Focus: Unreal Engine is a series of posts where I'll share my experience and discoveries working with Epic's free Unreal Engine 4 for video game creation. There will is no set time for the articles to end, but I will have a goal: the creation of a playable game level for Halloween in October, 2019. I will share the level with everyone for learning and for fun!
Key Elements in the Dark Ride
Now it's time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. There are three specific elements to my Dark Ride project that are essential if the project is to work. They are 1, track and car the player rides in 2, A way of placing the player in the car so they have a first-person pov of the ride, and 3, a way of changing levels when the player moves into a new set. More on my research later.
I've sketched out 5 levels for the project. This might change is it could be too ambitious for my skill level. We'll see. Here are the levels:
- Haunted House by the Lake level - I picked this up on the Unreal Marketplace as it was detailed enough (and cheap enough) to work. The level also includes the first floor inside the house.
- The second floor of the Haunted House. A windy level where the player encounters awful scares (hehe0
- The attic of Haunted House along with large hole/tunnel leading to the basement
- Basement level. Again, I picked this up cheap at the Unreal Marketplace and it should be dandy looking.
- Cemetery level. This is the final level, although the car will go by the lake at the end (I hope).
Planning and Learning
I have to learn to create the track first and it's been difficult. Even after buying a spline/track blueprint I still struggled because the creator is not actively supporting the product. This is really bad because if you are selling a blueprint for money, you should provide active support. Also, the documentation is incomplete and the tutorial video is rushed and hard to follow. So, I've spent a full week figuring out how to get my track lay down along a spline and then to adjust the spline to fit the path of my Dark Ride car. Finally, I figured it out even though the spline seems to work differently than pictured in the tutorial video.
With the path spline figured out, I moved to set up a mock level so I can see how the elements will work (or not). I've got the first level (Haunted house) done minus the track which will go in over the next day or so. Doors were another issue I realized I had to learn. I need the house doors to open and close automatically. After much research, I discovered a great Unreal docs tutorial and created a blueprint for the doors. I'm realizing that Blueprint creation (visual scripting) is really essential knowledge for a level designer using Unreal.
I've done a good deal of research on level streaming and have got it to work, although I need to test it on my mock level.
Acquiring Models and Materials
I've been searching the Renderosity Marketplace, the Unreal Marketplace and several free 3D model sites for appropriate media for the Dark Ride. Not only that but I've come up with a 30 item list of classic scenes from past Dark Rides that I can use as a source for creating scenes. I've made good progress and have about half of what I need.
One thing I have noticed is that when you are working on a level and you need something, the impulse is often to simply buy something that will work (the Amazon.com) effect. But aside from being expensive, you lose the fun of creating something from scratch. The learning process will often help in some other aspect of the creation process as well.
I'll be working on placing the car path in my mock-up of the first level of the Dark Ride and will learn how to set up the POV for the player. I've got the Blueprint for the POV, but can't understand how it works (yet).
Wish me luck!