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  • Writer's pictureMike

Dissertation Diary: Project Name, Title Screen, Menus, VFX & More!

Hello hello and welcome back!

It's been a hot minute since I've done a post, and by a hot minute I mean nearly 2 months...whoops, but I am now back with an update!

Part of the reason for my absence was due to needing to focus on other assignments over the winter break, so there wasn't any activity happening on this project - hence no updates - but also my family caught covid-19 some days before Christmas Day. Its slowly spread throughout my family every few weeks or so, and currently is in my system, so its pretty rough going to get work done at the moment. Put the two together and hey presto, 2 month absence!

Anyway, now that explanations are done, let's just get into the new stuff!


A Whole Lotta Updates

To save on writing up a very lengthy and wordy post, I've had a stab at doing another recording in my Quest, although I haven't been able to change the aspect ratio since the Oculus App refuses to let me enable developer mode for the Quest. Even though its fine with me enabling it on the Oculus Rift (which I am no longer testing with). Thank you, Zucky.

Anyhow, the footage is quite poor sadly, but good enough to at least make out everything. Following the video I'll do a quick breakdown of everything that is new and has been added, so, please enjoy!


Title Screen

First up, there's a brand new title screen! Its still basic in design, but right now has the following features:

  • VR hands that work with Oculus controllers

  • UI pointer that activates when the ray-cast hits the menu canvas

  • Interactive buttons (the button for exiting the game currently needs fixing)

  • Simple level selection (the 3rd level has not been created yet, so the image for it is currently empty)

There's quite a lot of work left to do in this scene, such as adding in difficulty options for each level, adding in actual options (most likely for sound volumes and possibly player height adjusting), a more thematically appropriate area instead of the default one and many other things.


Level 1 - the Cyber Space / Matrix Level

This is the first level that has been showcased frequently during development. The latest changes for this level are the following:

  • Enabled post-processing effects (tonemapping / bloom / vignette). This had been added previously, but was not correctly enabled

  • New skybox to match the overall theme of the level

  • Adjustments to the PBR grid shader used for the floor so the rainbow colours are more accurately represented

  • Added in 4 differently coloured portals using VFX graphs at the spawn-in locations of enemies

  • Added in 4 differently coloured portals using PBR graphs for where enemies de-spawn. Still needs tweaking to feel believable

  • Other minor tweaks and adjustments to the scene

The level is getting fairly close to completion now, with only a handful of changes needed before it could probably be considered complete. I had previously investigated how to make enemies instantiate at a small size and then 'grow' to the original size after a certain time, but this only affected the very first object that I spawned in, so will try figuring out the fix for that.

Additionally, I've been looking into how to make enemies shake when taking hits to make the bullets feel like they are delivering an impact on top of the existing effects. I am hoping that once I figure out the ideal way to achieve this, I can then also create a few different means of destroying enemies once they lose all their health so that you can see multiple death animations occur.

The added portals are a nice environmental piece, but I realise that the video did not capture them very well which is, in part, due to where they are placed in the scene. They are too far away / too small for the player to see, which means they aren't currently offering anything to the experience. I'll look into better ways of showcasing them both in-game and in footage in the future.

There's also a number of different items on my to-do list for this scene, such as looking into using object pooling over instantiating my game objects to improve performance and deciding whether or not it is going to be realistically achievable for me to create a fully working high score table. Much of the hard stuff for the table has already been made, but the key features of saving a level's score and allowing the player to input their username in VR are still a bit beyond my understanding currently. I may have to drop the high score table for something a bit simpler in the coming weeks.


Level 2 - the Synthwave / Retrowave 80s Mountains Level

The second level hasn't had as much activity on it lately, but has received some love:

  • Small update to the terrain design, including atmospheric fog to match skybox sunlight

  • Added unique song for this level

  • Different spawn structure - enemies spawn in distinctly different locations in front of the player

  • Updated skybox to use the custom made one from the previous post

There isn't as much content in this level yet, but that is primarily due to the fact I am still finishing up certain components in the first level. Once all the elements are finalised there, I can bring over most of the same assets to this scene, which mostly means its a matter of level / environment designing for this level.


Closing Thoughts

That's about all I have for updates right now. There might be more details I've overlooked, but with how drained I have been lately thanks to whatever illness it is that I have in my body, its hard to think of all the things I've changed since last time. Hopefully I've ticked off the important ones though, so now I will be going to sleep! Thanks again for reading, stay safe! :)

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