Thursday, December 10, 2015

Simulation Game Dev Blog #3

     This blog post will be kinda short due to the fact that, well, there was not much left to do for Vending Machine Simulator 2015. So lemme get started so we can get oust of here quick.

     So for this final iteration I was tasked with adding all the different names and types of snacks either machine provided. I also set the prices for each snack as well. So the first thing I did was take our existing UI, which only had the codes in the "Snack List". Whilst adding the names I realized that the amount of combinations on the key pad could far exceed the amount of snacks available. Thank you so much original model for being so unnecessary! So I did more work than I needed to, great. Luckily the way Garret set it up the widget was that we could just choose what combinations worked and which ones were invalid. Alright, so I made the the names for the candies and chips and then put down their codes and the price of each. I made the vending machine prices from like the 90's (as my instructor observed) with chips costing $.50 and candy costing .75. I originally made the chips $.65, but Garret set up the returning of money only utilizing quarters, so we worked the prices to use multiples of 25 due to sake of time. The last thing I did for the Snack Machine was set the correct models of either candy or chips to spawn out when purchased. The current UI is below along with the changes in the widget as well.




     Now for the Soda Machine. I originally just put,"All Sodas Cost $1". For some reason though the part that said "All Sodas" was not visible, but said it was in the UML editor. I must have left it because it seems that Garret just listed the Soda and each cost $1. As you can tell I also made the Sodas cost $1 in the widget blueprints. I guess that's it. Oh and of course I rigorously tested out my older UI stuff to see if it was all good and it was except for not returning the money fully, but we fixed that with the price change. Images for that are below.



One last thing, we also completed our presentation  I felt like it went very well. I don't know if we are going to any more to it, but we made a great simulation. The one regret I have is feeling like I didn't do enough. I mean Garret did so much more than the other three of us. Maybe he just had a lot of fun with it. I think for any next project I do with a group I should really be on the members asking if there is anything I can do and if I'm doing enough. Well that's it for these dev blogs for a while. I'm outtie fivethougtee.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Simulation Game Dev Blog #2

     This is the second dev blog for my class Group Project for Vending Machine Simulator. This iteration, I was tasked with taking my UI mockups and turning them into the actual UI for the Simulation. Here is my step by step of my development of the UI.

     So to start I took a more detailed look at what the actual vending machine inputs looked like. I noticed right away that the mockups I made were not very accurate, so it was time redesign them. Then I figured, why redesign the mockup If I were to just make each button individually anyway? Oh, before I continue, let me flash back to last Thursday. My group and I just made the UI placeholder, and we were just messing around with it. We noticed that the default buttons were only square shaped. After trying for awhile to create circular ones in UE4, the instructor gave us the suggestion to make a material with a circle shape and put that in place of the default one. We attempted to do so even with his help, but no luck getting it in. Let this be a lesion, don’t use material for the UML, use textures, because it worked perfectly after we assigned the PNG as a texture to the buttons. With that, I had to design more realistic buttons.  Now back to modern day! I went back to viewing the snack machine model, but I needed to get the colors into the Photoshop pallet to make them appear more accurate. I remembered that I had the texture image I could use to get the colors. After getting the right color, I made a circle, filled it with the color, and I added a gradient to make it look more 3D. After I made the button, I imported it into UE4, but I realized, I did not have a texture for when the button is pressed down. So I just tinted it in idle, and when it is clicked, it goes a bit lighter has if going closer to inside of the panel. Those were the buttons for the letters and then I made the buttons for the numbers. I just took the same shape and just made it white with a gradient. I imported them all in and added the corresponding numbers/letters to the buttons. The font for those were just UE4 default. Speaking of Fonts, I made sure to use a digital font type, colored red, to get the look just right. The font I used is called Digital 7 and I actually used it for a previous simulation. Also the backgrounds for the digital displays were black, of course. Also the other buttons and displays may have no alterations, but that was for the inputs that would not exist in real life. For the soda machine buttons, I just took logos from real sodas and made PNGs in Photoshop. I also used the same tint method to make the buttons look like they really clicked. After buttons for both machines were made and the other displays were set. It was time to make the slots/button for the money.

