Posts Tagged ‘Rooks Keep’

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Rooks Keep: Character Content Elements

Greetings minions!

Our blog’s been a little lazy here unfortunately, so I’ll strike it with an insightfully intriguing post on the Rooks Keeps character content pipeline. I won’t go into the specifics of actually creating the content, rather focussing on the work inside UnrealEd. This doesn’t include the rather large coding side of things either; it’s simply the content side of things. That’s somehting for another section entirely.

So, let’s start at the beginning then.

Firstly, we design the character, followed by the concept art for it. DC does the concept art and modeling for the character, then the UV’s and then renders up all the required maps that I will need for texturing (Normal, Ambient-Occlusion, Cavity and Wireframe). Once texturing concludes, I’ll do the rig and create the required animations, sounds and anything else specific to the character (such as masks).
Once all the work outside of UE is finshed, it’s time to get it all ready for the game. And that’s the stuff I’ll list and explain here.
The characters are made up of several meshes, and also require other objects for various gore and FX related purposes.

  • Character  [The actual character mesh/rig]
  • Weapons  [The weapon(s) and other attachments that the character holds in their hands]
  • Head  [This is a character specific head gib used for gore]
  • Gibs  [These are a global set of gibs used for all characters. These include both flesh and metal pieces]

A collection of meshes and other assets

-Textures: [Often a character has more than one material slot]
The character requires a fair number of textures, which includes the usual Diffuse/Specular/Normal set and extras such as masks and emissive maps. The textures (primarily the masks) will often have various color channels dedicated to specific material functions, which will be listed here as “RGBA=”.

  • Diffuse  [This is the characters primary color map and sets the overall look of the character]  [A=OpacityMask]
  • Specular  [This sets the 'shininess' of the character texture]
  • Normal  [The normal map appears to add extra detail to the mesh, by performing some voodoo magic]
  • Emissive  [This map indicates areas of the texture that are unaffected by lighting, and is often used to make areas glow]
  • MaterialMask  [We use this texture to set various properties on the characters material, such as reflection intensity, specular power and others]  [R=Reflection G=SpecularPower B=Fresnel A=DetailNormal]
  • Color Mask  [This mask indicates which areas of the character can be colored by the in-game color chooser. It also sets where blood appears]  [R=PrimaryColor G=SecondaryColor B=WeaponBlood A=SprayBlood]
  • Gore Mask  [The gore mask indicates specific areas used by the gore system]  [R=Decapitation G=FootBlood B=InjuryBlood]
  • Footsteps  [These are bloody footstep textures used as decals when a character walks through a blood pool]
  • Head Gibs  [The textures used by the head gib meshes]
  • Gibs  [Gib textures]
  • Decals  [Blood decals used for various gore requirements, such as spatters, explosions, pools and drips]
  • Particles  [These are the textures used by the various particle systems, including gore and weapon effects]

A collection of textures for the Knights faction A collection of textures for the Beasts faction


  • Walk
  • Run
  • Charge  [A walking sequence used when a piece is in combat with another]
  • Idle
  • Idle one-shots  [Idle sequences to break up the otherwise looping idle animation]
  • Blocking
  • Quick Attacks
  • Slow Attacks
  • Parry: Left / Right / Up / Down  [Each piece requires a parry sequence in each basic direction]
  • Quick Attacks Parried  [These sequences are used when the attack of the character is parried by the enemy]
  • Slow Attacks Parried  [These sequences are used when the attack of the character is parried by the enemy]
  • Death: Stab / Slash / Decapitated / Fried
  • Pain
  • Dodge

The UE Animation Editor


  • Pain[Beasts]
  • Effort[Beasts]  [Used when the character attacks and performs some other movements]
  • Die[Beasts]
  • Impacts  [These are sounds of weapons successfully hitting characters. They come in both flesh and metal variants]
  • Footsteps  [These include various foot types on various surface types]
  • Swing Weapon  [Played when weapons are swung]
  • Attacks  [Character attack sounds. Right now, these are used by the Bishops of both sides]
  • Parry Attack  [The sound played by the attackers weapon when it is parried]
  • Enemy Parry  [Played by the victims weapon when it successfully parries an attack]
  • Weapons on ground  [Played by weapons left by dead players as they are moved around]
  • Corpse Impacts  [Sounds of dead bodies been moved around by other players]
  • Blood Splats  [When blood hits a surface]
  • Decapitation  [The joyous sound of a head leaving it's owner]
  • Gibs  [Gib impacts with surfaces]
  • Heads  [Decapitated head impacts with surfaces]
  • Explosion  [When a character explodes]

