Moving Into Undead Blackout’s Alpha Build. Again.
By Tom Gilchrist
We announced the other week that Undead Blackout was getting a massive overhaul so I should probably let you know how that is going., right? Doesn’t really matter what you say at this point as that is what I am going to do.
At the moment we are in the Alpha stage of development and looking to get all of the main mechanics up to a reasonable level. At this stage I am only looking to flesh out one level then once everything functions properly within that one level, I can move onto the other nine. Yes, nine levels! I am increasing the level count by four as I am just so generous like that.
Things like controls and zombies and shooting are all back and working at a decent level so I won’t spend too long talking about those. What new stuff then has been added or where have we been experimenting?
One thing I was very keen to add to this version was some other way to damage the zombies, the cliched exploding red barrels seemed like an easy win on that front and so I have implemented a very rough early version of this. It is simply a BluePrint actor with a Health value which decreases as you shoot it, once it hits zero BOOM. Radial Damage is applied to everyone who is nearby (including the player). This will kill zombies who are close enough and send them flying across the screen, it’s a bit over the top but I like it.
I have also changed the way that ammo and health pick-ups work. Instead of being dotted around the level in random places they are now dropped by zombies entirely at random. Ammo appears more often than Health and so far it is working really nicely, cannot see any need to tweak it. The rationale behind this is that I want players to have more ammo and be encouraged to take on the zombies, it was a bit too easy to just evade them and finish the levels in the previous version.
Another decision which kind of feeds into this is that I have ditched the melee weapons, you have a pistol by default which has infinite ammo, but needs reloading. The pistol is relatively weak and won’t do too much good against a load of zombies but is more than enough to pick off a few. Really you need the bigger weapons to make any significant headway. Again, this is a change that has increased the ‘fun factor’ of the game quite considerably.
The previous Undead Blackout had a targeting reticule on the screen and this was how you aimed at the zombies. I have ditched that for this version, instead relying on a laser sight for all of the weapons. This works much better and thanks to the way I have set it up, it actually works like a proper laser, extending out as far as it can before hitting an object. This also changes colour when the player goes into ‘Aimed” mode (in which you get one-shot kills but cannot move very quickly).
Perhaps the absolute coolest thing (personally speaking) that I have done involves the two-player mode. I am ditching the Versus and Survival modes for this and concentrating just on the co-op mode. Way, way back in the history of development on this I wanted the game to have a dynamic split-screen feature, if the players were close together they would share a screen, if they were far apart then it would split the screen. However, the only way to do this is through C++ and at the time, I was totally crap at C++.
Today however, I am only slightly crap at C++. This means that I have managed to add (thanks to a very good tutorial which can be found here) a dynamic split screen feature. You can see it in action below!
The scoring system has been revamped, given this has a more arcade slant than before. You now get a multiplier which goes up the more zombies you kill and remain free from damage. Soon as you take a hit it revers back down to 1 and you start over. I am sure you don’t need me to explain to you how a multiplier works but I have done it now so whatever.
Running out of things to say but I am sure there is still loads of other stuff I have done and not mentioned here yet. The most important thing I guess is that the game is very nearly at a point where the main mechanics are in place and working perfectly. If you die, everything respawns and resets. You can navigate from the menu into the test level. You can pick your character. You can shoot, reload and change your weapon. It is all coming together nicely.
Looking forward now the most important thing is to put together one actual level and make sure that all the elements that are fun in my crappy little test arena also work well in a proper level. This will also give me a chance to test the all new ‘Blackout’ mechanic which will finally make the games title actually relevant. More on that one next time when I can actually show it off.
In the meantime please enjoy this incredibly rubbish video of me just testing a few bits of a build from a little while ago. It might not look like it yet, but the game is massively, massively improving from what it currently is on Steam. Not sure on timelines yet but things are progressing quicker than I anticipated so I am hoping to get this done before the Autumn game tsunami (and my wedding).