     I decided to create the “Return Change Button” first because I was already on the mindset of making buttons. What I did was I took a vending machine with a much better resolution as a reference to create this button. I used the same size of the earlier buttons and cut out the middle to then use Bevel and Emboss to create the area the button is set inside. I then took a smaller circle and also used Bevel and Emboss to make the button have a 3D effect. I knew that using tint would not work well so I made the actual button smaller as when pressed the button would move away from the player ever so slightly. I did however use the tint when the button was hovered over. Next it was time to make the Coin Slot. What I did was take the same old circle shape and Bevel and Embossed it and cut out a horizontal slot in middle. I also used the tint when hovered over and for the click action, I then an image of a coin and stuck it half way in. Next thing up was the Collect Change slot. This time I needed it to be square, so I made the it up and much like the Change Button; I cut out the middle a Beveled and Embossed it. I then took the cut out portion, colored it a bit light and also Beveled it. For the mouse hover action, I made the slot appear open with a coin inside and when clicked on, the coin goes away and the slot is still open until hovered off. Unfortunately, when there is no money to collect the coin still shows, I need to find a way to remedy that. Last thing left to do was create the Dollar Insert slot. Just a note, I used the same vending machine to reference the money slots and used them for both machines. So for the dollar slot, I literally took the same one I created for the mockup because it looked so good. I just used the real ref image to make it have the correct colors, 3D effect, and other small details. For the mouse actions, the hover just tints it and the click shows a dollar in the slot. Same with the coin showing up in the change slot with no money, the same happens with the bills, so that also needs to be fixed as well. There was a problem I ran into after importing the Dollar Slot images. When it was clicked on, the whole image with the Bill in contracted. So all I needed to do was make all the images the same size, it worked fine.


     Well that is my development iteration for my Vending Machine Simulator group project. The final  products are below. Also, there was no coding since the placeholders were made to be coded with and I just change the look of them.





Sunday, November 15, 2015

Simulation Game Dev Blog #1

     So in my Simulation/Serous Game Development class we were put into groups to develop a small simulation of some sort. My group chose to create a vending machine simulator that has both a snack and soda machine. Just this last class, I was tasked with developing the UI for the simulation. So far I have created mockups for the full two vending machines, the input panels for each, and the user control methods. Below I will discuss my step-by-step process in developing each.

     The first type of vending machine I was going work on creating the panel and full mockup was the snack one. The first thing I did with this one was took a long hard look at the many, many types of snack vending machines in service today. The last time me and my group met, we pretty much chose the models for both machines we would be using in our simulation, so looking for references was a bit simpler. The group and I decided to go for an older and more recognizable type of snack machine. After literally a couple hours of searching, I found a few that I could use to begin making a control panel. I’m not going to lie, but I just traced over the basic lining of the vending machine that I found and emulated the basic layout of the numbers and displays. Going from top to bottom, I originally used the font type called “HelveticaNeueLT Std Blk” and the reason for this is that I’ve always liked how it was simple to read and just looked different. Interestingly enough I liked this front from a game called Trials Fusion and it just always stuck with me. The only issue with this font is that there is a point where becomes too small and very hard to read. So with that, I decided to just go with Arial, because everything uses it. For the digital currency display, I went with the same font I used for my elevator Floor display and it is called “Digital-7”. Below that, I just ripped off the instructions plat off the machine I referenced. Next is the number panel, I made from scratch even though it looked exactly the same as the reference. The Bill Insert Instructions were made by me, same with the Coin Slot and Change Button. After I finished with the snack machine panel, I went on to put it on a very simplistic full machine mockup that I made by eye-balling the model we are going to use for the actual game. It looks pretty alright. Yes, I realize that the picture I used has beverages in it, quiet you, it’s only a mockup!




