Work in progress Automatic Lip Sync

This is a quick test of the first hackish pass at doing automatic lip sync based on phoneme recognition from PocketSphinx.

I had reluctantly set the idea aside due to poor results reported by UE4 forum user ShaneC, who wrote a nice wrapper for PocketSphinx as a plugin. After some fiddling around and much searching of usergroups about Sphinx, I was able to determine that passing in a blank option for the phoneme recognition file makes it work pretty reliably for some reason.
Playback of the visemes is a bit choppy right now for a number of reasons, mostly to do with just because it hasn’t had a pass to make it look nice, and because I’m not passing through the information about how long each phoneme lasts.

Needless to say this is completely pre-alpha and doesn’t represent the final result, just an extremely early first test.


Belated Screenshot Saturday – Dungeon Survival


About Dungeon Survival

Features Overview

  • Made from the ground up for VR, with unique features to support motion controls
  • Next-gen VR features today: Voice-input commands, NPC facial morphs and more.
  • Co-op multiplayer (at least 2-4 players, maybe more unofficially supported)
  • Streaming, no-load-screens transitions between levels of the dungeon
  • True First Person (you can see the character’s body, including animations)
  • Deep Item System – Fire burns things, water douses them, etc. – generalized gameplay that layers up to produce complex interactions
  • Real-time Physics Interactions and Combat – Items are physics based as in games like Skyrim, combat is based on physical collisions – if you see a hit – you hit!
  • Environment Interaction Over Hack ‘n’ Slash – Use your wits to overcome the dungeon’s deadly foes and traps! Ingenuity is rewarded over blunt force.
  • A Customizable Experience – Want hardcore roguelike style gameplay with permadeath? Or would you rather have a more Skyrim-style experience? You choose!
  • Modding Support – Via both configuration file editing (recombine base gameplay of items/monsters with new looks and combinations of behaviors) and advanced modding through the UE4 engine. Modding means for a replayable experience you can keep coming back to for years to come.

About The (VR) Dungeon Survival Project

The (VR) Dungeon Survival Project is a game built out of my desire to make something that captures the magic of deep item and environment interaction gameplay of roguelikes, on top of a foundation of survival and real time gameplay.

In addition, the game is my experiment into VR and supporting novel input devices for more interactive, fine-grained gameplay. What this means is that ultimately Dungeon Survival will support setups that allow the player to play with natural input, such as grasping and manipulating objects with the HTC Vive controllers.

Mod support is also very important to me, as I fully understand that mods are the key to longevity of games of this sort. Most things will be able to be tweaked or added to without any tools other than a text editor, but advanced functionality will require downloading a mod pack with source files for the game, and getting access to Unreal Engine 4.

Left 4 Dead 2 Style Wound System Complete (Mostly)

Great news!

The Left 4 Dead 2 style wound and dismemberment system mentioned previously, which will be powering the gruesome world of Dungeon Survival, has now been completed (save for a couple of odds and ends, and art assets).

Previous screenshots were taken using a hacky method of transforming the hit location into mesh-relative coordinates, whereas the proper way of doing it, and really the only way that truly works, is to use the “pre-skin” vertex positions.

For non-developers this essentially means getting at the points that make up the character mesh before they’re transformed by the animation rig.

The effect of this is that the opacity-mask sphere which creates the “hole” in the character mesh so that the wound geometry shows through will follow along with any animation properly.

This meant diving into the guts of Unreal Engine 4’s material system, right down into the proto-shader files that underlie familiar visual node-based materials. Luckily this ended up being quite painless!

Remaining work to be done on the wound system itself is to use a blood mask to dirty-up the edges of the character mesh where it’s hidden by the wound-ellipse.

Other than that, all that remains is to create wound meshes for the characters and hook up and tune the system.

As an aside, I decided to work on this today because work on motion controller IK has stopped for the moment while the new full-body IK with limits plugin is debugged a bit by its author for my use case.

I can’t wait to show off some of the gameplay with the new full body IK and motion controls, as it’s something you don’t often see outside of triple-A games that use software like Havok Behavior or Autodesk HumanIK, and is perfectly suited to VR avatareneering..

Grass Bending Test

Note: The following video is pre-alpha test footage, and in no way represents the quality of the final game.

It’s hard to see due to the video framerate and compression, but there are volumes for affecting the grass parented to the player’s feet.

Credit for the effect goes to Daniel Wenograd.

To add this to your own Unreal Engine 4 project, check out Daniel Wenograd’s post on the UE4 forums.

Porting up to Unreal Engine 4.3 – Setbacks Caused by Boneheadedness

Click image for source! (Credit goes to the artist! Not affiliated with the project - used for blog enhancement purposes)

Facepalm – Whiterun Guard


Progress has been swift but not without setbacks, as with the problems I encountered moving my project from UE4 4.2.1 to 4.3 preview.

I decided to port up to it because it offers some particular functionality I required, namely the On Actor Fracture event.

I use this to figure out when the destructible oil barrel has cracked open, to spawn the oil spill (which as described previously (under Other Stuff That’s Done) – can be lit by throwing a torch onto it, or other on-fire item). There are some other improvements I wanted access to, but that was the reason for switching now.

Unfortunately I made a bonehead move and converted a copy of the project, started working immediately on adding new stuff (torch throwing, barrel breaking spawn oil spill etc.) without actually checking to make sure that everything worked properly otherwise.

It did not.

The plan for last night had been to take a short video of how the gameplay with the oil barrels and throwing torches was shaping up, but instead…

I spent last night debugging the things that were wrong I had missed, mostly related to the item pickup/drop functionality over the network. My plan for today is to finish up going through the 4.2.1 source blueprints and make sure everything is intact and correct.

