representing a small cave in which our protagonist will have to interact with a panel full of buttons, each button will illuminate a symbol, and the choice of the sequence of these symbols, if inserted in the right order, will give the possibility to continue.

With the help of my trusty modelling program Blender, I created the various three-dimensional meshes, which I then cut along the correct sides to be able to represent them on a two-dimensional plane and thus have the possibility to colour them, achieving this result.

After this, I exported these objects so that they are ready to be inserted on the Unity engine, logically taking into account that it is not possible to export the whole scene in a single block, but depending on the use of a certain object, this will have to be exported separately from the rest (for example the panel has a number of buttons and each button will be a separate object, this is because when one of these buttons will be pressed, only it will have to change its position, its lighting, its material, while the rest of the buttons will have to remain unchanged).
After setting on Unity the scene previously created with blender, and creating hotspots for each button, I can finally move on to the logic of the puzzle.

To do this, it is necessary to have a clear idea of how the puzzle is intended to work, to create variables, and to start with a fairly painstaking job of assigning each button press its behaviour, resulting in a sequence of instructions that will be processed when the button is pressed.

What you are looking at in the upper picture is the sequence of instructions that are executed:

-disable the button hotspot
-lock the movement of the player
-change the material of the button to an emissive one (so that you can see that it has been pressed)
-change the position of the pressed button
-execute a sound effect (the typical “click”)
-Using a check, I make a check on a local variable, to see if the button pressed is the correct one, restoring the material of the button and its position in case of a wrong answer, or keeping everything and going to modify the local control variable so that it can be ready to be compared with the button that will be pressed next.

It seems quite complicated, and I admit that the first few times I tried it I had my headaches to orient myself and remember all the steps to follow, but then with practice and perseverance, I began to organize myself by following the steps noted in order to minimize the possibility of error (even if many times you make mistakes, and then sometimes you have to spend hours to find them in the middle of everything).

In any case, I think I’m lucky to have the possibility to manage the logic through this graphic interface, which helps me a lot, unlike having to write lines and lines of code of which I have no knowledge.
As I said before, Adventure Creator gives me the possibility to do all this without necessarily being a programming language expert, just by replacing the written code with this window representation.

I test all the possible combinations, making mistakes several times, inserting random sequences, trying in every way to create situations that bring to light the weak points of the logic that I have devised, and most of the times I notice errors that had not been foreseen, forcing me to take up the sequence of instructions again to modify it.
But at the end of the day, when everything works as it should, the satisfaction is great, and seeing the puzzle work, which a few weeks earlier was only an idea sketched on a sheet of paper, makes up for all the time spent creating it.

New Video on YouTube

At this link, you can view the atmosphere I managed to create in the third chapter of the game.
It would be an appreciated help if you could subscribe to the YouTube channel.
Thank you.
1M2B

Happy Holidays

Here we are in the middle of July, many people suspend their main occupation to start organizing their summer holidays and I step in with a new update on the development of the 3D graphic adventure: Teresa Moontyners – In the lair of the beast.

I’m not going to bore you with yet another story about the problems encountered during the development and how I thought to find a solution.
But only with a very quick overview of what you will encounter when facing the new chapter of the adventure.

At the moment as I thought, the beginning of this act, you will be catapulted into a cave (not a novelty), where you will be in a position between Hot and Cold (Lava and Ice), you will make the acquaintance of Yoragh, the creature born precisely from the fusion of these two elements, will be explained why this creature is so tied to our main character, and you can see the animations in which this being, will be very useful for the continuation of the adventure.
At the beginning of this chapter, you will observe a kind of introductory film in which at times you will be spectators and in others you will be able to interact with what surrounds you, all this will lead you to the first puzzle; I have prepared a special room in which the player can test his memory, in fact what will be presented will be inherent in the memorization of the position of the objects on the screen, a kind of memory, but slightly modified.