     Next, I went on to the process of making the soda vending machine mockups. Same as the snack machines, I spent a bit time researching other soda machines to use as references. Making this one turned out to very easy to do. Once I made the first one, it just felt like almost nothing to make another. Well, that and soda machines appear inherently more simple than snack machines or at least the one we choose as our model seemed so. Also, I kind of used a lot of what I made for the snack machine. Well, that’s the thing with that, time is something me and a lot of college students don’t have much of. If you can shave off some time and it still looks nice, go for it. That’s honestly what developers have to do sometimes. Just look at my panel mockup below, anyone would see that on your average soda machine. Alright, so at the top of the panel has the Bill Insert Slot and Instructions which is kind of strange in the way the parts are positioned on the soda machines versus the snack machines. The Bill Insert is at the top instead of the bottom. I wonder, especially as someone who is designing the UI, why is it that way? Underneath the Bill Insert, is the Currency display and next to that are the Coin Insert and Change Button. Below that, are the drink selection buttons and the change slot. For some reason, the change slot on this machine is on the panel, where the other is not. Again, another odd difference. After creating this panel, I took the texture from the model we would use and just put it over the panel I made. I also created a box for the drink drop spot, whoop-dee-doo! That’s it for the vending machine mockups.


   
























     Now for the HUD! Really simple this one is and I actually started working on it a few days before the last class, so I could get a head start. I was able to find a picture of a close up shot of someone’s thumb pressing one of the buttons. I figured it would be a good place to start as that’s what I thought the game would vaguely look like. I first thought, okay if we are using money to buys snacks or drinks, we need to display the plays current money they posses. Also, why not put a snack count? Then I thought to put a notification in the middle of the screen telling the player that they can lock the camera to panel. We might scrap that, but I just made in case we wanted it. The last display at the top right just tells the player what button needs to be pressed to either insert money, pick a snack, put money in, and take the snack and change out of the machine. Also to shake the machine if the snack gets stuck. Then at the end I deleted the picture with the guy’s thumb and added what I made. That’s really it for the HUD, unless the group and I decide to add some more to it.



     Lastly, I’m going to cover the controls I developed for the simulation. I’m going to say this now; I have the controls set up for a Keyboard and a gamepad. I feel that every game on the PC should allow for controller input and it shouldn’t be too hard to implement controller functionality. It does show an Xbox One controller, but that is used to diagram just any generic controller. My thought process for the controls started with using the most simple and recognizable controls as possible, W A S D for movement and move the mouse for camera. I have Q bring up hand and E to action because they are very close and easy to get to. The mouse left click is used to press/grab the snack or machine depending where the player is pointing. The menu keyboard controls are even simpler and are self explanatory. For the gamepad, I used a similar method of thought for the controls, by sticking with typical FPS controls. Left Stick to move, right for camera. A button is action. Usually it’s jump, but there is no jumping or it’s just not useful, therefore action is A. X is to bring up hand and B is to press or grab the snacks/machine. Gamepad controls for the menus are also self explanatory. The images are below.


     Alright, that will do it for this Dev Blog. I will be back with more updates in the coming weeks.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Simulation Game Hardware: The Wii U


I understand the Wii U is over 2 years old, but I believe there is still some untapped potential for using the Wii U for simulation games.

