Extending Existing Work

(This video is based on the 3D Buzz Kismet tutorial, extended in a number of ways. The original tutorial is available at http://www.3dbuzz.com/training/view/unreal-development-kit/kismet).

Update: I have re-posted the video to remove the “Lighting needs to be rebuilt” message and to correct a bug where the first lightswitch gave no noise.

There is some text in this video. To get the best experience, I advise watching it in full screen.

In the context of learning it seems wasteful not to go back, look at earlier work, and see what can be extended and improved. I wanted to take the basic room building tutorial from 3DBuzz and make it more interesting, both using their Kismet tutorial and the skills I developed from my Top Down Shooter prototype. I’ve done that now and feel pleased with the improvements, but also found some unexpected benefits from going back and practicing skills in a familiar environment. More details after the break.

As you can see, the 3DBuzz tutorial outlines a way to lock the player in the room and, after some jokey dialogue, have the player explode. This really brings the static, museum-like, level to life. However, I wanted to add to this, as the 3DBuzz countdown wasn’t dramatic enough. I added red, pulsing alarm lights (running on a couple of looped Toggle nodes) and a matinee at the end of countdown which showed the building starting to explode as the player died.

A big problem with the design in the tutorial was that, if it was handed to a stranger, the level wouldn’t have made any sense. I wanted to put myself in the player’s shoes and, as such, I added a couple of proximity triggers (using volumes) which identified to the player when they were near an object they could interact with. Both switches gave the player a clear “Press E to Interact” message. This makes the room easier to navigate as it provides in-level learning. Future switches would be self-evident. If I were to improve on this further I would put another switch in the first room (again, this could be a light switch) and make sure it was in the player’s immediate eye line. Ideally they would be drawn to it and, in the second room where the player needs to do a little searching for switches, they would know what they were looking at.

I did some other neatening up, not covered in the tutorial. For example, I used bools to deactivate the lights when the countdown started so that the player couldn’t interfere with the dramatic alarm lights.

Lots learnt here, again. This tutorial reinforced how useful switches and toggles are, whilst touching on more advanced points like toggling events from actions. It was fairly straightforward, so really increased my confidence with Kismet. It’s a nice moment because the increase in confidence is always accompanied by a flood of new ideas and new ways to extend existing work. It feels like a nice cycle; struggle, improve, succeed, confidence increase, new ideas, struggle to implement new ideas, improve, succeed, confidence increase, and so on.

The next step is to dig into Matinee. I want to solidify my understanding of this area in UDK  and boost my confidence by building some more exciting cinematics. When that’s done, I can return to my Top Down Shooter and build in a ending sequences. Maybe even use Matinee to introduce a boss character. Or have some dialogue.

So many new ideas.

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