ProjectKomodo: OverArc Adventure Construction System

Author: techlord
Thu. January 24, 2013
Categories: Application, Development, OverArc, ProjectKomodo

OverArc Adventure Construction System is a multi-part editing system that consists of a in-game Editor and Web-based applications that interface to the Master Web Server. It facilitates the administration and construction of ProjectKomodo’s persistent game world.

OverArc in-game Editor is essentially an elaborate entity customizing system running inside a UDK Game. It utilizes UDK/ProjectKomodo’s Game systems and processes to achieve its goals. So, why not make a game out of  building the Game world? There’s absolutely no reason not too, so,  I’m deliberately designing OverArc to use these systems to serve true function in a entertaining manner. In fact, I’m including a mock achievement system awards arbitrary God Points for doing stuff. In designing OverArc for entertainment, it directly serves as a testbed to implement and flush out FPS, RTS, RPG, Arcade, Puzzle game mechanics.

OverArc assumes the responsibility of UnrealEd in populating and placement of interactive content within a World Map. It uses a network-based import system for adding content at both design-time and play-time.  The In-game Editor uses only approved assets available on the Master Web Server which have been QA tested in UnrealEd for compatibility in the Game world. The Quality Control Screening Process is rather simple. 1) Content Developers upload their Asset Files to the MSW Opened Repository for review and approval. 2) QC Inspectors check Assets for specification/TOS violations, copyright infringement, malicious compromise, and obscenities. 3) Approved Assets are transferred to the Closed Repository (Production) for use in game. 4) Rejected Content is returned to Content Developer with feedback for corrections. This QC Screening ensures high-quality of both in-house, 3rd-party, and player- created Content.

  • Web-based Content Browser. An alternative Web-based Content Browser to view Assets on the MSW.

Using the Deity Spectral Mode (see Network Co-opology), Administrators can join any Game Server and modify Interactive elements in real-time. Like any other UDK multiplayer game, multiple Administrators can join a Server and cooperatively modify content (collaborate). To support collaboration in a development environment a ownership and version control system is employed. Ownership is the assignment of a single Administrator to an asset or group of assets to allow for manipulation. A simple ‘locking’ mechanism  so that only one administrator at a time has control over the asset.

Administrators can assume ownership by:

  1. Importing a asset from the MSW. The Administrator who imports the asset is set as Default Owner. Default Owners can set asset’s ownership characteristics for private, shared, or public ownership and set timeout periods for marked ownership. Default Ownership can only be transferred by agreement.
  2. Taking direct possession/control of an orphaned (unowned) asset. The Administrator maintains ownership as long as the asset is under direct control/possession.
  3. Marking an orphaned asset for possession. The ownership will timeout  if marker not renewed or asset is not under direct control/possession.
  4. Give Transfer. If an asset is under direct control, the owner may litterally toss it to another administrator, if the receiving administrator elects to catch the asset, ownership is transferred.
  5. Take Transfer. If an asset is marked for ownership, another administrator may request to take ownership, in which the ownership is transfer if agreed to by owner.

Version Control.  Master Web Server will employ a web-based version control system. TBD.

Rapid Level Development is the primary focus behind the implementation of each function the OverArc must accomplish. Ultimately, I desire OverArc to be a suitable tool for Game Masters to craft their campaigns in ProjectKomodo’s 3D environment in real-time. Essentially bringing the imagination and spontaneity of a GM Lead Pen & Paper RPG Adventure to 3D RPG Game world. There is no doubt in my mind, that  supporting a GM community is extremely beneficial for ProjectKomodo in terms of Adventure production, replay value, and evolution of project itself. I firmly believe that in order to achieve this, the editor has to be easy-to-use (GUI, high-level), powerful (data-driven, multi-user), with lots of content to use (modular entity construction).

I’m compelled to create games of creation and I put the blame squarely on playing with Construction Toys as a child. Playing D&D fueled my imagination for creating world’s of magic, mythical creatures, and heroes. I would eventually attempt to devise my own Mecha Role Playing System: T E C H L O R D S. I would later fall in love with computer games and discover the Adventure Construction Set, a game that lets you create games.  I loved ACS and today I have the means to create my own. An UE3-Powered Beast of Mass Creation.

    1. God Powers:
      • Create new Characteristics
      • Spawn Interactive Entities on Demand
      • Assign Entity properties from Templates, Randomly, Manually
      • Assemble Pre-Fab Prototypes
      • Telekinesis. An entertaining means to grab and move Entities in the environment (complete with the animated Arm/Hand Pawn that represents your Deity in the environment, aka Hand of God)
      • Visibility. An admin can make themselves known to players or operate invisibly behind the scenes.
      • Posses any Pawn or Player on Demand
      • Transfer Players/Parties to other servers.
      • Send Modifications to the MSW for deployment on active server nodes
      • Import/Export World Format.
    2. Hand of God. The administrator avatar is represented in 3D a fully articulated Arm/Hand or Full Body (full bodied awareness) and 2D mouse cursor (pointing finger, grabbing hand). The default view of the game world is First Person (3rd Person, Top-Down, Isometric, Side Scroll, Free Cam are also available). The HoG is attached to the camera no matter the perspective, unless the Administrator possesses another Player/NPC. The HoG simulates Telekinesis in grabbing and positioning objects in the game world, this is strictly for entertainment and other means to accomplish such tasks are provided. Hand of God also serves as the testbed to flush out the First Person Melee and Sword System.
    3. Incubators of Life. Incubators are employed in OverArc (Story Editor) to spawn entities, structures, and items for placement in the Level Map during run time.
    4. Cherubs. Cherubs are Helper Bots that can serve as Test Dummies and perform chores on behave of an Administrator. Admins can issue a special set RTS Commands to instruct Bots to place items or remove them. Cherubs pretest path navigation and serve as fill-ins for NPCs. Activate Combat mode with the Attack Command, to test combat systems. Cherubs can optionally be programmed to self destruct one tasks are complete. OverArc provides other means to achieve these tasks, but, Cherubs provide an entertaining and interactive way for Admins to multitask.
    5. Commandments (aka Console Commands). Console commands are provided to achieve all the tasks required to create, delete, and position entities.
    6. Modular Entity Construction.  A construction methodology of assembling larger complex Entities from layers of smaller interconnecting and interchangeable parts. This methodology is applied at all tiers of asset development {authoring, assembly, construction (level placement)} and directly influences the content pipeline.  OverArc uses modular entity construction to assemble all interactive entities, quest logic, story/dialog path, and mood (music).
      1. Logic Creation (inspirations from LBP)
      2. NPC Dialog. UDK Dialog System. Ref Defining Dialogue
      3. Adventure Path Builder
      4. Epic Music
    7. TBD

References:

  1. Creating a Simple In-Game Editor in UDK

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