top of page
  • Writer's pictureTim Bradshaw

Update: What I've Been Up To Recently, as of November 11th, 2021

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Guess what day it is? It's the 11th day of the 11th month of the year! ... What, do you not understand the importance of that number? It's 11-11, the Lightworker's Call. In esoteric circles, when one starts seeing this number over and over in their day to day lives, it's said to signify a kind of heralding to a higher spiritual plane of awareness, or something to that effect. So, to anyone reading this post, that means you. Now, get to it! Get to being enlightened and spiritually awake! Chop-chop!


... But not before finishing reading this post, of course ;)


 

Anyway, welcome to another Update post, where I get to show you all what I've been up to since the previous update. The last one was about four months ago. What have I been doing since July? Even more playing around in Unreal Engine 4, of course; that, and some planning for future projects, but I'll get to that in a bit.



Fresnel Lighting


Below is some concept art for the main character of this game, Helrynega, and her ethereal companion, Logus (circa 2018). Notice the lighting; stark shadows with Fresnel rim lighting to help accentuate her contours that the dark shading obscures. This look was inspired pretty heavily by the official artwork of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, as it did more or less the same thing. I've always liked the way it looked, and thought how neat it would be to implement that kind of shading in an actual game.

Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

Now, it would appear, that I have done just that. By messing around with my previously established cel-shader material I use for her model, I got the Fresnel rim lighting working almost exactly how it does in the above concept art... and all by myself no less! No external tutorial required to achieve this look. I take that as proof that I'm really starting to learn how UE4 works, at least when it comes to materials.


It's adjustable, too. Notice on her clothes (which is a separate instance to her flesh), it only shows up where the shadows appear, whereas on her skin it shows up everywhere (since her skin doesn't have the deep shadows, as it didn't look quite right at certain angles while play-testing).


I'll make this material available to all of you at some future point in time, either as a tutorial or as a reasonably priced digital product, maybe both. Either you give me your time and attention to learn how to make it yourself, or you can give me a little money for my time and effort to make it for you. Whichever floats your boat.


Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

Made a stone fence asset. It's a little basic, but it looks okay, for now.

Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

Made a wood fence asset, too.

Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

I toned down the grass from last time as well, as you can see.

Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

Oh, and here's some concept art of her in her home outfit, while I'm thinking about it (circa 2019):

Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

Some Tweaks to the Cel-Shading


Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

Since this kind of cel-shading only receives light from whatever light is parented to the sun component of the default sky box, it can't really receive light from anything else, rendering it not as dynamic as one might like (myself included). However, I did find that, by plugging in the texture to the base color as well as the emissive, it would technically receive light from elsewhere, but that lighting won't be cel-shaded.


As you can see in the screenshot to the right, it kinda breaks the cel-shading effect a bit. Normally, this would bother me, but I think this look actually works for this particular project (as you can see in the above concept art, it has some softer shading as well). It kinda reminds me of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, where certain lighting effects don't render as cel-shaded, making Link look more like a toy rather than a cartoon in some cases. In that game, in my opinion, that fusion of softer and cel shading doesn't work, as that game's supposed to be full-on cartoony (at least, the original was). Here, though, it sort of does... and I'm not just saying that because this is my game project and I can decide anyway I want it to look, it actually goes along with my original vision.


Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

I also made a fairly decent underwater post-process material, one that distorts the view like waving water tends to do. I know it's hard to tell from this screenshot. I do intend to showcase this project (and the others as well) in video format at some point, probably soon. I've got a better computer now, so I can probably run OBS and UE4 at the same time now without the captured video looking like a PowerPoint presentation.


But that's not your concern at the moment. You're more likely wondering why she naked. Allow me to explain to you a game mechanic idea of mine that might satiate your totally innocent (I hope) curiosity.


Swimwear Mechanic - An Idea


Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

So, as I've mentioned in my previous post, Shadow's of Wiccumshire is to be an Adventure / Horror game where you play as someone meek and vulnerable going on a difficult journey across the land of Wiccumshire, a region haunted by a (literally) unspeakable evil. One of the primary challenges the game poses is getting from one location to the next safely, carefully traversing the terrain so as to minimize harm to yourself. One of these world obstacles is, of course, water.


In this game, water can be a hazard if you're not careful. If you happen to fall into the water, you'll get waterlogged (potentially causing you to catch cold) and it could spoil certain items you're carrying, assuming you don't have a waterproof carrying pouch or something. However, water can be traversed, but it must be approached with preparation - hence, the Swimwear Mechanic.


In order to traverse a body of water effectively, Helrynega must don the proper outfit; either some kind of swimwear or nothing at all, and place her clothes and equipment somewhere safe near where she's going to swim.

Helrynega, Shadows of Wiccumshire

Swimwear has two major attributes to consider: how quickly they dry out, and how much anxiety they induce. From that, you can probably tell where I'm going with this.


The more the swimwear covers her body, the less anxious she becomes while wearing it (remember in my previous post I mentioned an Anxiety Mechanic?), but the longer it takes to dry out, leaving you without your other clothes and gear until it does. Conversely, the less the swimwear covers her, the more anxious she gets, but the quicker she dries out. And, obviously, wearing bugger all is the furthest extreme on this side of the dry-out time / anxiety induction scale; she'll dry off nearly instantly, but her anxiety goes through the roof being completely exposed to the elements and potentially compromising her modesty.


