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[Devlog] Project XB (Untitled)

Posted: 25 Jan 2021, 02:19
Hi guys! :cool:

I rarely show any of my small side projects.
But today I will make an exception. I recently played this small age old Alien Shooter game.. and got reminded that I have been wanting to make an alien shooty shooty game for 20-30 years or something. Having grown up on games like the Alien Breed series on Amiga and have been watching all the Alien / Aliens (Special Edition) movies and some of the follow ups more than once. ;)

So during Christmas vacation I started a small side project to explore an itch. As I normally do when I idle during vacation or whatnot. ;)
I also got to play a bit of Cyberpunk 2077... but at patch 1.06 the game just felt too unfinished and had to go on the shelf until perhaps the game is in a more polished state some months (or years) down the line. The world was amazing to explore. But the game was a bit too rough around the edges at the time to continue for my taste.

Anyways I also wanted to get back in to Unreal Engine 4. That I had some prior professional experience with. But only on a more narrow design and blueprinting level. UE4 seems to be growing in the local Danish games industry and I found a very fitting top down shooter asset to get the project kickstarted without insane amounts of work required.

So far the goal is to develop a single smallish level to see if I can get the game feel I would want from such a game. And determine after that if more should be fleshed out. And maybe maybe somewhere down the line an actual release.
But so far it is just a nice hobby project I enjoy immensely. Leveling up my Unreal skills in the process.
Obviously I have a TON of ideas. Right now it's just picking the right ones to focus on to finish a small playable prototype.
I can go more into details later. Should get some sleep now.

So this is the progress so far.
Still VERY EARLY and work in progress.
Heck.. it's still the Unreal Engine default character running around all over the place. ;) :blush

Could be fun to involve more people at some point in a spare time capacity. For people who just loves dark alien shooty shooty games. Perhaps there are more like out there with an itch for that genre.

Let me know what you think! :)

Also suuuper impressed about the level of rendering in Unreal. Hot damn! that engine can actually handle a ton of real time lightsources with (very nice looking) realtime shadows. Volumetric fog and what not. I might dial it a bit down later. But just enjoying the splendor for now.

And sorry for the poor video quality. Noobing around in OBS. :blush

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 25 Jan 2021, 11:38
by sapphireinteractive
Gives me an incredible Alien Swarm feel that I've put tons of hours in with friends! What extremely sad to find out Valve only made it to test out the Source Engine and therefore has the shortest campaign know to mankind with not too much replayability.

Never experimented with Unreal Engine but atmosphere is looking amazing! Keep working on it!

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 25 Jan 2021, 11:53
Thanks! :)

Haven't played Alien Swarm >that< much. But enough to know I will certainly take design cues from that game. It's really well designed. :)
Also played a lot of Helldivers with the kiddo it's incredible!
The "much further out plan" would certainly include online+local coop and possibly PVP modes in my project. Possibly with some procedural level generation on top. But that is a bit beyond my solo developer skills and scope at the moment.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 25 Jan 2021, 12:03
by sapphireinteractive
Oh, yeah scope creep - tell me about it. Just the thought I'll eventually need to turn my current project into an MMO makes me sweat thinking about it. But listen, everything is possible! And PVP already got me hyped, I'll gladly test it out once you feel like it's at a state where you need some feedback. So far so good, take your time and have fun with it. :)

Also never played Helldivers but the gameplay looks amazing! Reminds me a lot of Dead Nation for the PS3, I love these kind of local co-op games, brings back the nostalgia of playing with friends on the PS2, PS1 and Halo on XBOX haha

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 26 Jan 2021, 16:00
by Copenhagenjazz
Awesome, I love little side projects like this!

Already very tense looking. Does the flashlight reveal the player to the aliens or what is the tradeoff to not having it constantly on?

Generally it looked really dark but that might just be youtube and partly it might just work in the games favor as an element to add to the atmosphere.

Think the project will benefit from when you get to work on the camera (move camera pivot position in aim direction or run direction) etc.

Looking forward seeing where you take this. A lot of fun :)

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 26 Jan 2021, 16:56
I'll will let you and everybody know when I have a 'more ready' playable that plays as intended. All depends on how much time I will be able to squeeze in on late nights and such.

