Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alternate Route Ideas

We've always wanted to introduce more camera depth movement into our level to break the straight linear path. This is one aspect and in the future we want to also have paths that bend around corners and have turns which will give a more organic feel.

This video was made a while ago, but I thought I should post it to show a section that has had an alternate path added in to collect coins or power-ups for example.

Here's the link: 2010-05-19 10-16-00-98.avi

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BA Graphical Tweaks...

I've decided to share some of my more recent graphical tests and tweaks that I did on Bounty Arms. Since we didn't do any new demo updates or anything like that in recent months, this is just a way to share something with people who are interested in such things. Again it's just a bunch of my own thoughts about some various things that I've been playing around with.

So, in my search for a good balance between dynamic and static lighting, I've done a bunch more lighting tests to see what can work, what looks good, etc. I've also started to look more into some newer UDK features like the Tone Mapping feature which I'll admit after messing with it for a while, I quite like it.

For the lighting in my current "test" version I've gone with much more dynamic lights and shadows than in the v0.11 version of the demo. The basic idea is to have the major lights cast both dynamic light and proper dynamic shadows. The way the level is constructed means that the light sources are fairly decently spaced and doesn't have much overlap going on there so the overall impact is not too bad. And this is something that can be controlled in levels to keep using the same kind of methods or theories to get more dynamic interactions. The level is still mostly lit by static lights so it still runs at a good speed with regards to having fairly complex lighting. So, generally floor models are hit by 2 or maybe 3 dynamic lights and other models less in most cases. In some cases there are more for the sake of having moving lights or lights that can switch on and off.. etc. In small cases like this, it's not a big deal.

I've also completely gotten rid of the fake modulated shadow in this version and the dominant light that is the main light source for the level now also casts a proper "normal" shadow. So, running past other light sources will behave a bit more naturally since that shadow will be overpowered by the light as it should. Overall this works much better and feels much more natural even though there's still a lot of fake stuff going on since not every light casts a character shadow. Of course none of the rigid bodies casts shadows because this is just too expensive and really the AO takes care of that to some degree.

I've also done a bunch of changes on Goober's material to make it seem less "plastic" and to get the material to work better under basically any lighting conditions. Originally the material was very much tweaked based on the current demo level created in UT3 in fact and with regards to specularity and the way the rim lighting worked and just the overall brightness of it. So, since I've been doing much more tests based on various other lighting conditions and level designs I had to completely re-adjust the material to work more globally. This might sound stupid but Goober's materials were amongst the first we created still based on the UT3 version of the demo and it did work out for what we needed even up to the v0.11 of the UDK demo considering some tweaks here and there were made but I've learned a lot about materials since then and I've been thinking about it in a bigger scope than just this demo level, so changes are inevitable there. So, I'm quite happy with the current shader and especially the rim shading is quite nice now running past the big spot lights etc.

With the tone mapping I've also gone back and implemented a kind of first pass of that for all our post processing volumes. Basically to replace the old color processing done on various sections of the level. From my tests it seems like you can have much better control over what you do with color and brightness and contrast. You essentially do the tweaks inside Photoshop and can use standard Brightness/Contrast to tweak that and also Levels and of course color manipulation. It's basically explained in the UDK documentation how to achieve this. I think it's a pretty nice feature and I like the result you can get. The old color tweaker worked quite well but was very tedious and I don't think nearly as flexible.

Also more with regards to the June release of the UDK now Epic have added in the new type of SSAO. Something I could never really achieve with the old methods was a really solid looking AO. This new version seems to be extremely good at giving you a pretty dark AO and also seems to be more "focused" it seems to have less bleeding. With the old method I always had some trouble with bleeding if I push it a bit to get something more solid. It was a hard thing to balance and even in the current v0.11 demo, there is some of that happening where AO will show up in places it shouldn't.

Another thing I only made use of very recently is the dof bloom feature which I think possibly is a feature added 2 or more versions back. I just never really thought to look at that. Basically what it does is allow you to have wider blooms. With the standard bloom it's kind of small and limited and you couldn't get that kind of glaring look that you might associate with a more foggy or atmospheric environment. It's a nice feature and something I always wanted to be able to do since the start of this project.

So, anyway, this might all just sound like a bunch of random thoughts, which they are.. :) but I thought to post something new about BA and actually it's more about the UDK than directly related to BA and also it's very focused about graphical things and nothing about game play. The graphics is my area so that's what I focus on.

I've recorded a little video that shows the look of the current version with all the above mentioned features implemented. Currently it's very different from the previous look and with the tone mapping and how that works it creates a pretty strong contrast which.. this week.. I kind of like. Who knows about next week.. :D also on this version I enabled the vignette overlay that Epic has part of their processing chain. Again, I thought it completely alters the look and I have it in there currently although I do think it's probably a bit strong but can work even as is or maybe 50% less or maybe based on a per level kind of solution where it can be either stronger or less so, based on the level design. But, anyway, before I analyse that to death, here's a link to the video.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Updated UDK Demo V0.11

Hi Everyone,

Just letting you know that we have released an updated 0.11 version of the UDK demo.

