For this sprint, our team was able to prototype every major missing system that we want to incorporate for this vertical slice, as well as plan out the majority (if not all) of our tasks for the rest of this production cycle. The two major prototyping that was done by me personally was creating the Animation Blueprints for the characters and putting the Overworld / level map system into the game.
Putting the Animation Blueprints together seemed like a tough challenge since I had no clue about animation blueprints before this sprint, but after learning and successfully integrating their use into the game, I can say that Unreal has once again made a completely user friendly part of game development that makes complicated tasks seems so simple. The first major task of the animation blueprints was actually the hardest one. I had to figure out how to rotate the bottom half of the character skeletal mesh joint towards the velocity of the character while keeping the top half pointed towards where the player was aiming. This was much more complicated than just having an animation run when an enemy was chasing the player, but was a great starting point for me because now I almost completely understand the workflow, the node similarities and pretty much everything that is possible in the animation blueprints. While I haven’t completely switched over to using the animation blueprints in this regard, I will make sounds and particle systems activate through the animation blueprints because it’s most likely the easiest way to manage sounds and VFX playing in the game.
The second major prototyping feat that I was able to accomplish was creating a base for the Overworld system. In this prototype, the player can move between level waypoints in the level map (Which is zoomed in when the player selects a specific world). When the player selects the specific level they want to play, the screen will zoom in and fade out resulting in the loading screen just appearing as a seamless connection between the Overworld system and each level map. In terms of the artistic representation this is huge because it means the player will have a constant experience without having to take a break in the gameplay. While it is a massive improvement to have the beginnings of this system in place, the next iteration will be to have UI above each level waypoint, and to completely rid the system of the little bugs that pop up. Another design question is whether I want the player at the end of each level to go back to this world map, or do I want the player to be able to launch right into the next level. On one hand the seamless transition back to the world map would seem to the player like there wasn’t much difference, but the ability to rapidly play through levels could be a big interest to the player and since they can replay the level they just played with a push of a button.. Why can’t they just jump to the next one too?
The next major step for me personally will be to integrate these two systems to create the perfect workflow so creating levels will be a breeze.