Where is the Playable Alpha Demo?

Earlier last year, I posted the following on Twitter.

My goal for this year was to achieve just that, give you guys the chance to play my best possible ‘proof of concept’ for Underhell running in a newer engine. For those of you who don’t know what this means, this isn’t about ‘porting’ Half Life 2 or Underhell into UE4 – but more about taking what made Underhell great and coding these systems in Unreal Engine 4 from scratch. UE4 offers a lot more flexibility than Source does so this has been a process of studying, learning and translating systems from one engine to another in a way that best fits. The entire process has been a huge learning experience for me and I’m glad I decided to do it.

What I didn’t count for was a crippling pandemic to hit during 2020, bringing challenges to both my professional and personal life. When lockdown started, I hardly touched the project because I just had so many other things on my mind, it was very hard to concentrate. I think I lost about 3 months or so of traction on the project because of personal / professional challenges. Having such a horrible virus spreading around the world was hard to ignore as I have many friends and family who were directly in the middle of it (Healthcare workers etc)

For this reason, I am behind schedule and I do not think that Underhell will return in 2020.

I am still working hard on the project, but I just need more time to make sure it can make a great first impression in 2021.

Behind schedule, but still gaining momentum!

Over the next few weeks I will be asking some close friends and family to help get an initial impression for a small section of the game. Distributing the files and observing them play – where possible (with respects to both their and my own safety of course) will make it easier for me to see where the most work is needed before others can play it.

An EXE!

This testing will most likely bring up a lot of questions and work for me to do, so please don’t get your hopes up on anything being ready in a few weeks (It is the Holidays after all)

I don’t mean for this to sound like a tease, I am not intending this update to come across in this kind of way it is just an idea I had to get some outside perspective before I open the floodgates to everyone else.

Honestly, It’s not like that!

I just need a little guidance and honestly, a bit of a boost, to help cross the finish line. A lot of my friends and family know that I always wanted to make video games, so It will be nice to finally show them that I’ve accomplished something I’m proud of.

So what will they be doing?

Well I’ve decided on a small section of the Prison map in Chapter 1 to be the best play area for the demo. I feel this shows off the most of work put into the project so far, with some AI and scripted sequences and a few weapons and objectives to complete. I originally also wanted to offer part of the prologue or the House as another possible demo area, but I don’t think these will be ready. I’m starting to make cuts to what will be in the demo in an effort to try and reduce the amount of work needed before a public release.

I still have a lot of level design / lighting / set dressing to do in some of these maps. Certain areas range from missing almost every detail needed to just needing a little more lighting and prop detail. I’m not trying to 100% every area, but I at least need some things in place to help make a good impression. Things don’t look right if there are huge holes in the walls – it’s confusing if you don’t know the reason behind it or what is supposed to be there.

As an example, the Prison was missing a lot of detailed meshes for wall details, railings. Without some of these, your exploration is limited or confusing. Some areas are still unlit so it makes for a frustrating experience when everything is really really dark and you only have a flashlight with limited batteries. I will be working on things like these as well as a number of open tasks / bugs that I still need to fix. You can also see that I have not yet finished texturing any of the meshes or any of the environment so you will most likely have to expect grey walls throughout any future playthrough. There is also a lot of logic that makes up this playable demo, so there is a lot of issues to find and resolve. There’s a lot of moving parts and they all need to be relatively stable before I can release anything fully.

What’s next?

I would still expect another few dev blogs before any big news. I’ll keep you guys posted on my efforts to fix issues and make improvements to the game. I don’t know how long it will be before I have a better idea on when a release will be but I’ll try to keep you posted.

Before I am ready to release, I will also be sending a playable build & gameplay video to Mxthe (The original creator of the Source Mod) as a courtesy – so that he is fully aware of what is being distributed and credited. It’s his baby after all. I want to ensure everyone responsible for the original mod is fully credited and that I have not missed anyone out. This way I have time to make any changes or additions that helps ensure the original team are happy with it before I release it to the public.

Anything else?

Nothing else from me this time, but I hope that you are all keeping safe and that we can put this terrible year behind us. Best wishes to you, your friends and family.

Thank you

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