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Archive for February, 2017 (2017/02)

Furniture Models (Jean)

Background

One of the reasons I chose HeroQuest is to allow me to work on a unique project with a reasonable size and complexity (for a part-time solo project)…  But with a well-defined scope and a lot of pre-existing work that I can build on in terms of game design and asset creation.  Somewhat paradoxically (only somewhat), the assets (including 3d models) are an important part of what makes this project unique, see ( link ).

There’s still significant work in terms of tweaking assets and integrating assets and using them in the game, but I’ve wanted to avoid getting side tracked too heavily on asset creation.  My focus has been more on getting experience working with Unreal Engine (UE4) by writing code (C++, Blueprints) and by creating a well-polished game from start to finish.  So my focus is more about game programming (and game design details), while my work in terms of game art is focused on tweaking assets, integrating assets, and using assets.

The 2d assets are made from 2d scans, and the 3d assets are made from 3d scans.  Higher quality 3d scanning is becoming more available (less expensive).  As seen in my previous posts, I was excited to 3d scan hero/monsters and furniture.  That’s part of what motivated me to focus on HeroQuest as a multi-year hobby project.  The 3d scans are a million times better than placeholder art boxes.  That said, even if I constrain my goals to replication, they’re obviously not production quality – because the geometry is “blurry”.  Maybe in 2018 I’ll consider getting access to a higher end 3d scanner to see if that can give more detailed 3d scans.  Or maybe I’ll consider custom art (or even morphing this project into an original game instead of a HeroQuest port).  Until then, I’ve been happy to use blurry 3d scans.

The hero/monster figures are all one color, so a blurry 3d scan is pretty good for them.  For the furniture, there’s different colored plastic parts, and there’s textured cardboard.  For hero/monster figures, I still had to do work in (Maya, MeshLab, Unreal) to cleanup the 3d scans and import/integrate them.  For the furniture, the Maya work is more involved, so for my initial goal (described in previous blog posts), I just focused on doing the hero/monster figures.  And I tentatively delayed more work on the furniture.

Jean: The Dungeon’s Key

But then I got lucky.  Jean, a HeroQuest fan and 3d printing enthusiast, volunteered to collaborate on the 3d models.  He’s learning Blender (and 3d printing) for this.  So with Jean’s help, the HeroQuest video game is getting a much needed upgrade in terms of furniture models.  Jean is doing the core of the work in Blender, but it still requires effort for me in terms of collaboration, integration, and tweaks.  For example, I’ve sent Jean 3d scans, high resolution photos, caliper measurements, screen shots, and detailed feedback.  Jean’s blog ( https://thedungeonskey.blogspot.ca/ ).

Working with custom digital assets and digital artists is good experience.  A lot of my hobby projects have been solo (or using public assets), but I’ve also done games that involved collaboration with digital artists and level designers (for custom art and custom levels).  Examples include DirectX 8 college games (Super IsoBomb, Xundar, Mega Monkey Mayhem), Torque 3D game prototype (City Hero Defense), and now this project – an Unreal Engine (UE4) game (HeroQuest).

In Progress

To keep things simple, my current plan is to continue using the blurry hero/monster 3d scans, and to integrate the Blender-created furniture from Jean (thanks Jean!).  With both monster/hero models and furniture models, the current plan is to focus on authentic replication (nostalgia).  I’ll probably stick with this plan for 2017.  In 2018, it’s TBD.  In the long-run, it might be cool to have an option to toggle nostalgia 3d models versus more detailed 3d models (which may include animations for hero/monster models such as walk, attack, defend, etc).

But for 2017, I’m excited to focus on replication for the 3d models.  These furniture models are a huge upgrade from the previous furniture models (which were just boxes with low resolution photos).  I’ll close with some screen shots of integrated furniture models.  The furniture models are still a work in progress, but overall it looks very promising!

map1 map2 map3

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HeroScribe Pem’s Fork

The latest release of HeroScribe is HeroScribe 1.0pre1 (December 25th 2004) ( http://www.heroscribe.org/download.html ), but luckily it’s open source.  And it was incredibly simple to setup a NetBeans project and start tweaking the code.  Thanks to the HeroScribe authors (and thanks to NetBeans & Java).

I’ve used C++ the most, but I also have experience (comfort, familiarity) using Java, C#, and Python.  So there wasn’t much of a learning curve for me to make some simple edits because I’ve already used NetBeans and Java for previous hobby projects (and I used Java in college classes).

The main thing I’ve added (thus far) is keyboard shortcuts to enable me to edit maps faster.  Added keyboard shortcuts for the main editor.  Added keyboard hotkeys and mnemonics to the File etc menus.  Tweaked the tab stops.  Improved text filtering (JFormattedTextField) for zorder input.

Being able to edit maps faster has multiple uses.  I can verify my code and its corner cases – recent examples include secret doors, monster AI, and traps.  In the long-run, I also plan to have two sets of maps – a nostalgia version and a balanced (play-tested) version.  Finally, improvements to the editor will be useful for others to create custom maps.

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Trigger Traps

The basic game has four types of traps – spear trap, pit trap, falling block trap, and treasure trap.  Each trap type has its own set of rules (game logic), details, and corner cases that result from those rules.  I implemented support to trigger (spear trap, pit trap, falling block trap).  I’ll come back to (treasure trap) later because it has quest-specific rules.

Spear trap rolls one combat die; a skull does 1 body damage and ends the hero’s turn; anything else and the spear misses.

A pit trap always does 1 body damage and ends the hero’s turn.  The pit remains, and multiple heroes can fall into it.

A falling block trap rolls 3 combat dice (each skull does one damage), prompts the hero to move one square, then ends the hero’s turn.  The fallen block remains (it’s like a normal block).  When prompted to move, you can’t move on another hero.  If you move onto another trap, it gets triggered, so theoretically you could have a chain of falling block traps.  A chain of falling block traps could result in a hero that is permanently trapped forever (and thus dies).  This never happens in the official quests.  However, it’s theoretically possible, so I implemented this corner case.

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