Help developing a Saints Row 4 like game

Hey there! My name is Michael VanOverbeek. I’m sort of an indie game developer. I’ve been using Visual Basic for most of my stuff, specifically a game called ShiftOS-Next, a fork of an Australian indie game called ShiftOS. If you want to check that out, you can at, but that’s not the purpose of my post here. I do not intend to advertise that game here.

First off, let me give a bit of info about myself. I am 13 years old, living in Canada. I was born with a degenerative eye problem known as Retinitis-Pigmentosa, which makes me go blind over time. My dream as a child was to create an amazing game before I could no longer see, and as I can still see, and my passion for game development is at it’s highest peak, I see this project as an opportunity to attempt to create a game with similar mechanics as a game that I really loved playing, which is Saints Row 4.

I plan to do this using the Unreal Engine, as the engine is free, and I believe that people should not have to pay for entertainment, so I want to make my game completely free, which would be impossible at this age if the engine was not free. I used to use Unity, but soon felt that it wasn’t really optimized for me and found it extremely difficult to use. I am extremely happy to be using UE4.

But, I’m faced with a big issue. Since ShiftOS-Next is one of my big projects, I seriously don’t want it to fail. The backstory of ShiftOS-Next was that, ShiftOS was a pretty good game while the original developer (not me!) was creating it, but he had to step down due to him having a full-time job and not enough free time. His day was literally “Wake up, go to work, program ShiftOS, sleep”. So, he handed development over. At the time, his code was quite messy, and the devs realized this and didn’t want to develop anymore. There was also a lot of drama in the community, so that added to it. The game was open-sourced, but it was killed a few months later. I don’t want ShiftOS-Next to suffer the same death. But, I’ve been having issues finding time for the game, as each day I’m trying to learn the Unreal Engine to create my SR4-like game. So, I feel like, in order to keep both projects alive and well, I need to get a team of developers to speed up the development process of my SR4-like game.

All I really need are 3D modelers, people good with city design (don’t really know what to call them), animators, and C++ programmers incase I can’t achieve a certain task in Blueprint. Of course, with my philosophy being that people shouldn’t have to pay for entertainment, I really don’t want to pay money for help, as I will break my philosophy and possibly have to make the game paid to pay the people helping me. And, as it stands I only have a few dollars in cash to play with.

I can go over the basic story for the game, so we can elaborate on it. Basically, the game’s called The Shifted Dimension (I know, a lot of my projects and projects I’ve contributed to have “shift” in the name…) because the main player, Jonathan Ladouceur, can basically shift between two dimensions. One, is the real world, or, what we believe to be the real world. In this dimension, Jonathan is a regular human being. The other, is a computer-programmed reality created as a science experiment led by a company named “earth”. In this dimension, Jonathan can alter the environment, use Super Powers, and achieve Watch_Dogs-like actions like cars on demand, and changing whether a traffic light is red, yellow, or green. He can’t access this dimension at the start of the game, as he works for Earth, and needs to help program the dimension, adding the city, pedestrians, cars, and loads of things to the virtual reality, which requires getting various resources from around the real world, which may require fighting gangs, the military, escaping the police, and lots more.

The city that you play ingame is called New Bluecoast. It features 4 islands: An industrial island, where the Earth facility is laid in a secret, unknown base. There’s also the residential, commercial and downtown islands where Jonathan’s house, various stores such as clothing stores, gun shops, and garages are, and the hospital, as well as the police station is held. The real world is planned to feel like GTA in this sense.

So, let’s go over a bit about Jonathan, why don’t we?

Jonathan Ladouceur is 24 years old. He grew up in New Bluecoast as a software developer, and he loved to play virtual worlds as a kid. He adored the engines and technology behind his favourite games, and wanted to create his own software and games. He started off basic, creating text editors, and other basic apps, then he went on to create very basic games. He took various programming and art classes in high-school to master his talents. When he graduated high-school in 2009, a new science company under the name of “Earth” was founded and needed programmers just like Jonathan to help them out with various computer-science projects. In early 2011, Jonathan forsaw the development of an experiment to see if computers could program themselves and software for themselves. So far the project goes well, but in 2012, the events of ShiftOS happen. A rogue AI is created going under the name of DevX, and he hijacks people’s computers with his “experimental operating system” called ShiftOS. I won’t spoil any more, go play ShiftOS if you want to see the whole story. Jonathan is tasked with destroying this rogue AI, programming it to say things like “ShiftOS isn’t an experimental operating system, it’s an experiment”. Stuff to lure the user and the AI to stop using ShiftOS, as well as referencing Earth’s next experiment, which was started in early 2014, but abandoned shortly after, as there were insufficient computational resources to attempt the experiment. Jonathan turns 24, and Earth contacts him. saying that the experiment from last year must be continued now that the resources required exist, and that Jonathan is to do everything he can to steal the required resources and bring them to Earth’s labs. This, starts the Shifted Dimension’s story.