:) Cool thanks!
The light cone is very much intended to be a mechanic in the game. Currently it is just a visual thing for testing out the feel,
Thinking there will be an interplay between walking around in the dark with a very low stealth profile conserving ammunition and life.
While perhaps using the laser to scan completely dark room for aliens that will give them a ping blob.

Versus full light on where the aliens will be very much attracted to the light and player.
Also it could serve as a some sort radioactivity indicator when it starts blinking. Or for a general horror effect.

It is very much the next big area I have to figure out and balance how it would work the best. Stealth vs. shooting.

Could also be a thing where only certain types of creatures are visible in certain light spectrums or have different attributes or behavior based on the lighting conditions. But let's see where it goes!

Oh and yes I agree on the crosshair / camera thing. I'll write it up in my Trello for future implementation! :)

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 28 Jan 2021, 23:20
by JonathanTheDev

For something still "very early" in development I must say it already looks super fun to play! Though I wonder if my computer could handle it with all those graphical splendors! :blush Can't wait to see future updates!

I've always thought of Unreal as an engine which isn't too easy to prototype in, how would you compare it against prototyping in Unity?

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 30 Jan 2021, 14:05


Yeah well I did cheat a bit. ;) Had a lot of art asset from the Marketplace Epic had been so thoughtful to give away. And I was there to and add to my account and put to good creative use. Thinking the movie industry has been doing this 'cheating' of using existing humans, buildings and props for ages. Why shouldn't I be allowed the same luxury. ;)
A lot of the assets doesn't fit very well with top down use. So there will be more work to be done there. But I'll take what I can working on a very limited time schedule.

Runs pretty fine on my laptop with a 1060. So it's pretty moderate hardware requirements currently. Biggest performance hog is the enemy swarms. Around 200 enemies on the level within a rather small footprint. I have been working a bit on that issue. But at a rather simple capacity with spawners based on triggers. Instantiating objects (especially a lot like here) can lead to some stuttering. But overall steadier framerates.
There are various things to look into like the >insanely< well performing new particle system Niagara in Unreal is one to evaluate at a later stage.

Well for one. Unreal is a fairly heavy lady to dance around with. 20GB install. Recommending 16GB RAM if you have other hungry applications (like a web browser with a few tabs running). Seriously.
And it will take some time to wrap your head around how the inner logic of the software is intended. But there are plenty of tutorial material on the net.
But once you are past the initial hurdles. It's REALLY a powerful and empowering system to work with. There is even C# support now a days in Unreal Engine if that is your jive.
@jk5000 seems certainly like a developer who can crank out a WHOLE lot of games in Unreal really fast.

If you are already familiar and comfortable with Unity you should most certainly also spend some time in Unreal to broaden your skill set and experience. It's here to stay in the industry.
Though eventually I hope some kind of completely free community driven open source engine will swoop the industry like Blender is doing right now in 3D graphics. Could be Godot.. could be something else. But until that day arrives broadening your horizons in Unreal is a pretty good idea.

I'll keep you posted! :)

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 30 Jan 2021, 23:37
by jk5000

I see that Jonaz mentioned me. It's right I have made about 40 small games in Unreal. For me I actorly find Unreal engine easier to use then Unity. But to start learning to use the Unreal Engine is in the beginning a bit harder then it's to learn to use Unity. And it's sadly still a bit difficult to find any really good tutorials, that can learn you to make games in the engine. I therefore also still sees a lot of very basic games made in Unreal, that clearly is made on top of Templates, and then there is a lot of first person horror games. But it's become better and hopefully there will come a Brackeys that will make tutorials for Unreal.

I also hope there will come some really good free open source engines. The Godot engine is not bad, but for me it's still needs a lot of work before I will be really interested in using it.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 31 Jan 2021, 21:06
by JonathanTheDev
It's awesome to hear that Unreal has come such a long way in terms of ease of use. And nice to hear that C# support is now a thing, which would definitely make it a lot easier to try out coming from Unity or similar. I also heard that the blue print system is actually pretty cool. I really need to download and experiment with it when I get time. From a programmers perspective i heard a few complaints about compile times, but it is likely that this will improve as Unreal gets developed further.

At my internship we currently use Unity, but for personal projects my go to engine is Godot. I'm very excited for the new 4.0 release, which should be out this year. It's a heavily graphics based update introducing Vulkan support and generally improving the 3D graphics rendering pipeline with lots of new features and performance improvements.

