New Game in the Works

We have been looking at the options for registering as a business to sell assets on the Epic Marketplace, as well as possibly some games that are to come in the future. But, while we have been doing that, we have begun the work on a new game.

This new game will feature a cute little Capuchin monkey, which I have come to think of as ‘Suzy Q’ for some reason. Work has begun on Suzy and can be seen in the screenshot featured in this post. The image shows Suzy without her fur, so the exaggerated muscle fibers can be seen right now. We plan on utilizing UE4’s new hair and fur system instead of traditional hair cards.

Some subsurface scatter was added to give her skin a more skin-like appearance, but Blender materials do not translate to Unreal Engine so this isn’t what she will look like. Texturing hasn’t been started, which is why her skin looks so artificially uniform in color. But she is well on her way to running around and having a good time with some players!

A Long Overdue Update

Work on the Knick-Knacks asset pack has been, for the most part, completed. Not only did we need to create the assets for the knick-knacks themselves, but also for the demo level in the asset pack. Creating all-new assets for the demo level was necessary because we didn’t want to use any assets from other asset packs for staging. This is allowed on the Epic Marketplace (with some very strict limitations), but we wanted our own assets in the packs that we create.

Some work needs to be done to make the screenshots a bit more photorealistic, but that shouldn’t represent a great deal of work. Some tweaks to the lighting and some adjustments in the post-process volume should make the screenshots look better. Overall, we are happy with the way that the asset pack has turned out.

Now, before we can list this on the marketplace, we need to create an LLC and get our privacy policy updated, along with the EULA posted (yes, we know that isn’t up yet).

Integrating KnickKnack into UE4

The work has begun on integrating the assets that have been created into UE4. UE4’s render engine seems to be less forgiving than the one used in Substance Painter, and as a result, several objects have had extensive UV rework done to them. The Chinese Farmers are among the worst culprits in this regard, with them needing the entire model to be rebuilt and new UVs applied. Oh well, so it goes.

In the image above, you can see some of the assets that are completely done. The snow globes are also done and integrated, complete with scripts so that the snow flies around when you interact with it. These are not in this shot, of course. The hanging foot dolls were the most challenging, but are also among the best assets in the entire pack. The legs use a spline to tell UE4 where to draw the legs, and the geometry for the legs are spline mesh components. It is a great system in UE4 and we plan on using this technique a lot.

The assets will all have clean and dusty variants to them. In the image, the nesting dolls are shown only with the clean versions but there will be dusty ones as well.

The EULA is finished

DISCLAIMER: You should consult a lawyer if at all possible, and not rely on a legally binding document that you have written yourself…unless you have no other choice. Something is better than literally nothing.

After spending several days going over EULAs from other companies big and small, we have assembled ours. Legal documents use a lot of ‘boiler plate’ language to assemble a contract or other legal document. As programmers, we are very familiar with the concept of ‘boiler plate’ as a lot of programming reuses code in many situations. So, we took advantage of our understanding of using ‘boiler plate’ to assemble our EULA. We looked at all of the conditions that other companies use in their EULA and found many similarities (as you would expect). We read all of these EULAs thoroughly, paying close attention to the structure of sentences as well as the words chosen. One misplaced comma can make all the difference in the world when it comes to interpreting the meaning, in a legal sense, of a sentence and it’s effect on the contract.

One thing that we noticed, and didn’t like, was the fact that game developers that offer games with editors for maps, models, or mods always seem to claim sole ownership of that user generated content. If you spend your time creating a really cool mod for a game, you shouldn’t lose control of that mod just because the developer decides they want to use it’s features in the core game, for promotional purposes, or for some other reasons. You created it. It’s yours.

But, it does make sense that the developer needs some assurances that these great mods will remain available to the developer and the community as a whole. So there are clauses in contracts to allow the developer to use all likenesses, assets, etc. from a mod or other creating in perpetuity, and without compensation. That way, the developer knows that they can always depend on that mod being available for their game, and not having to worry that it will be pay-walled or that the mod creator will issue a copyright infringement suit against the developer.

