It’s about four weeks into the project now and things have started to pick up in the project.  Balancing is still not on the forefront of my work, however I’ve still been able to help the team.  Since we don’t have quite enough data to effectively balance at this point I’ve had plenty of time to get familiar with the weapons code.  I’ve been implementing some of the weapons.  One feature our leads wanted to add were weapon alternate fires.  I was assigned to implement the alternate fire for both of the guns that were already created, the Volt45 and the Derecho.

Implementing those alternate fires was tricky in the beginning.  I had very little knowledge of how the Unreal Engine’s Blueprint system works so this was very enlightening.  Fortunately for me the weapon’s were set up in a C++ inheritance structure, a version of polymorphism I am very familiar with.  The hardest part of the process was becoming familiar with the Unreal syntax.  With time and effort I managed to get the two weapon’s alt fires to work properly.  In addition to learning how to code blueprints I was also introduced to code reviews.  Code reviews are something I had heard about in my periphery, but never got to experience until now.  I am going to try and do more in future to get better acquainted with the programmers on my team and to also help build up how code reviews should be done.

I was also assigned to fully implement a new weapon in the game.  The weapon is a sniper rifle-esque weapon that can attack from far away, but the fire rate is low.  I’m still in the process of putting it together, but it will be my first full implementation.  As previously mentioned I’m getting more used to blueprint coding I have not spent as much time exploring the inspector and other parts of getting the  weapon to appear in game.  I’ll need to apply a mesh and test to make sure all functions of the weapon work as indented.  I’ve made a note to set up a meeting with the design leads so I can show them the weapon.  If they don’t like something about the weapon I can make notes and readjust the weapon based on that feedback.

Testing has started which means things should start picking up for me in terms of balancing work.  We had a few bumps in the road with our networking, but they were quickly fixed after testing so the next QA session should prove more fruitful for balancing information.  We also have more levels being grey-boxed so I will be taking a look at them in the next sprint (or earlier if time permits).  Looking at the grey-boxed level should help me establish a better rapport with the level designers.  We will be working together very closely once balancing starts in earnest so becoming familiar with them will prove advantageous in making changes to levels or systems.

One last thing I worked on these past weeks was to help develop a new game mode.  It’s called Breakdown and is a take on traditional deathmatch.  Instead of score being entirely dependent on the number of kills.  In the Breakdown game mode, players are granted points based on how many kills they get, but are rewarded with points multiplier if they do cool things before, after or during the kill.  Some examples of cool things are kills in motion, successfully navigating the map without running into anything and multiple kills in a short time frame.  Testing should provide more ideas for cool actions to perform, but for now we think we have a solid start on the game mode.