A collection of sound nodes


  • Gore Slash
  • Gore Stab
  • Gore Smash
  • Gore Decap
  • Gore Explode
  • Gib Trails  [Blood particles flicking off flying bits]
  • Weapon Impacts  [Played when weapons parry]
  • Weapon Drips  [Blood drips from bloody weapons]
  • Weapon Trails  [Trails left by weapons swinging through the air]
  • Attacks  [Effects used by certain attacks, such as the Bishop fire and lighting]


  • Blood Pools
  • Blood Splats
  • Blood Footsteps
  • Gib Impacts
  • Blood Explosion

The explosion gore emitter in Unreal Cascade A collection of gore related textures

-Other/Miscellaneous: These are some of the other, equally important, elements that need to be added:

The primary material/shader of all characters. This blends all the character textures and masks into the final shader that is applied to the meshes.
The characters base material

Material Instances
These are instances of the main character material that simply change variables from it’s parent.
The MaterialInstance properties for Rook, with added blood The Beasts Knight final Material

The ‘AnimTree’ handles most animation functionallity, animation blending, and is used for other features such as: Shrinking head bones for decapitation and Foot placement IK.
The AnimTree for the Knights faction

Physics Asset
The Physics asset is used for Ragdoll physics and other physics based calculations and collisions.
The Beasts Pawn with collision primitives in the Physics Asset editor The Knights King in the Physics Asset editor with constraints mode

Mesh LOD’s
The main character mesh also requires 3 extra LOD’s to improve performance when required. These can, fortunately, be generated inside UE.

Sockets are locations placed on meshes that are referenced by code.

  • Neck [Spawns a head stump mesh when decapitated]
  • HeadGore [Gore particle spray upon decapitation]
  • Three Weapon Edges [These are used by weapon FX trails, referenced by animation notifies]
  • Weapon Sockets [Held weapons]

Sockets on the Beasts Rook

Notifies set events during animation sequences, such as when to play trails left by weapons as they swing and when to play footstep sounds.

Physics calculated cloth objects, such as the cloaks on the King and Queen of the ‘Knights’ faction.

Physics Material
Physics materials set various properties on meshes and physics objects.

Sounds Cues are used to blend together various sounds, tweak volumes, attenuation and other audio properties. Almost all sounds played are SoundCues.
The Sound Cue editor

Map Based Environment/Reflection-maps
We’ve added support to character materials, that allows them to search for map-specific reflection maps.

Whew! And that’s that for now! As you can see, a lot of work goes into each character piece, and this doesn’t include the actual content creation and coding for them.

I trust you found this insightful, useful or an otherwise educational experience. If, on the other hand, you were bored stiff and angry by the end of it.. Hahaha! Sucker!

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Rooks Keep: Beasts and Free roaming mass combat unleashed!

That’s right, there have been some big changes to Rooks Keep! The beasts set has been implemented in-game, the UIs are starting to look wicked and music is starting to go in, but the biggest change of all has been to the combat.
The combat system has been given a total overhaul so instead of having limited movement in 1vs1 combat, players will now be able to roam freely around the arena in third person and engage any number of enemies. This opens up lots of crazy new game possibilities including mass battles against many other players and bots, invasion game types and large team battle. BlackEagle is busy right now working on realizing these new gametype possibilities.

With this, player controlled combat is now the primary focus of Rooks Keep, putting chess into the backseat. If you can’t imagine how the game works, to try to give you a general idea of what exactly Rooks Keep is; basically, Rooks Keep is a bit like Unreal Tournament with swords!

Also not minor is that the Beasts have been added. This means there are now 12 characters in-game to engage in various flavors of brutal asymmetric combat.


Don’t let the wild character colors frighten you, we’ll be attending to those as we go.
Also notice ShadowBlade’s new UI graphics compared to the previous shots of the UI I posted.