In conclusion, without wanting to spoil any further aspects, I wish you a sparkling summer, which will be fun and will give you the right relaxation, my appointment is for September, where I will update on the logic used in the creation of puzzle games or more simply Rompicapo.

Happy holidays to all.

Teresa Moontyners – Third act – the Temple

A warm welcome to everyone with the usual appointment on the status of development of the game.
Let’s start by saying that the end of the second chapter of the game, introduces our heroes to an unexplored level of the caves.
This choice was decided during the development of the final of the second act, when in the correction of known bugs I said to myself: “why not continue the adventure inside the cave?”.
And so it was, it was enough to model a new mesh that prevented the exit outside, review the logic of the characters and their reactions, so our story is now ready to continue to the heart of the cave.
This choice has been a bit painful, because as timing of development I would have preferred to bring the player outside and propose the final chapter, but reviewing the gist of the story I realized that something was missing, and I decided to add a new level where our heroes are forced to continue the exploration inside the caves getting more information about the story of the game, and in this way, give me the opportunity to justify what I proposed until now.

What changes from the second to the third act?
In the second chapter, the difficulty level is based mainly on the exploration of the caves and the use of some objects that lead to the resolution of the level, while in the third chapter, I thought to present puzzles in the form of “puzzle game” (this will give me the opportunity to face and learn the logic behind these puzzles), and the resolution of them, will advance the player to the next puzzle that will be slightly more complicated.

What will happen in this level?
Surely, the successful completion of this level, will lead the group to be able to leave the mountain, and to face the last level (I am sure of this); I will tell the player the reason why this Temple is located inside a mountain, all the story that accompanies it and, I will finally insert Yoragh with all the explanations of his interest towards the main character Teresa; I have in mind some cutscenes where the player will have freedom of choice, and this decision will lead to different consequences.

I started thinking about this adventure about 10 months ago, unaware of all the problems that could arise, especially not aware of the amount of work that needs to produce an idea like this alone, but I’m really happy to have the courage to face it, and today, I can really declare that this commitment I’m facing, gives me experience and knowledge that will surely be useful for a future starting point.

Teresa Moontyners – End of second act

The development of the second act of Teresa Moontyners – In the lair of the beast it’s almost finished.
I’m still missing a couple of graphic assets to put the last touches to the level assets, after the accurate tests performed by trusted people, I can finally declare closed the second chapter of the game.

What happens in the second episode:

If you’ve played the first chapter of the game, you probably noticed that Teresa, at the end of it, didn’t fare very well; in the second chapter, I introduce Teresa’s entrance into the cavern and give her the chance to start investigating inside the caves.
You will have to deal with increasingly narrow tunnels and moments of discomfort… imagine waking up inside a cave, not knowing why you are there, but knowing you want to get out at all costs. Here comes into play your survival instinct, you will use the lighter to illuminate the darkest places, and everything else to try to resolve the situation in which you will be. .. but alas, this will most likely not be enough, leading you towards the end of the chapter to deeper and unexplored depths.
With a bit of research you will be able to confront some characters with whom to interact and get some help to proceed in your adventure.

What I learned from this level:

During the development of the second act of the game, I got to know the “canvas”, a graphical interface that interposes itself between the player and the game, basically a layer that is displayed during the execution of the game without interrupting it.
This canvas has been very useful for the compass, at the moment not necessary yet, but the player starts getting used to it for future needs.
I also refined the dialogues with characters met during some of the scenes, essential to obtain more or less useful information during the game.
Finally, I have practiced a lot with the variables indicating that a lighter is on, and consequently a lighting is active. In this way I can decide in which points of the game the player has the possibility to explore the environment around him and in which points a better or more powerful tool is needed.

