Author Archives: cytokinedenovo

Back in Action

Good news for me. For years now I have not been able to work in 3D, and for a while I couldn’t even play most 3D games because, while I have always been susceptible, I developed increased sensitivity to simulator sickness. This has been quite frustrating for me as I generally enjoy 3D games more than 2D, and because I felt like I was doing something worthwhile in working on my wheelchair sim project. I have been keeping up to date with Unreal installations, and continuing to move the project through each version to make sure it builds under the new versions, but I haven’t done much new work.

Fortunately, my sensitivity has abated somewhat and I’ve been able to play some 3D again, like Subnautica: Below Zero, Elite: Dangerous (except, the spinning when the ship goes out of control, that I cannot take and wonder if there is a way to suppress, it’s like the final minutes of “The Martian”, a movie I otherwise thoroughly enjoyed watching in 3D…I was never cut out to be an astronaut!), Yakuza 0, and some others. I still have to be selective, but it’s reduced. I looked for a resource for people with heightened sim sickness for games that they were still able to play. I found plenty of articles discussing the effect in general, but I haven’t found a list yet. GameCritics does a neat thing where they include the accessibility features, or lack thereof, in their game reviews, like colorblind modes, concerns for deaf & hard of hearing gamers (subtitles, whether there are audio-only game cues), and remappable controls:

Accessibility notes on a game review at gamecritics.com
Accessibility notes on the most recent game review at gamecritics.com at time of writing (https://gamecritics.com/brian-theisen/tetragon-review/ )

But game reviewers must be self-selected to generally be people that don’t get sim sickness, and if any site consistently mentions it, I haven’t seen it. Since I am quite susceptible, I’m going to try to point out on this blog which games I’m comfortable playing for extended sessions, in case it helps anyone else. I am, however, going to have to permanently forgo VR. This is a tough thing for me to accept, since I think it is so very, very cool, but it’s not worth the nausea. I will still leave VR enabled in Ayuma Project 1, but I’m not going to test it any more.

I’m also now able to work at least a little in Unreal and Blender again, though it’s been a long time and I have a lot to re-learn. The latest version of Unreal seems to have made substantial improvements that make the frame & movement rate consistent in my project build – a sort of stuttering, and weird speed-up/slow-down vehicle movement, were fast sim sickness triggers for me as well as just annoying and I could not figure out how to solve them, but my latest build in Unreal 4.27 is smooth enough on my system for me to work again.

Looking at a mobility vehicle I’m working on adding in, with glass that still has refraction enabled. (Ayuma Project 1 WIP)

Another issue was the reflection/refraction in glass surfaces was not working right at all, causing a sort of fun-house distortion of the world that I could not take. I’ve read quite a bit about why it happens, tried several methods of making alternative glass materials. Maybe it’s different with ray tracing, but for now my solution has been to switch entirely to glass materials that have no refraction at all. It still looks reasonable, and no more mind-bending warping.

Creating new versions of glass materials with no refractions served as a workaround to the kaleidoscopic problem. (Ayuma Project 1 WIP)

This Game I’m Playing: Mass Effect: Andromeda

I’m dividing my current gaming time between the single and multiplayer aspects of Mass Effect: Andromeda, and all in all having quite a good time. Multiplayer is suffering from many crashes-to-desktop, especially annoying when it happens most of the way through a mission as no credit is given for partial missions and any boosters used are lost. Hopefully the team will get that figured out..the most recent patch lists only balance changes. One nice thing, I upgraded our home router to a newer triband model, and now through Steam I can stream the game to my laptop, and then, with an HDMI connection, to the big TV without a hiccup. The only weirdness is that taking a screenshot results in Steam’s shutter noise playing twice in quick succession 😀

I’m having a good time with single-player, and I’m happy with how I was able to get Faro Ryder to look. She’s an engineer and to me she looks professional, intellectually curious, and ready for adventure 🙂

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Faro Ryder logging on to an alien console.

