The Making of...
JJ Behan Lead Artist
Being lead artist in Journeyman has been a great experience and taught me a lot. We have had our fair share of rough patches throughout the project– mostly at the beginning – but we have pulled through and achieved something very unique to what has been seen in the Journeyman Project before; something which I am very proud of.
Team Management Managing our art team was my main responsibility, and something that I hadn’t had much experience with prior to Journeyman. At the start of the project I was too timid to tell people what I needed them to do, but as it turned out most of our team was hungry for work! The lead role consists more of management than actual art work, and while I am disappointed to have not leant much new from an artist point of view I have learnt tenfold more about team management over the 4 months of this project. Keeping track of what people were doing, making sure they were working on the highest priority assets, distributing work evenly while playing to people’s individual strong suits and making sure people do their work on time were the main things I did for the first 3 months of the project.
Modelling I also did a little bit of modelling and texturing to set examples of the art style of the project.
Finished asset list
Assets that I modelled to show our art style
Lantern Asset The very first model I created was the hanging lantern, this was an important asset for the cave as itâ€™s used a lot for a source of light. I worked from a whitebox mesh done by Emil. After chamfering edges and making the model look less blocky I unwrapped it, but I used two material IDs so that we could apply a glass shader inside UDK to the glass parts and have candle inside visible.
UV editor inside Max
The lantern works well in my opinion, especially in the final game with a VFX flame and some nice lighting from Donny.
Close up of the Lantern in-game Wall mounted variant
Lever Asset The second asset I made was also an important one, not so much from a visual point of view but a practical one because the lever was required to be animated inside UDK via matinee. Therefor the handle and the body of the lever had to be exported separately and pivot points had to be set up correctly. You can see in the image how the handle will rotate 45o up or down I only made a quick diffuse map for the lever, it got passed on to Luke for final texturing.
Handle copied into place
Level Rocks A major part of our game is the huge rocks that build up the levels. We call these the Level Rocks to differentiate from the smaller loose rocks we have. It was a difficult task thinking of the best way to approach building our levels. We started out building them with little boulder type rocks, which was way too time consuming for our design team to place in the level. This is when I came up with the idea of having huge rocks that are custom shaped to a section of each level. We now have 83 unique Level Rocks in total building up our 4 levels! After some experimentation I found a workflow of modelling the rocks to a uniform standard and having them already unwrapped. This kept the style of the block-out rocks the same throughout all our levels.
First Level Rock test. Left: in Max. Right: in UDK
Second Level Rock test
The feedback I got from my level rocks was that they were too flat, so after I finished a level I would hand over those rocks to James and he would make them more jagged and slightly less uniform.
All 4 level's block-out rocks in Max
Level Rocks used in Level 2
Environment work After coming back from Easter break, with only 4 weeks left on the project, we had a bit of a dilemma. The designers couldnâ€™t quite understand or visualise what it was I wanted the levels to look like. The art team spent a lot of time making beautiful assets and I didnâ€™t feel they were given justice in some of the levels. To remedy this I took over Level 1 from Jordan, I spent quite a while replacing assets and re-arranging their placement and scale. As you can see from the images I mantaged to make it look much better. Once I was done with Level 1 me and the team decided that I should go over the other levels as well to keep the placement/use/style of things the same throughout. I think this worked brilliantly because originally each level had itâ€™s own designer making it, and they had different ways of using assets and were using different scales for things that should be a uniform size. Having 1 person go through and adjust all the levels made them much more consistent.
Level 1 as I received it
Level 1 after I had finished with it
I think adding the textures to the rocks and importing the new more jagged rocks that James made had a huge impact on the overall change to the levels. With the textures there it looks a lot more finalised. At the time I was taking over the levels the backgrounds had not been started, or were in the very early stages. So while I was going through them I made the backgrounds for the levels, making them as interesting as possible. My favourite and the favourite of many of our team is the second major background element of Level 2
The waterfall and bubbles look so pretty!
Junior Lead Artist Being given the role of Junior Lead Artist was a great honour and also a great experience for me. At the beginning of the project I was worried my role would not involve much art but instead managing other artists and keeping up with theory work but actually I was quite heavily involved in the Art pipeline and found myself producing a wide range of different assets for different levels of the game which is what I love doing! The Journeyman project was an eye opener and definitely gave me an insight to what industry could be like, this project has fuelled my inspiration and has made me more passionate about getting into the games Industry.
Wooden Walkways One of my first roles I took upon myself was creating the wooden walkways which the player would be walking on. These where quite an important asset as they needed to be done early on so when we were testing we had a platform to walk on. I created 3 variants of the wooden walkways, one being on long wooden legs almost like scaffolding, I also made planks which could be snapped to the side of these legs. Another variant I made was the floor walkway almost similar to something you would find on a beach and the other being a walkway which would be hanging from the ceiling suspended by ropes.
Var1, with tall legs
Var2, low lying
Var3, hanging from ropes
Death Causing Assets Throughout the level there were different types of death triggers which would cause the player to die. As our art style was childish and toy like and we were placing toys around the level which referenced back to the child’s bedroom, we thought it would only be right to use sharp like objects such as pencils and Lego bricks to achieve these “Death triggers”. The pencils and Lego bricks were used in areas situated underneath the player. The Lego bricks were also used as crushers for where if the player did not time their jump correctly they would be crushed by a giant Lego brick.
