Aurelius Online: Multiplayer battle arena

General discussion about anything related to Transcendence.
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Xephyr
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Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:59 pm

I find that the fastest way to learn something is to go in way over my head right away. So naturally, when I decided to try out Unreal Engine to develop games, I did exactly that.

Aurelius Online brings the battle arena to life - even though it's currently a mess of placeholders and experimentation - and allows you to fight 1 on 1 with another player. However, the game is far from complete. There's currently no UI (at all), and multiplayer is limited to connecting to a server on my shoddy home network, which can't support many concurrent games.

Image

But, I do plan on releasing a beta stream sometime this year - the game's going to be at least 1GB so I don't plan on doing frequent betas for the time being. Ultimately I think it would be great for this to end up being an RPG, where you can fly around the Rigel Aurelius system upgrading your ship with other players, though the first few instances of the game will be very rudimentary.

Tell me what you think, and let me know what kind of features you want to see.
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JohnBWatson
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Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:43 am

That's interesting - a 3D perspective. Would the Arena have a 'roof', then?

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Xephyr
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Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:56 am

JohnBWatson wrote:
Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:43 am
That's interesting - a 3D perspective. Would the Arena have a 'roof', then?
Yes, sort of. The old battle arena had energy fields rather than solid walls that kept the ships in the ring. I'll probably have a sort of energy "bubble" that keeps ships inside during a match. On the current model, the upward "arms" would probably be the upper limit; I don't have that model though, so I'm using a placeholder.

I might also consider a top-down perspective, but for now I'm going to take advantage of the engine's capabilities.
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TheLoneWolf
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Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:51 pm

Can I help you with development?
I'm familiar with C++!

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digdug
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:06 am

This is absolutely amazing !
Can I ask you how long did it take you to set up the unreal engine to do this ?
Also, was it hard to convert/import the meshes? Did you have to downsample them ?

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Xephyr
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:41 am

Thanks for the offer, TLW. I'll let you know.
digdug wrote:
Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:06 am
This is absolutely amazing !
Can I ask you how long did it take you to set up the unreal engine to do this ?
Also, was it hard to convert/import the meshes? Did you have to downsample them ?
Unreal is super quick to work in, it's really helpful for prototyping and that kind of stuff. There's templates that include network play and basic actor behaviour, so in theory you could build something like this in a couple of days as a proof of concept. Naturally I went a little bit further than just slapping the meshes on a template; I feel like I'm getting pretty close to how ships behave in Transcendence.

Importing the meshes is super easy. Blender can export to .fbx - As long as you export with smoothing groups they're compatible straight across. Lots of ship meshes are about 20,000 faces, but I think I can get those down to about 2000 for better performance. The stations are a different story, though - I wanted to recreate the station cluster in Rigel - flying around the stations in 3D is super cool - but they're being difficult. That's why I've got Sanzu Citadel flying in the distance (and partly to be able to keep your bearings against a black background).

I'm holding off on texturing the ships and stations until I retopo them to lower face count.
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TheLoneWolf
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:52 am

Did you use Blueprints?

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Thu Feb 16, 2017 5:40 pm

Amazing! Can't wait to see how this progresses.

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Xephyr
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Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:47 am

I'm still revisiting this project periodically. Retopology is a big bottleneck, so in terms of the models things are going pretty slow. On the code side of things, I'm progressing a little faster. I'm still optimistic that there'll be a beta this year.

I now have a somewhat functional UI. Image

Campaign

Eventually (ie. probably not anytime soon) I would like to include a brief story mode. This will likely be a Fleet vs. Ares scenario, where you play as a gunship in either fleet defending your capital ship. This would be sort of like Star Wars Battlefront space battles, and maybe they could have a multiplayer mode as well.

Mods

That's right, mods (or "plugins" in UE) will be supported. In order to add a ship mesh, all you need to do is add the appropriate sockets for weapon placement and include base stats such as mass/speed. It should also be possible to mod in new maps/systems or even new battle arenas.