 

UE4.13 preview looks good

I cloned the wheelchair mobility sim work-in-progress Ayuma Project 1 over to the new 4.13 preview, and nothing broke, so hopefully when the 4.13.0 arrives, there won’t be too many things to fix up 🙂  This is a learning project for me, and I discovered that I was doing collision incorrectly, relying on per-poly collision for a lot of things. This worked quite well for interactions with the player pawn, (the wheelchair model) but for other skeletal meshes it did not work properly at all. I discovered this while making the BMX bike into a physics asset so the player can shove the bikes around (which turns out to be more fun than I expected!)….so I went back to Blender and redid nearly every model and made proper UCX shapes, as well as converting the models to a better Blender > UE4 workflow and various other cleanup/improvements.  Speaking of the BMX, I got the original model from an open model download source, like TurboSquid but not there, and now I’ve tried to find it back to give credit but cannot find it back yet…if I can, I will give proper credit in a future post.

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The BMX Bike physics asset is falling through the top layer of the sidewalk due to a faulty collision setup (Ayuma Project 1 WIP)

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The BMX Bike physics asset is now properly colliding with the sidewalk, though in this image it is rigid as it is not yet rigged for animation. (Ayuma Project 1 WIP)

I’ve uploaded a progress build, 0.03, (Windows 64 only) for those of who would like to check it out. I expect to put up another one fairly soon. There’s also an elevator pad, which for now you control with the Q and E keys, following part 1 of the elevator tutorial kindly provided by MrFantasticGhost. Later there will be buttons – and elevator cars! – instead of needing to use keys.

As always, thank you for stopping by and reading!

Unreal Engine Version Migration – on to 4.12!

Ayuma Project 1: migrating to UE4_12_1

Ayuma Project 1: migrating to UE4.12.1

Today’s adventure will be cloning my currently fully error-flag-free build to the newly released Unreal Engine 4.12.1 and seeing what breaks. I did not try it out with any of the preview builds this time, since those builds did not want to download properly for some reason (this must not have been just for me…my blog got a lot of recent hits to my posts about the Unreal Engine repeatedly failing to install, though that was relevant to an older version –  the bit about making sure you run the launcher with administrative privileges is probably still valid). The release version (non-preview) installed without difficulty, so I’m about to give it a whirl!

UPDATE: Map check complete, zero errors zero warnings. Thank you, Epic, for making this one painless!

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Great news! Mobility & Accessiblity sim Ayuma Project 1: preview test build, v 0.1, is built

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BUILD SUCCESSFUL

Great news! The accessibility sim I’ve been working on, today I got it to build. Lately I haven’t had much visual progress to show because I’ve been getting the existing vehicle game engine to work with my armature & mesh, which (like many an actual wheelchair) has such a short, narrow wheelbase with very different radii between front and back tires. For a long time, the wheelchair model behaved almost normally, but then would just go flying off – especially if the collision mesh bumped into anything from the side. I also spent a bunch of time getting the front wheels to caster correctly, and they do (though you would have to lean forward in VR to see them or rotate the distant cam, and I don’t have either of those working yet).

This is my first time trying to package and export a UE4 project, so here goes. I’ve uploaded a zip file on heidialamanda.com, our primary domain for Alamanda Art LLC, which is the copyright holder for original game content. You should just be able to download and extract the set to the location of your choice, and then click on the exe to run it. The zip file is 442,384 kb, and posting the link like this may really eat up bandwidth, but I’m going to try it and see. I will at least roll the file location, so you need go to the linked page and then click to download the file, not bookmark the zip file location itself as it will change – and I may have to take it down if it gets too much downloading. I’m putting it up as just Windows (64-bit) for now. I had a bunch of legacy errors keeping the project from building, and I found out how to get past them and get the project to cook.  The controls are mostly the defaults from the UE4 vehicle demo level, so WASD, or a stick on the XBox One controller (only one I’ve tested) controls chair movement. Tab switches between fixed camera behind the chair, and mouse-controlled view in the chair. There’s no sensing that the chair has become stuck or destabilized, so if that happens, type “~” to enter the console, and then “RestartLevel”. If you have an Oculus Rift installed, you can try entering “Stereo On” in the console; I’ve tested this and it worked on my system but I definitely have all the prerequisites installed.  It might work with other VR displays, if Unreal Engine supports them (if you try it and have success, please message me!) When done, enter “quit” in the console.

