Arboreal

Arboreal is an open-world farming & adventuring game where you save ancient colossi from a spreading corruption.

Description

An abandoned orchard located in a distant town is inherited by you. It’s in dire need of restoration and you take on the task, hoping that soon you’ll be able to live and profit of this land. The townspeople are welcoming you and soon feel like a part of the community, but the world outside the town hides more than meets the eye. Ancient colossi, rooted in their environment have been corrupted. This corruption is spreading across the land like wildfire, and only you can save your new home. 

Tech & Quest Designer

Information

Role(s): Quest/World/Tech Designer

Team Size: 36

Genre: Open World Farming/Adventuring

Duration: September 2017 - Present

Engine: UE4

Responsibilities
  • Creating and implementing all of the quests in game. 

  • Assisting Level Designers with implementing gameplay functionality using Blueprints.

  • Implementation of enemy placement according to a predetermined plan.

  • Placement of quests within the game world.

  • Designing and improving the dialogue and quest system together with programmers. 

Challenges

How to work within a large team. 

This was the first time I have worked with a team of this size (36 at the largest) and this came with it own sets of problems and difficulties. Communication was a big one, it became much harder to implement or change game features because we needed to make sure that everyone who had work related to a certain feature would be informed about the implementation or changes.

 

Working on an open world type game.

I had played a lot of open world games before this project started, I guess I never took a moment to really look at how much work goes into one. Like, holy hell, there are so many things you need to keep in mind: Creating the world? Keep in mind that the player should be able to access most of it from the get go. Creating quests? Keep in mind that the player might not have finished other quests before this. Creating challenges in the world? Keep in mind that the player might not have all of the required tools yet to complete the challenge.

 

My main responsibilities were the quests in the world and I ran into the last 2 quite a bit during development. I was also in charge of the on-boarding for the game which did give me a lot of "cleaner" methods of dealing with these difficulties. Initially it was decided that the player would slowly unlock some of their farming tools by completing quests in the world. This would be very hard to implement though. As some quests just required the player to have a certain tool, and it would be way too much effort to have them first go and complete the other quests just to get the tool to complete the current quest.

So in the end it was decided (after a meeting between myself, the lead designer and the project lead) that we would give almost all of the farming tools at the beginning, with just 1 being hidden behind a "psuedo quest" (it was really just a tutorial disguising itself as a quest).

Quest system with limited resources.

This is something I struggled a lot with during development. There were a ton of cool quest ideas that were never implemented either due to limited time or resources (you could argue that time is a resource but that it neither her nor there). When I say resources I don't just mean limited art assets (which was also a factor) but also limited capabilities of the quest system. The way the system set up was really more oriented towards simple quests (collect item x and bring it to me) which would become boring quite fast.

Because of this I sat down with the programmers a lot and talked about how we could push the system further and further and in the end I think the quests that are implemented in the game are quite decent. When it comes to variety and fun.

Tech Design

One of my roles on this project was to provide technical support to the level designers, create functional gameplay moments for them and teach them the basics of Unreal Blueprints

Below I will show a short overview of one of the gameplay functionalities I added to the game while more examples can be given upon request. 

Word Door

One of the earliest blueprint I made for the level designers was something called the word door. The basic principle was that the player had to collect a certain number of words (this number could be specified by the designer) and using these words solve a small riddle on the door which would open the door. 

The GIF on the right is showing an early version of this door without any art assets or polish. 

The word door did not make the final cut of the game as it was deemed to be too different from our normal gameplay. 

HEAVILY WORK IN PROGRESS

Blueprint Overview

Book

Click to enlarge the image

 This is a separate blueprint from the word door. This actor is one of the “books” the player will pick up which will contain a word.  It simply adds itself to an array within in the word door and afterwards hides itself. (It cannot destroy itself otherwise the reference from within the word door will be invalid)

Word Door

Click to enlarge the image

 This logic enables the control move the control from the player to the door. This will allow the player to navigate around the different words on the door.

Click to enlarge the image

 This is the actual logic that scrolls the player through the  various word slots. If the player pressed the D key the word count will go up (since I have set up the text renders from left to right this means they will go to the right) it will also change the colour of the currently selected word slot.

Click to enlarge the image

 This logic will allow the player to “scroll” through their know words in one word slot. Every time they press the E key it will go to the next word in the word array. It will then also replace the current text in the word slot with the new text from the array. 

Click to enlarge the image

 This will check each of the words filled in by the player(it will actually check the word index of the words) and if they match up with the sequence set up on the door it will move the door into a direction chosen by the level designers.

Click to enlarge the image

 This gives back control to the player.

Learned

  •  I mainly learned how to work with arrays. Before this I have never really worked with them, or at least in Unreal, so learning about how they function, their limitations and their strengths was really useful.

  •  Another useful thing was to learn that for some reason Unreal does not like comparing two strings. Initially I wanted the engine to just compare the two words to see if they would match up but for some reason it would always bug out.

Like stated above I can provide additional examples of my technical skills within this project upon request. 

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