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Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

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User avatar TheIronKnuckle
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 17 Dec 2011, 01:37

UEngine 1 my arse

But seriously. every shot in this thread is beautiful.
ImageIgnorance is knowing anything
And only idiots know everything

User avatar Legendslayer222
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 17 Dec 2011, 02:58

Count me as another who at first thought this was UT2K4 :o
Looking at the BSP terrain is when I can most clearly see that it is UT, but still wow. I can not wait to play this and see how some of that awesomeness is pulled off. :D

Strife
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 17 Dec 2011, 04:53

UBerserker wrote:Don't know if it's already said in one of the posts but how much good these maps run? (aka stable fps or not?)


So I'll talk about the structure of what we have playable.

We have our "intro movie" map, which is one long cutscene with a voice over, kinda a bunch of establishing locales of the story. We were limited by the technology we had at the time so we couldnt do the kinda cutscenes typical in games now. So it sufficed. You flew threw the galaxy, to earth, the moon, Mimas (a moon of Saturn), Mars, space, the UEX avenger, and the Skoraq mothership while Mikhail, the main character (voiced by eVOLVE of Michinima) kinda set up the plot. Had we "gone commercial", this entire segment woulda been replaced, but we used it as a way to show off most of our new tech. This map was 100% done.


The first set of maps took place on Mimas, which is a moon of Saturn. Drevlin did these maps, which can be seen in his archive as the maps that have Saturn in the sky and utilze the dark brownish rock texture outside. Storywise, the big opener to the game was going to be the 'Siege of Mimas'. If you look at mimas, it is dominated by a big crater, so we imagined by the 33rd century, a fortress city was built there and the Skoraq, on their way to the inner Solar system, were beseiging it (as a trap). The intent was to be influenced by pretty much every "Siege" movie that you've ever seen, with lots and lots of running battles. Drev's levels had the more action of the two. These maps are completely done.

The second set of maps (3) took place on the UEX Avenger, Mikhail's ship. While Mikahail was down on Mimas defending the city, the Skoraq boarded and sacked the fleet in orbit. When Mikhail returned to the ship, eh found it heavily overrun by Skoraq and the map set was going to be half slow-moving mystery of just what the heckw as going on, and half running battle to retake the ship. My approach to level design was very different from Drev's back then. I was very much influenced by Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek Nemesis and Stargate SG-1. Basically what I did was design an entire starship (everything from crew berths... really every room to restrooms and the mess hal, complete with Drevlin's Tea, to hydroponics, the operation center, engine room etc) as if it were real, and then destroyed it / blocked off parts to create a gameplay flow. Drev was by far the more gifted of the mappers on the project (we were the only two in all you see), but there is a nifty contrast in how our two approaches to how the game played worked. I think it would have kept it fresh in a single playthrough. These maps are almost entirely done. There are a few minor particle bug fixes and they need to be linked together with drev's maps.

That was the end of the single player campaign. There would have been a "ending card" level, like you've seen in many demos about the game coming soon and promising more features. This map is done.

The other component of the game is the co-op. A big part of HAL was having computer controlled AI that you could command in single player (this wasn't really done except for Daikatana). But we wanted to be able to play with friends just the same, so Drevlin made the beautiful "Venus" campaign, which you can see in his archive... they have the kinda yellow/greenish tint to them. I don't remember if there was a story really, but the levels require two people to play to get through it. It's a fantastic set of maps... probably the strongest of the entire package, and very combat oriented. These maps are done, but need to be linked to the "ending card" level.

There is also an additional "test" level, that is just a random smallish combat map.

I think also I made a big level on the Moon that was supposed to be very puzzle oriented, but it didn't look as good as Drev's Mimas and Venus maps so I stopped working on it. The puzzles didn't work as well as I liked either. I'm not sure if this is in "releasable" shape, as large portions are unfinished.

We also had plans to make a map on Mars and Titan, but those became Venus and Mimas respectively I think.

We also have about a dozen test maps that just show off stuff we've made.

I'd probably include the entire single player campaign + coop map set + intro and ending maps + the test level + the tiny test maps just so people can see how things work. But again, I'd need to figure out how to package this thing, since we pretty much gutted an Unreal Tournament install inside and out.