Netplay

When you select "Netplay" you are added to a lobby queue, and are matched up with the first other player in the queue. I'm not really sure about this system, and I have some other ideas:
  1. Select a game mode, Melee or Vs.

    Melee will wait for enough players to join the queue and place all of them in the arena at once, and the winner is the last standing. This doesn't allow you to choose your battles, while Vs. would allow you to challenge or refuse specific individuals.
  2. Enter the game outside the arena as an in-game lobby.

    In this area are the various stations surrounding the arena, and you can interact with them to upgrade your ship. In this case all other players would be visible as well - it would be like you're playing an MMO. In this case you would dock at the battle arena to enter an actual match.
I'm not sure which would be the better approach; Option 1 is easiest, but Option 2 leaves the game much more open; it would offer the most room for expansion. For the time being I'll probably start with option 1, but I am open to hearing your ideas.

Long term I like the idea of including stat tracking and leaderboards online. A ranking system would be helpful in making sure new players aren't outclassed immediately, and keeping high level players interested. Currently your stats reset every time you close the game.

And lastly, the Arena model has been added. As you can see it hasn't undergone retopo/texturing yet (It's a big model) but its helpful for getting a sense of scale. It's worth noting that there's another arena model hiding in the truespace file, so maybe I'll find a place to sneak that in, too.
AureliusO.jpg
AureliusO.jpg (107.18 KiB) Viewed 741 times
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Xephyr
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Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:39 pm

And, here's a short video I made to show flight physics:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5hh6er
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TheLoneWolf
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Sat Apr 08, 2017 1:01 pm

Woah man. Thats progress! You might as well (re)make the whole Trans into a 3D version.

About the stats reset thingy. I can suggest a primitive fix. Use <fstream> to write stats and other playerdata to a file, then instruct the system to read the data off that file at startup. Or you may go hardcore and create a savestate system. I may have code for that. Let me dig it up...
Till you integrate into the Multiverse, this should help.

Option 1 would be great for prototyping. Go for it first :D

The thing you want for campaign is the thing I want for Multiplayer. Maybe we can have people join the Ares or the CW permanently, like guilds of sorts. Or stick with conventional Battlefronts-type gameplay.

I've given up trying to mod Trans. But your project has given me new hope. You made a thing in UE4. And thats something I can actually mod! Thanks man!

As for Option 2:
It would lag seriously @ heavy traffic.

PM me your email. I'd like to discuss things over gmail. Coz I like Gmail.

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Xephyr
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Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:33 am

Made a little more progress today.

Image

For the next little while I'm going to push on the graphical side of things and make it actually look like its built in Unreal.

I also tried out a top-down view to make it more like Transcendence:
Image
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Xephyr
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Wed Apr 19, 2017 2:59 am

Things are starting to move pretty quickly. I don't think it'll take more than a couple months to release an alpha.

Image

I've been experimenting with nebula maps as well, which are looking great too.

I'm planning on recording some HD footage and making some "dev log" videos to show a bit more of the game off, so look forward to that.

Image
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Shrike
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Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:37 am

How are you handling ship destruction? Just a big boom and removing the model from the game?


I'll definitely be interested in testing this out, once you've got it in a state to show off.
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Xephyr
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Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:07 am

Shrike wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:37 am
How are you handling ship destruction? Just a big boom and removing the model from the game?
Pretty much how it works now, but in melee matches it would definitely be better for them to leave a wreck - that introduces more hazards/hiding spots as the game goes on. Individual meshes will be separated into components if it makes sense that they'd be destructible.

Image

Not all ships will destruct into its components; some will just leave a wreck. But, things like the Sapphire's vanes probably will. This also opens up the option of creating custom ships right in the game. NAMI ships in particular can be pretty modular, and IAVs could actually be constructed out of scrap parts, but that's getting a little to ambitious for the "anytime soon" timeframe.
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"Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once. " -Julius Caesar as written by William Shakespeare, a notorious permadeath player.

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