Minimal Raider released

Happy new year! I’m starting 2019 off right with the release of a small game I worked on at the end of 2018: Minimal Raider, my submission for the #tombraiderjam on itch.io.

I’ve always been a fan of the Tomb Raider franchise, so I had to seize this opportunity to play with the formula. And I learned a lot doing so, as this is my first fully 3D third-person game. (It doesn’t even use Adventure Creator!)

Level design

I’m no stranger to 3D level design, but I never had a thirdperson character in it who is able to traverse the space freely and climb and jump and everything. It changes how you lay out a level.

When I began greyboxing the level, I didn’t have the climbing system yet, you could only walk around and jump, and so I couldn’t really do any wild level design. I didn’t notice it at the time, but this slowed my progress a lot because I wasn’t excited by what I was making. I wanted to move around like Lara could! So when I found the excellent climbing system by DiasGames I was immediately inspired, and the level design happened very quickly.

In the final version you can still see a lot of the greyboxing geometry, which I think is fun, it’s like seeing the brushstrokes on a painting. I built 80% of the level out of standard cubes with different colors, and then enhanced some areas with more bespoke assets from Beffio’s Lost Lands pack. In most cases that was very easy, but I did have to redo the ledges leading up to the button platform because the wall was no longer a flat surface. That was a fun realization on the last day of production!

A topdown view of the level. You can see there is very little geometry other than what is necessary and visible by the player.

Lighting

After sort of poking at it between projects, I finally figured out how to lightmap a level properly. This led to the discovery of all kinds of settings and debug views I had never used before, which was exciting. I plan to write a longer post soon about how to get fast and decent results from the progressive lightmapper.

Global illumination coming in the next update.

Cinematics

This is the first time I’m using Unity Timeline in a production environment, and I liked it a lot. I had already made a 2D animation project with it previously, so I knew the basics workflow, which meant I could quickly achieve exactly what I needed for the intro and outro cinematics of this game.

The entire intro is made with just these three blocks.

Post-processing effects

They’re powerful. I always add them to my games in some degree, but this time the difference between on and off blew me away. I never really understood tonemapping, but here it really changes the atmosphere, and on top of that the color grading, bloom, motion blur and vignette.

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