November 25 2023

4 min read

Moths & Menus

We've been heads down learning Unreal blueprints with some solid resources like the Cropout sample project. SteelPinion now has a great feeling top-down camera with bounds , AND controller support! Thank you to the excellent developers who put so much time into the Cropout project's structure!

Starting with Unreal's Cropout sample project. I've replicated the base top-down camera from Cropout without all the extra references used for spawning and menu management. At this point, it has diverged from their example camera since the bounds check has been modified to support rectangular maps.

I don't mention it in the video, but using Cropout as a base also means we have controller support out of the gate! Messing with the game with my ps3 controller FEELS AMAZING! I hadn't yet established controller support in our unity client last year, so this was a very nice bonus!

Minor Detours

There where two previously attempted tutorials or tools tried before getting to Cropout which ate up some time this past month. I don't begrudge it! This is a part of the journey when learning a toolchain like Unreal. Not all public resources are relevant nor up to date.

I wanna be clear that I am not tossing shade at these two resources! They just didn't work for me and acted more like a red herring than a solution to SteelPinon's problems.

First there was an old tutorial on Epic called "Unreal Engine Camera Framework Essentials for games". Sounds like exactly what I needed to learn, and it does indeed have extremely useful elements, but the instructions relied too much on teacher's custom pre-existing c++ scripts that no longer work due to some deprecated functions from Unreal 4 to Unreal 5.

Secondly, a free plugin called "Open RTS Camera". Which would be a great starting point if this was Unity3D! However, since I am currently largely unawares of every feature already built into Unreal vs "what has to be made myself"; I was unable to figure out why click events were not working!

Now that I've built a top down camera using only built-in functionality, I can see that "Open RTS Camera" alone didn't break this functionality; since I've yet to restore click interactions with 3d menu objects! (I'll figure it out soon enough!)

Artillery Ships

Here is another ship design we've got ready for the new airship pipeline. The two initial factions will both have a long range medium sized vessel. The MOTH is the counterpart to the GOOSE shown in article #16.

steampunk moth airship

The MOTH is a medium sized pinion specialized for ranged artillery - but for the OTHER faction.

What's Next

I would say Unreal's blueprints and some learnings about them, but since this is the holiday season, I've tended to be away from the big rig more. Which means I tend to work on the less visible headless tactics game engine at the heart of SteelPinion. There are dozens of simulations I should probably run in order to somewhat sanity check the new weapons we are making for the game; both on the 3d modelling effort and the mods!

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