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The Changes in Deep Blue Astral 20200711

Here I only list the changes that are worth to mention.



Layout Changes

I came to realize this space between the double-health-packs-room (on the left side of the pictures above) and the double-vials-corridor to the belt area (on the right), is lack of alternate path on the 2nd level. You have to either go through the interior rooms or corridors, or drops down to the ground level to use the stairs. Of course there is also the path of wall-dodge and wall-run, but overall, this part is lack of inviting connection to allow staying more on the 2nd level when you are on this side of the map. Plus the lift can only be approached from one side when you are walking.

So I added/extended the catwalks, shown as the red part in the picture. With that, if you start from the health pack room, you can go directly to the catwalk or wall-run to pass the lift to it, then from there a dodge can land you on the other catwalk. If you come from the belt side, a dodge is not enough, you need a wall dodge to reach the lift catwalk, that extra effort is good for the belt side in terms of balance. The lift can be approached from the right, and it opens an opportunity to go lift jumping back to the 3rd level next to the belt.

I went through a series of comparisons of the ground areas on the different sides of the map, and found the jump pad tunnel side, which is in the above picture, needs a bit more ground space, to make you a bit more secured to move around here and that makes the feeling of the space a bit more satisfying. Previously the opposite side feels a bit more comfortable as it has a bit more space, but now it feels balanced.

The top level catwalk, highlighted in the above picture, is wider, by 10 cm. Not much, but enough to make the navigation comfortable and the navmesh good everywhere on it.

The jump pad landing zones are all tweaked, especially the two on the jump pad tunnel side (the two on the right of the picture), they are bigger compared to the previous version. The jump pads are also tweaked accordingly to allow you nice air control to go a bit sideways but you can ALWAYS land (unless of course you press back button to reduce forward momentum)




Collision Cleanup

Made sure all the wall collisions are super clean, vertical, and supporting wall-run as much as possible.

The picture above shows you how the collisions warp around bumpy uneven walls and corners.

The collisions are all cleaned up everywhere in the map. Walls, floors, ground, catwalks, slopes..

Spent quite some time to make sure no bumps on floors or walls and collision vertices are snapped. The collisions for moving objects, those purple ones, are also carefully done.




Improved AI Navigation

One major issue bugged me for a long time was that bots barely go to the bottom (underground) level. They go occasionally when the double damage is available. Other times, they don't.

To fix that, I increased the desirability of the items to compensate the long distance from the main level to the bottom. The result is good, bots now go there much more often. And they loot most items.

There was also an issue in the previous version that jump pad A and B were not used much by bots, simply because C was very convenient. While C is still convenient, I tweaked the navmesh so there are less triangles to go through to reach A or B, than C. This is not neat. I'd prefer a "desirability" for jump pad if it had that, but this works to some degree.

Lift jumps are also tweaked to allow bots to use them much more. They are now willing to go to the top catwalk. And with a bit control of jump test threshold of the navmesh (I set it to 800), there are less navlinks from the catwalk, this makes bots stay more on the catwalk trying to get all the items.



Sound

One main focus in this version was the jump pad sounds. There are 3 groups of pads. Group A, the tunnel jump pad and the two floating ones on its front, they lead to the bottom level. Group B, the bottom level pads, they send you to Group C, 3 floating pads which gets you back to the main island.

I made different sound effects so the floating pads sound different compared to the ground pads, and the tunnel pad, which is the most important one, sounds different from the rest ground pads.

So essentially,

  • The tunnel pad sound + 2 consecutive floating pad sounds --> someone is going to the bottom level

  • The bottom pad sound + 1 floating pad sound --> someone is back to the main island

I also used a custom attenuation which allows long distance with good falloff so you can tell which pad is being used (this still requires you to listen carefully but it's totally doable now).

Another thing I did was to add occlusion. For example, in the above picture, the shield energy generator sound from down there, get occluded by the floor, so it doesn't affect gameplay too much, but when you are at the edge of the floor you can hear that nicely.

There are other changes too, mostly adding effects for lights, pickup bases and some dynamic visuals.



Graphic Changes

Jump pad effects, water falls, light beams, also the energy shield, mostly they are meshes with a bit particles

Visual side, the placeholder meshes were replaced with the actual assets. They are modules and big pieces for the buildings. The materials are mostly still placeholders but with base normal maps and some masks.

I tried to improve the building shapes for every bit of the layout. At this point, most shapes are finalized, there might be further tiny tweaks but the main building should stay like that as I need to start to work on the masks for the material blending for things like dirt, moss, stain, rust etc. which requires the big pieces to have fixed UVs




Lighting

Overall, not much changed, just added some extra fill lights here and there. I am to start working on the final lighting when assets are really done.

The picture above shows a small change I had fun doing, that is adding a dynamic light (cast no shadow) from the pickup bases to give a nice little extra touch to the pickups.



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