Origin Story Dev Blog 002: Oh the Foliage

Ferns, oaks, sticks, grass, logs, bushes, you name it! This last week the continent of Adagio started getting plant life.

For reference, the first continent in the game is named “Adagio”.

Now what you’re not seeing is that I also added 2 new zones to the map, why? BECAUSE MOAR IS BETTER…or something. I want to bring a full and diverse world to you the players, and to do that I needed to add a little extra land.

Back to plant life. I was able to get the first two zones (newb island, and the next zone to it) populated with all sorts of plant life, but what really brought the world to life so far was animating it, having the plant life flow in the wind has really helped bring the world a bit of life. I also added in random rocks and debris.  8 flowing, majestic waterfalls were also introduced to the world and I fixed the lakes/streams feeding them to flow appropriately as well.

Waterfall implementation before foliage!

This week I will be populating the rest of the world with foliage (only 13 more zones to go!). It may take me longer than a week to get it all in (currently working 5-6 hours a day on this AFTER my day job), but even so I’ll still write an update / post screenshots of the progress next week.

I have 14 different kinds of trees, 12 different kinds of grass, 10 different kinds of flowers, 8 different kinds of mushrooms and 12 different kinds of bushes to create a bunch of unique environments.  I think the man made items  are what will really set this world apart from the rest. I have to hand create all of those things in Blender still which will take some time, but most of it is buildings, they are just squares right? Whats so hard about them *rolls eyes*. Until the next update! I may end up doing a GB live Dev stream this week as well.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Growing List of Game Development Tools and Resources

If you’re like us, we had no clue where to start in the 3D game development world. For that reason, we compiled a list of useful tools, assets, and resources for your game development needs. Suited for the tenured developer to the beginner, there is something in this list for everyone. We tried to steer clear of the same cliche “Top 10 game engine” spam you’d usually read about, and focused more on resources that you could utilize regardless of what engine you’re using. Let’s dig in!

Listed in Alphabetical order:

3DRT – You can find characters, vehicles, environments, and buildings. at 3DRT. Both for purchase and for free!

arteria3d – 3D Model and Audio asset packs can be found here, consisting of Adobe/Mixamo FUSE, Unity, and Unreal 4 assets. Beautifully created and applicable to fantasy, sci-fi and your other various projects.

Blender – Thinking about making your own 3D assets? Look no further. Blender is a FREE 3D asset creation software. it has a fairly broad user base, consisting of more than just game developers. Blender also has its own store to purchase assets. (Note: Check out BlendSwap while you are at it. This is a HUGE Blender community).

BFXR – Sound generation software built into your browser! Produces an “8 bit” type sound, which could be cool if you are going for that old school feel. It’s also free!

Coherent Labs – These guys provide professional solutions for User Interfaces (UI). Create a stunning and high-performance user interface for your game based on the HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. Not free, but you can request a demo!

FreeSFXThey have more than 250,000 royalty free music files and sound effects. This site can also work for you if you have audio production/sound design experience, you can create your own profile and gain a following through it.

Nanentine – More royalty free music.

Freesound.org – This is quite literally free sounds. More than just for game development, this is one of the largest communities for royalty-free sounds.

FroGames – Looking for wizard, warrior, or commoner type character models for your RPG, RTS, or MMO? FroGames has em! This is a great asset for indie developers looking to produce something set in the medieval times, as they are reasonably priced.

Game Icons – Nearly 3000 icons for your game can be found here. These can be downloaded in SVG and PNG format. Icons are a simple way to help your users understand how to play your game! These could be used in menu systems and other various UI’s.

Game Textures –  a MASSIVE library of textures for your game development needs. Plans start at $10/month which includes 300 downloads, reasonable for an indie developer or team.

Houdini – A great Unreal plugin that allows you to use node-based workflows (Node-based workflows are ideal for linking media objects and effects in a procedural map) within the Unreal engine itself.

IKinema – Here to help you “achieve stunningly realistic animation during gameplay”. AAA games like Guitar Hero and Scalebound were made with this professional animation software. They offer a free 14-day trial for some of their products as well.

Incompetech – This site is more focused on royalty-free music, especially helpful if your game needs a little background noise or something to really place the player in the action.

Inkscape – This is a great free SVG / PNG editor. This tool is extremely useful for quickly designing UI assets like menus and health bars.

Make Human – One of our favorite tools that we’ve come across, Make Human is a free and open source software for making 3D human models. Boasting 1170 Morphings for effective parametric modeling. This tool allows you to manipulate age, gender, height, weight, facial features and more.

Map Editor – A free tiled map editor (mostly for 2d projects).It supports orthogonal, isometric and hexagonal maps and has a fairly active forum community.

Open Game Art – One of the biggest online forums for free game art and assets. You can find 2D and 3D art, textures, music, sound effects plus more!

