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VR UMG menus

Here’s a couple screen shots showing the game menus in VR displayed on an actor (instead of screen space HUD).

I also fixed more corner cases related to Pass through Rock, movement, and UMG menus.

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Spell Menus (and more)

Justin implemented spells a while back, but this is my first time posting it in a video.  UMG menu system for selecting a spell.  Each of the 12 hero spells (original quest book) is implemented.

Other recent changes:
* More fixes related to opening doors, the move system, and path-finding.
* UMG menu system now skips disabled (grayed out) buttons.
* When there’s no monster’s spawned, Move rolls auto 6’s.  I think of this as “fast forwarding” because the player could skip turns and keep rerolling until they get 6’s.

Body HUD, misc

Another good week of progress (part-time):
* VR: a little more progress
* Move system: refactor / fix / enhance
* Hero Body HUD

With hero Body HUD I ran into a good use for shared_ptr.  At first there was a bug when displaying a dead hero’s health.  When any figure dies (hero or monster), the corresponding HqSpaceOccupant is deleted, which deletes the pointer to the HqFigure (HqHero or HqMonster).  We still had another pointer to the HqHero for the HUD, but it was now pointing a deleted object, so the HUD displayed –35 (instead of 0) Body.  I fixed this by using using shared_ptr.  I suppose a messier way to do it would’ve been to have HqSpaceOccupant dtor conditionally skip deleting its figure when the figure is a hero (HqHero).  The video lets heroes die to show the bug fix.

The video also shows the latest Move system with mouse input and arrow key input.  For debugging, the hero rolls 255, which is why there’s so many red squares (otherwise the game only displays valid Move spaces).

The current turn order system (including the Body HUD) lets you (in code as there’s no UI for it yet) use any order for the heroes.  The HUD assumes four heroes, though I don’t think it would be much work to make it N heroes.

More VR Setup: a third camera

I did some additional basic steps to support VR.  Previously we had two cameras – the main spring-arm camera that follows an invisible pawn, and a fixed birds eye camera (for orthographic projection).  I added a third camera for VR.

With the third camera, we’re able to look around and see the motion controllers…  I think for VR, the camera control code will be separate from the main camera.  No auto camera moving.  Isn’t attached (via spring arm) to an invisible pawn, so panning etc will also be different.

Brass Tactics is one reference for how motion controller camera movement can work.  Hold down (a) grip button(s) to drag the camera/world.

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https://docs.unrealengine.com/en-us/Platforms/Oculus/HowTo/SeatedCamera

https://docs.unrealengine.com/en-us/Platforms/VR/MotionController

HeroQuest: Gold Spreadsheet

I made a spreadsheet for gold and special treasure.

Because we’re replacing (cross-quest disposable items) with reusable items, the only thing that can vary across quests (in terms of Heroes “leveling up”) is gold.  I’m enthused about creating a challenge mode where you can warp to a particular quest and try to beat it, with an increased difficulty mode, as an isolated challenge/puzzle (aside StarCraft 2’s campaign has this).  So even getting a variable amount of gold per quest, that you carry cross-quest, doesn’t necessarily mesh well with challenge mode.

We could have two modes – a campaign mode (where you save gold across quests) and a challenge mode (where you get a pre-determined amount of gold at the start of a particular quest).  And if we go that route, then I ‘m tempted to reinstate (cross-quest disposable items) for campaign mode.  But I find that idea kind of messy.

I also have concerns about the fact that your theoretical max gold (for each quest) is an absurdly rare occurrence.  The idea of someone playing through each quest ad nauseam (to get the max gold for that quest) makes me cringe.

I prefer to only tweak rules when it’s fixing a design bug (using the term “bug” rather loosely).  And I’d like to make challenge mode a core focus.  But even within those parameters, my latest design tweak is…   Each quest gives you a predetermined amount of gold.  Treasure card gold only lasts until the end of the current quest, and it can be used (when there are no monsters in line of sight) to buy treasure card potions (that last until the end of the quest).

As the heroes progress through each quest, they “level up” by finding new perma-items and by getting gold (which they can use to buy perma-items).  So I created a spreadsheet to analyze gold earned relative to maxing out what you can purchase.  The general idea is to make “leveling up” gradual.

With 70 quests (65 if we count: Dark Company as one instead of four, Mage 9 & 10 as one instead of two, Frozen 9 & 10 as one instead of two), it got a bit tedious, but the spreadsheet is useful to help balance the progression of (Heroes “leveling up”) versus (quests increasing in difficulty).

