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Design Blog 11: Insert Door Pun Here

20th November '14 by Team Junkfish

Hi, Grant here again. As we get closer to our planned release date we're all cracking down and getting as much done as possible. The design blog has been particularly quiet because we've been working on a bunch of improvements to the game such as new environment features, escape routes and items (some of which Adam has ALREADY SPOILED) and making our monsters

While I can't talk too much about those at the moment I will talk briefly about our favourite subject here at JunkFish – Doors.


Incredible stuff


Why do we keep talking about doors? Well a lot of it comes from this excellent blog by Liz England of Insomniac, about how a good way to help people understand your role as a developer is to describe to them your part in getting something as everyday as a door into a game. It's also great at conveying the challenges of the job, as it shows how something so commonplace can become incredibly complex when it comes to sticking it in a game. Needless to say that blog has been invaluable in helping us explain what we do to people at parties.


“-and at first we even tried to use the PLAYER normal! Ha ha ha!”


What I'm going to mention here is how we use doors to convey aspects of our monsters to the player. There are several types of doors in our game, some wooden, some metal,some lockable and the ways in which each monster interact with them indicates to the player some of their characteristics.

How they deal with a closed door that opens in towards them shows their intelligence, e.g. a smarter monster will open it properly while more animalistic ones will simply attempt to break it down after realising it can't be pushed. The speed with which they do this displays their physical strength; a strong monster can break down a wooden door almost immediately, while the others would take a few seconds to demolish it.

This can be extended into a gameplay mechanic; for example if a player were to learn these behavioural differences they could use this knowledge to their advantage. If, say, they were on the run from a weaker monster they'd know locking the door behind them would buy them a few precious seconds to hide, whereas if they were running from the Brute it'd be a waste of time. Another example would be locking a monster behind a sturdy metal door unlocked via switch. A strong but dumb beast will spend some time breaking it down, while an intelligent hunter will just flick the switch.

That's all I can really say at the moment, as I must now return to the reclusive Junkfish work hive.

Will there be more door blogs? Who knows. Who knows...

*Sound of typing*


Programming Blog 14 - Door Destruction

17th November '14 by Team Junkfish

Hi, Andrew here!  Just a quick post today.

In Monstrum, doors can be knocked down by the monsters. We are currently improving how this looks, and nothing can demonstrate this better than an action shot:


Implementing this effect is easy enough – each hit just activates a new collection of physics objects and disables the previous ones. Objects that need to carry over between hits are re-parented out of the system upon activation to prevent them being disabled.  The physics still needs a little bit of work, but I hope you enjoy the gif!


Art Blog 20 - Take these broken wings.....

11th November '14 by Adam Dart



Hey guys. Hope you've all been doing well and had a good Halloween/Bonfire night as well.
So we've been working on our 3rd escape route. I've been rather excited about this one as the player must escape by air via helicopter.
(You know how to fly a helicopter, right?)

Originally, I had thought of modelling something similar to the Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter (image above courtesy of Wikipedia), what seemed to be a common model of helicopter around the 1970s. However, I had wanted to make something that looked a bit more sea-borne to really fit with the setting. 

I took a lot of inspiration from the Sikorsky S-61 (Shown above), an American amphibious helicopter with a rather interesting looking boat-like hull. This helicopter was however far too large for us, so in the end, I ended up with a mishmash of the two helicopter models:

Isn't it cute!

The orange/blue livery was chosen, not only to make it stand out, but to make the colour scheme consistent with the other escape routes as some sort of abandoned rescue helicopter.
(Just a note. These images are taken from the Maya viewport. They will look slightly different in our game's Unity engine)

I tried adding some floatation devices in an attempt to better fit the helicopter into the ocean setting, but as the player was unable to reach the door without a set animation over these devices, I ended up removing them for simplicity. The tri-count for the model is a little high as the interior had to also be modelled.

New Items

In addition to the helicopter, we modelled new equipment for the player to play about with...

We've got some bolt cutters which are part of some new gameplay mechanics that are being implemented. I'll leave it for the design blog to talk about these mechanics but here is an image of them in the Maya viewport. 

We've now got GUNS! Now you can shoot your way off the ship like James Bond!
Okay. Maybe not “lethal” guns....but still a gun nonetheless.
We've got a rare flare gun in which the player can use tactically against the beasts of the ship.

Andy cheekily branded it the “Dart” gun as I have a thing for modelling weapons...

Lastly, we've got this device above. Who on earth knows what this could be used for? 



We gave you a sneak peak at the exterior in our previous art post and we've made quite some progress in this area. 

Though some of this is still currently being implemented into the game, we can show you more textured shots in Autodesk Maya....

“It's kinda like Lego for boats” describes our artist Andy. Above are only some of the many pieces that he is working through that make up the exterior. 

The pieces we made allow for great flexibility in changing the size and shape of the ship. When put together, our programmers are to make the ship as wide or long, tall or short as they wish. An example of it all put together is shown below. 

As there are many repeating parts, one of the challenges our artist Andy has to overcome is to make sure the texturing looks right repeated. Too little variation, and each piece looks really plain. Too much, and the repeating gets really noticeable. This also varies depending on how close or far the player can see these pieces. This isn't so much a problem inside, as the player is always close up to these pieces, but on the outside, they can see much more and this is where repeating textures that are too “unique” start to break immersion.

On top of the walkways shown above, we will have lots of deck-specific deco that we are almost finished with. 
It's shaping up to become one of my favourite parts of the level. 