Lego crusher in action
Lego blocks in an empty UDK scene
Pencil spikes that kill the player Another type of death trigger I created was crystals, but not only where they used to cause death they were used aesthetically to put around the level as light sources. I then went and created a transparent emissive glass texture in UDK to apply to them.
Crystals in place in Level 2
Shader for the blue crystals
Crystals at the end of Level 3
Elevator & Platform There were many challenges we faced during journeyman, architecturally and visually. One of them was for us to come up with a device for the player to go up or down instead of using a Ladder. Originally we wanted a wooden winch lift but as the game only being 1 player how would the player pull himself up on a lift with just a rope? So I came up with the idea of just have a simple wooden elevator connected to a metal beam which is placed in the wall behind the elevator.
Elevator with animatable lever Richard also made a crane which I then made a wooden platform for it to hook onto which the player would stand on and the player would swing round on it but this mechanic never got into the final game.
Crane platform that got culled
My time on Journeyman I found myself not modelling a lot of assets but texturing a lot of other peopleâ€™s assets. This was due to other artists being overwhelmed with their own work and leaving untextured items which needed to be put in game ASAP. So I went ahead and textured them myself with the modellerâ€™s permission. I was quite happy to do this as my texturing skills needed improving and this has most definitely done that. Below are just a few models I textured.
Crate texture variants
As you can see the art style is very consistent throughout all the assets and fit perfectly in game with each other.
Another important piece of work I produced was the cave wall in level 4 for the submarine level. Throughout the other levels there was nothing other than just flat rock walls with a few rocks sticking out here and there but that was for visual purposes and is how we wanted it. But for level 4 we wanted to have some definition in the rock as we were underwater and we just didnâ€™t want the background to be flat so I went ahead and created 5 different rocks in Mudbox all different sizes and shapes. Once I had created my 5 different rocks and retopolgized them and brought them down to an acceptable tri count I then began building up modular rock walls which could slot together and build a giant rock wall. The individual rock walls consisted of about 6 rocks which fit together perfectly producing the image you see on the right. I then made a realistic and cartoon-esc texture which fit into our art style with different colour variants raging from grey,brown and blue so they werenâ€™t just used in the underwater level but could be used throughout the other different levels.
One of the rocks in Max
Rock walls with different materials
Rock Wall - Ore Decal As I thought the rocks looked a bit boring and plain, I decided they would look much better if I went and made an ore decal. These decals had an emissive material on which made the ore glow and gave off a really cool lighting effect.
Rock walls with ore decals applied
One of the last things I did was creating hanging wooden signs to hang around the level to warn the player of dangers that were coming up ahead. I created just simple hanging wooden signs then went into Photoshop and produced some decals such as WARNING! With a little picture of a man getting hit with a hammer. These signs just added to the aesthetics of the level and just populated it that extra bit more.
Plaques and hanging signs with decals applied
Richard Cull Environment Artist
My overall experience in Journeyman has been a successful one. I have learned about the level of engagement you need with other team members to achieve the best result when all the elements of art and design come together. I enjoyed watching the project come together as it was a new experience for me. Looking at the end result I am pleased with how it turned out and how it stacks up among the work of the other teams.
As soon as we decided our game was to be based around a cave environment underneath the island, I did some rough concepts of what an exterior and interior of the cave might look like.
Digital Painting of outside the cave
Digital Painting of inside the cave
Environment Art This crate was one of the first assets I modelled to get a feel and set a good example of what I thought the art style should be. With the bold shapes and the exaggerated curvature, I got positive feedback on this and that told me I was going in the right direction.
Wireframe render of my crate This toy crane was initially used for the bedroom level, but this is a good example of the toy assets that could be used throughout the cave as well. When texturing I did find that trying to recreate a plastic texture was difficult. I should have looked at some in game examples from other games like I tend to do with most of my assets, and ultimately experimenting with specular maps to get the desired effect.
Toy crane asset inside UDK Similar to the crane, this toy robot asset was made for the bedroom but got used throughout the cave. However this also had some UV related issues which proved a problem in UDK and when baking out the ambient occlusion information. I solved these issues by correcting overlapped and inverted UVs. I liked how this asset was also given glowing lights using the emissive channel of the shader.
Wireframe render of my toy robot
Environment Art - Train platform This is the untextured version of the platform that was used in the cave. Overall these assets proved fairly straight forward to create. I do feel that more exaggerated geometry would fit better in the rest of the cave, particularly the pillars as they would have been very simple to adjust to the art style were going for.
Clay render of train platform This is the final render in Max with the textures applied. I feel that the textures have the same problem as the meshes as they are a little too detailed and realistic for what the team was going for. A more stylised look was difficult to achieve as I had not learned how to texture assets this way previously.
Textured version inside 3ds Max
This was the 2D art for the map asset on the platform, this didnâ€™t make the cut into the final game as it didnâ€™t fit the requirements that were needed.