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Moving Parts: Beasts Pawn and Bishop anims

Greetings everyone!

I’ve not shown much of my own work here on the blog, but today I decided to render up some of the animations I’ve been doing for the Beast side in Rooks Keep.

These Beasts were much quicker for me than the ‘Knights’ side i’d already done. The Knights were the first real character anims i’d ever done (with the exception of some sequences for Crucible UT3). I had to get the hang of some of the more advanced rigging aspects, requirements for the engine and the game itself, and then finally tackle the animations themselves.

To start off with, here is the Pawn from the Beasts in action. You can see the walking(forward), parrying at various angles and some quick attacks on display here. Each piece in the game thus far, requires about 30 separate sequences for the combat system to look proper neat :)

And here is the Beasts Bishop doing his thing. Similar to the Pawn, he features moving(forward), parrying (which will probably also include some neat FX down the line) and some attacks.

I’ll post more short videos in the coming weeks, and try to document more of the goings on on my side :)

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Early Rooks Keep UI

Time for a small update while we wait for some bigger stuff.
Right now, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going down on the gameplay side of things and I’ll post some shots of the finished Queen when I get round to rendering them. Very soon, we’ll have nice shots of the beasts in-game too, but for now here’s something else.

Rooks Keep will not be using Scaleform. Instead, it will be using our own custom built in UnrealScript GUI. The reason for this is because, well Scaleform is probably great for large teams which can find someone who just does flash coding and give them a job. Web coders are more easily available then UScript coders, so that makes sense. Unfortunately, this makes the whole job much bigger and you still need someone to do the UScript side of things. For a tiny team which has more experienced UScript coders, Scaleform and having to go through another interface between the UI and the game doesn’t make much sense.
That’s the reasoning, but probably a bigger contributor is that BlackEagle didn’t like working on Scaleform and we figured we could make a simpler, more solid and totally ass kicking UI system ourselves!

I already had a widget system that was used for organizing the HUD and some primitive UI controls in the game, so I upgraded its design for a full UI system and iterated. At the moment, the system is well developed and functioning quite nicely.

Here is the placeholder main menu we’ve been using:
Those are just placeholder graphics and not all those options will be there like that in the real version.
Unfortunately, you can’t see the animations or hear the sounds it plays in that shot.

Here you can see some more bits.
There you can see that it has tab controls, lists, a test drag thing and a drop down list. Nobody appreciates how much goes into dropdown lists, but they are tricky little buggers!

For now, its looking a bit primitive, ShadowBlade is working on the real graphics for our UI and its gonna look a whole lot better! We are aiming for something similar to what you’d expect of a GUI in Blizzard’s games. Similar in style, simplicity and solidness!

Some cool things about our UI system:
It supports materials and all the effects that come with them!
Simple and direct interface with game.
Opacity and fading effects.
WidgetMods. These are not too simple to describe, but they allow designers to apply all kinds of modifications and effects to UI widgets such as animation, fading, sounds, texture layers, material layers, text and even custom things.

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Beasts Update: King and Bishop

Every faction needs a leader. For the beasts, we ellected a shining, magnificent beacon of glory to be king. We elected someone who would embody all that the iconic king stands for.

It just so happens that the beasts have a bishop as well and here is the creature that is the bishop of the beasts. Don’t worry, it doesn’t bite… or scrath… or use evil magic… unless it does.

How about some scupltures… Behold the olympian physique of a champion warrior and leader, but for now heres king blubber bag:

This is the bishop in shades of brightened black:

Just one more to go…

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Beasts Update: Rook and Pawn

Ok, the Rook and Pawn meshes for the Beasts side have been finished for a while and sitting around begging to be shown, so I finally decided to finish off the HD renders and actually post them.
here we have the finished Ogre (Rook) HD mesh:
This guy has all the finesse of a drunk elephant. He’ll obviously enter into diplomatic discourse and use that menacing club to outline all the important points.

Next up, you can see my the next installment in my ongoing quest to master muscles. This is the Pawn. You can call him the “Ratman”, but he doesn’t really like that.