One thing that stands out is that the cross-expansion balance doesn’t seem well thought out.  For example, Mage in the Mirror has enough gold (8200 special + up to 2325 from treasure cards) + special treasure, that if you started from scratch, you’d still have maxed out armory gear by about Quest 5, and plenty of one time use potions.  As another example, The Frozen Horror Quest 1 gives the Barbarian (crossbow, longsword, shield) which suggests that you’re starting from scratch.  Yet the expansions don’t seem to be designed for you to start from scratch, because some of them give you gold rewards at the end of the last quest.  So I feel very justified in using the term “design bug” in describing my progression balancing concerns.  As much as I am aiming for authentic/nostalgia, I also want to fix these design flaws.

Another design idea this gives me is to have a campaign mode where you start each questbook from scratch (with starting equipment).  In that case, a more vanilla rules interpretations would be okay, such as…  Allow heroes to keep special treasure healing potions across quests.  Allow heroes to have multiple copies of a weapon (including the crossbow) (if they can afford the gold).  Looking at the spreadsheet, I don’t think the difficulty would be too high…  At first glance, Wizards of Morcar Quest 1 looks impossible (13 chaos warriors, a gargoyle, a boss), but not if you use European stats (monsters have 1 body).

Here’s the spreadsheet: gold

VR mode for HeroQuest UE4

My HeroQuest UE4 sabbatical went on longer than I’d like, and I’m hoping to do some more HeroQuest UE4 development – starting with VR support.  Dec 2017 I finally got an Oculus Rift (which required a CPU and GPU upgrade).  Last night, I was inspired to try it with HeroQuest UE4.  It worked without much effort, but clearly there is work to be done even for just basic usability.

I found I’m quite vulnerable to VR sickness issues including: disorientation, sweating, nausea, and headache.  I had to close my eyes when I do “End Turn” and the auto camera fluidly moves to re-center on the next game piece.  Trying to use the WASD camera (panning) also gave me immediate motion sickness.  Teleporting is safer for VR.  Zooming and Tilting seemed harmless.

The UMG Blueprint Widget is stretched, and it draws over both eyes as if they are one screen (it ignores stereo rendering).

Keyboard and XBox controller input works as expected.  I can highlight things with the mouse even though the mouse cursor is invisible (very strange).  Looking at actors (eg the red/yellow highlight actor during Action –> Move) also triggered a mouse-over.

Some basic TODO items include:
* Cameras: default position, disable auto cam moves, VR-specific camera improvements
* UMG menus need VR integration
* VR motion controller simple mode analogous to xbox controller; VR-specific controls (teleport, 3D interactions)

The high level goal is to support each platform.  UE4 gives most of this for free, but I still need to implement UI differences for desktop, tablet, console, and VR.  Actually because this is a board game, I suspect AR/MR may be the coolest platform, but maybe that’s for 2019.

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PS: if someone wants to contribute (help with development and implementation), then please contact me 🙂

Cryptocurrency Mania (and taxes)

Jan 2016 to Mar 2017, I was making reliable progress on HeroQuest UE4. After changing jobs (and moving from TX to CA), progress slowed, and I entered an indefinite hobby project sabbatical circa late Jun 2017.

Early Nov 2017 I got sucked into the cryptocurrency mania – albeit a bit late to the party.  Circa May 2013 (Tekzilla 431) I have vague memories of almost buying (and/or mining) bitcoin, but for whatever reason I dropped it.  I suspect it’s a common story.  Price quotes: $266 (Apr 2013), $130 (May 2013), $100 (Jun 2013), $350-$1242 (Nov 2013), $600-$1000 (Dec 2013), $6,500 (Nov 2017), $10,000-$20,000 (Dec 2017), $7,000 (Mar 2018).

Back to Nov 2017…  Besides learning about it, I also invested a small amount (for fun), which caused me to get sucked into the overly complicated tax situation. It’s an example of how governments too often add unnecessary complexity to our lives.  This is bad because it wastes human effort, adds counterproductive complexity to our lives, discourages innovation, rationalizes witch hunts, and worst of all – it extended my HeroQuest UE4 sabbatical :-p

I’m not a licensed CPA or tax professional, but here’s my layman’s summarized understanding.  The IRS considers cryptocurrency as property (for tax purposes), so you’re expected to track every time you get it as income (includes mining), you spend it, or you trade it.  If you day trade and/or mine and/or use it for daily transactions, then you could end up with an absurd of transactions.  And you might lack detailed records of everything.