Map for the Minecart puzzle
Daniel Jackson Mechanical Artist
My time working on journeyman has been largely positive, I have enjoyed making the assets I was assigned. Along the way I learnt some valuable, useful and applicable things for my own future projects. Even though our team went through some major changes at the start, and we had a few ups and downs along the way; I am satisfied with the state of our vertical slice, and how far we came in those last few weeks.
Mechanical Assets I was asked to make a toy car and a Scalextric car; I tried to make them both look toy-ish. I also made two pieces of Scalextric track for the carâ€™s to move along. It was nice to see in our finished trailers that the cars actually moved on the track.
Red Scalextric car
Bent piece of track
Straight piece of track
Toy car asset in Max
Mechanical Assets - Continued Also for mechanical assets; I made a Game Boy Color, and a toy gun. The Game Boy Color (or Colour as I amended it), was intended (I believe) to be used in an idle animation of our main characterâ€™s, but alas that was not the case. However it was used in the game itself as an environment piece. This was one of the simpler assets that I made.
Game Boy Colour in Max The toy gun, I originally modelled on a colt .45 handgun; with toy-replica additions and simplifications. I tried to keep the geometry as basic as I could (and not get carried away with it).
Toy gun asset, left: in UDK editor, right: in Max
I also made some other assets for the game; a stack of books [platform], and various mushrooms and fungus. I made a simple book model, and stacked them for use as a platform. I made some textures for them, but there are some other textures not made by myself which look a lot better in my opinion.
Stack of video game books inside Max
Other Assets - Mushrooms
Original mushroom models and textures These were some mushrooms I made quite early. The top row shows the first textures I made, and the bottom row is how they looked in-game with the final textures.
New textures more suiting to overall game art style On top of the existing mushrooms, I was asked to create some clumps of mushrooms similar to an image I was given of examples. I created four types of mushrooms that I named â€œfungusâ€? to differentiate between the two sets. These mushrooms were made by creating simplified cap and stem pieces for each and using FFD modifiers to change things around and arrange them in a way that I thought would look interesting from different perspectives. I think I did a good job with all of the mushrooms, they all glow in-game and look quite nice in my opinion.
Adam Higgins Environment Artist
Journeyman was a fun experience for me, it helped me by both improving my abilities whilst also speeding up my workflow, allowing me to produce higher quality assets in less time. Needless to say, the project had its sour moments, but these mostly helped to strengthen our team while we worked together to overcome any difficulties.
My Assets At the beginning of the project I was set making assets for Harryâ€™s bedroom; these assets included the walls, carpets and electronics, eventually expanding to include his wardrobe, drawers and more.
Assets I contributed to the Bedroom originally The bedroom walls made heavy use of tiling textures, with UVs often extending many times outside the usual 0 to 1 space. This allowed for lower resolution textures while still maintaining a high texel density. The skirting board, for example, only uses one 256x256 texture to span its entire length.
My Assets - Continued Furniture-wise, I decided to browse the kids sections of many retailers such as IKEA for inspiration, eventually settling on the STUVA range as it was brightly coloured yet maintained clean lines and a simple aesthetic.
Lava lamp for bedroom
Wardrobe and drawers inside UDK
Barrel asset for Level 4
Figure of eight Scalextric track
James Stephens Environment Artist
Working on Toybox Island with my team was a great experience as it was a great time getting to work with people that were as dedicated to this project as I was and it helped me develop my skills and learn how to deal with any crisis that popped up.
My Work The assest I created were created to give the level more detail and made it feel like a mine/cave. The art style we decided on was fairly simple and cartoony so the models I created mirrored this fact. I created several of the small assets that went around the level such as support beams, rocks, dominoes and candles. I also created the podiums that the collectibles were displayed on and I modelled and textured all of the rocks that made up the levels playable area. One of the most complicated models I created were the keys that were collected through the game. These not only were fairly detailed models, they also had a gold shader.
Wooden support beams
5 variations of rock
Key models with a golden shader applied
Collectable object podiums
Metal support beams. One closed off for use in the background
Dominoes with numbers modelled in
3 variations of a candle
Sophie Morris Texture Artist
My time on the journeyman project has been a lot of fun. I have managed to come out with a lot of experience in many areas of game art and even a good insight into game design. It was great seeing loads of ideas at the beginning for the game thrown back and forth between people and it gradually developing into the end product we have now.
Concept Art At First I worked on a few concepts for the main character Harry. At first our main character was going to be a 6 year old girl and I came up with a couple of girl concepts for what was later going to become Harry. After the first couple of meetings and after some drastic story changes we later decided on the young adventurer to be a boy called Harry. Harry himself also went through a few design changes before being sent off to the dynamic asset team for modelling. To the right is the final concept the team agreed on. After doing some character concepts I moved on to some environment concepts. The foliage of the game was to be a big part of the visual premise in our games art style. With a huge influence from the game Trine in terms of art style and lighting, this heavily influence the way I designed the foliage as many of the plants would be glowing through the use of emissive maps throughout all the levels. Here are some example sketches I did for the foliage.