Well, there you have the the first three beasts. It was quite a bit of work (learning more about muscle structure, especially on the forearms), but it got more fun as I learnt. Hopefully you like them. ;)

Here are some shots of how the initial meshes were built:

And the Pawn:
RK_Beasts_Pawn_Modelling-LD4RK_Beasts_Pawn_Modelling-LD5 RK_Beasts_Pawn_Modelling-LD6

And these for good measure:
RK_Beasts_Pawn_Modelling-S1 RK_Beasts_Pawn_Modelling-S2

Next up, the King and the Bishop…
Can anyone guess what they’ll look like?

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Rooks Keep: Worlds in the works

Greetings everyone!

I’ve been working recently on some more maps for Rooks Keep, and I do have plenty of ideas that I think would cool to see, but only a few can be made. I’ll go over the progress so far here, starting with our first map that we’ve used for all our screenshots up until now.

I’ve added some new foliage and changed the trees in the Courtyard this time. There are a few passes we need to do still, but it’s nearly done. Every now and then, i’ll update it with some new features, textures or details, especially with each new UDK release.

Forests are cool! Right? Well, i’ve wanted to add one to Rooks Keep since the early stages, so i finally got around to it. Save for some mesh work (on the trees and cliff’s), it’s mostly done. I’ve created some foliage and trees to add to improve the forests, so those will go in soon.

This map i created just this morning basically. I created some trees and textures last night, then just this morning created some more textures, imported the meshes, and then made the map. I really like how it turned out for just a couple hours work. There are a bunch of improvements i need to make, but i’m pleased that the idea for the setting works well!

This started more of an exercise in theme than a map idea. But the way it turned out was awesome, so i turned it into a playable environment. Made some dead trees, grabbed the gravestones from The Crucible, and added them all into the place, and here we are!

I’ve wanted to create an environment like this for a while, the red sky, the weird lighting. It took about a day to get the bulk of it made, then a bit of the next day to polish it up a bit. I’ve got to work on the sky a bit, because the orange sun doesn’t match the blue sunlight quite yet :)

Just another map I whipped up quickly with the batch of meshes from the Courtyard. As usual i need to go over it with some more polish, but it’s another map :)

Anyway, i’ll be working on more maps as the game surges forwards, so stick around!

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Rooks Keep: Fighting-game/Strategy

It’s a dark, gloomy night, and more unsettling secrets are escaping the confines of Rooks Keep.

Perhaps you thought Rooks Keep was just Chess with some fancy moving pieces and gore?
Well, we’re pleased to squash those fears (or dreams) and introduce the other side of Rooks Keep, the fighting game! It will indeed feature an expansive, interactive combat mode, where players will take direct control of the pieces and fight in pitched battles for victory.
a battle rages
RK_Combat_July08 RK_Combat_July04
In a variety of game-modes players can battle through fights with interactive combat, using quick and slow attacks, parrying, dodging and counter-attacks to out-maneuver the enemy. Players will be able to engage in this fighting game during standard Chess, or simply play with traditional rules. The attacker will still have an advantage, but a skilled fighter may actually fight back against the attacker and if victorious, the opposition loses their piece.
RK_Combat_July07 RK_Combat_July06
Rooks Keep will offer a selection of game-modes, including, Arena, Chess and Tournament modes to test your fighting prowess and more. We’ll be sure to detail the various modes in due course.
So there it is! And just to be clear, Rooks Keep will feature traditional Chess, various fighting game modes, Chess with fighting and more. It’s more of a strategy/fighting game hybrid inspired by Chess and set in gothic universe.
RK_Combat_July03 RK_Combat_July02
RK_Combat_July01 RK_Combat_July09

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Chess Monsters forged in the dark

Its 3:30 AM in the cold dark night and like any mad indie developer (or mad scientist), instead of sleeping, I’m hard at work on some diabolical creation.

This time, I’m crafting the grotesque creatures that hail from the darker recesses of Rooks Keep.
In Rooks Keep players will get a selection of chess sets to play as.
While our previous set of characters were all a bit cleaner and outfitted with metal suits of armor, these beasts have a different style. Their bulky bodies are bulging with muscle and while some of them use only their natural claws or blades. They all wear minimal armor and what litte equipment they do have is crude and worn.
If you stretch your mind a bit, you might notice that the monsters of Quake 1 lent an inspirational hand to their design.

