Composition - Walking Simulator
Afterlife is a walking simulator that focuses on giving the player an atmospheric experience and giving them a metaphoric narrative to consider when going through the landscape of the mysterious ancient ruin.
The gameplay of afterlife consist of walking, picking up orbs to power different things in the temple and occasional jumping.
Created in 4 weeks on half time - 4 hours a day
Using Unreal Engine 4
Using assets from Unreal Marketplace
- Unique gameplay moments.
- Slow gameplay with focus on story.
- Making 3 Compositions I would feel proud of.
- Maximize learning of different tools in UE4.
- Using only free assets.
What I learned
- Advanced Blueprint familarization
- Post Processing familiarization
- Level Sequence familiarization
- Destructible Mesh Plugin
- Basic Shader tech - Dissolve and Water Shader
- The necessity of specifics -
When I began contemplating what I wanted to do for my second portfolio piece, I knew I wanted it to be in unreal, and I knew that I wanted to try my hand at creating really pleasurable compositions that furthered an underlying story.
So far so good, but as I began the project I had a lot of stray thoughts, and because I never bundled and set anything in stone the narrative became a bit blurred. If I were to do this project over, I'd have spent a day or two more on getting the story more clear. That would have helped me better grasp how to emphasize what was core to each composition and gameplay experience.
Another backside of focusing on the composition was that I didn't plan for any gameplay to go alongside it and since the gameplay is what usually drives me, this was very tough.
Composition and Storytelling
- Importance of building on a solid foundation -
My Compositions were each meant to have it's own symbolism in the context of the temple being the limbo you were in before you proceeded to the afterlife.
Unfortunately, I ended up forgetting myself in all the learning I was doing and simply experimented rather than working towards a goal. It did work out, but the narrative took a backseat to composition and playing around with the environment.
The Main Room:
The goal for this room was to be a central hub and as that symbolize that this was the 'core' of the players' life, now on the decline as seen by the ruins. Orbs were missing for the player to ascend into the afterlife symbolizing that the player still had unfinished business.
It was important that this room was not directly uncomfortable from a composition side, so I played with warmer color grading to make the room feel inviting.
The Tree Island:
This area was supposed to tie into a goal-oriented life, where things look nice from afar, but when you eventually get there, you realize this isn't what you wanted. So you take what you can use and leg it.
Making the area feel inviting at first glance, doing a bait and switch when the player came close, turning the post-processing into a more nightmarish scene when the player took the orb.
I also wanted to have a strong 'draw' that would make the player focus entirely on it and be surprised when falling through the bridge incorporating a reveal and denial into this scene.
A cave isn't usually linked with a nice feeling, and I wanted to emphasize that sometimes in life things that can seem uninviting or wrong at first glance, can be pleasant or enriching if you dive in.
For the composition in this, I wanted a god ray highlighting the statue. Initially, I had wished to use an angel statue but decided that the actual model weren't what made or broke the scene. But more importantly I wanted the player to be intrigued of what was in front of the statue, so I did my best to create a point of interest center in the view when the player came upon it.
Afterlife was for me an intriguing venture into the world of composition and exploring all the different tools of Unreal Engine 4. It was a shame that the narrative came to take a backseat, cause I would have wanted it to have a more prominent role, but things don't always pan out the way they are planned.
Even so, I'm quite satisfied with the end result even if it deviated quite a bit from the original vision.
And while the project suffered from my lack of planning gameplay, it was still satisfying to get things right, like the dissolve shader, the destructible mesh, the sequences and the compositions. It prepped me well for my next project and made me realize that I need gameplay to keep myself from losing motivation. A valuable lesson that I will take with me on my journey.