I think your right. Easy to follow tutorials are a key to the popularity of an engine. Brackeys definitely made a huge difference for Unity with their clear and easy to follow guides. I hope something similar will come for Unreal. Godot is lucky to have GDQuest for guides and sample projects.

Though I must agree that Godot is still far from being at the stage which Blender is at. But it is on the right track and expanding rapidly with more funding and contributors from all over the world. It's exciting to see the race between the different engines and what it leads to.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 16 Feb 2021, 00:48
Did some quick creature doodling in Blender/ZBrush for the project today. Not satisfied at all. Also practicing sculpting! Haven't done a whole lot of that. The "feet" are pretty crap. And it might just be a little too crab-like in it's shape language. :rolleyes
It was however quite nice trying to do a Blender to Zbrush workflow. Doing the basic 3D shapes in Blender-> Remesh -> Basic Blender sculpting -> Export ZBrush for detail sculpting. As Blender is not really a superb sculpting tool just yet.
The creature seems a bit too bulk and complex for generic creatures in swarms. Perhaps with some more work as another creature type down the line the design might be useful.

Might rig it up quick for a test creature and try to get a full character working in-game to get a feel for that workflow in Unreal.

I've also not been super development active on the project. But things have happened on the design and research side of things.

(Removed direct embedded pics as I can't stand them.. it is now hidden in shame) ;)

How it looked in Blender before sculpting.... Ship it! ;)

Oh yeah also did some video grabbing testing. Turns out grabbing in lossless quality in OBS is the only way to get somewhat decent quality. Also grabbing and playing the video 1440p improves the quality in a 1080p Youtube quite some. Good thing I bought a 2TB SSD for the project. Still a bit Youtube smudgy but that is beyond my control and the overall video quality is now satisfactory on YT.
Also nice bug at the end. That's the spirit! ;)

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 28 Feb 2021, 19:35
Just a quick dev update since not much else is happening. ;)
No vids or anything yet. Project is still very much alive. Though time is as usual scarce in my life. But I try to squeeze it in here and there.

Had some dev time during the winter vacation so stuff most certainly got done.

- Stealth mechancis!!! YAY! Big win! I designed and implemented new stealth mechanics in the game. And I my own rose tinted opinion it works really well. It's a bit different take for the regular stealth systems. And is now using the front light in combinations with a pulse to navigate the map.
Obvisoulsly making a game with stealth mechanics AND guns blazing has some contradicting design implications. However I also have some nice solutions. That still has to be fully proven in the more finished prototype.
And there are some bugs to resolve. And small missing features here and there. But overall it just works! :D

- Controller support! Is almost there. Including rumble. So that is suuuper nice!

- Acid dropping on death. Aliens as everybody knows ALWAYS has acid for blood and is dropped when they die. In the dark combined with stealth. This is pretty cool. So jumping now has an actual gameplay functionality.

- While my girlfriend was taking a shower and getting ready I managed to optimize the AI so the game doesn't do any stuttering. Smooth gameplay in the editor. Even better in the builds. So that's a big win! :D I was a little nerveous I wouldn't be able to solve the stuttering and that would be a HUGE problem for having large crowds of enemies. So super happy it worked out! :D

- And tons of small tweaks and balacing here and there.

All features alse generated between 0-4 bugs. ;) So a lot of issues has to be adressed.

Looking forward for an eventual public playtesting. But more work needs to be done so it's a little while out. :)


Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 28 Feb 2021, 20:53
by ZeroHero
Fedt at se et af dine projekter Jonaz. Jeg tror det er første projekt jeg har set der er din egen.

Jeg kender bestemt selv til hvor svært det kan være at finde tid til at arbejde på sit hobby projekt.

Har du et ønske om at dit spil en dag vil blive udgivet eller er det mere et fritids fordriv du har i tankerne?

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 01 Mar 2021, 11:35
Lige ind over! @ZeroHero 😁

Der er en del projekter i skuffen. Har overvejet en tråd til gamle og halvdøde projekter.

Det ville være super fedt at få det lavet helt færdigt og udgivet i fuldt realiserede udgave. Men det rimer ikke rigtigt med fritidsprojekt. Har ikke tænkt mig at bruge de næste ti år på et fritidsprojekt. Så taler vi at projektet skal finde nogle penge og et team for at blive fuldt realiseret.
Lige nu er scopet at lave en super fed demo på en enkelt simpel bane på hyggebasis. Som forhåbentligt beviser at det er top awesome!
Så er det nemmere at tage beslutningen hvad der skal ske videre med projektet.
Har i hvert fald scopet den første playable inden for det realistiske. Og efter det en extended demo det får flere features med.