The (only current) spawn point is in front of a nearly empty building, just a couple chairs and some lights. Eventually a condo will be in there, with an elevator up. If you proceed straight across the intersection towards the gray building, you will see a staircase and (what I’ve tried to make as) an ADA compliant wheelchair ramp.  If you go inside, you’ll see a back staircase to an open outdoor area (future sculpture area), but you cannot go that way (right now, if you try you’ll get stuck). To get up, you have to go back out, back down the ramp, further down the sidewalk, past some more stairs and under the overpass by the water, and then there’s another ADA ramp up. But you still can’t go to the sculpture area, because there’s no ramp down into it yet (there’s not even a perpendicular curb ramp at the top of the big ramp yet)

Also, across from the gray building, the houses have a narrow sidewalk, with dead ends. A car is parked nearly into its driveway – a common sight – but hanging out enough across the sidewalk that you will have to go out into the road to pass it. There’s also a bicycle with it’s wheel jutting into the walkway a bit. Especially in VR, seeing this first-person did help me gain a bit better insight into how frustrating this must be, when just walking on the grass is not something you can do.

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Imagine having to push a few of these out of the way, from your wheelchair, just to get where you’re going.

 

Off-topic: Trump’s Wall, Ten Feet Taller

trumps_wall_ten_feet_taller

Trump’s Wall, goose-stepping hammers with Trump T’s, adapted from the theatrical fascist movement in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” with quote “We will build a wall…we’re gonna build a wall, alright […] the wall just got ten feet taller.”

The “Trump’s Wall” Pink Floyd adaptation I did up back in December has gotten downloaded a bit, so I thought I’d update with a recent quote: “We will build a wall…we’re gonna build a wall, alright […] the wall just got ten feet taller.” Donald J. Trump (Drumpf), at his rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (I watched this video to make sure they were accurate). Previous, and a blank, here. As before, I consider these available for use with modification, but I have no copyright claim to the artwork I adapted. I’m hoping these are no longer relevant before long.

Quietly Rising

2016-01-28 18_35_48-Gamasutra_ Ramine Darabiha's Blog - The Quiet Rise of the Hobbyists

Screenshot of Ramine Darabiha’s blog on Gamasutra

Am I still doing it quietly if I’m blogging about it? 😀 Here’s a great quick read on Gamasutra about the increasing number of hobbyist projects in video games, etc.: “Quiet Rise of the Hobbyists,” by Ramine Darabiha. On a related note, check out this article on Vice by Joe Donnelly, “Experiencing ‘Deep’, the Virtual Reality Game That Relieves Anxiety Attacks.”

Tangentially related to my own wheelchair accessibility project, I came across this awesome Mr Mondialisation article regarding an adventurous-life-involving-a-wheelchair author. It’s in French, so if you need it, here’s a direct link for Google-ized English. Some time I’d love to get a sky car working in Ayuma Project 1….first I need to do an elevator!

As always, thank you for stopping by.

 

Unreal Engine 4.10.1 installed!

these_games_i_play_2015-12-22_epic_games_launcher

The error I was experiencing with my Unreal Engine 4.10 installation, which was supposed to update from 4.10.0, has resolved, more or less. It never worked as an update. I tried uninstalling my Visual Studio 2015 redistributables, rebooting, and updating Unreal Engine, and it failed. I then removed every single Visual Studio item from my system, rebooted and tried to update Unreal Engine, and it failed. I de-installed UE 4.10.0 completely, and got a much larger install download – 4.4 GB or so instead of 2.3 – and that ultimately failed.