What seems to have happened is that the conversion didn’t actually get all the blueprint nodes and variables, and in some cases changed the options of other nodes (raycast was set up to show debug, despite debug being off in the 4.2.1 project).

Once everything is back to normal in the 4.3 project, I’ll be working on overhauling the inventory system.

Here’s the Trello task for that:

Inventory Overhaul Task on Trello

Inventory Overhaul Task on Trello

Once that’s all finished, it’s on to setting up the rat enemy and then the AI for it.

The Dungeon Of Death! (and gameplay)

In Dungeon Survival, we must provide a counterpoint at all times to the mundane aspects of survival, maintaining one’s health in an environment of slimy subterranean walls, and avoiding the denizens of such places (or dispatching them with one’s ingenuity).

I am speaking of course of the all encompassing dread reaper: Death!

In other words, the Dungeon Survival project now features death and respawn.

In addition to this, since the last update (which was somewhat out of date) the game has:

Inventory System

This is sort of the basis for much of the game, as most of the objects will be “smart” – with some gameplay associated with how they work or interact with the environment/other objects in an intuitive way. I’ll follow up with a good example of this in a minute.

Items when on the ground are physics objects, much like in the Elder Scrolls series. When picked up, the object is attached to the player’s hand.

Currently, only one item can be carried at a time, not counting the “utility” slot (the right hand – which is at the moment occupied by the torch and isn’t completely hooked into the inventory system). In future, the player will be able to craft pouches which attach to the player and will be able to carry certain amounts of items of their own, depending on size/type.

As with the rest of the game, all of these things are networked for multiplayer – including kicking around physics objects (this may change depending on if it presents problems later) and having it sync to everyone.

When picked up, the item is not destroyed – it is taken into the character’s inventory, and attached directly to the hand (or will be “stored” in pouches if available). This is important because the item system in the game will also be persistent – a half-eaten apple will stay half-eaten even when dropped (and as that example implies, the player does not eat food all-at-once). Items will have persistent state.

The above behavior is for the default item type. All specialized item types derive from this type of item and include its behavior (though in special cases they may override it).

As of yet there is only one specialized type – the food item. Which brings us to…

Hunger and Thirst

First, some rationality for even including what some might consider a micro-management gameplay feature.

I’ll always remember my first few forays into the realm of Nethack, that character-based dungeon crawler with timeless charm and a rich set of gameplay.

In particular was when I first made it to level 3 (this was probably not Nethack itself but a derivative, so forgive inconsistencies, those Nethack aficionados in the audience). I had no food. I was dying of hunger, and a dwarf attacked me.

I dispatched the little fellow with little health left to spare, crawled around a corner and took the only option that remained to me. I ate the dwarf.

I ate his corpse and promptly died from dwarf-poisoning.

For those that don’t know – Nethack and its like feature “permadeath”, meaning you must start over if you die. Instead of being (justifiably, since the 3rd level of the dungeon was the farthest I’d ever progressed) irritated, I was cracking up with laughter.

I loved the fact that I was able to improvise in that way and eat the body of a dwarf I’d slain. And even more that it distinguished poison from normal food.

That’s why I wanted to make the Dungeon Survival project in the first place – to capture the magic of the “emergent gameplay” that roguelikes provide, but with a focus on natural interaction with the environment, and on survival gameplay (with, of course, VR heavily supported).

What’s done:

* Hunger ticks town every 5 seconds (numbers here are subject to change with testing).
* When hunger runs out, the starvation meter kicks in. It ticks down ever 5s as well, but at a different rate (you have more starvation meter than hunger meter, but it depletes in larger chunks).
* When your starvation meter runs out, you start to take damage to your health.
* As mentioned before, food items exist and can replenish your food meter.

Thirst and dehyration work in a similar way, but are not hooked up at the moment to aid in testing (and because I haven’t hooked up any drink items, though that doesn’t take much time).

To come:

* Cooking, and uncooked food causing sickness.
* Starvation and eating too quickly after having starved for a while will also cause sickness.
* Poisoned/contaminated food.
* Dehydration and drinking too much water when dehydrated causing sickness.

Other Stuff That Works Now

In addition to all that, I’ve added:

* A proper blend for the torch hold animation, so that you can right click to sheathe/unsheathe the torch. The character’s arm will smoothly blend up and down.

* An oil slick blueprint, which includes an oil decal, trigger volume and fire effects.
* Code so that if the player walks over an oil slick with his torch out, it will light on fire (and does damage).
* A destructible barrel – damage accumulates over time, so that if thrown/hit against stuff enough it will shatter.
* An oil barrel version that spawns an oil slick when it breaks.
* A torch physics item using the inventory system, and the ability to throw the torch via clicking without anything in held in the left hand inventory slot.

This is the sort of “smart object” gameplay I referred to before. Eventually things like the barrel spawning an oil slick, the slick being flammable, and items that have fire lighting the slick up will be generalized so that items will simply be able to specify what types of smart gameplay they use (by both deriving from special item types and settings in those types).

The basis for this system is already in place, and is how the food items work – but currently the torch and barrel do not use the system (that will change).

To come in the short term:

* Thrown torches will light oil slicks on fire.
* Throwing your torch will remove it from your hand,
* Being able to pick up the torch to re-equip it to the utility/right hand slot.
* A two-hand pickup system for picking up things like the barrel (luckily though I’m no animator, I’ve figured out how to build an animation for that and make it work myself).
* Being able to throw two-hand pickup items.
* Kicking/punching physics objects, like the barrel.

After that, I’ll be adding the first enemies to the game (rats!) and building out the first level of the demo dungeon.

Soon I’ll be taking some screenshots and video of the oil barrel gameplay.