Manic Miner 3D

videogames unreal gamesdev 3dmodelling programming

I spent the last few weeks on a personal project to keep my games development skills from going rusty and experiment with new ideas. Always fun to learn new apps and techniques, and figure out new ways to use existing tools such as Unreal Engine. Manic Miner 3D is a 3D re-imagining of the classic platform game, featuring reworks of the original levels, new spins on the enemies and a blippy orchestral soundtrack.

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I'd approached this before way back in 2005, but it was more of a test for my old game engine (back when everyone was making their own), and I was never particularly happy with it. This new one was built from the ground up over the past few weeks in the Unreal Engine.

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Mostly original art by myself in this game (music, character models/textures, animations, most level models/props/etc.), accompanied by some amazing textures from the Substance Source library and a few great assets from the Unreal Store that do justice to stuff like Foliage far more than I could. I'll build up a list of those shortly and add links to this description.

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I haven't decided what to do with it, or whether to release the game yet, but it's fully playable from start to end, complete with death screens, cut-scenes, options panels, hidden bonuses, time-trial challenge modes and more. It's mostly been a great learning exercise for knowledge I intend to use in my own future games. 

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Who I am

I'm Blake and I like to tinker with things and make stuff. When I'm not programming or developing random systems, I'm playing with electronics, doodling bits of art, 3D modelling or sculpting and painting things or nerding out watching sci-fi or horror TV.

From 2001 I worked in the games industry, eventually specialising in tools to aid in the development of video games and their engines. In 2011 I left the industry and teamed up with a few other talented composers to utilise my knowledge to help build the company 'Spitfire Audio'.

I also periodically compose soundtracks for video-games and have worked on titles such as The Stanley Parable and Portal Knights. You've probably also heard my music in random TV commercials at some point.

What I'm using to make games

Nowadays I tend to utilise Unreal Engine 5. I use a mixture of (mostly) C++ (Visual Studio 2019, Rider) and Blueprints.

I work with Autodesk's 3D Studio Max to generate the art required, and Adobe Photoshop or Paintshop Pro 6 for texturing. I also dabble with Allegorithmic's Substance Designer/Painter for more realistic texturing work.

I tend to generate tools in Python, C++ or NodeJS depending on what's needed.

Audio-wise, I still use Cool Edit Pro and FL Studio to generate sounds and music respectively.