Technical Details:  
  • ·         CPU - IBM Power-based multi-core processor setup.
  • ·         GPU - AMD Radeon –based High Definition GPU.
  • ·         Memory - Flash memory 8 GB with the Basic Set or 32 GB with the Deluxe Set. Supports USB storage.
  • ·         Media - Wii U and Wii optical discs. Downloadable software.
  • ·         Networking – Wii U can be connected to a wireless IEEE.802.11b/g/n connection. The USB ports support Wii LAN Adapters.
  • ·         Video output – Supports 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i. Compatible with HDMI, Wii Component Video, Wii S-Video Stereo AV and Wii AV.
  • ·          Audio output – Uses six-channel PCM linear output via HDMI connector, or analog output via the AV Multi Out connector.
  • ·         Open source – The Wii U console includes open source software.
  • ·         Price - $300 for Deluxe Set
  • ·         Size – 1.8 inches high, 10.6 inches deep and 6.75 inches long.
  • ·         Weight – 3.5 pounds
  • ·         Wii U GamePade – Wii U’s controller comes prepackaged with console. The GamePad incorporates a 6.2 inch, 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touch screen, as well as traditional button controls and two analog sticks. Includes a D-pad, L/R stick buttons, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons, ZL/ZR buttons, Power button, HOME button, - (select) button, + (start) button, and TV control button. The GamePad also includes motion control (accelerometer, gyroscope and geomagnetic sensor), a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, sensor bar, a stylus  and NFC functionality. Contains chargeable lithium-ion battery.


How It’s Used: So the main thing to note about the Wii U and the whole purpose of writing about it is the Wii U GamePad and what it can be used for. On Nintendo’s tech stats site they say that the Wii U GamePad controller removes the traditional barriers between games, players and the TV by creating a second window into the video game world. Other than the GamePad, the Wii U is just like the average conosole. What Nintendo had written for a marketing grab really speaks the whole truth. The Wii U GamePad gives you something more from the world or universe of the game you are playing, if done well of course. As stated in the Specs for the GamePad, it has a motion controls, a camera, and the screen is a touch pad. All of the features can be used for the games and apps developed for the console. There is even an app that simulates Augmented Reality, the same as the 3DS. The touch pad is even sensitive enough to draw detailed images on and that will segway us into the Social Implications of the device.

Social Implications: Since the launch of the console and device, Nintendo developed what is called the MiiVerse. It’s pretty much the online social network for all owners of a Wii U and 3DS. Users can send messages and draw images to post in the ‘verse’. There is also a help center for players to help other players get through certain levels. The online connectivity also allows for PVP gameplay, but doesn’t feature microphone support yet.

What type of Games is it Made for?:  The Wii U was primarily made for entertainment games and not at all for serous or simulation games. That being said, it doesn’t mean that serous games can’t be developed for the Wii U.

Downfalls: Aside from the low sales figures at launch, the Wii U does have one downfall. Compared to the PS4 and Xbox One, the Wii U is not as powerful of a system. This would limit how high end the software could be to run, but for simulations and serous games, I think it would do just fine.

Is It Successful? As of June 30th of this year, the Wii U has sold over 10 million units. Nintendo has stated that this has definitely turned over a profit for them. As said before, it has had some trouble in the recent past, but since has carried on. With Mario Maker, a new Star Fox, and a new Zelda game, I think the Wii U will have a secure future.

New Games to Develop: At the beginning I stated that the Wii U had untapped potential for both entertainment and serous games. For entertainment games, I know a seemly simple way that new games could be developed for the Wii U. Well, they wouldn’t be new games, but new on the Wii U that would be a very fun way to play. Take just about any game with large item menus, make the Wii U gamepad a quick way to access the items and use any with a tap of the touch screen. For simulation games, I was thinking of an Architectural program. This idea came to me from Mario Maker, World of Goo, and Minecraft. Players would use the gamepad to draw and build structures out of materials given to them. The program would also have its own physics system and this would test the stability and strength of a structure to teach students about Architecture. For more in the workplace usage, many companies use scanners and trackers with touchpad functionality. The Wii U gamepad could simulate these types of devices along with using the Augmented Reality to pseudo scan labels and track items. This next development idea for the Wii U that mixes entrainment and serious games comes directly from Pokemon Art Academy for the 3DS. Simply put, make a version of this game for the Wii U or develop and totally new Art teaching game. These are just a very few of the ideas for development that I have and have to yet to see implemented in the Wii U.


