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Obedient Echo

Matthew Gates,
England,  Middlesbrough School of Computing,  Computer Games Art,  October 28, 2015
Hi! I’m a final year student at Teesside University, on a computer games art course.

Obedient echo is the product of about 5/6 months and was created as my final year project. As an environment artist, I wanted to go beyond just a static environment and introduce gameplay and interactivity to inject some fun into the project.

The video shows the project running on a standard screen for visual clarity, but obedient echo was designed for the oculus rift, and as such I wanted to take advantage of the fact that in the oculus rift, you can’t see anything else, and really utilise the player’s sense of sight. The player takes on the role of a blind character who finds themself in a strange place, and must use echolocation to navigate through the environment, using claps and ambient sound to provide 'sight'. It is a slow paced, exploration based experience, giving the player time to just discover their surroundings in a relaxed manner.

Obedient Echo was created in unreal engine 4, and takes full advantage of blueprints, the powerful new visual scripting system, as well as complex materials and shaders to achieve the ‘sonar pulse’ effect. I used 3ds max to make the base meshes, then zbrush to create high poly sculpts of almost all assets. From there Quixel suite and Photoshop provided a way to use the normal and ambient occlusion data to rapidly texture assets.

Following on from university, I hope to find a job working primarily as an environment artist until I can build up my technical skillset enough to properly class myself as a technical artist. I really want to develop my ability to create entire game systems alongside the artwork so I can be a valuable member in any team.
  • Level Design
  • Modeling
  • 3ds Max
  • Photoshop
  • Unreal 4
  • Zbrush
Epic Games
  • NEXT-GEN GAMING
  • Game of the Year
  • 1911 Page Views
  • 4 Images
  • May 15, 2015
0:05 - The sonar effect was achieved through the use of material function in unreal engine. I created a function with different types of masks and comparators, which could be added into any material to give it the ability to appear and disappear. The location of these masks are set every time a sound is made within blueprints so that the world appears to be revealing from the sound source.
0: 10 - The notes system was created entirely in blueprints, with parameters set up to allow me to plug in any amount of text that I needed. The location and rotation of the note when picked up is dynamically set based on the position of the player relative to the note when it is picked up.
A sphere trace is used to detect when the player is looking at the notes, and a visual indication gives feedback, since I didn’t want to rely on a crosshair which could have ruined the immersion.
0:22 - ambient sounds can also contribute to the revealing of the world. This is achieved in a similar way to the player sonar pulse, but is static and is triggered by the player just being in the vicinity. It is set up in such a way that different sounds and particle effects can be plugged into the blueprint to trigger with the pulse, as well as settings for the size and shape of the pulse.
0:30 - the music boxes are a way to provide a constant source of ‘sight’ while in their vicinity. They rely on a sine wave to control their pulse size, but will detect when the player leaves the area and they will deactivate.
2:50 - the mountain was created using world machine, with changes to the shape as well as textures and retopology done in zBrush. The lightning is achieved as a particle effect in ue4, using the beam data node.
3:50 - a radial tracer is used for the repeaters, which detects when a sonar pulse is emitted near them and triggers them to send out their own. This let me create chain reactions of pulses, which I used to guide the player through the courtyard.

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