March 2021 Update

Hey!

I apologise for the long delay between the last update. Things for me have been very busy and I have had a lot of things to deal with, so my time and energy for the project has been severely reduced. I won’t go into detail but it’s not been a great month.

Today, I have good news and bad news.

First up, the Bad News

I had an idea for the original scope of the demo a long time ago, and only until recently did I achieve a lot of that original goal – however because of this I failed to notice something….how long it can take people to play through it – without a functioning save system!

In this aspect, the demo has not been very respectful of the players personal time. I guess because I always had time to play / skip through the demo – I never realised how bad it was. I had tried to implement a save system a while ago, but had to skip it due to time constraints. It never took me long to complete it, so I figured it might be okay as is.

I should have taken the time to do this, I had feedback from someone who I’d hoped the game would make a good impression to, who unfortunately had the A.I completely stop working for them! This which mean they would have to restart the entire game again to continue their progress. Not exactly a nice welcome if you had just spent 30+ minutes getting to that point. It would just leave you frustrated!

The lack of saving became even more apparent when I had chance to check out the free demo for ‘In Sound Mind‘ – A game by the original Nightmare House 2 developers. I had hardly any time to play the demo, but I was thankful that there was a save and load system present – otherwise I might not have finished it. I don’t want this to happen to Underhell as It has the potential to turn away a lot of people.

It sounds like a very silly lesson to learn now, but truthfully – I hadn’t realised this was a big issue. I realise this is a big oversight but it gives me hope that I won’t do things like this again in future and hopefully with future updates / releases – I can catch these kind of things much earlier. My bad.

What does this mean? Well, I’m essentially branching away from my latest playable build and trying to implement a save/load system. We will see how I get on with this, as I want to aim for a very SIMPLE system to begin with. Only one save slot and all I need to ensure that we have restored correctly is the game logic. Depending on how this goes, the limitations may need to be clearly laid out. I don’t know what these limitations could be yet, so I need a bit of time.

And the good news?

The last playable build of Underhell UE4 was demoed and played by…Mxthe himself! This is an important milestone for the project because I was very worried about running this project without him fully being aware of what was being developed and what would ultimately be released to the public. Mxthe has enjoyed playing the demo and It feels great to hear that he’s been ‘really impressed’ by the fidelity of the recreation.

There is still room for improvement, of course. Mxthe worked on Underhell for a very long time – so the game feel is not quite right yet on the current build – but both he and I know that this is due to change over time as there is still a lot of unfinished content. The feedback given so far has helped me identify a few areas where I might be able to make some improvements and I’ll continue to keep him posted.

I’ve since been making contact with other developers and voice actors from the original source mod and having them try out the playable build. Not all have gotten back to me yet but It’s been quite exciting to finally be able to do this.

So what next?

I’ve upgraded to the long overdue 4.26 release of Unreal Engine 4. This allows me to take advantage of some helpful new features, as well as continue work on the saving & loading system.

I am fully aware that I do have a playable build, however I still have some work to do before I am able to make this release public because of some content that is still being used as placeholders from Half Life 2. I will be trying to work on replacing these in tandem with any new changes – so please understand that if the intended Save/Load system takes too long – I will just release the build without this feature enabled and hope that you understand. I need to get back to work and then I can probably tell you the answer to this question soon.

Regardless of which avenue I end up taking, there will be a playable demo…soon!

Future considerations

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about this, and yes – I will be trying out the MetaHumans from UE4 when they are available! I don’t know how easy they will be to use, but I’ve been catching up on the documentation and videos available so far. I’m excited to try this out as I’d love to at least start to plan how NPCs react and can be used in cutscenes. I wouldn’t expect anything soon, but just knowing these kind of things can make planning for the future a lot easier!

That’s all for today. I hope you are all doing well, keeping safe and make sure you tell your pets that you love them.

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