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Project type: University assignment

Date: 2014/2015

Duration: 1 Semester

Team size: 6 Persons

Technology: Unreal Engine 4, 3Ds Max

My tasks: Programming, Game System Design, Visual Development

 

Summary:

„Highlight“ is a high score based jump and run experience which brings back the flashy, overloaded arcade graphics in a new modern style, backed by a trippy soundtrack. The player’s task is to maneuver around a large pillar by jumping across the continually moving fragments of a circular platform. Every step he takes leads to a transformation of the surface, and the only way to escape is to reach the top. In every height section, five collectibles can be found, which can be used to unlock checkpoints and flatten the platform to ensure a safe way upwards. Additionally, there are several timed events during the climb which must be deactivated manually by jumping on top of the matching platform pieces.

Design goals:

Our second project for the university was „Highlight.“ We used the Unreal Engine 4, and a particular constraint was the limitation of only ten different 3D-Models within the scene. So we came up with the idea of creating a modular system to build as many variable structures out of the few amounts of models. The player character is a ball-like entity which can be moved around the spinning platform. At the same time, he’s responsible for the structural changes of the level because every ground piece he’s touching is slightly moving upwards which has a direct impact the next time it comes by. With this behavior in mind, the player has to think ahead how he’s maneuvering across the disk. To divert his path, some pieces are starting to blink which indicates that they are going to vanish if the player doesn’t touch them soon. A vanished piece is gone for the rest of the playthrough. The second individual state the piece can have worked differently. We implemented a temporal translation which affects multiple parts at once in different predesigned patterns. Those can be deactivated by jumping on top of one of the three unique pieces which are located at the edge of the platform. To ensure the feeling of constant progress and to create multiple reachable goals during the game we decided to implement checkpoints which can be activated by collecting five floating objects in each section. If done so, the player can enable a savepoint which causes every existing ground piece to flatten onto the player’s current height. Our visual style was inspired by the arcade style of the 80s and is packed with visual effects and neon colors which had an excellent outcome due to the outstanding graphics options of the unreal engine. The soundtrack was made to match that specific style and should enforce the gameplay feeling by adding a forward pushing effect.

 

My tasks:

Starting off with the initial idea of the game concept I was mainly involved in game system design and overthinking the mechanics during the project. Therefore I started with creating a prototype where I presented my vision to my teammates which got approved. The prototype was built in Unreal Engine 4 using the node system, and character presets to minimize the creation time and boost our team’s overall progress. During the project, I created several prototyping models using 3Ds Max and materials directly into the Unreal Engine Material Editor. Most of the time, I implemented new ideas which were tested together with my teammates to create the best possible experience. A lot of ideas were discarded during this process, but it was worth it, not only because of the quick prototyping possibilities due to the accessibility of the node system. My contribution to the visual style consisted of a mood board I created to communicate my ideal imaginary appearance. This mood board was the main inspiration for our artists who managed to create a fitting style. Finally, I programmed the finished product together with another teammate by splitting up the tasks.