It is basically the same as the previous demo, but it has weapon tweaks, menu additions, new music by Sean Beeson, and various general tweaks. The most noticeable addition is Lightmass which has a huge graphical impact on the level.

Grab it here:

Bounty Arms UDK demo v0.11

Alternatively you can get it from here:

Hope you Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Some Thoughts About Lighting...

I thought since this is our dev blog and even though I don't really post here frequently.. or at all so far that I would kick off my first post here with some of my thoughts about our level's lighting and lightmass and why we did not use any baked lighting for the UT3 mod and of course that lead to the UDK version of the demo also only utilizing dynamic lighting.

I really prefer the look of dynamic lighting in games. To create a truly cohesive or unified look, this is the only way. This really comes down to how surfaces are shaded and how moving through lights and shadows for any object will look part of the same world in stead of moving objects cut out from the static objects. Granted that UT3 was capable of being quite convincing with regards to this mix, it's still something that really stood out in my eyes. Ultimately it's about the visual quality.

Initially my thoughts were to go fully dynamic because of these reasons and also because of space saving reasons. To really create good looking shadow maps you need resolution on them and of course that means more space is taken up. I generally am against anything that just end up taking loads of space for no good reason. Casting bad looking low res shadows was not an option and casting good looking shadows takes lots of extra space because of the resolutions needed to create them. Using sometimes high and sometimes low res is another option but also not good because it's just more inconsistency on top of the existing inconsistencies.

So those are the major reasons about the dynamic lights used in the demo and considering the engine really does not like dynamic lights to be used too much, it actually turned out fairly decent with rendering speed. With regards to shadows however, I had to lose them completely for the simple reason that they are too expensive to use. A trade off I chose and accepted. I really had to end up pulling out every trick available to make lights work and the fact is that it's always gonna be slower than baked lighting. Because of this and the amount of massaging to make it work I decided that dynamic lighting is probably gonna be out of the question for future development of this game. Too many hoops to jump through to get a decent result rendering at acceptable speeds and going against the grain of the engine with regards to the lighting system is just not gonna work that well.

Now, about the Lightmass system in the UDK. This turns out to be just the perfect middle ground with regards to baked lighting and shadows. It is capable of generating shadow maps at a fraction of the resolution needed compared to the old shadow maps and render them back sharp and clean. This means that low res shadow maps can be used without really losing quality in their final look and in fact is of much higher quality than before even at this low res. Of course there are limits to this as can be expected but it is hugely more efficient than before.

On top of this (which is not directly related to lightmass) there is the ability to cast on to dynamic abjects only, a dynamic shadow from static objects. So this means that you can run through shadows and your character will receive the correct shadow as well compared to what's on the ground as a static shadow. This is actually kind of important.. or rather it is to me. Objects reacting more real towards shadow and light just plain looks better. Of course the fact that you can also render out lighting that incorporates global illumination is just pure bonus.

I'll give credit where it's due for Epic to have this in the UDK. I think maybe sometimes, this kind of thing is probably overlooked or possibly taken for granted by most people but I appreciate a well implemented lighting system in a game engine. Basically being forced to deal with shadow maps, this is not a bad way to go about it.

So currently the level is just about fully converted over to utilize all this. I am quite happy with the results and the trade off in surface shading and 100% cohesive look vs ease of use and getting good looking shadows and of course getting GI is well worth it. It actually ends up looking pretty good with regards to uniformity so I'm also quite happy about that. It also means a fairly decent speed bump in rendering the level so I'm really happy about that.

So, there it is and I think I've rambled on long enough about lights now... :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lightmass Level Conversion

We're in the process now of converting the demo level over to the Lightmass lighting system.

Obi-Wan is just doing some R&D for the best settings to use on our level. We're also busy messing around with tweaking the current lighting look and feel to accommodate for the GI feel.

Oooh...GI :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We Were Added To The The UDK Showcase Page!

Hi everyone,

We're proud to announce, that Epic have put Bounty Arms onto their showcase page!

It is a great honour to have been selected and we are greatful to Epic for their help and support towards our game.

Check it out here:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Targeting System - Making Good Progress

The more complex targeting system is moving along quite nicely. Here is what was added.

- Keep an enemy that is currently targeted locked while in range. In stead of jumping directly to the next closest enemy, the current enemy should stay targeted until it's out of range or dead.

- A small targeting block shows who you're locked on to. This graphic will probably change to something else in the future.