BE WARNED: What you are about to see includes graphic representation of endevours not entirely finished, one might even call them work-in-progress…

This friendly customer is going to be the Knight for the beasts side. It will joyfully hack its oppoents with two big sharp implements.

As you can see it doesn’t have textures yet and the materials are not the most fancy. This is the high-detail sculpted mesh with about 8 million polygons. As you can see I’ve been having lots of fun with muscles and trying to get a reasonable skin on him.
We’ll be sure to post some updated shots when SB gets to work on the textures.

Here are some shots showing the early construction of the mesh. Now you can see how I used box modelling and took it from that initial, basic “box chicken” to the snarling beast at the end. I then stuck a piece of armor on top and moved on to the high detail work.
To get it to this stage took about 5 hours.
Here is a shot of the state it was in just before sculpting.
I did the armore and it’s straps in high detail and prepared the rest of the mesh for scuplting by applying smoothing. I also cut some extra loops into the teeth and spike to retain their shape when smoothed.

Ogre / Rook
And then there’s the next one! Right now, I am working on the brutish ogre that will be the Rook on the beasts side!
He’s not done yet. I am in the middle of sculpting my way through the various pieces.
As you can see I’m getting lots of practice on muscles. Its tough, but its getting easier. I think I am getting better at them with each mesh. What makes them even more fun is that there are slight differences on every reference I’ve got.

And for good measure, here are some earlier shots.
That is the LD mesh and the other is the other is the partial HD mesh just before going to sculpting. Notice how the hard ‘mechanic’ style parts have been detailed out while the organic pieces are just smoothed out.

Ok, enough for now. When I’ve finished this little bugger, I’ll fire off arender or two and post those along with some shots of the initial progression.

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Today’s meaty story

A great way to start off a blog is with a good, meaty story. Well, how’s this for meaty; Rooks Keep gore!

Chess is a nice clean polite sort of thing, so natrually Rooks Keep, a game mostly about Chess, is brutally violent and completely drenched in blood and viscera.

So thats what I’ve been working on lately. I’m creating a set of decent preliminary gore effects and doing some crazy code shit to get them into the game and appearing in the right ways.
In Rooks Keep, we are using various types of gore effects. We’ve got particle effects, gib meshes, decals on surfaces and material effects on the characters (chess pieces). Each of these works differently, but they all work together to satisfy your gruesome appetites.
One difficulty when working on gore for this game is that there are severl different characters and they all have different weapons and attack styles. The pawn stabs his enemies with a spear, the rook smashes them with a hammer and the knight hacks away with a big old sword. There are also different death styles which every character needs to support such as decapitation, being stabbed and the horrific ‘bursting’.
Another major factor is that there is the possibility of custom chess sets which could have new types of blood. This means all these effects need to be organized and the code has to figure out what effects to play based on how that particular piece got attacked and killed. What we have now is register on each character that holds effects and has to choose the best effect to play based on the attack type. This system is still developing and changing as we add more effects.
With registration and selection sorted out on the code side, we also have to actually create all the effects for these different attack and death styles.

I’ll start with the particles. In Rooks Keep’s gore, their uses include:
-Blood splashes when weapons hit pieces
-Bleeding from injuries
-Blood dripping from weapons
-Slash blood sprays that result from slash weapons such as swords
-Gruesome decapitation sprays
-Gib drip trails
-Horrible explosive bursting

They can even be used for other less obvious effects. When combined with a depth masking technique implemented in the material, they can be used for efficient decals!

Sometimes to achieve some effects, particle systems are manipulated by code to produce dynamic results that fit the situation at that moment.
One example is with slash weapons where we make blood look like it was flicked by the swinging blade. The code determines the direction the weapon is swinging for the attack and then modifies the velocity of the particles to make the blood spray flick off in the same direction the weapon swings.

Well, that’s a start on the gore. Later on, I’ll cover more details and other aspects such as gibs and material effects.
As a matter of interest, do you think all this work necessary? Would you perhaps rather they had wooden swords and just lay down until the end of the match?