Welcome to our Minds!

Below is a compilation of blog posts from myself and the rest of the teams on our projects. I post tons of things about topics ranging from school to personal life stuff to projects! You may also see some blog posts from my team members that are working on games with me ranging from personal life updates all the way to the current project! Feel free to filter the posts using the normal month, year, and page count, and even filter posts by their tags to see only relevant posts!

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Long Time no Post!

April 03, 2021 at 1:32pm

Author: Austin Bunker

I haven't posted in a while because I have been super busy trying to graduate and get a job. I graduated in November and pretty much took December to celebrate the holidays while I am with my family here. After, I began applying to all the companies I could think of. I went the route of one per day that I work on resumes because I want to build each one, along with the attached cover letter, to be very unique and specific to the company I am applying for. I even rewrite the cover letter every time to ensure each company gets a feeling of why I want to work there. I had a little luck with Gearbox Software as far as scoring an interview, and got through a good bit, nearly all, of the process. It was awesome, being my first games-industry interview experience, and the people at Gearbox were genuinely amazing to sit and talk to. Sadly, I have not heard back after that, but it doesn't deter me, not even from trying again at Gearbox. It is exciting taking the first steps to start our lives, albeit a bit scary, but it is more exciting than anything.

I will be making more resumes and cover letters as I go, but I can't make the Portfolio link available here. The reason I can't is because of privacy, as my references information is on my Portfolio. If you wish to gain access feel free to contact me through the Let's Chat page! I will be sure to keep an eye on it. I will also be doing more blog posts soon, especially for the Programming and Polyn Game Engine filters because I have been doing a ton of work on my engine with everything from file browsers in-editor, component systems, and tons of other backend fixes and updates.

Graduated and Applying!

December 05, 2020 at 10:23pm

Author: Austin Bunker

I graduated on the 24th of November after two years and five months! It was a crazy, busy, unpredictable journey, and that is without 2020 thrown into the mix; after all is said and done though, it was one of the most fun times of my life! The classes and coursework always covered games or technology, and that's what I love, plus the instructors were smart and excited about teaching us all of the material. I started this journey not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into, but I wound up loving it, and would easily consider going back for my Master's!

After interacting with so many people getting into the industry, I am excited to join a team and help make something awesome in the industry. I have started making resumes and cover letters and have decided on making individualized ones for each of the companies I apply for. I decided this because I want all the companies I apply for to know I am not just applying, I am applying to them because I love what they do and the passion they all show for games. The excitement I have is hard to contain, but I am looking forward to every opportunity, to a career, and even to the learning moments when I get turned away and need to just keep on moving! I am excited for the whole lot of it!

In fact, I applied at Epic Games, my dream career, and I got to the coding test! I didn't pass that portion, but ya know what? I am gonna keep trying, because just as Winston Churchill said, "Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” I know I can get in, and I know that one turn down doesn't mean no every time, it just means try again and learn from each experience. My next resume I made is for Ark creators Studio Wildcard, because come on, Ark is just a badass game with so much content and a plethora of incredible mechanics! I am excited to keep looking and keep trying, because after all, this is what I have been looking forward to for years!

For the time being, I am treating finding a job as a job, but will be working on Nightfall even when I have a job as my personal project with the team we have made! It is a project I know we are all proud of, and a project I plan on working on as long as I can!

That is all for this post, but I will be making more as time goes on with my job search. To anyone down and out because they can't seem to get a win, just keep pushing. You can't change what has happened, but you can always smile and make each day better, and keep on truckin'! Life is a rollercoaster, which means it has its ups and its downs, and often you can't see the whole track, but as you go you will meet people and have experiences that change you or enlighten you. That is what life is about. So everyone, keep on truckin'!

P.S - Happy holidays everyone, and have a safe and event-filled season!

The beginning of the last month

November 17, 2020 at 3:54am

Author: Fernando Borges

(Late post from my first submit for the final month)

It has been almost two weeks between this submission to source control and the previous ... sketchy, I know. However, I was tackling a major change on the AI.

After profiling our project, I notice two places with massive frame drops, the Enemy's spawning and vision.