Share CG – A free to join community where you can find tutorials, videos, and 3D models. They also have a pretty decent sized repository of software and plugins for 3D model and game development.

Simplygon  Professional grade 3D graphics software for optimization. This software was used for Warhammer: End Times and has been deemed the “gold standard” for Professional 3D projects.

SpeedTree – Another industry standard in the world of 3D renders and animation. Compatible with Unity and Unreal. Its pro tools were used to make Star Wars – The Force Awakens and newly release Destiny 2. SpeedTree is ideal for vegetation modeling animation and priced well enough for an indie developer to afford.

Substance Share – Free to download textures. This is also a place where you can exchange your textures with other designers. You can find materials, meshes, plugins, shaders and more here.

Free3D (Formerly TF3DM) –  Free 3D is a great place to share the 3D models you’ve designed yourself. They allow you to build your own portfolio and show off your skills. FIf you’re looking for it, this site can also help with getting more freelance design work. They have nearly 16,000 models available.

TurboSquid  These guys have a great repository of high-res models. You can find cars, characters, buildings, chairs, landscapes and everything in between. They also hold 3D art competitions!

Vanishing Point –  Here you can purchase 3D models (not just for Unity or Unreal 4). If you are building a game set in the 21st century, and need military, architecture or vehicle models, I would check these guys out.

World Machine – Standalone procedural terrain creator. This means you can quickly create simulations of nature, with interactive editing for realistic looking terrain.  You can integrate this with the Unreal and Unity engines in a combination of ways, allowing you to develop heightmaps, meshes, and textures.

Yobi 3D – A 3D model search engine/repository. Quick access to thousands of 3D models and a super useful 3D file converter tool.

Have any other Resources we are not aware of? Contact us and let us know!

Origin Story Dev Blog 001: The Beginning!

We here at Game Borough are more than just a site for tutorials and the latest news in indie games. We actually develop our own games as well! Our first title release (currently in very early development) is Origin Story. Origin Story will be an MMO, but not your typical WoW clone.

Origin Story? Tell Us More!

To start, this game will be brutal. Have you played Dark Souls? That’s how hard we want enemy encounters to be. Why? Because we want our player base to hate us! Just kidding, it’s actually because we want there to be more sense of accomplishment within MMO’s.

Most MMO’s that are out on the market currently focus on one important concept, the level grind. Day in, day out, slaying of mobs in order to level up to max, so that you can get into the “end game” content. We want to do away with that, and create a world where adventuring out into the unknown, is just as important as honing your skills. We want to implement a different kind of leveling, one in which is not a grind and isn’t a prerequisite to end game content.

Another thing that a lot of MMO’s do is simple targeting. You can click on a mob, hit your frost bolt spell, and no matter what, the frost bolt will hit its target. THIS IS LAZY. We feel that if you are truly skilled, then you should have to aim that spell. This is where the skill cap is getting raised.

Most MMO’s are currently moving towards a structure where you grind out the same piece of gear, over and over, just to get better stats on it. This is also extremely lazy on the development end and makes owning a specific set of armor seem meaningless. I understand that creating hundreds, if not thousands of armors and weapons is tedious and takes a lot of resources, but it’s an integral part of developing a diverse world. For that, we want the armor you are wearing to mean something. Do you remember vanilla World of Warcraft? You’d waltz into Stormwind, or any other major city and see that one guy, who had all the Naxx (level 60 Naxx was VERY hard) gear and just be in awe of how awesome they were. Gear meant something, not just the stats, but in social status. We want that again.

How Did Development Start?

The game itself started in humble beginnings, much like we are now with Game Borough. Development started in the Construct 2 engine. It was HTML based so that we could release it through browser, allowing us to widen the demographic that would be able to play the game.

2D development is tedious, every animation has to be done frame by frame, pixel by pixel. I put together an entire zone that took about 10 minutes to run through and featured castle ruins, 2 towns, random spawning birds and bugs, a day/night system and more, all on the HTML platform. Things were looking great. We were very satisfied with how the game was turning out, but we started to hit a wall.

This wall was the limitations of the engine we were using. For starters, It was extremely difficult to set up server-side systems. Implementing “instances” for multiple people to play on at once was definitely doable, but hard to achieve correctly. Somehow, we were also running into a game speed issue. The code in the game was getting so complex that the game itself started running SUPER slow. This was due to the fact that “on every tick” the system had to account for the position of every 2D object. When you have 2k+ objects in one level, this starts to get increasingly difficult for the engine to keep up with. Sure, there are ways that you can low the memory usage by making it so that things only spawn when you are close to them, but that limits the multiplayer capability quite a bit.

Now don’t get me wrong, Construct is a great engine if you are looking to create 2D mobile games or simple HTML browser games. It’s very powerful for projects that are more simple in design. However, because of the wall we were hitting, we decided to drop 2D development, and move to 3D. That’s when we started working in the Unreal 4 Engine.