Final concept for Harry
Designs for different plants. On the right image is the puzzle plant
Environment Modelling To begin with a lot of white boxing was done, and I contributed a fair bit to the static meshes used in the white box. I also worked on some of the foliage seen around the game, most notably the concept and model of one of the plants used in one of the main puzzles. This plant was used in a â€œSimon saysâ€? style mechanic where the player watched a sequence and had to replicate the sequence back to open up the next area and progress. For this to work the plant needed an emissive texture. I had briefly looked into making emissive textures for UDK before, but not put it to use before.
The puzzle also needed a vine blockage in the same style as the plants seen here so I also made the vines seen below. The textures on both are hand painted and done to match each otherâ€™s style so the player can easily recognise they are part of the same art style.
I did work on other minor models found throughout the environment, including more plants and small toys.
These are the puzzle plant and vine block in-game
Texturing Our art style required many of the team to try out hand drawing. The problem we came across with here was the fact many of our artists were technical artists, therefore were not so confident with the idea of hand painting textures. To combat this I made some seamless textures, these could be used in UDK for vertex painting and used as a master texture. For example, I made a master wood texture, this was available to all the artists to get hold of and they were able to use this for any wooden texture they needed. This seemed like the most logical way to try keep everything looking similar and within the same art style. All of these textures are 2048x2048 so they are easily editable for all the artist to work from.
These are the puzzle plant and vine block in-game I also helped out with other peerâ€™s models more directly when it came to texturing. A couple of students in the group were not confident with texturing the assets they were given, so I helped out towards the end with finishing a few of the textures so we could import them in time for the final take of the levels and gameplay. Here is a collection of some of the textures I worked on, credit for the models go to James Stephens and Joseph Hodgson.
Voice Acting I got the chance to do a tiny bit of voice acting for the trailer, this was one of the more unique jobs I got to do and it was immensely fun. I was hesitant at first, but this ended up being a great deal of fun, I am really glad I got the opportunity to do this!
Concept Artist My role for the team was concept artist which was what I prefer to be part of the journeyman project. My role was to create concept art on the robot which will be featured as part of a puzzle, and environment concepts. I have a great experience working with the team, throughout the project I have learn on how to work as a team and how to work with different kind of people.
My Work When we are discussing ideas on the game levels I suggested adding a toy robot to one of the level as part of the puzzle, and then immediately I was assigned to do some concept on the robot. I have created 6 different designs on the robot and after discussion we picked this one on the right. The image on the right is a possible modification sheet for the toy robot.
Concept of first jump in Level 1
This picture on the left is one of the environment concept art of the level, which shows on how everything will be place in the section of the level. I have also added the plants from Sophieâ€™s idea to make the scene look more interesting.
This was a background painting which originally will be used as the gameâ€™s background. After discussion we decided to use 3D model as background instead as it shows better layers to the level background.
Background painting for parallax effect
Jordan Knights Lead Designer
As Design Lead I found my Journeyman experience to be quite interesting. It was challenging to lead such a huge group of people coherently while also trying to contribute myself. Leading this project has been an amazing opportunity and I think it will benefit me majorly in industry.
Gameplay The first thing I did as design lead was to organise the level designers and gameplay designers to work on puzzle ideas, My two puzzles revolved around the idea of two different puzzle types; Logic and collection. The first thing I did was I drew up the ideas using Photoshop and show the rest of the group this allowed them to get an idea of how I wanted each puzzle to function and this also helped when it came to creating the mechanics themselves
Gameplay - Kismet As Lead I also dabbled into the kismet in the game. The first piece of kismet I created was for the 2D Camera. For the 2D Camera I spent hours following guides and tutorials with no avail until I tried attaching a camera to the player and using toggles to lock controls and hide unwanted prompts. The only issue I had was adjusting the camera, this is where the camera target came into the formula. This allowed me to edit the camera to fit the game perfectly.
2D camera Kismet setup
After the camera was setup I delved into creating a push and pull mechanic. As it was a platformer I figured weâ€™d need a push and pull mechanic sooner or later so I began experimenting with kismet and I managed to create a method that allows me to drag and drop objects using the same format as the camera setup (attach to actor). However this method did have an issue and that was you could make two solid objects phase into each other by touching them. It was due to the fact you attached the actor to the player giving it no collision until released. In the end we scrapped this mechanic when we cut down the level size.
Push and pull Kismet setup
I also worked on the TNT destruction mechanic with Eugene; we both did a fair amount of work towards this mechanic. Originally I was going to fake the destruction using a matinee sequence then switch out the solid mesh for a broken mesh. But after a chat with Eugene he managed to devise a way to use a radius impulse actor in which he used my attachment kismet to attach the impulse actor onto the TNT Box. Weâ€™d then have a trigger at the plunger which would then turn on the impulse actor causing the mesh to fracture.