I am aware that newing and deleting memory are expensive actions, and should be avoided if possible, but I was told that UE4 had optimized it so much that I was unlikely to have any problems with spawning enemies and deleting them. Well, after a while that really became a problem, and to fix that I decided to make a dynamic pool of enemies that the Overmind would initialize and keep track for as long as the Overmind itself was alive. To have the pool system working I needed to change how the enemies died, since I could not delete them anymore, I had a lot of refactoring to do.

My next challenge for my performance quest was the vision ... I simulated sight using a multi sphere trace, but with the profiling I discovered that the trace was fairly expensive to be done so often; my solution to that was to move the vision to the Overmind. The Overmind would go through its pool and check each enemy: Are you active? Are you in combat? Is there a player close enough? Can you see it?

To simulate the enemies new vision I tried to use as little calculations as possible, so I ended with two calculations and one line trace (can be more depending on the number of players). I make a distance check , if the check has a valid target I go for the next check, a dot product to figure out if the enemy is looking at the general direction, and if it goes right, I make a line trace to see if there is something blocking the view.

Prior to those changes, 20 enemies could drop the frame rate to 20fps, now, 60 enemies will still have 50-60fps!

It was a headache and a lot of work, but it payed off!

Molotov Fire Fading

November 02, 2020 at 11:14pm

Author: Sebastian Rodriguez

The current issue I am having is that I created a throwable Molotov that works and functions completely however when the fire goes out it does not fade it just instantly stops. This is very jarring to the player and I would like to have some sort of lerp for the particles so that it looks like the fire is actually going out. This will make the player feel like the fire is more realistic and make the item more fun to use as well.

I have not solved this issue yet because I was having issues with perforce and needed to create a new workspace on my computer to properly be able to push and pull things for the project but I think I will try to lerp the alpha of the particle effects or have a smoke particle effect come up near the end of the fire that will makle it look more like the fire is actually goin out instead of popping out of existence in an instant. This will make the Molotov more fun to use because it will be a much more realistic experience for the player to see the fire go out over time instead of just vanishing

Going a little back in time...

October 23, 2020 at 4:15am

Author: Fernando Borges

I have been quite bad at keeping my blog posts, so I decided to check my submit logs on Perforce and talk about some things that I did in the beginning of this month.

The most obvious addition to the project was the new map that I added. We were needing an actual map to test the game, so I made one, and discovered that I really enjoy making terrains in Unreal. The map does not have many props, but it is already looking good.

As for the first boss, I added a new ability to close the distance between the boss and the player. When the player gets to a certain distance from the player, it will check the terrain, if there is nothing blocking the way, the boss will charge at the player's direction at high speed. While charging, the boss disregard navmesh and will stop not where the player was when it started charging, but some distance after as if it could not stop itself. The terrain that the boss passes through while charging is set on fire, forming a wall that damages the player if crossed, consequently diminishing the available terrain the player has to work with. If the boss hits the player, it will pass through the player and send the player flying. Also, if there are other enemies in the way, they will also be sent flying.

The thing that I am most proud of is the Overmind, an AI that manages the others. The Overmind decides where the enemies will be spawned, it looks for a place where the player cannot see, that way it does not seem like they are being spawned, but found on the map. If the player gets too far from the enemy, the enemy becomes a waste, so the Overmind eliminates it and spawn a new one closer. There is still a lot to improve on the Overmind, I am leaving it to the side for now since we need more enemies, but the Overmind already has the basic functionalities to track the player's condition and decide how many enemies to spawn, I just need to tweak it to make it smarter when I get some more time. I feel like the Overmind has a lot of possibilities, and I am exited to try new things. I want to use it to spawn items, make map events, regulate the game difficulty and maybe even change the enemies' behavior, so lets see how it goes. Also, this was the first time that I made something in Unreal entirely on C++, so I am extra proud.

Using Unreal has been a challenge, there are many possibilities, but you need to know your way around. The biggest challenge that I got when it comes to knowing my way around Unreal was fixing a linking error ... the worst kind of error in my opinion since it really does not give clear information to fix (in my opinion). The problem was that I was trying to use functions that did not exist on the Module, and until then, I did not even know that Modules existed and what they were, so I needed quite a lot of research before getting what was happening and how to add more Modules. Well, that might not be something big for an experienced Unreal user, but for me it was a major discovery!