I’d like to heavily note that there will be LOTS of references to ShiftOS, and the entire game’s story is heavily based off of ShiftOS’s, and as the bits of story I’m using haven’t really been implemented to the game, the devs don’t really mind it as far as I know.

So yeah, if anyone would like to help me out with The Shifted Dimension, I’d be extremely greatful for it. I couldn’t be more greatful to have an engine like this to power my game, and a helpful community like this one.

I want to wish you luck on your project, but also hope you know that you’re looking at a HUGE project here (especially considering you want to do it for free), just look at Saints Row IV’s credits, and those people were all making tens of thousands of dollars a year for several years.

I understand that, and have seen the credits lots of times having beat the game 3 times already. This is just a dream of mine, and I don’t mind if the game looks bad, as long as it’s fun, the game atleast functions like I’ve imagined, then it’s fine with me.

I’d suggest making a prototype first before recruiting other developers just so people can know you’re serious about this and so you can make sure the mechanics will indeed be fun. The prototype should only include the most important mechanics of the game, like shifting between worlds, combat, and enemies. I wish you the best of luck with your condition and your game.

Will do that, and thank you! It’s not often I get this kind of awesomeness from a community :slight_smile:

Man I hate when people do this, ti makes it seem like you are telling someone they can;'t. am i mistaken in saying that saints row also built on its own engine.? has a marketing team and this guy/girl has all the resources fo the unreal engine plus the market place, a small team can do amazing things with the right software remember that.

but imo what you should do is like the other guy said get a nice prototype ready and then try to get help

also look at no mans land the core of that was done with 4 people so dont forget small teams are as capable as major ones

Is Saints row not a 18+ game?

really? he said like, and 18+ is a RECOMENDATION, not a manditory thing

If that’s what you got from my post you either didn’t read it or misunderstood it - I hope he succeeds, but it’s still a massive project to start on by yourself. The list of credits may include “a marketing team” but of course it does, it’s a triple A game, my point was more the 10 people just for audio (professionals making professional salaries), over 50 for art - again, professionals making professional salaries, 26 designers, 26 programmers. These are not marketers or production assistants, these are the core elements of the game and a fraction of the credits. My point (as I stated) was not to discourage him, but just to remind him that saints row 4 was a huge project with many people and millions of dollars behind it. My intention was exactly what the next person suggested, something of smaller scale, like a prototype.

Hmm, but for my kids i use that RECOMENDATION, as base.
Then i play the game self, to test it, and when its not too hard (gore/psycho), they could play it, aside the RECOMENDATION.
Would i do it otherway, would get a feeling of bad parenting.
The lobbys of GTA5 are full of crying babys…

I’d second the prototyping. UE4 is pretty versatile and you can do some things quite simply when previously, it was a bit of a pain.

But even the simplest games require a lot of code and stats tracking. A simple collect-em-all platformer has hundreds of variables to keep track of.

Saints Row is infact rated mature (18+) so yeah, I know that. But, to be honest, is a game about being trapped in a computer simulation made by aliens, with the protagonists swearing a lot really that bad? I mean, it’s not like [PROTOTYPE] where you actually see bits of skin flying through the air and have a trail of dead bodies as you eat every human in sight so you can gain all your health back.

As for the scale of the project, I’m really not looking to make a game that’d fit in today’s standards. I’m not looking to make money or even gain players from this. I just want to make the game, because it’s a hobby of mine, and it’s fun. 1 person + today’s technology + a few websites giving away free 3D models should atleast let me make a game as good as GTA III in terms of gameplay… and without GTA III, I doubt we’d even have GTA IV.

I think you’re probably still aiming just a bit high, but that’s okay. Once you get a small prototype working, you can continue adding on to it and making it better.

Have you got anyone for the team yet?

Starting off, I would caution against using any “free” models. Just start with crudely rendered low-poly art that is an obvious placeholder. As the team forms, and you get an idea of the level of quality that you’ll be able to handle, then finding or making real art is much easier. This is because you want it to all match. You aren’t going to be able to handle the latest photo-real modeling for everything, so you’ll want to set your sights lower… But you don’t know how much lower yet.

So get some semi-fun gameplay going, a few low-poly buildings (maybe a short street or city block), and use it to attract other developers.

Can’t help you directly, but a time ago Victor Cepeda, programmer at Volition, wrote a nice article on how they’ve done vehicle deformation in Saints Row 3 (Page 16)

That might be of help (as many other articles in the GD Mag are in general, check it out. Its free).

Well, the course is set. Skip city design for now, but focus on getting dimension switching, SR3 style vehicle deformation, actual driving, the Phone, and super powers working. Should be easy. I suppose getting the animations for super powers will be easier than the particle effects like in SR4 how you emit a purple trail as you run.

As for a dev team, I have a few devs already, one from this forum, and a few from my own community.