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Alive and kicking.

August 21, 2015 finding fifi, engines, 2d vs 3d workflow
Workflow : What not to do.

I feel bad it has been so long since my last update. But, I have been thinking about this blog, and about games, almost every day ... :-)

SuperMan Sign I am just so in awe of people that successfully combine a fulltime job & 'after hours' game development. I do not understand how they do it … I have hardly any energy left at all, when I come home from work ...

The other reason for my lack of blogging activity, is that I spent a long time trying out different game engines & libraries. As I may have mentioned before (ha, ha), I do not feel comfortable using Unity. So, I needed to find an alternative.
I have come across many very nice 2D/2.5D engines & libraries, but I had very little luck finding something for 3D.

Until one day, I found out Unreal Engine 4 had become free to use. Fortunately, it is an engine that I really like. Although … blueprints do need some getting used to, if you like writing code …

Over the summer hollidays, I started working on a web game called 'Finding Fifi'. It is another point&click game, but 2D this time (Yes, after all that time I spent looking for a 3D engine, the first game I write with UE4 is a 2D game. Sweet Irony !).
It is a game that I started in FlashPunk, over the christmas hollidays last year. It was about 50% done, I'd say.

I wasn't sure at first, what I was going to do : finish the game in Actionscript3 (I love the FlashPunk library), or start learning the engine that I plan on using for future projects (UE).
I guess reading one too many 'It's about time Flash dies a horrible death' blogs, thinking about how little effort Adobe is putting into AS3, as well as the recent blocking of Flash plugins in major browsers, has decided things for me.
And I feel kind of sad about that, because I have very fond memories of Flash (from Way Back).

So, after deciding to use UE4 (and basically redoing the game from scratch), I had another big decision to make : am I going to continue the game in 2D, or do I want to create it as a 3D game ? (You already know the answer to that ... :-) )

The reason I decided to try my hand at 2D, is that I wanted to get a feeling for the 2D workflow in UE4. That means : create 3D assets in Blender (I'm not very skilled at drawing, so this is my workaround) > render the scene in Blender > import PNGs into UE4 > code the game.

What I like about this workflow :

  • I don't have to think about optimizing my models.
  • I can use whatever materials & textures I like.
  • I can use as many lights & Blender effects I want.
  • Importing images into UE4 is as simple as can be.
  • Scripting sprites in UE4 is not that hard.

What I don't like :

  • Creating puzzles for the game isn't much fun. I have to create all puzzles in Blender, take multiple screen shots for the same puzzle, and then somehow combine them all in UE4.
  • I have to be very careful in UE4 to make sure everything 'fits' : if a puzzle can be seen in 2 different views in the game, then the state of the puzzle has to be consistent in both views !
  • If I decide I want to make a small change to something, say, change the color of an object, or make it a bit taller, or whatever, I have to re-render all views & puzzles where this object is visible …

So ... I'm pretty sure my next game will be a 3D game again ... I think I prefer the 'challenges' of that workflow (especially : re-creating all materials in UE4) to the challenges of the 2D workflow ...

To finish this blog entry, here are some -very early- screenshots of 'Finding Fifi'.
Enjoy !

Livingroom in Finding Fifi. Buda in Finding Fifi. Cat in Finding Fifi. Library in Finding Fifi.