Lighting Brief

In this brief, I must explore lighting within Unreal Engine 4 and how it can be used to aid gameplay. I need to consider how the player will navigate the play space and how lighting will guide or assist the player. I must also consider a theme and emotion that will carry throughout my level.

There are two limitations for this project. These limitations are that the level MUST be set within a mansion and no asset packs can be used for this project.

Level Concepts

Before I begin to create my level, I must pitch three level concepts to my tutor. One will be chosen and I will be allowed to build the level.

Concept 1: The player will not be able to walk in the dark so they must follow a small glowing orb. The orb will guide the player through the mansion and into a series of rooms. When entering a room, the orb will float to the ceiling and light up the area in order to allow the player to explore the room and complete a puzzle. Once all of the puzzles are completed, the orb will guide the player to the exit of the mansion.

Concept 2: The player will have to find a glowing object within four colour coded rooms. Each object will be hidden but will have clues to its location. Once all four objects have been found, they must be merged to make a key in order to leave the mansion.

Concept 3: The player will be shown a colour sequence in lights. They will then progress into the mansion’s garden where they will enter a maze. The player will then be able to follow coloured light beams in order to reach the other side of the maze. They must follow the lights in the same colour order as they were originally shown in order to escape.

Chosen Concept

My tutor decided on concept 1. I must now focus on how to bring this idea into a real, working level.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The main inspiration behind this level was a particular scene in HP-7. This is the moment when Harry sees the doe patronus which leads him through the forest to the Sword of Gryffindor so he can use it to destroy the locket horcrux.

I liked the idea that, using a moving light, I can guide the player through the mansion. This also plays into my other modules where I am learning to create VFX for games. Unfortunately, I cannot animate animals yet so I will only be able to create an orb for this brief.

VFX Orb

The first image is the texture used for the orb. This a mixture of randomised cloud textures on the Red, Green and Blue channels within Photoshop. 

The second image is the material for the orb, in which I used the texture above mixed with a set of colours, multipliers, fresnels and panners to create a rotation and glow of the orb.

The third image is the material instance for the orb. This is where I edited a series of values to create a glow/emissive on the surface of the orb.

The fourth image is the particle effect that I attached to the orb. This emits a blue mist and blue specs in order to create an ethereal/magic look.

The final image is the viewport from the orb’s blueprint. This includes the static mesh of the orb (including its material instance texture); a point light to create a glow that will reflect on the rest of the level; the particle effect from above to emit the mist; a spherical trigger box to link with a health system and a plane with the blue circle to indicate the trigger location for the player to move the orb.

Health

The image above shows the trigger for health. The player’s health starts at 100. When the player leaves the light emitted by the orb (dictated by a trigger sphere), their health will decrease by 1 every second until it reaches 0, where the game exits. Once they return to the sphere, their health will increase by 1 every half second until it reaches 100 again, then it stops.

Orb Movement

The first image shows a series of movements that the orb will make. These movements are dictated by two other types of triggers.

The second image shows the blueprint for a small triggerbox. These triggerboxes surround a series of pointers around the level and, upon overlap with the orb, will reset the start pointer of the orb’s path to its current location.

The third image shows the blueprint for a large triggerbox. These triggerboxes are located below the pointers and triggerboxes from above. Once overlapped by the player, they will reset the end pointer of the orb’s path to the next pointer in the sequence and also begin the corresponding movement to the first image.

Puzzle 1

The player must click on the coloured orbs in the order shown on the wall in order to open the door and collect the energy ball on the other side.

The first blueprint is for the red orb. When clicked, the light from the orb is set to turn on, this will also turn on the red wall light. (This is the same for the next three blueprints for yellow, blue and green orbs.) However, when the red is clicked, IF all the other orbs are activated, the button will change colour from red to green, indicating that the door is unlocked. The door is also then set to open. These two blueprints are also shown above.

Puzzle 2

The player must click on the coloured orbs that combine to make the lights shown on the wall in order to open the door and collect the energy ball on the other side.

The first three blueprints are for the red, green and blue orbs. When clicked, the light from the orb is set to turn on, these will only turn on the corresponding wall light if the other colour is activated. 

The second two blueprints are the magenta and yellow wall lights. Once the yellow light is on, the door will open as it did in the last puzzle, allowing the player to reach the second energy ball.

Energy Ball Collectable

There are two collectables in this level and the blueprint for both are the same. When clicked, they are each set to leave their current position and move to the orb’s position. They are then destroyed to give the effect that they have been absorbed by the orb.

End of Level

At the end of the level, the collectables are expelled from the orb and float toward two pedestals. Once the energy balls are on the pedestals, the door opens and the player can leave – this ends the game.

The first blueprints sets the collectables to spawn and travel from the last location of the orb to the top of the pedestals where there are two invisible actors. On top of the pedestals is a trigger box. Once the collectables overlap this trigger, the light in the end doorway turns on and the player can leave the mansion. This is the end of level.

Changelog

Throughout the creation of this level, my partner has been playtesting this level. Here is are a list of changes and bug fixes made through these playtests:

Version 1.1

Problem: 

  • difficult to locate the trigger to advance orb movement.

Solution:

  • add a blue floor marker to indicate orb movement trigger to player.

Problem:

  • orb moves too fast to keep up.

Solution:

  • increase time to 5 seconds on timelines.

Version 1.2

Problem:

  • top down character could not travel upstairs.

Solution:

  • increase scale of navmesh volume box.

Problem:

  • camera clips through ceiling on taller areas of level.

Solution:

  • lower camera on spring arm of top down character viewport.

Version 1.3

Problem:

  • puzzle 1 has too many components – very confusing to navigate.

Solution:

  • puzzle 1 orbs reduced from 8 to 4.

Problem:

  • puzzle 2 cyan wall light not working despite correct blueprints.

Solution:

  • removed cyan wall light entirely.

Version 1.4

Problem:

  • lack of incentive to complete puzzles.

Solution:

  • collectable energy balls.

Version 1.5

Problem:

  • no reward for collectables.

Solution:

  • use to open final door and escape the mansion.