Space Cat

a tentatively named game prototype

A current UE4 game experiment, roughly 4 days’ work as of this video demonstration. Physics-driven spaceflight with a heavy note of the old Star Fox games (Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64) for project type and stand-in prop inspiration while I’m in the early experimental stages.

The project may continue forward, though as it fleshes out I’ll move away from the low poly stylization and direct SFX references, though new assets and mechanics will remain heavily influenced.

latest progress videos

Now available in VR!

There is a playable build as of 3-9, found via this Google Drive link. The readme contains controls and some relevant info. Feel free to use my contact form to leave feedback regarding anything; ship handling, controls, comfortable speeds, the VR experience, etc. It’s an increadibly early proof of concept for a game I have no design for yet, so I have more than enough room to make broad decisions on what to do with it next!

Update Historymost recent

Day 5: Style experiments and some testing of how to handle larger ships

I wonder if the test ship is moving this ti-THERE IT IS

if the video to the left doesn’t make it obvious, it’s pretty comfy in VR now. After a good 45 minutes of flight like that, I didn’t feel motion sick (but I have my VR sea-legs so take that with a grain of salt). I feel more queasy watching this 8 minutes of footage than the entire time spent in the headset! 3rd person is a bit iffy however, as you lose your personal horizon/frame of reference from sitting in the cockpit.

Also did some work on setting up actors with exposed variables to adjust instancing and, in this case, the multiplier that drives the simple forward motion of these half-modeled frigates

Weekendrefining flight

Day 3: Largely gathering feedback and toying with varous potential items to pursue. Experimented with weapons, tutorials in projectiles were often extremely conflicting with each other, incomplete, and otherwise heavily focused on very different gameplay. Took some experimentation and gathering clues along the way but it’s working, though a temporary format.

Day 4: More feedback, ironing out some controls. Updated lasers with more stylization (all default content in-engine at current), added radar ball test, and heavily modified the balance of primary thrusters vs thrusters and spacebrake modulation.

Second Passspace is the place

Day 1 Part 2: finding the flying template content lackluster for my needs, I moved on to learning a bit more about physics-based flight, more realistic¬† to space sim games, something I’m decently familiar with flying, between properties like Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen.

The goal at this point would be to find a nice balance of more arcadey and accessible controls/responsiveness, and simply learning more of the toolsets available. I’m familiar enough with the more sim-oriented games and 6DOF flight controls, but I’m also mostly comfortable flying those games using dual joysticks with a twist axis for extra controls. I want this to be fast and easy to handle for a newcomer with only an xbox controller, primarily focused on the sticks and the triggers/shoulder button functionality.

Within a few hours, I had zero G, physics driven flight, though it was simple and, to be fair, realistic. You were essentially a brick floating through space with a thruster strapped to the back.

After a short while, I was led to a decent solution, adding linear damping to the ship’s body under certain circumstances, to simulate air drag and force you to fly in a more plane-like manner. I also added the ability to enable/disable that, with a throttle enabled alongside the damping to grant the flight model a comfortable default speed. Also added was trigger control to add to the drag multiplier, acting as a spacebrake and allowing finer maneuvering when the throttle was on.

I felt the cockpit view was a better vantage point than the more nostalgia-laden exterior, so I modeled it up based on the original SNES version of Star Fox, because why not. Maintained the N64 style targeting reticles because they were less intrusive on the view

First Passstarting from the beginning

Day 1: I spent some hours early one morning building a stand-in fighter and learning basic flight mechanics. Tutorials never really lined up to what I was looking to do but I built up knowledge from one to the next in recreating a simple mockup of the flight in the game Star Fox 64.

Starting goals:

  • starfox 64 style loose follow-cam, maybe the floating multi-step reticle
  • learning how to set up and control the ship, originally akin to Star Fox 64

Longer term inspiration goals:

  • more advanced controls, while still remaining accessible and arcadey
  • orienting toward fast and loose gameplay, small ship vs large, ‘boss fights’

Below are progress clips in order of recording, all completed before sunrise the same morning.

First pass, largely based on UE4’s provided documentation and UFO flight template. The provided template sadly had a lot of functions that went unexplained and it caused the motion to be sluggish. The built in roll function caused the ship to nosedive into the ground, and was so slow to recenter that if you attempted to turn the opposite direction you’d end up curving the ship into the air as it rolls slowly back

moving forward, roll function disabled while working on other features. Much faster handling, small test area to toy around with.

Part of several experiments with exemplifying speed and motion through changing field of view. My calculations were a little off

At this point I decided to cut bait and take a new approach. I took away a number of key aspects to how I set up my cameras, ship, and diagetic reticle, but wiped the rest of the slate clean moving forward.

Despite scrapping the progress, this was an exciting step as I felt ready to continue learning and building on the project.

Space Cat