The all run at 60+ fps on modern systems.

Strife
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 19 Dec 2011, 12:05

So I thought I'd give an update with how this was coming.

After a few days of on and off work, things are looking very promising. Mp3 music is up and running (this is huge because all our music was Mp3 back in the day) And a renderer was chosen. Maps are being linked together. Presently we're sorting the odds and ends and chosing a lighting model... between a "classic" looking one and a more modern HDR one. A release will definetly be after the holidays.

But this post is also an inquiry for a little help. Not much help mind you, but just a little. Like 2 hours of it tops.

Playing through the content has revealed some minor but noticeable bugs that we think should be fixed. Most especially:

- Enemies have too much HP and some weapons are weaker than they should be. Basically the game needs some minor balance. I know I can fix this on a per-actor basis, but it would be easier and better to do it for the class as a whole.
- I'd like to swap out a few background textures for menus and NPC dialogs for the sake of being more aesthetically pleasing (the textures were already made, just not used). This will involve just recompiling the .u file with a different graphic in the place of the one there right now.
- Fix like 3 or 4 coded typos (such as "Quit Alienlegion?" on exiting).
- Disabling the debugging timer that floods the console. (comment it out, wherever it is)
- MOST importantly, the exec function that allows the Inventory to be bound and used seems to be (mysteriously) missing... so the inventory is there, just not accessible via a bind. I'm not sure why this is. I spent hours looking through the code and couldn't find it, but both drev and I are sure we've used it before.
- Presently when you die the screen fades to white (as intended) and solem music plays, but there should be a "continue?" prompt or at least take the player to the menu without pressing escape. If you know what to do (press escape to go to the menu, load saved game) it is no big deal, but otherwise its just a white screen.

That's pretty much it. Everything else works fine. I'd do most myself (and I do know uscript), but I'm really unfamiliar with compiling .u and UCC Make, especially if there is a modern way of doing it. Having tried to rebuild ALShare.u using UCC make tonight... it didn't like it for some reason (it couldn't find files in the directory structure, but those were actually right where they were supposed to be). Someone who has done it more recently than me will probably work it out in 30 seconds.

So if anyone is a uscript author, I could use your help for like, a couple hours tops. That's really all I think this would take. Probably 20-30 lines of code tops (HAL has I think 20,000+). A little bit of an afternoon to fix some odds and ends. And of course you'll get credit for it in the game and on the website I'm putting up, in addition to being able to see HAL before anyone else. :)

If you're interested post below or contact me at [email protected]. Really... little help. :) Thanks!

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 19 Dec 2011, 14:06

I've been up to my eyeballs in UScript and compiling things for the past year and a half, so I could certainly help in that regard. Email is my username at gmail.com if you want to chat that way.

Mainly, if you still have the .uc sources, that's the absolute best and easiest way to work with code. UED will work, but it is an incredibly awful IDE for coding and compiling packages - UCC.exe is still the main way to do it as far as I'm aware unless you use UED, but I always use .ucc with a pile of .uc files.

If you have the original sources, finding the debugger would be as simple as grepping the source for that log line and then commenting it out and recompiling. The rest should be straightforward as well. However, if you have custom sounds and textures in the .u file and not in their own .utx and .uax files, we'll need the source assets for those as well when recompiling the .u package.
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Strife
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 19 Dec 2011, 18:44

That would be fantastic. I'll write some documentation up later tonight and email you the file location, as well as the address of my ventrilo server if you would like to talk about it.

I still have the original uc sources, so getting them to you won't be a big deal at all. Tonight I'll package them + a version of the game suitable for testing / bug fixes. :)

And yes the main .u files (ALShare.u, AlCore.u, ALFxCore.u and Weather.u) all have sound and texture data contained in them. I still have all of them.

Thanks!

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 19 Dec 2011, 19:53

OK cool, sounds good. If the code changes you need really are as trivial as they sound, it probably won't even require recompiling with UCC if it spits out errors about missing files; we can just use UED. I hate UED for coding anything significant, but for simple tweaks it's pretty convenient if you already have a package built.