TNT mechanic Kismet setup
Level Design Moving on to Level design, for a short while when we re-designed the rocks for all 4 levels I took over command of level one - the tutorial level. I wanted to quickly block out the level as we were short on time then pass it over to the level designers so they could improve on it. I’ve included a screenshot process showing you what it was before Easter, after I finished basic block out and the final result after our artists polished the environment. When I was doing this level I wanted to keep to the theme as much as possible so I made use of toys and other assets we had. I also did a very small matinee sequence on the Scalextric track in my build which got used in the final build on a much larger scale. I did not want to over use what assets we had as I didn’t want to make the level seem repeated so I tried to vary it up with different textures on Lego blocks and different rotation points on the assets to make sure they didn’t look like they’d all been copied from one area to another without any alterations.
Before Easter (Old Version)
During Easter (My version)
Final version (After artists did their magic)
Cinematic Finally the part I contributed the most too was the cinematic side, as our other cinematic designers were busy with sound and storyboarding I took command of adding in the animation sequences and general level matinees needed.
The first thing I needed to get working was trigger animations such as lever pulling and interacting with objects. When trying to get this to work I got advised to use a skeletal mesh to play the animation, from there I came up with the idea of using toggle hidden/ unhidden and toggle input nodes to switch the player character out for a skeletal mesh when a used trigger is accessed, this would instantly hide the player, unhide the skeletal mesh which would be hooked up to a matinee sequence, once the sequence finished it would unhide the player character and unlock the controls allowing the player to move.
Working animation Kismet
Level 1 animation Kismet
After I added all the animation sequences into level 1,2,3 and four I focused on the general matinees such as making lifts go up and down. I also matineed the dominoes falling and the original Scalextric cars.
Dominoes before they fall over
Edited matinee sequence for the lever
Liam McDonnell Junior Lead Designer
Being Junior Lead Designer in this Journeyman project was a great experience and one that I have learned a lot from. I had to be flexible and help out in different roles within the team, such as Level Design, Sound, and Cinematic. Which at times was stressful but also a lot of fun, and has also helped me improve my skills in areas I donâ€™t usually focus on such as sound editing which I found interesting and fun. Journeyman has improved my confidence and enthusiasm for my work and given me an interest in sound design.
I was responsible for adding the sound effects into our game and editing the existing matinee by adding the appropriate sound effects, pictured to the left is a screenshot of the sound clips added to the train matinee sequence at the start of level 3.
Sounds inside a matinee sequence One of the most challenging tasks I had was editing the UTPawnSoundGroup file so that the custom sounds I added into the game would play as the player walked over different surfaces in the game such as rock and wood, and also would play different sound effects when the player jumped. I did this by creating sound cues for different interactions in the game.
UTPawnSoundGroup file editing
Pictured to the right is a screenshot of the sound cue I made using the different jump sound effects that were recorded for Harry.
Unreal SoundCue editor
As well as implementing the sounds into the game, I was also responsible for finding and editing the majority of the sound effects for Toybox Island. The sounds I got for the game where found online then edited by me using Audacity.
Sound editing in Audacity I then imported these sounds into UDK for use in the game. I would have liked to have tried to record my own sound effects but due to my other commitments and time constraints I had to resort to editing sound effects I found online. I also wrote the script for the dialogue in Toybox Island along with our Cinematic Designer Dan Holland which was a lot of fun to do, and great to hear some of the lines I wrote being said by Harry during the game.
Cutting the trailer in Adobe Premiere
One of my other roles in the team was to create our game trailer for the final presentation, which I worked on closely with our teams Cinematic Designer Dan Holland. Together we wrote the script and using an Artist from our team Sophie Morris and our Lead Designers younger Brother recorded the dialogue for our trailer. Then using the gameplay videos recorded by our team Dan and I created the trailer using Adobe Premier to edit the videos
Script for some of the cinematics
Editing the trailer for our final presentation
Ash Cochran Level Designer
I was given the role of Level Designer which I found quite daunting at first because the levels are one of the most important elements of the game but once it came to sketching out level ideas I found myself enjoying it a lot. Helping design the 2D levels was a fun experience especially figuring out how to implement all the interesting and dynamic mechanics we had available to us. It was very interesting watching our game levels go through several iterations and evolve as we developed new ideas and overcame obstacles.
Here are several of the different level design drawings I did as well as one of the logic puzzle ideas I designed. As you can see the game has gone through several iterations and changes but there are still elements of these in the final game.
Photos of my Level 1 drawings
My puzzle idea
Level 2 design drawing
These are the several whiteboxes I did early on to get a feel for how the designs would look when made in UDK, several elements from the first few iterations made it into the final design. Also due to a scope problem our game levels were cut down considerably so the final whiteboxes I did are a lot larger then what was used in our final game.
Whiteboxes of original levels 1, 2 & 3
Other Work Once the scope of the game was cut down and separated into 4 levels, I was given level 2 to work on. Here are some of the final pieces of work I did for it. I did the early population of the level adding the walkways and platforms and such before our Art lead JJ Behan went through and populated each level with a uniform design style. I also worked on the matinee for the Lego crushers, the breaking walkway planks and the swaying walkways.
Kismet for the Lego block crushers
Screenshot of Level 2 after first pass of asset population
Declan Hoyland User Interface Designer
The role of user interface designer was actually the role I was very much not hoping to get, but I ended up having a blast with it! I was initially scared that there wasnâ€™t going to be much work UI work to do, but since two out of four of our main puzzles were UI based, I had plenty to get on with. I was already familiar with UDK before the project, but the role of UI designer forced me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to Flash, a program which Iâ€™ve never properly used, let alone for integration into a game engine. Journeyman gave me the opportunity to sharpen my skills in multiple programs, and work with a fantastic group of extremely talented students.