Conclusions:

I started with the idea of developing a simple and very short adventure game, but during the execution phase, I found myself at a crossroads, and I decided to take the more complex route.
Developing this adventure I learned so much information and notions, that I would be disappointed settling for a trivial or rushed ending.
I’m aware of the fact that it will probably be a title without a lot of players, I decided to make the adventure longer, so that anyone willing to get to the end, will enjoy something original, with a nice and “complete” story arc.
That said, after finishing this second chapter I will start with a third, and that too will not be the end of the game, but the prelude to a fourth part.

Teresa Moontyners – The dialogue system

I noticed, during the development of the adventure, that sometimes you find yourself imagining what would be the most correct way for a character to speak.
For example, Teresa is a woman in her fifties, she’s an investigator; so she has to be attentive to details, quite knowledgeable about what’s going on around her, but she doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert.
For Samantha, the youngest of the group, I imagined a jovial character, sometimes impatient, an expert in her profession but still a bit immature, she loves music, she has a cassette walkman with her (in the 90s it was our ipod), and at some points in the adventure she will not fail to turn it on and start dancing.
Ham, on the other hand, is the expedition leader, an expert researcher, ready to give an explanation to everything that happens, based on his studies and impressions, always friendly with his fellow man, and willing to step aside out of chivalry and if the situation requires it.
And finally Jabert who, as I say at one point in the game is “the strong arm of the team”, an ex-military man, trained to deal with the most difficult situations to survive in extreme conditions, those who have already played the first act of the game, advancing in the adventure, will have already met him, thus discovering some things that I avoid writing in order not to spoil anything.
And so, following these ideas, I try to imagine a certain situation and write dialogues and sentences that are relevant to these characters, with their beliefs and fears.
For phrases and dialogues, the tool I use for the development, offers me many options, starting a conversation with an NPC you will have the possibility to decide on a series of questions to ask or answers to give (as in the best graphic adventures), thus creating real plots of communication that can lead to useful information and in some cases the progress of the state of the game, or just end in a chat.
By setting up more cameras in strategic points, I can decide to change the shots giving variety to the conversation and importance to a certain sentence, maybe with a close-up on the character who is talking and then going back to a more distant view.
In conclusion, this experience that I’m doing, is teaching me a lot, in trying to get good results, I find myself thinking and learning about issues that are not strictly related to the development of video games, thus enriching my wealth of experience.

Teresa Moontyners – The compass, logic and display method

Implementing the compass for my inexperience, it was quite problematic, but in the end I managed to get a result that satisfies me.
I start by modelling 2 objects; the compass case and the pointer, I need them separate because the pointer must be inside the case and move with it, but its rotation must be independent.

For the in-game display of the compass, I thought of doing the following:
when the player clicks on the compass icon, Teresa stops and performs the animation of pulling it out and looking at it, and at the same time the image of the compass with the pointer rotating towards north appears on the lower part of the screen, clicking again on the compass icon, Teresa will perform the animation of putting the object away, returning to the idle animation ready for the next input.
For the logic of the compass operation I reasoned in this way:
during the moments when the compass is active, I take the rotation on the vertical axis of Teresa, this is also the rotation of the compass case; while the pointer acquires the rotation from another object that is not seen in the game, which I called “north point”, in this way the pointer will always point in the direction that I have set the object “north point”, while the case of the compass will have the rotation of the player, some tricks on the camera that frames the compass so that it displays the stationary case (because it actually rotates the same degrees of rotation of the player), and instead leave the freedom to the pointer to indicate the correct point.
In this way, looking at the compass I will have the exact position of the north point, which I can decide from scene to scene by simply changing the rotation of the object that is not seen as the “north point”.

Teresa Moontyners – Caves creation

This week I’m back on the blender 3D program, to start the work of modelling the caves.
The second act will take place all inside the mountain; and it will start with a movie that will be the link between the end of the first chapter and the beginning of the second one, in order not to perceive an abrupt change with the player that could ask: “why am I here now?”.
Here are some screenshots of the work in progress and a final render made with Blender 3D of one of these caves, already finished and textured.
See you at the next update.