I'm not totally sure how to add the text to the white screen at the end, so that's one thing you'll probably need to do yourself - knowing what to write and where - but other than that, it all sounds simple enough. I can show you how to recompile the package and save it via UED so you can apply the changes to your master copy, and then you'll have the complete files ready to release when you're ready. I can just delete whatever test files you send and redownload the final afterwards.
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Z-enzyme
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 19 Dec 2011, 20:21

Waffnuffly wrote:I'm not totally sure how to add the text to the white screen at the end, so that's one thing you'll probably need to do yourself - knowing what to write and where


Simple HUD coding. I can try doing it.

Strife
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 22 Dec 2011, 19:52

Things are progressing along very nicely! Here's a teaser trailer I threw together yesterday!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkcQaLB0XeM

User avatar Darkon
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 22 Dec 2011, 22:42

Strife wrote:Things are progressing along very nicely! Here's a teaser trailer I threw together yesterday!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkcQaLB0XeM



:shock: ....

that looks awesome. Now, since this will be a mod, will we be able to play this ALSO with first-person POV?
there's more

User avatar jaypeezy
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 24 Dec 2011, 04:37

Additional amazed comment about how any of this gnarly-ass stuff is even possible on the U1 Engine \o/ :D :tup: :B

Strife
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 24 Dec 2011, 06:44

jaypeezy wrote:Additional amazed comment about how any of this gnarly-ass stuff is even possible on the U1 Engine \o/ :D :tup: :B


Really appreciate all the positive comments :)

HAL's development process was very long. If you count from the start of the "idea" during the Quake 1 or Quake 2 period, it was 7 years until the stuff you saw. If you count from the start Unreal period, it was five. If you count it frm the start of the "we got our shit organized" period, it was about 2 to 2.5.

The most important component of it was the textures, which as I said were a late addition that required pretty much redoing every level. The Mimas you see, for example, was Drevlin's third iteration of it. I made a moon map that was scrapped, and I've made the inside of the UEX Avenger like 3 times.

The only way we could compete with UE2, which debuted in UT2k3 around the time that these screenshots were current, was to make specific textures for specific geometry. We did that for a lot (though not all) things. It certainly greatly increased the size of the project. The textures were 512x512 typically, or 1024x1024 and some of the really large ones (like the star fields) were 2048x2048 as I recall.

We did a lot of this because the game was intended to be played in a controlled environment - on computers set up with good graphics and processor as we pitched our title for publication. There were severe framerate problems in 2003 on computers that weren't top of the line, particularly with c0mpi1e's particle system (our internally developed Single Actor Particle System was much faster but worked very differently).

Consistent with that is we just flat out ignored a lot of soft "rules" pertaining to poly count on models.

We were also in the process of replacing built in player / model shadowing with a modified model based on the same projected textures we used for our flash light. It was buggy and unfinished (and shows inconsistently), but it is in the final running build of the fx core.

The game has a built in, not-really-working (though if memory serves, it did if you configure it right) vehicle mode and vehicle physics.

It also helped that Drev was one of the best mappers and lighting artists in the community back then. :)

So yeah, HAL had a lot of tech built in it. A real lot, that sets it apart technologically from its peers. That also is part of the problem to be frank. We called it a "Demo", but what it actually was was the complete game minus another 25 levels. That was a mistake from the perspective of a finished product (which as a result of feature / content creep never got released). But if nothing else, it's going to make I think, a satisfying mini-narrative when we release it shortly. :)

Strife
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 24 Dec 2011, 06:48

Darkon wrote:
:shock: ....

that looks awesome. Now, since this will be a mod, will we be able to play this ALSO with first-person POV?


Thanks! :D

Unfortunately no. We designed a whole new gametype to support playing it that "activated" support for the camera. . If the gametype is not set up in the levelinfo, the game defaults into a "behind the shoulder" point of view.

Drevlin
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 24 Dec 2011, 13:01

I have been playing through some of my work, and its a great joy. :) There are issues that I want to adress today but I rather hold it true to what we had back then. You guys are in for a treat!

User avatar Frieza
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Subject: Re: Helix: Alien Legion (UT)

Post Posted: 11 Jun 2012, 13:49

Is this still happening? I really want to check it out still :o

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