• James Lennon

Ink - The Beginning

In December of 2019 I was stuck in in a rut on the programming side of Fight'n'Flight, there were some frustrating bugs that I couldn't tell if it was on my end or Unreal Engine. The Gameplay Ability system is nice but it also has it's own quirks. As an example, Montage Root Motion Tasks were bugged from 4.21-4.24 and didn't fire correctly, fortunately we don't use those in FnF but there were a lot of discussions going on about it in the Unreal Slackers discord server.


I was perusing the internet and saw a few first person parkour games (similar to Mirrors Edge) and was curious how one of those would work in VR. I know that those types of games exist in VR versions but I wanted to give it a shot and started playing around with some mechanics. Once the boring mechanics of simple touchpad movement was done I tried:

  • Multiplayer viability

  • Rope swing grapple hooks

  • Drawing on objects where the player touched or walked

  • Physics based movement

  • A few other miscellaneous things

The one thing I really wanted to get working was the rope swinging part of the grapple hooks. The problem is that VR controllers by default are not connected to the player character and they really shouldn't be in most cases. There are some workarounds I could have done to fake the connection but that caused some other issues (physics related stuff) and in the end wouldn't fit the game very well. I decided to ditch it in favor of some grapple mechanics that acted more like Widowmaker's grapple from Overwatch.


The drawing on objects was completely working in the early days but really didn't serve any purpose other than an effect. It looked cool but the method I was using when drawing to a generated texture is not really feasible once you start getting into the hundreds of objects in a scene. Instead I moved the conversion effect over to a material that receives a point of impact as a vector and I can adjust a float to lerp between the before and after materials.


The last thing was multiplier viability. As much fun as it would be to move around with friends, it didn't fit the aesthetic that we ended up going with and it would be a bunch of extra work that we (mostly me) didn't have the energy for.


I pitched the idea as a simple side project and people liked it enough that it got turned into an actual production. We threw around some ideas and changed the game aesthetics and what it felt like to play a few times more towards what it is now. It's not that the above mentioned things were impossible just not what we ended up needing. Simple things tend to not stay simple but that is a topic for another time.

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