Finally I did two things together, and I don’t know if either, both, or neither is what led to success. I installed the complete Community version of Visual Studio 2015, (45 GB or so) including all the options so whatever missing tool set might come with it, and rebooted a few times for that. And I also discovered that my desktop shortcut for the Epic launcher for Unreal Engine, which manages the update installs, had reverted to not launching with administrative rights, so I checked that box again. After one more reboot, just because, I told the 4.10.1 install to resume, and in a couple minutes, *poof* there it was. My project files appear to open just fine, and I can resume work on my wheelchair sim project, Ayuma Project 1, and start prototyping another idea I have. For those of you that come to this post because you are having similar errors with you Unreal Engine 4.10 installation displaying E-1223 or otherwise missing prerequisites, here is what that whole section of my installed programs list looks like with it now successfully installed and working.

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Speaking of which, the most popular click item on this blog is the wheelchair dimension diagram in my initial post about Ayuma (which could be an acronym for As Yet Unnamed Mobility & Accessiblity) Project. I didn’t make that image and I could never find back where I got it from, so I am glad that others are finding it there also. More people wanting to understand the dimension requirements for wheelchair accessibility is probably a good sign. Maybe it even means more people are making VR wheelchair-oriented sims, which might be good news (I do have some reservations about it, and not just because I hope people will want to spend a little time with this one).  Here I will repost the wheelchair dimension image, to help it get seen by a few more eyes. I would credit it if I could trace back where it came from; I suspect it was a government site. Let me just say it is not mine. As always, thank you for your time coming to read this blog 🙂

wheelchair

Dimensions and environmental dimension requirements for wheelchair user accessibility. Source unknown, but I’ll keep looking.

 

Unreal Engine 4.10 update repeatedly failing

these_games_i_play_-_2015-12-19_UE4_10_error_E-1223

Trying to figure out what the deal is with this today. It’s been like this for a week. I try to update, it takes hours to download the update, then says it has failed with error code “E-1223.” The troubleshooting guide currently says:

The necessary prerequisites have failed to install. Error Code 23.

If the Epic Games Launcher fails to install the Unreal Engine 4 and it provides this error message, please see the following:

  • For UE 4.10 and above, Visual Studio 2015 redistributable components are required for the editor to run. UE4 includes Microsoft’s standalone installer which attempts to install these, but this can fail if your Windows Update is disabled or if your version of Windows is not updated to the latest patch. To resolve this issue, please run Windows Update.

but I have done all that. My Windows 10 is completely up to date, and I have the most current Visual Studio 2015 redistributables, both x86 and 64, installed direct from Microsoft. I think I will try uninstalling them, and then running the update again, as suggested in this forum – if it really is trying to install them, maybe it is failing because mine are actually newer.

A troubling thing is that, after the installation fails, the download doesn’t stay on my drive. When I try to run the update again, it needs to spend hours tying up my internet for hours downloading another 3 GB, for no apparent reason. If anyone knows the proper solution to this, I’d appreciate hearing of it.

 

 

Off-topic: All in all, we’re just bricks in Trump’s wall

trumps_wall_square_-_pink_floyd_parody

“Trump’s Wall” square

This was in my head enough that I had to at least do a rough draft of it. As part of working our way through some of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” list this year, we watched Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” a few months ago. Given Donald Trump’s public statements and his enthusiasm for walls, this symbol of the film’s fictional fascist movement and his “T” belong together. Please feel free to take this image for your own use anywhere you want, no credit necessary – at least, I waive any rights I would have to it. Gerald Scarfe came up with the “hammers” logo and may have drawn this specific source image himself. If you make up one yourself, I would enjoy seeing it. Maybe the entire hammer could be a T, maybe it could be gold-plated, etc. Here is one with a relevant quote on it, taken from the transcript of a Fox News interview on May 20, 2015:

trumps_wall_with_quotes_-_pink_floyd_parody

“Trump’s Wall” flag with quote

and a flag-shaped blank:

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“Trump’s Wall” flag