How to make an episodic, choice-based game?

Hello everybody,
I’m currently producing a demo for what I plan to be an episodic, choice-based game such as Life is Strange or Heavy Rain (obviously at a much smaller scale, etc.).

I’m focusing on the art part right now, but since I have no Blueprints knowledge, I was wondering if there’s any specific tutorials or sources where I could learn something more geared to my needs – as opposed of learning BP from 0 and learning a LOT of things that I would not even need.

I come from Autodesk Maya, so I’m used to being able to pick and choose on what to focus, so I’d like the same approach as much as possible when using Unreal’s BP: I don’t need to learn every single thing from BPs, just the basics, and specifically how to make the choices of the player have an impact on future events on the game.

Further, I’d like to know how to release one episode, and then have the game itself remember past choices on future episodes.

And lastly, if anyone would be interested in working on such game, you may contact me at any time – the only payment I could offer would be royalty-based or if somehow we get funding through Kickstarter or something, sorry!

Thanks in advanced!
Juan J.

I think the idea to have an save game episode consequences system like Mass Effect is already protected by patents under Electronic Arts as they did file patents for games like Mass Effect, because I know their mouse wheel dialog system is protected under patents and that there are patents to cover everything from the game mechanics, the models used, the game textures, the shaders of the engine, the episode game concept, the textures, the rigs, the shaders, any new invention or idea used in the game like the player model face generator system, you can’t re-create these ideas and concepts into your own games unless they give you permission to do so, I think that’s what it means. but check with them first before you go ahead with the game.

Thanks for the reply.

I seriously doubt it, unless we’re talking about something different…

Life is Strange, The Walking Dead, and Wolf Among Us have that system, as fas as I know.
You get the first episode free, then you can buy the other episodes or the “season pass” and it seems to remember the choices you have made.

Like, if I have “Earl” killed in Episode 1, then when I release Episode 2 via Steam or my own server, the game would remember that Earl was killed…

I don’t really plan to have characters die like that, but more like having the game remember choices so as to affect future events.
This is not from the game, just an example:
-Joe (main character) has the choice of killing or merely subduing Earl in Episode 1. And in Episode 2, different things will unlock depending if Earl was killed or subdued.
Something like that is what I mean.

If that is actually patented, then I’d have to release “Episode 2: version A” and “Episode 2: version B” or something that like, but I’m not sure the players would like that so much…

Aside from that aspect, I’d like to focus more is for the different choices in Episode 1.
Where can I learn Blueprints or scripting for dialogue choices and events that affect other events in the same episode?

yeah have a look at my game project.

I had to come up with a totally new universe to create my own game in. I could not use any mass effect assets in my own game since they have not been released out on the marketplace yet for us to use them in our Unreal Engine 4 projects. They already canned Shepard, they kicked him down the road, so I personally think if the game was made for the community and Shephard has already had his a** all fired and a new guy is now taking over the job of saving now the galaxy, then they should release the Mass effect assets out to the community for Unreal Engine so we can have some decent sci-fi assets.
But that’s just only my personal opinion not saying that’s what they plan to do.

Because my game has dialog with characters and storylines, I could not use a mouse wheel dialog graphical system interface in my own game since Electronic Arts already filed a patent to protect that system. So I had to do my own dialog without a mouse wheel interface and come up with a brand new universe and original characters for my game and making sure there’s not one reaper in sight in my universe.

I just heard that a Star Wars Fan Remake known as “Galaxy In Turmoil” just got their a** handed down the road by EA instead of joining forces with them and so now their galaxy is in turmoil. if they want to see their game get released they have to remove all the Star Wars stuff from out of their game. So no Yoda, no Darth Vader, no Jedi knights. and no doubt this fan game would’ve taken along time also to make.

I think the episode game system started off with Doom, Quake, and stuff. Before Mass Effect introduced a save game system that loads in characters from previous save game episodes to continue on with choices and consequences. Why its in other games, I’m not sure, maybe EA has a license agreement with those companies.

But EA has been cleaning up its own house, closing over 50 online server games , and others and handed also their a** to them. so much for buying those online games…

I still think its the bad economy.

I don’t know much about blueprints code I’m afraid. I find that code more complicated than simple windows script language.

Tozan, what are you talking about? Juanjc3d is asking about how to make a game of a certain genre while you’re talking about why they can’t because you weren’t allowed to use EA’s IP and it’s assets… That makes no sense…

Of course you can make an episodic, choice-based game. It’s a genre, not an asset.

What Juan wants is basically a save game, where variables (of his past choices or whatever) are stored.
Such a game mechanic is not protected and he can use it of course.

Agree. Some kind of saveable table or tree system that can drive BP logic would be best.
Looking at Structured solutions like Excel Data Tables or State Machines might help too…

I think when patents are first issued out it grants 20 years of protection of the idea. It basically grants the creator the right to profit of it and everybody else not to.
that also means no Star Wars Remakes as Galaxy In Turmoil soon found out. As for putting in a save game episodes consequences and choices concept idea, that might be a grey area for developers.

LOL. I imported characters from BG1 to BG2 and from Ultima 4 to Ultima 5. And I seriously doubt those were the first games to do it. This is nothing new and is certainly not patented.

Thanks all you guys.
Yeah I was getting a bit worried that they’d be able to protect an entire genre, didn’t make much sense. If they did protect the “mouse scroll” thing for the options, that’s something to keep in mind, but it could easily be replaced with “Press A for blah blah” and “Press D for bleh bleh”, no?

And thanks Franktech, I’ll be checking those links, see if it is what I’m trying to get at.

I know I’ll have to look into BP or scripting more, but no need to learn to open doors or generate fire via BPs if I already got plugins for those. If there is a plugin for the choice-based and the consequences then I’d be interested depending on the price. :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks again

Or if worse comes to worst… How much would I expect to hire a programmer to take care of that part, at least for Episode 1 and possibly 2?

Or any programming noobs that don’t mind delayed (if any) payment, but just wanna work on such project, you can hit me up at or
I want to be clear, if I can’t get funds to pay a programmer, then it would be the royalty-based payment, which is risky, where we may not even get published or not make enough $.

We’re dealing with EA, we do have to be careful what we decide to publish in our games.

casey filed quite a lot of patents for mass effect not just the mouse wheel thingy.

tozan seriously, what the hell you talking about? inventory wheel is free to use for personal and commercial use, there is no patented thing here, it isn’t related with the thread here, and besides that, even rockstar used the inventory wheel, cover system, save data from previous game, nothing except for the star wars franchise, is patented and not allowed to use on games without extricted permission of EA and/or disney

I believe they have a patent filed for Mass Effect Dialog Wheel.

Please don’t attempt to interpret patents (which are legal documents) in a programming forum. It’s worse than useless: it’s potentially dangerous for those doing the posting.

Regarding the original question:

I think you need to learn three basic things:

  1. How to trigger Matinee/Sequencer clips from Blueprints; this is how the plot will generally advance.

  2. How to display choice dialogs – this would typically be built as Widget Blueprints in UMG.

  3. How to store information about the choices – this would typically be a simple savegame. Just push all the things you’ll need into the savegame file. Later episodes would load saves from earlier games, as well as create their own save for later decisions.

Check out my plugin, you dont need to know blueprints or c++. It comes with a visual tool to create decision based games.

I would be interested. For free. No payment.

Yo. I know this shit is old, but I just wanna know if you were still working on the game. Would be happy to help work. Free of charge. I’d just like the experience. If you’re still working on it btw.

Check out my plugin, you dont need to know blueprints or c++. You just need to create your sequencers and use the plugin to connect them each other with choices. Have a look;