Jeg er også lidt slem til at få nye ideer der liiige skal have en prototype. 😅
Men nu må jeg prøve at styre mig selv. :blush

Seneste projekter er 4 brætspil jeg designede i 2020. En dungeon crawler og 3 små mere casual 3D printede hyggespil man kan spille i sofaen. Alle rigtigt gode! 👍
Men det er lige med tiden til at få dem finalized og pitchet.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 19 Apr 2021, 02:08
So a bit more of the artsy work on the project after a project break for a few weeks.
Had some stressful life events drain my project energy. :-/

Also did a lot of smaller features in the game before that. Added a force field. Works really well in the gameplay. More on that later I guess.

So my weekend project was sculpting the base enemy creature.
Doodling around in Blender aaaaaand.. I don't know! Alien penis creature just happened! Couldn't help it. It wanted to exist. :blush
So just testing the waters here.

I built it quite modular. Might want to make detachable limbs and creature variations at some point. Like shooting off the nutsack (acid pouch) while crouching could result in the creature fleeing or stunned and unable to shoot.

Also MUCH happier about this sculpt. :D The old alien creature looks like a whole lot of NOPE! Also getting a bit more hang of sculpting in Blender and in general so that's great. I guess original alien creatures are always the easiest since there are no frame of reference.

So what do you guys think?! Is Alien Penis Creature (APC) too much? :blush

One worry is that the footprint of the APC is too large. And that would not go too well in large crowds. So it might have to be are more rare creature. A shooter type might go better with the overall design. The humanoids in the prototype has a much smaller footprint and works great in crowds.

All Blender viewport grabs of the hires sculpt for now.


Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 20 Apr 2021, 14:26
by Jesper Nielsen
Herligt monster :) Nok ikke så sjovt at blive teabagget af...
Man kunne måske tilføje en lille / svag lyskilde lige ved hovedpersonen så man kan orientere sig bare en lille smule, men ikke større end at det allerede er for sent hvis man ser et monster?
Jeg kan ikke lade være med at tænke på "darkest fear" selvom det er en anden genre - det spillede jeg en del på mobilen for år tilbage.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 21 Apr 2021, 00:31
Ja teabagging bliver ikke sjovt! Vi må se om der kommer physics ind over. ;)

Der er faktisk allerede en svag lyskilde der følger karakteren. Måske lidt for svag?!
Generelt Der er lidt visibility issues der skal redes helt ud. Det er en balance spillet skulle gerne være creepy men også læsbart i dagslys for spilleren.

Har ikke spillet Darkest Fear. Wow.. tidligt Rovio spil før de blev filthy casuals. ;) Må jeg lige give et skud på emulator.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 23 Apr 2021, 01:52
Sculpt of the evening!

So working on the smaller footprint enemies.. "zombie-like"

Work in progress.. tired now.. going to bed. :)

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 23 Apr 2021, 08:23
And a quick morning GIF grab of the unfortunate soul who was unlucky enough to get infected with the alien parasite mutation.
Thinking it should be in various stages of mutation to get a better feeling of variation in the swarm. But that should be for later.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 23 Apr 2021, 10:31
by Jesper Nielsen
Den stakkel:) Penishoved og trypophobiske huller - han har vist set bedre dage...
Det minder mig om at jeg skal have et level med i mit spil der går amok med trypophobi :)

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 26 Apr 2021, 21:00
@Jesper Nielsen
Yup indeed! Rigtig skidt dag. ;)

ALSO! A big welcome to @joachimnyholm who has just joined my spare time project! :D :D :D
Now >our< spare time project. :)
Joachim is a super cool and experienced audio designer (and overall super nice guy) who just decided to write me up because he wanted to contribute to the project and learn a lot about game audio in the process. A skill he is very keen to explore to level up his gamedev game.
A super great way to learn is by doing so that is what he will be doing. And judging from his general audio skill I just couldn't say no to an extra project contributor.
Even though I find it super fun doing audio myself. But there is also lots to learn for me there.