There are many issues to the creation of a EULA, and we are not just paying lip service when we say that you should contact a lawyer for this, if at all possible. We are just two guys trying to make cool little video games. We don’t have the money for a lawyer to write a contract for us, so we opted to do it ourselves. It was either that or go out into the wild with no protection at all. As I wrote at the beginning in the disclaimer, any protection is better than nothing at all.

Future EULA

Well, it was inevitable. Even for a free game like Odin’s Eye, an End User Licensing Agreement (EULA for short) is almost mandatory. It is difficult to find a generic EULA to fit any need, legally speaking, but for video games it is even more difficult. There are many ‘public’ licensing agreements, like the GPL (GNU General Public License), but these are not always a good fit…and can’t be used with UE4 at all.

This is currently holding up the release of Odin’s Eye. Even though it is going to be given away for free, we need to protect ourselves and at the same time inform the end user of their legal rights.

Finding a way to implement a EULA is going to be challenging. There will always be someone out there that will try to take advantage of others generosity by exploiting a loop hole in a licensing agreement. But, any legal protection is better than none at all. We can’t afford to hire a lawyer to right an EULA for us, so we will have to write one ourselves. Using pre-existing EULAs as templates should get us in the right ballpark.

Image by jessica45 from Pixabay

Work continues…

Work has continued on Odin’s Eye as well as the Knick-Knacks asset pack.

Testing has been ongoing for Odin’s Eye, with some minor UI issues that have been resolved. Checking performance is vital, with lower-end systems being tested to ensure that a wide range of computers can run the game. This last point is very important to us. We want as many people as possible to be able to play the game in a reasonable form…the graphics may not be great, but the game will be playable.

Knick-Knacks is progressing more slowly than anticipated. The items chosen are meant to be simple ‘dust collectors’ that you may find in a normal, personalized, setting. But, simple is a deceiving word as it turns out. While it may be slow going, it is going! The featured image shows the latest assets that have been created. There are five nested dolls featuring a famous Northern general from the American Civil War to free the slaves. These would be great for a character that loves history, or a scene set in academia.

Knick-Knacks: Water Bearer Update

Chinese Farmer Water Bearer

The Chinese Farmer Water Bearer asset has finally been completed. Having switched from another software package to Blender 3D, there has been a learning curve and mistakes take time. Having said that, we feel the Water Bearer is a nice asset to finish out a generic scene.

In the image for this post, you can see a render from Substance Painter showing the final asset. It hasn’t been exported into UE4 yet, so it will look slightly different in-game.

We won’t be updating the site for every asset that is completed for the pack. But, we felt it would be nice to have some activity on the site. That way people visiting the site will know the site hasn’t been abandoned.

Knick-Knacks: Chinese Water Bearer

Chinese water bearer

Work has begun on the Knick-Knack asset pack with this Chinese water bearer. Having seen numerous knick-knacks like this, having a few in the pack will provide generic assets that can be used for a male or female space. Work still needs to be done on the water vessels and the ropes holding them to the yoke.

A series of Remesh->Smooth modifiers will make the model look more like a porcelain statue. The material will be an ivory color with a glazed porcelain finish. That work will be done in Substance Painter.

Website updates

Over the coming days, we hope to get the whole site setup. Having never used WordPress before, this is a learning experience for us. It will take a bit of time to figure out, so if there are still stock photos in place don’t be surprised. We are in the process of working it out.

Hello world!

This is the first in many posts to come. This site was created as a place for people to come and see what Big Hat Gaming is currently working on, as well as view previous projects.

And, speaking of previous projects, if you happen to one of the very few that have visited this site before, you will notice that it looks very different. In the past we had attempted to sell some of our Magic: The Gathering cards here, with no success. We didn’t advertise the store, mainly due to security concerns that we had with managing an online store. No sales will be made from this site. So yea, that was us.