Engine: Unreal Engine 3 with Unreal Tournament 3 assets
Development time: 1-2 months (prototype)
Software used: Unreal Editor, Adobe Photoshop CS3, Audacity, 3D Studio Max 2010, CrazyBump

Ascend is a prototype of a First Person-game where the player starts off with little information; nothing is explained. What is evident is that the player's cast inside a gigantic tower spiraling upward that is filled with deadly traps and strange, seemingly meaningless visions. Random events and variation was the key in this and I had planned to base the game's ending on the events the player happened to witness or experience. It could have all been a dream, an alien experiment, severe case of memory loss and some others. I was hoping to achieve great replay value with this design.

Ascend started in my game development school when all of us students were advised to buy Unreal Tournament 3 Black so that we could get to know Unreal Editor, perhaps even learn to modify the engine.

I was very impressed by the amount of atmosphere I could create with little actual knowledge of the engine or even the editor. I looked up a lot of tutorials on how to achieve good lighting and also how to import custom 3D-models and use particle-effects. I wanted to learn how to modify the game engine but it proved to be too much for me as it required advanced coding skills. I did learn how to work with Kismet, the engine's gameplay scripting tool, to create and "script" randomized events.

The general tone of the game ended up being dark and dream-like, with vague lighting and creeping ambient music.


Engine: Source from Half-Life 2 with various assets from other Source-games
Development time: 2-3 months (prototype)
Software used:Valve Hammer, Adobe Photoshop CS3, Audacity, 3D Studio Max 2010, SMD importers/exporters

I used Valve's Half-Life 2 Source-engine as my first attempt to make a full conversion. It was to be a tale about a man on a remote island seeking peace and quiet when he gets blamed on the local murders by the folk of the small town he resides in. With no way out of the island due to frequent storms, he tries his best at hiding and finding another way out, sometimes relying on violence to protect himself. Only one person is willing to help him but they might not be trustworthy. Things don't get any less complicated when starts experiencing waking dreams about an old civilization and the boat journey through the island's cove feels like going through a completely different time and place..

I had used Valve Hammer years before we started a project with it in game development school but back then I didn't get much done, I just played around. I did find that previous experience (if minute) helped with getting started with Hammer. The project started off with a small group aiming to make a vastly different horror game. After the rest of the team seemed to give up, I had to finish what I could on my own. Feeling confident with the modification I wanted to use it as my degree work for when the school ended but Source proved too buggy and unreliable to project the kind of vision I wanted.

Working around the many issues in Source took quite the majority of the time I used making the mod but I did learn how to operate various software related to it. I could do models in 3D Studio Max and convert them for use in Source, along with the textures. Having always been an appreciator of effective lighting I tried doing my best with what Source had to offer, with mediocre results. I also used Cockos' Reaper, a digital audio workstation with a plugin by Krakli called Gargoyle to create the ambience.