Lighting Tests

Finally, I've been doing some more lighting tests in my unity scene as I feel that some parts of the ship are far too dark. These are not currently in the Alpha build yet.

Lower Deck Workshop

Upper Deck Bunk Room

Main Deck Walkways

That's all for now! 

Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog update!

Adam and the Arts.





Programming Blog 13 - What Was That Noise!?

22nd October '14 by Gary Robertson

Hey there guys and gals, it's been a while hasn't it? You remember me right? This time I get to tell you all about the other things I do here for Monstrum. Not only do I program the beasts that hunt you down, I also put Jaime's sounds into the game to creep you all out. So Hi, I might be the guy you love to hate as you play through it.

So how do the sounds of Monstrum get from our workspaces into your ears and get you involved in our game? By our own Audio System of course!

When we first started work on Monstrum we realised that we needed to do more than just play sounds in the right places to give you scares every now and then. We decided we would need to do everything we can with the sounds and use sound to its full potential. This includes cross-fading between various sound sources, audio being occluded by walls and also sounds that affect the game itself! So how does it all work?

After I import the raw sound files into the assets of our game we import those files straight into our audio system. Basically, the audio assets are all broken down into folders in Unity. These folders are then used to create Audio Libraries, with each folder being its own separate library. These allow us to edit all of the monster's roars all at the same time in one easy to use system.

Possibly the least scary screenshot of a roar to ever exist


Once this Audio Library has been created we can start to mold the sound into what we want it to be.

So do we:

(Audio Type) Want it to be a sound effect or a piece of music?

(Loop Type) Want the sound to loop or to only play once?

(Randomness Type) Want to randomize and pick a sound from the library at random or just list through them?

(Occlusion Type) Want the sound to be occluded by walls?

(Start Granular) Want it to play right away or play it after some time has passed?

(Start Volume) Want it to be loud or quiet?

(Start Pitch) Want to increase or decrease the pitch?

(Fade This) Want this sound to fade in or just play it right away?

*Catches breath*

The most eagle eyed of our readers will also notice that there are some randomness variables in there as well. These are to give us a bit more variation from a fewer sources, as pitch shifting a group of 10 samples is lighter than having a group of 50 hanging around!

These variables let us finely tune each sound's playback properties. When we call for a sound to be played within the game the audio source refers back to the Audio Library of the sound needing to be played and follows what the library tells it to do. Therefore our lovely monster roar behaves in a completely different way from your character's footsteps, falling over traps... being killed by the monsters. You know, all those things that you might do in the game.


Occlusion? What's That?

Monstrum is a procedurally generated horror game where you encounter a monster that occupies the ship you are stranded on. So, you are not the only thing on the ship making sounds, and these sounds may not be coming from the room you are currently in. It may be the monster walking about in the rooms close by, up the stairs, anywhere. By changing how you hear the sound you are given an idea of where that monster is. We do this by occluding the sound to make it sound quieter and more muffled depending on how many things are between you and the monster.

Every wall that is between you and the sound's current location will decrease the sound's volume and lower the cutoff point of a Low Pass Filter. The filter modifies the sound by stopping frequencies above a cutoff point from being played, only frequencies below that to pass through. This gives the impression of the sound being muffled by the walls. The more walls between you the sound means you will get lower volume and a more muffled sound. So when you are hiding terrified in your metal coffin (sometimes referred to as lockers) you will be able to say something like this:



“It's to the right, but it sounds quiet and a bit muffled. I think it may be safe now”

I got scared a used a radio instead of a monster to demonstrate


Sounds That Affect The Gameplay?

All of the above just tells the game how to play the sounds, how does all of that affect how you play Monstrum? What's missing in the post is an extra little script not only allows you to hear the sound, but it allows the monsters to hear it as well! Some sounds have greater effect than others but all have the ability to alert them towards that area. During your time on the ship this feature could be a blessing or a curse. You could use it to your advantage and try to distract the monster to another location or you could just bring him right to you as you were making too much noise. No matter how you cause these sounds, expect to have company soon.


That will be all for now.


Art Blog 19 - Strange things are Afoot

7th October '14 by Adam Dart

Phew! We've been polishing up the game for EGX London and now that it's over, it is time to update you all with another art blog! 

We have been going back and polishing up many parts of the ship, making things look better where we rushed them, and adding in new transition parts to blend one area to the next.

Our old main stair-well went straight into the lower deck of the ship whilst retaining the upper deck theme. It was very immersion breaking when you'd walk straight from the crew living quarter themed hallways, straight to the rusty metal lower deck corridors so we've now gone back and added a proper lower deck stair well with an appropriate transition piece so that it blends the two sections together well.

Here are some screengrabs taken straight from Autodesk Maya...

 I've also started thinking about how the exterior of the ship will fit all the sections together properly. Here are some mock-up shots of the exterior fit to a smaller size ship. This will most likely change a lot as there are still many considerations that I have not taken into account but it's a start to what might happen outside.


I've also considered changing the corridors around the container holds to make it more open when I have the time. These corridors leave a clear view into the container room to help the player identify where they are in the ship, however it means that more needs to be rendered in an area where framerate is already to poorest.


This issue will most likely apply for the exterior as well.


Here are some other shots of some rooms and assets that have been polished up to look a lot better than before.

 New bathroom theme with new asset textures,

Polished up engine room textures and human sized piping additions,

Strange wall growths..... wait. What?

Polished up.... door .....fra..... you hear something in the vents?


Adam and the Arts