More aspects of the new system still need to be added in, and are currently being worked on.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Targeting System Updates, Camera On Hold

We have decided to address the targeting system and make it more complex in how it works, in response to the current feedback we've been getting. This will mean putting the camera on hold for now, but we feel the targeting needs more attention right now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Multiplayer Co-Op Camera Being Worked On

Splat is busy working on a new camera system for multiplayer co-op. It will be based on a dummy system that is centered between players, with trigger volumes that will allow Obi-Wan to control variables of where the camera should be and at what angle etc.

After this we can look into having 2 player controllers to test it out, and get 2 Goobers into the same screen. That will be fun.

Bounty Arms UDK Demo 0.1 Released


With the help of Splat and the hard labour of Obi-Wan, we have now got our first UDK version out. The great thing is that it's now a standalone game and it doesn't require UT3 anymore.

This demo is basically the same as the UT3 mod version, but the UDK has a more updated version of the UE3 engine. So it has real time AO, dynamic lighting on enemies etc.

We've also added a few things, like working turrets, special ability bar, damage material indicator on the player and other small various little addons and tweaks.

I hope you enjoy the UDK demo, and please look forward to future versions.

Download link: Bounty Arms UDK Standalone Demo

I will still update this development blog on the future progress of Bounty Arms.

So keep a look out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Material Damage on Goober

Splat got the material damage working on Goober so it now gives a better visual indication of when you're getting hit.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bernard Being Replaced With Splat :)

Ok Bernard asked me to refer to him on the blog as Splat. So Bernard is gone...there is only Splat now!


Friday, February 12, 2010

Almost There

We're 2 fixes away from a UDK version.

Bernard won't be able to work on the scripting this weekend so he'll carry on with the fixes on Monday.

Obi-Wan is still working on some graphical tweaks and the turret's effects are looking pretty cool. Having AO in the level is so cool! How did we live without it.

Latest Scripts From Bernard

Just got a bunch of scripts from Bernard. Various elements throughout the game needed some fixes and tweaking.

So now Obi-Wan needs to see if everything is fixed and we should be good to go for the UDK release.

Ingame Menu

Here's a look at the ingame menu.

Menu Fully Working

Obi-Wan has now got the d-pad and arrow keys working in the options navigation window.

Apparently the button widgets were overlapping and that's why it wasn't working.

Final Tweaks Before First UDK Release

Bernard is just working on various fixes and tweaks for the first release of the UDK version.

We're all very excited to get the UDK release out :)

Menu - Working

We have now got a working menu for the game. There is a problem where hitting escape would bring up scoreboards and an Unreal menu, but that was sorted by editing a line in the ini file.

There is still one small issue we need to sort out where you can't jump between options with the d-pad or arrow keys. It's not a big problem but it would be nice to have this sorted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

UDK Menu

I have handed the PSD menu layout to Obi-Wan. He's going to be laying it out in the Editor and saving it out as a UI scene file. This will then get passed to Bernard to implement it as a working menu.

This is one of the last stages before we release a UDK version of the game.

Expect a UDK release version soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Working Turret - WIP

We had turrets in the demo that didn't work because we didn't have time to look into them. We have now got working turrets that track and shoot at you :)

We just need to add in damage meshes and effects.

UDK re-implementation and tweaks

- We had to re-implement some aspects of the Drone's AI, because they weren't working the same once we moved it to the UDK. So the Drone's rockets,lasers work properly now, and the Drone's shoot sooner at the player.

- Goober's special ability now also prevents him from taking damage when he's performing his special move.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Drone Flyer Attacking - Done

This wasn't on the list yesterday, but I found out from Obiwan that the Drone Flyer's weren't firing back at Goober but could be fired at.

So Bernard started looking into it yesterday and he finished it at 3am this morning :)
Go Bernard!!!!

Next on the list is looking into our own custom menu for the UDK. That should be interesting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Special Ability Bar - Done

Well Bernard has now finished the scripting for the special ability bar. Henk just needs to put in the proper bar graphic.

Scripting Update

Today Bernard is working on 2 modules:

- Implementing the special ability HUD bar, which indicates when you can use a players special ability. The bar charges based on time.

- Adding a second player controller into the game. Essentially having 2 characters on the same screen at the same time.

New Kick Ass Programmer...Yay!!!

We have finally found a new programmer, or should I say...he found us :)

Bernard has now officially joined the Bounty Arms Game project and we are very glad to have him on board.

Bounty Arms Teaser Demo Trailer

Bounty Arms is an old-school 3d side-scrolling action game that utilizes modern technology from the Unreal Engine 3. Over the course of the final game you gather power-ups that hugely alter your character and weapon arsenal, travel across the galaxy to many different worlds, unlock hidden doors to secrets, join with new comrades, fight the multitude of varying enemies that each world will bring, and defeat the bosses that rule them. Currently only a single player demo but final game will be co-op 4 players in the future.

Download Game:

Download UT3 latest Patch. This needs to be installed for the game to run properly. Please download this here:

Manual (Right Click, Save Target As)

If anyone would like to lend a hand in the future development of Bounty Arms, please contact us at or call me on +27833811416