Vestige is space battle level made in the Gears of War engine. The player controls a spacecraft and navigates through an asteroids field while battling enemy ships and gun emplacements. The level utilizes assets from Unreal Tournament 3 and EVE Online to create a unique experience divergent from normal Gears of War gameplay. The gameplay is reminescent of 3D space shooters such as Starfox 64.
As the player is staying in place and the level is moving past, the normal checkpoint process in Gears of War wasn’t suitable for this level. I segmented the different parts of the level into streams and kept track of which stream the player had activated last in a global variable. Whenever the player died a quick check was made and that stream was loaded. This also served as a quick way to track down bugs in streams without having to play through the entire level.
The player encounters two things on their spaceflight, asteroids and enemies. Asteroids come in two flavors, regular and destructible. Destructible asteroids checked if they took damage from the player’s damage types and that enough damage was dealt, then played an explosion and disappeared. Enemies worked in the same manner, except they also had to be able to fire back. The enemies fired slower moving projectiles at positions near the player, so they wouldn’t be deadly accurate and gave the player time to respond.
Vestige was my first large scale individual project while at the Guildhall, so I naturally thought it would be a good idea to turn Gears of War into a spaceship game using assets from Unreal Tournament 3 and EVE Online. This added a lot of front loaded work involving porting assets and materials and getting them into Gears of War. For the Unreal Tournament portion I was assisted by two colleagues, Hakan Borazanci and Todd Ables. This used up time that might have been used to refine other systems in the level, but the space feel that level ended up with was well worth this.
A challenging issue arose regarding detecting the spaceship colliding with asteroids or the enemy craft. Despite trying all of the available modifiers to get collision to work, none provided a satisfactory result. In the end I put a pair of invisible objects that dummy fired projectiles of a certain type outward a short distance from the ship. Whenever a hazardous object was hit with this type of projectile that was the trigger that the player was in contact with it. This solution, while quite odd, worked quite well.
I’m proud of the visuals and gameplay of the level and have begun to try to port the space combat version of the level over to Unity as there is more freedom there. If I were to return to this level or plan to construct another space combat game in Gears of War, I would cut out the portions of the level with Marcus Fenix and focus solely on the space combat portion, as it is the interesting part of the level. That, and hopefully get in some sort of battle with a Naglfar (EVE Carrier ship).