Digital Dark Age: Progress Update

I’ve been working on ‘Digital Dark Age’ now for around 3 months – and during that time I’ve been really happy with the progress I’ve made. It’s an ambitious project, but one that has already had a significant impact on my knowledge of interactive audio and game development. My demo level ‘DATA Labs’ was great practice for this project, having developed many of the blueprint scripts and working out a few bugs previously made the level design of DDA a lot easier, however I have run into a number of issues over the course of its development though thankfully nearly all of these have been addressed!

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A screenshot of the first part of Digital Dark Age – showing trigger boxes, post processing volumes and a number of actors for music cues, lighting and text trigger blueprints.

If you’ve not read any of my previous posts on the project, in brief its an interactive concept album in first-person style. As you play through the level you’re introduced to the theme of the Digital Dark Age, find out a little more about it and listen to 5 original compositions that I have created specifically for the level. Not only that, but depending on the speed you play through the level and how you move about, the music will change and adapt creating a much more interesting score than a typical linear piece of music – essentially it’s ‘adaptive music’ or ‘dynamic music’ or ‘interactive music’ (which ever term you feel more comfortable with as there seem to be a number of definitions for each!)

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A little teaser of the end of the level!

Some of the main problems I’ve encountered so far have been the multitude of trigger cues for each of the pieces of music. I’m using Unreal Blueprints and FMOD parameters to control how music is triggered and manipulated in the game (see screenshot below) and this has been a bit of trial and error to make it work smoothly. I had some major issues with box collisions but thankfully these have been sorted out and it’s all working as it should!

Fabrication Music Mix Blueprint.PNG
Screenshot showing the blueprint for the song ‘Fabrication’ (area 3 in-game) and the associated triggers and scripting for adaptive mixing.

I’ve had a lot of fun designed the graphics for each of the songs, and these are represented as computer terminals in-game that sit at each of the different parts of the level (one for every song). I hope to expand on these a little more to include more interactivity before my assignment deadline in March!

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One of the ‘terminals’ showing the ‘Brave New World’ animated graphic. To Do!

I’ve created an incomplete to-do list below of things that I’m planning on finishing, and hoping to implement in the next few weeks.

  • Player interaction blueprint to bring up further information at each terminal
  • Smoother transitions between musical cues to allow for a more ‘seamless’ experience.
  • Development of character footstep sounds and environment ambience.
  • Improved look and feel of lighting (HELP!) Flickering lights here and there.
  • Development of headbob blueprint and character movement input.
  • Some kind of ending…. possible with the player being teleported back to the start of the level (mostly for showcasing purposes at launch event).
  • Post processing adjustment to better suit the feel of the music.
  • AND MORE.

Stay tuned.

 

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