But audio in a project with a scifi horror theme is SUUUPER important so I'm looking forward to his contributions a lot! :D
He should be able to take the audio to a highly professional level that I would probably struggle to do. Win win for both!

Just got home from a quick meet up in his apartment with some project setup with Unreal/Github Desktop intro and feedback. Super exited to hear what he comes up with. :D

Also this is an open invitation if you are sitting out there with some skills you want to expand upon or otherwise see yourself contributing to the project. If you are good, motivated and 'not too afraid' of weird alien penis zombies. Feel free to pop me a line. Maybe code? Art?.. stuff?!

Or Discord.. casual hangouts are welcome as well. :)

With all things said.. keep in mind this is a spare time project. And it will not pay your bills. At this moment in time at least.
Of cause it is also a serious and ambitious project that wants to be awesome as it possibly can be and hopefully it will make it into a final commercial release some day.

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 02 May 2021, 00:09
So stuff is happening!
Just some work in progress stuff.

Kiddo 1 is home sick with his mom this weekend. :cry:
But that means geek time for daddy!

Around 28K tris. Also split up the model for shooting it to bits in game.
It can easily go down to around 5K for more in-game use in large numbers without any big degradation in in-game visual quality. So I kind of preferred to have it medium poly count working with it and have something better to show in close ups.

These shots are after baking in 8K in 8x anti aliasing... that took flipping ages! Well kinda my own fault. ;)
But I just wanted the best. The material ID did not like anti aliasing.. also my first try with that. Catching up to the modern world here.

Some smaller imperfections here and there. Should be rather easy to fix in post.
And the auto unwrap came out a bit odd here and there. Buuuuut I'll take it over manual labor.

Pretty happy overall all things taken into consideration so far. :D



Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 02 May 2021, 16:32
Getting some texture work done in Mixer. Gaaawd.. I should get the UVs on the feet fixed. :rolleyes such a blurry mess. Not that anyone will really know the difference in-game. But anyways.
There should also be some sort of color regions on the head.

**Update** Also it should be noted I was blown away by the automatic unwrapping in Substance and couldn't help my self jumping straight into texturing. :blush
And as this is also an exploration of how far I can get with procedural tools like automatic retopology and automatic unwrapping. But these tools has their limits. Hence the shitty UVs on the feet of the character.
Currently exploring putting a bit more manual work into prepping the model before using automatic unwrapping for better UV islands.
Also I probably should have been doing a manual retopology of the hires mesh in the first place for optimal results. As the mesh after de-subdivision in Blender becomes a bit trash but sort of still workable. But I don't have a lot of time on my hands so it's give or take.
Also.. note to self.. check the god damn UVs with a nice UV checker texture before doing more work on a model. :rolleyes :blush ;)

Also Mixer can't take all the credit here. Maps baked in Substance has contributed a lot to the look.
And painting performance in Mixer is not overly impressive.
But free is free and there is a lot of cool stuff in Mixer.



**Tiny update**.. a bit better UV layout now. Though more seams. Did a manual rough model segmentation and then brought it into Substance and ZBrush for testing who would win in automatic unwrapping. They are both very close! Substance won by chance. But fundamentally Zbrush UV-Master is better as there are more control if done properly.
Now back to baking! Guess I'll just do 4K this time around. :) Did some quick tests and 1K is perfectly fine for in-game I think. 512 could even work.


**Tiny update 2 after baking done (swiftly) at 4K resolution** YAY!!! Feet UVs has been fixed!!! :D

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 03 May 2021, 01:51
Yay! I guess I reached my weekend goal just before sleepy sleepy time!
To have an assembled and fully textured character!

Next optimization, rigging, skinning, animation, animation integration in the game.. and eventually being able to shoot it to pieces. Lots more to learn! And possibly some physics on the intestines dangling. But that might be a bit too much for performance in swarms. Hmmm. :rolleyes We will see!
It's been super fun so far and a great learning experience! :D

It's far from perfect.. but I'll take this for now.

Textured before assembly


GIIIIF! :cool:

Re: A peek at Project XB (Dark alien shooty shooty game) early work in progress

Posted: 03 May 2021, 10:23
by ZeroHero
Det ser super fedt ud Jonaz!

Tænkte på om ikke din karakter er utrolig detaljeret hvis du skal havde mange af dem?

Godt at se der sker noget med dit spil!