The menu UI I created for our main characters bedroom, with the use of script in flash; the crayon text acted as buttons which triggered off various in-game commands and actions! The art team did a fantastic job of putting the bedroom together!
Game options displayed on the TV
The bedroom, mouse over an asset to make the menu pop up
Minecart Puzzle The Minecart puzzle was something that I was involved with from the start of the project, although the way the mechanic worked changed heavily towards the end the project because of technical difficulties. Every time the player pulls a lever, the mine map updates letting the player know where he will end up if he jumps into the toy train and rides off; the key to passing this puzzle is pulling levers in the correct order leading the player out of the mine!
Animation of Harry riding the train
Train station in editor mode
The other major puzzle I was involved in was the toy robot! The player was responsible for collecting tools stationed around the map which would then allow the repair of the robot to take place, putting the player through a small UI based click puzzle. Upon repairing the robot a cinematic would then play showing the robot helping the player bypass a part of the map they could not get past alone!
Robot about to push the TNT box
In-game UI Below and to the left are some of the interface things I came up with! Just small things that update to reflect the players actions in game. I was lucky enough to have help from an artist with updating the key inventory so it looked a lot better at the end!
Interact prompt pop-up for the lever
Iâ€™m really proud to have worked with such a great bunch of aspiring artists/designers and the outcome of Journeyman was the production of a very good game! If I had more time on the project the UI would have looked 10x better as they would have all of had proper graphical updates and a lot of the pop-up UI wouldnâ€™t have appeared to be very rushed in its implementation.
Cinematic & Sound Designer I really enjoyed working both sound and cinematic, I got to use software that I normally would not use which made the work a challenge but it was still a fun experience. The project had a rough start due to changing and evolving ideas. Though we had a bumpy start the vertical slice that we produced was very unique and to see the work presented made me very happy and proud to see all the work that we did come to life.
Cinematic Storyboards The storyboards I created were passed onto the animation team responsible for cinematics, they used my drawings and descriptions as a guideline to create the cinematics that would later be added into our game. Some of them were adapted into other variations like in-game cinematics or were added to. The storyboards allowed the animation team know what we were aiming for.
Opening cinematic storyboard
Robot puzzle in-game cinematic storyboard
Sound I also spent time in the recording booth getting our script recorded for our trailer and in game audio which I did with my junior lead Liam McDonnell. Jordan Knights got his younger brother to voice Harry, our games main character, and one of our artists, Sophie Morris, was the voice of the narrator. We also had help from one Teesside Universityâ€™s sound engineers that helped us to record the sounds ready for clipping and editing, I had a lot of fun making and recording the voices to go in the trailer and game. It felt good to see them in action and hear and see peoples responses.
Having a laugh in the Sound Booth
Audio editing in Audacity I used Adobe Premiere to import our captured footage and then mix in extra sounds, music and the audio we captured in the sound booth to the video. I did this along side my junior lead designer who was also working on sound with me.
Adding voices to video in Adobe Premiere
Level & Gameplay Designer I was given the role of level designer which was my preferred choice when applying for journeyman positions. My job was to sketch out and implement level designs as well as populate the levels with assets and create the scripting for puzzles/gameplay that I had designed. I was also asked to light each of the four levels and apply VFX (given from the animation team) to keep in theme with the art style we were aiming to achieve. Journeyman was an interesting module with the ability to expand individual skill, increase my work ethic and work as part of a strong team. During the design process a lot of iterations of levels and mechanics were created, some implemented, many werenâ€™t. Due to their being only one gameplay designer I was asked by the lead designer to help out in this field where necessary. As such I created a few simple puzzles/mechanics that were used throughout the game and gave advice on the best ways to implement certain mechanics/puzzles via kismet. The team for the most part were fun to work with, a strong core helped achieve a really polished vertical slice and the positive attitude that these core members portrayed on a daily basis helped keep enthusiasm high and maintain the work ethic needed to finish all required tasks.
These were my first initial sketches of some simple levels that the lead designer asked me to create. The levels were very basic and utilized mechanics that never made it to final cut, i.e. climbing the vine to move up/down levels and falling stalagmites. As these sketches were very basic and given that they werenâ€™t used in the final design, there was no need to recreate them with better visuals. Though, this gave us a good premise to start working from and ultimately the levels fit a very similar layout to what we see below.
Early design drawings for level ideas On the sketches, I had implemented the mechanics (Not all of them) that the player would need to utilize to complete the levels, though they have changed slightly, most of the original ideas/mechanics have been implemented into the game and the level flow/pace kept similar to these original level designs.
Harry's Bedroom (Before/After) My first task was to work with the artists to create and design the basics of Harryâ€™s room which was going to be used for the start screen/player HUB. With the assistance of several artists I was able to populate the first white boxed variant that we had decided to settle upon. The art style was created by the artists but the colour pallet was in dispute for a while and ultimately changed for the better.