I love it when games have you weigh your options like this, where each decision has some consequence, no matter how seemingly insignificant; where you have to really consider what you're doing rather than just mindlessly plowing through. To me, that's a sign of good game design, and I strive to implement such where I can when I design games (and by "design" I really mean "coming up with ideas for").


... And no, before you ask, I didn't come up with this whole thing just to be... weird. I swear! Besides, with the more mature themes this story aims to tackle, this trivial little incidental nudity's not even a blip on the radar in comparison. Trust me.


Kiki Banana 3D Platformer - experimentation


In my last few Updates, I posted some screenshots of a little experimentation in low-poly PS1-style graphics, using my Kiki Banana character as the guinea pig. I also showcased a higher-poly model and expressed an interest to attempt a more modern look.


Well, here it is... or, well, the start of it at least.

Kiki Banana

Here she is, clothed this time, though missing her outlines. Those inverted hull 3D outlines are very tedious to do, and take quite a bit of time to get right, so I just haven't gotten around to adding them yet.


Here she is from different angles.

Kiki Banana

The landscape is a little bare, not much more than a bunch of sand dunes and an ocean. Higher-poly assets take a lot more time to model and get to looking good. Low-poly stuff I can whip up real quick, no problem.

Kiki Banana

She kinda blends into the background without outlines, makes her a little hard to discern.

Kiki Banana


Cartoony Water Material


So I was playing around with a very basic stylized water material and came up with this:

Kiki Banana

It's not technically transparent, but it uses a DepthFade function to change it's color - the closer an object is to its surface, the lighter blue it becomes; and conversely, the deeper, the darker blue. It's no perfect (yet), but it's really starting to look sufficiently cartoony.

Kiki Banana

I also made an underwater ocean post-process, which turned out pretty neat-looking. It's really simple, too, and could be reverse-engineered to be anything from fog to shadow. I'll have to make a tutorial on how I did it.

Kiki Banana

As you can see, you can tell the depths at which each part of Kiki's body is rendered when she's totally submerged.


With 3D Outlines


So that's what Kiki looks like in a 3D platformer without outlines, now here she is with them...

Kiki Banana

... but without clothes. Am I starting to notice a trend with this post...?


Anyway, ignore her stark nakedness, if you can...I know she's the pinnacle of feminine beauty and all, so I know that's a tall order, but I did take the liberty to blur her bits out for you.


Use this to compare 3D outlines vs. no outlines.


Kiki Banana

Kiki Banana

Kiki Banana

To me, the outlines really make the model pop, especially when she's further away from the camera (I concede that inverted hulls don't look so hot up close).


I'm curious to see what outlines on a clothed Kiki would look like. Sorry to any of you gymnophobes I might've triggered here. This'll probably be the last you see of nudie Kiki... in video game form, that is. Comics, on the other hand... well, you'll just have to wait and see for that.


Yes, there will be Kiki Banana comics in the very near future. I know I've mentioned it a few times in previous Updates and other blog posts, but it is definitely coming. It'll be a web comic series hosted here on The Bradshacalypse (and perhaps mirrored elsewhere on other web comic platforms, like Itch.io or something). Finally, you'll have some context for this goofy pirate girl. Finally, you'll get to learn who she is, what her deal is, and get to follow her on her many adventures across the Nimrod Sea in search of treasure and mischief.


Kiki Banana

Kiki Banana

Okay, now this is getting dangerously close to lewd territory. Anyway, m o v i n g o n . . .


StarBright Story - experimentation


Now this is a project I've still yet to have announced in any "official" capacity (whatever that means), and I first "unveiled" the concept back in my first Update post one month shy of a year ago, as of this post. Here's some more development on it.


StarBright Story

StarBright Story is a Paper Mario inspired Action/Adventure RPG set in a surreal dreamworld populated by denizens of the collective Imaginations of children... so a madhouse, in other words.

StarBright Story

This is Starla, something of an anomaly in this dreamworld she finds herself in with no memory of whence she came. Beside her is her adoptive brother Bruh-Hup, a member of the Buh-Hup race of critters. After an ominous black star falls into their home village, they seek answers from the "Stelders" of Mt. Starbeam, from which things ...escalate.


As you can see, I'm clearly going for a more kid-friendly approach with this game. I would like it to be an all-ages game, something that both kids and adults can glean something meaningful from. I like to describe it as a kid's game for adults that kids can play, too... if that makes any sense.

StarBright Story

Hey, those islands in the background sure do look familiar, don't they...

StarBright Story

StarBright Story

"Look out, Bruh!" Bruh-Hup follows you along, much like the partners in the first few Paper Mario entires. As you progress through the story, you accumulate more followers, all of whom aid you in combat and out.


Speaking of combat, there will be RPG-esque enemy encounters. However, fights aren't turn-based. Rather, they are more like 2D fighting games, particularly like Super Smash Bros. or even Cuphead, only a little slower-paced and methodical. Some fights are more like puzzles to solve rather than outright brawls.