Tag Archives: video game development

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 ūüôā ¬†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)

ayuma_project_1_-_20160701190342_BMX_collsion_improved

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!

ayuma_project_1_2016-06-08_ue4_12_1_no_errors

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

ayuma_project_1_2016-03-07 22_06_24_v0d1_unreal_editor

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.

 

Unreal Engine 4.10 update repeatedly failing

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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.

 

 

Learning about UV texturing

To continue making progress with this wheelchair accessibility sim, it’s time for me to start learning about UV texturing in Unreal Engine 4. Up to now, I’ve just been working with flat color materials (to simplify the process of figuring out issues like weird shadows, and because they work well with VR, etc.) but now I need to start making some signs.

Today I’ve started with an extremely simple sign. Method: In Blender, I added a cube to a basic rectangular bollard and shaped it to fit a common-dimension access notice sign. Then I assigned three materials to the mesh, for the post, sign and sign face. I unwrapped the mesh (Smart UV project, with some island margin) and baked the light map, then exported the light map. I opened the resulting PNG in Photoshop, and copied and transformed the access sign graphic onto the face region of the light map (which turned out to be facing the right way the first time) and saved that image back out as a new PNG. Back to Blender, I selected the sign face material in the Outliner, then opened the texture manager in the Properties window and created a texture with the new PNG, and re-baked the light map. Result:

Ayuma Project 1 work in progress

Ayuma Project 1 work in progress – bollard with wheelchair access sign texture applied

Not bad! Not very efficient though, in terms of work flow or system resources. The texture is large and I’m not using most of it, since in UE4 I’m actually using other flat materials, but it’s a start – the sign shows up and lines up. No doubt it’s a better plan in this case to make separate meshes just for the signs themselves, and then attach them to various post or other meshes.

Ayuma Project 1 work in progress

Ayuma Project 1 work in progress – access sign beside staircase.

One of many, many things I’ve come to know about in working on this project, in reading about signage I learned that New York City is changing to a modified, more kinetic version of the familiar wheelchair symbol – I will certainly be making up signs with this version. You can read more about the icon, and can donate to support their work, at the accessibleicon.org website.

Courtesy accessibleicon.org

Courtesy accessibleicon.org

Wheelchair accessibility sim Ayuma Project 1 gets mentioned in Ars Technica article comments

A 3GB update to UE4.9 is downloading right now, and I took a quick break from pondering which anti-malware program to go to for the coming year to look at this blog’s stats, and noticed a spike with some incoming from Ars Technica. It turns out my¬†VR-oriented¬†wheelchair accessibility simulation project got a mention in the comments of the article “Virtually ready: Diving into VR‚Äôs most promising PC launch titles,” by Kyle Orland and Sam Machkovech¬†(Sep 11, 2015).

Ars Technica VR article comment from user

Ars Technica VR article comment from user Ostracus: “Related in a way but one of the things VR may be good for is simulating what life in a wheelchair is like.”

The comment links to my first post about the project. What a happy surprise! Thank you, Ostracus. I don’t have an Ars Technica account yet, but in the meantime, if anyone that does have one sees this post and passes it on to them, I’d appreciate it.

The comment’s content provides a nice context for discussing some tricky issues; l will save that for a following post. The project has been on necessary hiatus for the summer, but now I am returning to it in earnest and will post more about progress as it goes.

Development – Metal Arms: Glitch in the System

I don’t remember why I picked up Metal Arms for the first XBOX; I think it was on the strength of a review or discussion I’d come across, probably on a web site now gone. It’s been years since I’ve played it, and my copy has drifted off to relatives and beyond, so it’s not available for revisiting. What I do remember is how much I enjoyed playing it, and how I kept seeing it from a development perspective while doing so, so it was a real pleasure to read this talk about the story of its development by Jim Sterling on Destructoid:

What I think of first when I think of Metal Arms was the robot hacking mechanic, whereby Glitch would hack other robots to take over their functions, while simultaneously becoming a pile of ignored junk (something JC Denton wishes he could do when sending out his spy drone). The hacking is similar to the possession mechanic in Munch’s Oddysee, but I felt it was even more natural with Glitch – in part from a story perspective as electronics interface with each other every day. Of course, maybe sentient machines wouldn’t want to have obvious ports on them that other machines could easily take nefarious advantage of – I wonder what sort of social customs would develop around accessing these ports? – but it works for the game. Since in this real life we only get one fully realized perspective – our own – and methods for accessing the perspectives of others are terribly clumsy (like reading someone’s blog) it’s fun for me to imagine alternative scenarios. As an aside, Alastair Reynolds explores some of this territory in a potential human future with the Conjoiners, which I think must be destined to find their way into games someday (if not already; I don’t know).

I also remember Metal Arm’s general sense of fun, the humorous personalities, and a lot of clever touches. I had a great time with it and was hoping for more, so it is a bittersweet read to learn of the struggles, reception, and the eventual settling of the IP into the murk. Thank you, Jim, for writing this up and sharing it with us.