After I had finished populating the level with assets, Adam Higgins (artist) added some final touches before passing it on to our UI designer to implement the HUD and UI scripts that were being used for our start screens.
Level 1 - Continued This was the level I had originally been designing, but it was taken over by Jordan whilst I finished creating level 2 and 3 due to poor design flow and pacing from another designer. Level 1 changed drastically from the above final render. We had originally used a lot of rocks to create the ceiling/ foreground and the background as well to keep the player confined to the â€œcave styleâ€? playable space. Below is a sample screenshot of what we had originally started to create for the level one white box, and the other image is the final variant of a similar scene which we adapted to fit our design/art changes.
Whitebox of the first jump in level 1
Final version of the first jump in-game
Level 1 Puzzle (Simon Says)
Simon Says puzzle in Level 1 I created the main puzzle for level 1 which was utilizing our art style and easing the player into the mechanics that were to be implemented into the other levels. The process of this was rather new to me in terms of implementation and took a lot of testing to get right. Ultimately I was able to achieve the working puzzle, in its design stage it works like; The plants light up in a â€œrandomâ€? order for a brief period of time, the player must interact with the plants in the same order to light them up, if unsuccessful the plants will revert back to their original unlit state and the player will have to try again, if successful the vine wall will move allowing the player to progress to the end of the level. Here are a few shots of the kismet:
Full kismet for interacting with the puzzle plants
Level 1 Puzzle (Simon Says) - Kismet
This is the sequence for the plants to light up, a short delay between each plant glowing (turning the light on/off).
Sequence for the plants lighting up
1 of 4 Kistmet scripts for the plants Each plant has a set integer which (when interacted with) changes the state counter and applies a new material to the object if correct, or reverts to the original material if incorrect.
Level 3 was set towards a toy theme and again it had changed drastically from the original design/ layout (Mainly due to scope and partly because of our art style adding a tweak to the feel of the game (Which worked out a lot better in the end and made the game feel/look better). Here is a sample of the building of level 3 from white boxing to final implementation of assets: (Compared to the final render above â€“ Enivornment finalized by JJ Behan)
All of level 3 with block-out rocks
Floating platform area
Screwdriver collectable section
Main background area
Lighting and VFX Lighting was quite the challenge for the game as we had set on a bright/vibrant light style mostly utilizing emissive textures. Additionally, the game is set underground/a cave system and as such would have had very little natural lighting. To get around this I used a variety of lights to keep the levels bright enough for the player to see, but turned all the shadows off, as logically, they made no sense; it was more to aid the player in the right direction and allow them to see the playable area. I also changed the colour style for each level to fit more the theme for them, I think I achieved what I had originally set out to with the lighting, though some areas could be improved.
End of level 1 with lighting done and VFX in place Sample image of lighting and visual effects for a small part of level 1 â€“ I had to finish level 1, 2 & 3 lighting and visual effects.
End of level 3 with lighting done and VFX in place
Eu-gene Kwee Gameplay Designer
Getting a role I never expected to get certainly left me gobsmacked, extremely tired but ultimately rewarded at the end of the project. Considering we had to make a vertical slice and not implement too much functional gameplay, working on this project has left me drawing blanks more often than none. The experience gained after Journeyman however has been invaluable to me and it will carry on after I venture into the workforce. I would be the first to admit I’ve got terrible design logic and skills, not to mention my kismet skills were very weak. Thanks to the blood, sweat and lots of hair pulling of Journeyman I’m happy to say I’ve emerged a better person and designer/worker. Working with an excellent team didn’t just hone my skills in design, it also allowed me to brush up on my soft skills such as communicating and interacting with many people I’m not familiar with. Credit to the team, we’ve worked hard and made something we can be proud of.
Planning As with the start of all projects, we had to sort out what we wanted the game to be and what we wanted to be in the game proper. Since we decided it was to be a puzzle platformer, we all needed to pitch a few ideas that would eventually mould the game into what it is now. Due to my inexperience with puzzle games, I did have difficulty coming up with a decent one we could use. So in the end the best one I came up with was a timed event involving dodging pendulums. Players had to be cautious because they would need to dodge the pendulums a 2nd time as they climbed down. This puzzle did go into our finished product in the form of toy hammers. We decided pendulums - especially sharp ones - didn’t suit the theme of a child’s imagination.
Swinging hammers in level 1
General Gameplay The UI for the Robot was done by Declan, but the TNT/ Destruction mechanic was worked on by Jordan and I. Initially, instead of going to functionality Jordan wanted to fake the destruction by using matinees. Due to the complex nature of how meshes and things that interact with it, we scarped that method. I did further research into how meshes could be destroyed and came up with the solution: Radial Impulse actor.
Kistmet for the TNT Mechanic The image on the right shows some of the workarounds I did with it. Usually, the Radial Impulse actor is used for static triggered explosions, whereby it causes fractures â€“if activatedon a Fractured Static Mesh, which is sliced and generated in the static mesh window. We did many test runs to make sure the explosions would look right when the actor was toggled on. After that, I attached it to the explosive box which would then carry the actor near what we wished to fracture.