The Unreal 4 Engine

Now you may be asking yourself “but why? You were so far in the 2D development process, why give up on it now?”. To clarify, we only gave up on the 2D engine itself. The game, the items, and concepts behind it, are some of the easier parts to code in. We knew that if we were ever going to make the jump to a 3D platform, it should be now. You see, none of us have ever developed a game in 3D, or Unreal for that matter. So this is a big step. We chose the Unreal Engine because of its capability for a beginner learning the engine.

The first couple of weeks were tedious and downright frustrating. The difference between developing 2D and 3D are night and day different (obviously visually, but I mean in the process). Once I got through those first weeks, I got to a point where I was able to sculpt out an island in the middle of an ocean with crappy premade textures that came with the engine. The poly count was so high that it looked semi-realistic, but hey, I had an atmosphere, I had a basic concept of lighting, and I understood how to add foliage, trees, as well as other objects. This is when I made the leap to start pushing towards the development of what I envisioned Origin Story to be. I felt comfortable.

Even though I do not have the technical know how to really push as hard as I want on this game, I have one trick up my sleeve that will allow me to complete it. My overall will to learn and create. I’ve been learning and developing games since I was around 14 years old, and lack of knowledge or understanding is not something that will stop me.

I’m nearly 60 Hours into the 3D environment development and have so much more to go. But, progress is progress and I plan to share all of that with you guys as I go along. I’ve managed to develop a day/night cycle, and sculpt out an entire continent, most of which is textured.

Whats Next?

After I complete the overall texturing of the continent, I am getting all of the water elements in place (lakes, waterfalls, rivers and more). After that, I will be moving on to grass, trees, bushes, buildings, fences, and whatever else you can find in Adagio (The name of the continent).

What’s in Store for the Future of Origin Story?

Moving forward these dev blogs probably won’t be this long or as thought out, but I still plan on writing one, once a week. This is both to inform you guys of where we are at with development, as well as keep me in check. If I have a goal to show you where I am at weekly, then I will be driven to deliver.

Here are some of the things we will be focusing on:

  • Unique Character Development – We are bringing a new concept to MMOs in the character development side that we really haven’t seen. We will dive more into it later, but Origin Story will not have your typical class creation system for your character (I.E. Choice between warrior, druid, mage, etc). On top of that, there will be 3 races to choose from, these are the 3 races that inhabit the continent of Adagio.
  • Unique Questing System – We feel that questing systems in modern day MMO’s hold your hands too much. Where is the sense of exploration? Where is the communication? We want people to really have a sense of their surroundings in order to complete tasks, no more watching the minimap to know where EXACTLY to go.
  • 5-man Dungeons – At launch, we want 6-8 unique dungeons for your team to explore and conquer.
  • 10-man Raids – We feel that 10 people is “the sweet spot” from our experiences raiding in the past, in several different games. Communication will be vital for your success in the raids we implement, there will be 2 to start.
  • World Bosses – We want world bosses to always be on the move. They will not be in one location and have a chance to spawn in any zone (excluding the starting zone). On top of that, you’ll need much more than a 10 man group to take them down. Because of this, you won’t need to be in a raid to benefit from killing the world bosses. Everyone will be able to participate, regardless.
  • Player Vs. Player – We will be launching with 3 unique battlegrounds for you to cue up and play against each other. You’ll be able to earn armor that is better for PvP than raiding (on the flip side, raid gear won’t be worthless in PvP but you’ll be much better off developing your PvP set. Raid gear will still be vital for progression in the PvE environments).
  • Plus much more to come!

It may seem like we are alienating our player base by making the game too difficult for all to play, but that’s not the case at all. It won’t be impossible, we just want real skill to come into play, and not just how much free time someone has.

One thing you’ll also never have to worry about: Pay to win. We promise this game will never be pay to win. Every time we come across a game that was clearly made for profit, we cringe and then die a little inside. We may end up putting up an item store for things that do not affect gameplay (mounts, pets etc) but never for armor, weapons or extra spells that make your character overpowered.

Moving Forward

We want you all along for the ride. The ups, downs and everything in between. Because of this, we will be posting about Origin Story weekly, ever new implementation, where we are at, and what to expect from it. We don’t want to delve into the storyline too much or the class system, though you’ll get a sneak

We want you all along for the ride. The ups, downs and everything in between. Because of this, we will be posting about Origin Story weekly, every new implementation, where we are at, and what to expect from it. We don’t want to delve into the storyline too much or the class system, though you’ll get a sneak peek from time to time (gotta keep some things secret!).

If you took the time to read this, thank you. I hope you are looking forward to Origin Story as much as we are! More to come next week.

Want to read more about Origin Story?