Standard tax software (eg TurboTax, TaxACT, H&R Block) doesn’t have an easy/streamlined way to import data for crypto taxes.  Specialized crypto tax software (eg cointracking.info, bitcoin.tax) supports some exchanges via API import or CSV/XLSX import.

But for other exchanges, I ended up writing Python scripts to help process the data.  Eg copy tables of data from an exchange website to use as input file to a Python script, which outputs a CSV file that can be imported into a crypto tax reporting tool. The crypto tax reporting tool can then be used to generate a Form 8949, a PDF, a CSV/XLSX, or a tax report file that can be imported into traditional tax software (eg TurboTax, TaxACT).

The intent of this blog is to track some of my programming hobby projects. Cryptocurrency investing (and tax reporting) is one of those hobby projects in that…  I did some learning about cryptocurrency (related to computer software and hardware).  And I wrote some Python scripts to help with investment tracking and tax reporting. So it’s sort of relevant.  However, besides this entry, I don’t plan to post (much?) about cryptocurrency.

BitcoinEthereumRippleLitecoinNEOCardanoStellarDashMoneroVeChainNanoDogecoinDragonchainSALTSteemBinance CoinZcashIOTATHEKEY

Contributions from Justin

I’ve had to slow down on HeroQuest UE4 development because I moved from TX to CA and changed jobs (from AMD to Samsung).  Meanwhile, I got contacted by a volunteer (Justin) to join the project.  So far Justin has been working on spells (menus and game logic), control systems, and game menus.  We’ve had emails to coordinate and to brainstorm on design and implementation details.

Here are early screen shots showing some of what Justin has been working on. Spell Menu UI.  Multi-square mouse movement (click on a dst and the game finds a path).  Pass through rock (walk through walls).  Veil of mist (walk through monsters).  Courage (+2 attack eg 5 instead of 3).  Genie (attack with 5 dice).  Swift Wind (roll double move dice).  Thank you Justin for the help, and I hope we can continue working on this long-term.

To anyone reading this, if you’re interested in contributing, then please contact me.

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Improved Hero/Monster 3d Models

Back in 2016/04, I used an EinScan-S (~$1000) to take 3d scans of the HeroQuest models.  They were a vast improvement over boxes-with-photos, but they were also pretty blurry looking.

About a year later (2017/04), a student (Thomas Springer) posted higher quality 3d scans using “ScanStudio” software, which I’m guessing means the ~$3000 NextEngine Laser Scanner.  He did this as a college project.  He posted the STL files as “free to download”, so I’ve used these to upgrade my existing figure/monster models.

You can find the STL files here – https://springer3dscans.wordpress.com/

For each model, I used MeshLab to convert STL to OBJ.  Then in Maya, I reduced each model to ~25,000 triangles (35k for the gargoyle), then reduced the base by ~85%.  Doing these quick edits for each of 17 models took some time, but it was worth it.  There’s still room for improvement (both in terms of quality and in terms of poly count), but overall it’s getting really close to looking like the actual board game pieces.  It’s definitely an improvement relative to my EinScan-S models.

One of the four orcs is missing (the one with the notched sword).  The USA expansions (Mage of the Mirror) and (The Frozen Horror) are included, but not the European expansions.  The Frozen Horror is missing the mercenaries (swordsman, scout, crossbowman, halberdier).

The following screen shots includes the upgraded hero/monster models.  Notice there’s one orc model that’s still using the blurry EinScan-S version.

Thank you Thomas Springer for these awesome hero/monster scans!  They pair great with the furniture that Jean is creating (in Blender).

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Hobby Project Sabbatical

I haven’t posted updates because I was on “sabbatical”.  Jan 2016 to Mar 2017 I was consistently making progress on the HeroQuest UE4 project, but then I changed jobs and moved to a different state (from AMD to Samsung) (from Texas to California).  So I went on “sabbatical” from HeroQuest UE4 development.  During my “sabbatical”, I played more HeroQuest and continued to think about HeroQuest.  But I had to put development on hold while I focused on leaving my old job, on relocating, and on starting my new job.

As of today, I’m officially back.  With the disclaimer that I just changed from being a ~12-13 year veteran to a new hire, so I expect my day job to continue to require extra attention from my brain for at least a few months.  However, I will most likely be making some progress and posting updates soon.

Image result for heroquest Image result for ue4

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