Radial impulse actor In the case of the robot, the robot will push the explosive box near a wall when fixed and players will then push the plunger to toggle on the Radial Impulse actor, thereby destroying the wall and allowing players to pass.
Prototype TNT Mechanic
Final game art for TNT Mechanic
Submarine Level Instead of another puzzle on land, a change of setting, visual stimuli and pace was the reasoning behind the submarine idea. In terms of mechanics we also wished to detract a little from our platformer mainstays such as run and jump. If not for Mr Deepak’s genius custom player switching kismet Action, I might have had to make the submarine a vehicle or go into code to get the player spawned as a submarine, both tasks needing significantly longer time than what we had on board. After the switching process was finalized, our supervisor suggested we made the submarine fire torpedoes, like all submarines do. This was a bigger task than expected, I had to do several adaptations and reverse engineer several kismet chains before the submarine responded in kind. The Kismet images illustrate the complexity required to make our submarine fire functionally. The kismet chain above was just so the submarine could destroy 2 walls, each destructible object needed its own separate kismet chain in order for the torpedo to detect it as its own entity. Due to the torpedoes not being a UDK pre-set weapon (it’s spawned from an actor factory), it needed to be able to detect the distance from where it was launched and detect the collision with the desired object before determining if the destruction happens or not. We had to implement the destruction mechanic in the level was well.
Submarine switching Kismet
Torpedo detection Kismet
Rock meshes added to the sea mines
The first method I tried was to use another actor factory and spawn a Radial Impulse actor onto the torpedoes, which failed to work as it couldn’t be toggled on and set to cause fracture straight away. So the next method was to add the Radial Impulse actor to the objects I wanted to fracture, allow the torpedo to destroy a mesh –which is hidden in game- attached to the destructible object and trigger the Radial Impulse actor. In the kismet chain above, the moment the torpedo (A) touches –get distance- the destroyable mesh (B) it then destroys it if collision is detected which in turns toggle the Radial Impulse actor and a particle emitter on, blowing up the desired mesh.
Submarine Level - Continued I donâ€™t have much level design experience, so the level idea I had for this was the best I could come up with at the time. Much of it was modified/scraped in the end but the main idea remained: keep it short and sweet. Let the player destroy or dodge the hazards in the their way and finally set it up for an explosive finish. As a team we agreed to keep this level relatively small and linear so it would be completed and polished within the given time frame of Journeyman. Polishing the level would only come after it was populated, so Jordan promptly discussed with me how the level should flow, gave me an initial concept and allowed me to tinker with how I saw fit. Having that idea in mind then writing it down, it was time to compare it to the initial concept and see how it differed. Parts that would be too time consuming such as the platform that shot spikes, the sequenced opening of spikes, the boomboxes and air vents were taken out of the concept. They would be replaced with moving mines/ explosive barrels which served the same purpose of obstructing the player and saving a lot of time. The final firing kismet is unusually long due to me adding a 2nd torpedo as our submarine has 2 torpedo tubes. JJ and Luke proceeded to populate the level with more assets and lighting, adding the last level of polish and making the level look presentable. I set up the post process volumes to give the feel of an underwater level, slightly blue tone with a slight blur. Sounds were added by me before signing the level off with the submarine having sonar, waterfall splashing, rocks crumbling and Harryâ€™s cheeky dialogue courtesy of the sound designerâ€™s work. Overall it did have a few errors in functionality as kismet could only take the torpedo firing so far, but it did function and look good for the most part which was what we wanted to show as a proof of concept.
Submarine firing Kismet chain
End of Level 4 with Key collectable
Implementing animation Another part I did for the level was to add in the in-between animations for Harry as he did various things, such as entering/ exiting the submarine and obtaining the key at the end of the level. I worked alongside Jordan for this as he had a lot more experience when it came to this area. This task was accomplished by adding triggers to places whereby Harry or the submarine would be animated. By adding a skeletal mesh of Harry or the submarine and then hiding the player, the skeletal placed in the area will then play out the animation so long as there is a trigger/ trigger volume in the vicinity. When the animation finishes from the matinee sequence it hides the skeletal mesh of the animation and unhides the player. Some areas needed to lock player controls as well so they whole cinematic can play out, such as Harry getting in and out of the submarine.
Level 4 animation kismet
Matinee of Harry climbing into the submarine
Submarine descending matinee
Submarine in all its in-game glory!
Matthew Sage Sound Designer
Despite having one of the less popular roles in the project, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as sound designer. Playing the final game, and hearing the sounds that I made as you play is a great feeling.
Sound Design My role within the team was to create the sound for the game. My first Job was to record sound that was actually doable. For example the Toy Train “Choo-Choo” was actually made by me playing my flute. I then edited the recording in Audacity using a Low Pass Filter to make it sound more like a train. For the sounds I couldn’t record myself, I found on the internet and edited them accordingly to fit into our game. Things like explosions or submarine sonar I could not record myself for obvious reasons.
Levi Pierre Cinematic Team
I enjoyed working as a team because it was something different and there was always someone who could help you if you had a problem.
Jobâ€™s a gooden Thanks Shaf!