The Wii U may be 3 years old, but the hardware is great to consider when developing serous or simulation games in the future.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Homework: World Of Guns: Gun Disassembly Review

Title: World of Guns: Gun Disassembly
Released: May of 2014
Platform: Available for PC only
Publisher: Noble Empire Corp.
Rated: E for Everyone I assume
Genre: Simulation

Good learning platform?

World of Guns Disassembly, the title says it all. Here is a Free to Play game that teaches players how to and what goes into a basic disassembly of fire arms. The game makes players take a gun apart, piece by piece. World of Guns also shows how different guns function internally.  For people who do not know much about firearms and wish to learn, this is great way to learn about the different parts and how the weapons work as well. The game taught me much about how firearms work and that it takes much more effort and know-how to take apart a weapon than I originally had envisioned. After going through a few firearms I now have an understanding on how some parts fit together in a few different weapons.

Fun Factor:

World of Guns had ups and downs in terms of the fun factor. Actually learning how to take apart the guns and trying to put them back together in record time was definitely a fun aspect. Also learning how each weapon fired was enjoyable. The game even allows for players to view the interworking and how they functioned. There was an X-Ray mode, cut out mode, and even a mode where you can make certain parts invisible while seeing of the rest of the firearm function. Other than just viewing and taking apart the guns, the game featured a shooting range mode. Unfortunately this mode just has players shooting various targets, so it can get pretty boring real fast. Included in the view mode, players can change colors and add decals to the gun, which doesn’t add much to play and doesn’t even look that good when you’re done customizing. Since this is Free to Play, it’s possible to unlock most of the weapons through experience, but it costs a lot and receiving enough can take many hours of just doing the same things to the same guns. So that would be the worst part about this game. So overall, the game is fun, but that factor can wane even after a couple hours of playing. Buying the DLC is an option, but that’s not in this review.

Learning Curve:

The game is very simple as it is, so there isn’t much to really learn more of or go into depth. It was very easy and pretty much flawless to get into and progress. The only thing you need to do is remember how the gun was taken apart and put that into reverse order. Or you could just click on random parts until it showed the corresponding arrow to click on to fit into place. Everything else in that game is just to play around with to learn while doing so.

Controls:

I would rate the controls of World of Guns a 5/5. All there is to know is how to click and how to play the most basic of FPS games. All players need to do is click on options and individual gun parts to progress the main part of the game. The FPS skill just comes in when at the firing range. Aim, shoot, reload, and change fire mode. That’s it.  Extremely simple and easy to use controls.

Changes to Make:

There are only two things I would add to this game. The first may seem very large, but why not. I would have made a multiplayer shooting game much like that of counter strike that gave players the ability to use their weapons in a PvP scenario. The players could use their own customized guns in a battlefield fighting against other players. It would really add much more life other than to look at the gun and how it works. I would also develop the customization of the weapons much further in depth to at least make customization look good and maybe try to add a lot more options.

Recommendation:

I would for sure recommend this game to others and only others with a distinct interest in firearms. For example, I have never fired, owned or even plan on owning a gun. But, with my years of playing games that feature real fire arms, I have garnered an interest. To someone like me, I recommend just to kill a bit of time on the Computer. For others more into guns, yes of course I would recommend. It does a great job of showing the parts of guns and how they fit and work together. I strongly believe anyone with a slight interest in guns would enjoy it. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone would be a fan of trying for hours to get unlocks or paying for DLC. As I said, it does kill some time. I would not recommend this to very big gun enthusiasts as the game doesn’t do just everything. I mean it doesn’t teach you how to clean or maintain firearms. So basically it’s not for nickpickers.

World of Guns Disassembly is an enjoyable, easy, and interesting simulation game. The Free to Play model isn’t done very well and the customization is not well implemented. I would rate it a 3.5/5. Enjoyable for a bit, but definitely needs improvement.