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Noob Dev sandbox FPS startpoint questions. (for my game)

I am very new to the unreal engine, and i want to make a rather ambitious game.

I play a lot of arma 3, and build and survive games.
I wanted to make a merger of the 2 of sorts.

A large open sandbox world, in a arma 3 wasteland sort of atmosphere.
SO a large open MP map with things to explore and find and fight over.

BUT i want a heavy focus on scavenging, looting and crafting.
It will be in a post apocalyptic setting, say maybe 100 years after disaster but also a futuristic diesel punk scifi setting.
So more advanced weapons hover vehicles, energy tech etc, but its all built up from scavenged scrap, you tier up from scavenging and augmenting your equipment.

So say you want a rifle, you build a basic single shot bolt rifle, then you add to is, better sights, a larger ammo capacity from a variety of magazine types, different firing modes, so say you want the rifle to be a automatic battle rifle
you add an automatic firing mechanism, but there will be wear on weapons and quality of parts so no 2 weapons will be the same, allowing for custom loadouts depending on your style and current crafting level.

You will be able to fight other players over scavenge sights, as well as quest points, think random events as well as random gen NPC quests.
When you kill another group, you can scavenge them, they drop equipment you can use or scrap, as well as any vehicle they had, you can break them down or use them also.

PvE elements will come from mutated creatures, i am a big zombie fan so that will work into it to some degree, monsters will range from your more typical slow lumbering zombie type mutant, to wall crawlers, ranged monsters, flyers and varying big types, so the best loot will spawn in dangerous hot zones, not too bad if your going in quiet, but when you are fighting other players over points in these zones your fighting draws attentions.

This will all run on dedicated servers, similar to arma servers, so its not a MMO of sorts.


Now that i have given you an idea of what i want to achieve i have some question of where to start.

Ill be making this in baby steps.

But what i was hoping for is some idea of what i am going to need to work with and in to achieve what i want.

So here are my questions:

1- What language will i be best working with? i was expecting maybe C++?
How much custom code will i be needing on top of unreals core engine code?

2- What should i aim for as a foundation in terms of a sandbox environment?
Big maps take a LOT of power to run, so i want to make sure my foundations are right for that in mind.

3- Are there any good tutorials or starter kits i can get or invest in to help me get started?
I work best with visual aids, if there where video tutorials or detailed text tutorials i can use to help me on my way that would be a MASSIVE help
I know i can look it up, i have but there are a LOT out there so i was hoping someone would know of some good ones that are perfect or as close to a fit for my
Project.

4- What other things should i be looking out for when making the game that i may not expect?
I have not undertaken something like this before so i am unsure what to expect.


Any and all help would be of great value.

Thx.

If I was you I would focus on smaller projects, I can tell you right now that being so new to the engine and whatnot, your chances of making a game like this are exactly zero. Unless your willing to pay a team of people to help of course, even then your looking at tens of thousands of dollars, most likely more.

I’m not trying to be an a**hole, but the reality is, you wont finish a game this massive, not even close, especially by yourself. It’s better to start small than it is to start large, games get complex fast, faster than you think, trust me I speak from experience, and they rarely work out. A game this size, your looking at years and years of work, and thats WITH a team of people, by yourself. If that doesn’t deter you, keep going, but keep in mind what I said, eventually you’ll see what I mean.

I get what you mean for sure, its not so much i want the whole thing in one go, i was going to start small, then slowly add to it and grow it over time, the description i gave is my end goal, honestly i would expect my first build to be a small arena with some mobs to shoot at, by arena i mean a small room or environment, say a field with a house or 2.

Then add a weapon customization system.

Then add a gathering system.

Then add Crafting, and combine the 3.

Then start growing the world.

Then add vehicles.

Then add to the game and make increase scale and scope.

Then add NPC’s and missions.

The MP elements would be some of the last things i would add in.

And after its working on a small scale, then grow the world bigger and bigger.

End game world size would be a couple settlements/safe zones,
Some outlying villages, Some large towns and a major city.

I had every intention of starting small, then growing.

Maybe building the MP into it earlier might be a better option as a MP arena shooter, then grow from that.
I am unsure, hence me asking questions.

I would not be working on it alone the entire time, i have some friends who also have experience, but not much more then me, but we are wanting to work on projects together.

Honestly i was hoping in a 12 month time frame working a few hours a day to have the small arena built with weapon customization, gathering and crafting done in a primitive form.
24 month goal would be this added to a larger map with vehicles. and maybe a early access build to get people playing and helping with development.

bumping for new replies

You need to design the game from the start with multiplayer as a focus. If you don’t make sure a feature works networked, it will haunt you later. For a total noob, Blueprints will be easier to get up and working with, though if you have an experienced programmer, C++ will let you go further. You can find integrations of C# and other languages, but for the most part unless you can’t get your head around BP/C++ these are not needed. Regardless, UE4 is large and you’ll need to learn the engine to get anywhere. Unless you have a person/team focused on developing the content, focus first on developing the systems. Chay is a bit negative here, but I definitely don’t want to sugarcoat what you’re trying to do. Stick with it, power through your obstacles, and you can achieve results.

I agree, however I don’t think i was being negative, realistic is a better word. The fact is, he does not know this engine very well, does not know blueprint, brand new to game development, yet wants to create a massive open world, online multiplayer game with deep mechanics by himself. I’ve been watching projects and hanging out in forums on various dev sites over the past 12 years and the reality is, things like this very very very rarely turn out.

I wasn’t saying all that stuff to be mean, I just dont want to see someone go down that long frustrating path that I did, I know how it is when you start out with game design, your excited to learn and create something, but you lose interest and motivation quickly, which is why in the beginning people do small stuff, not only to learn but to actually complete something. When you see those completed mini projects, it gives you motivation and confidence to do larger and larger things. I did the exact same thing your doing now when i started, and i’ve been doing it for 12 years, which is why I dont have a single game completed. However i’ve finally learned my lesson after House of Demons and am focusing on smaller projects.

But here is my advice to you:

I would suggest learning the engine a bit more, just mess around with it and get to know it, learn where everything is, where all the tools and things are, that way when you need something, you don’t have to look up where to find stuff all the time. After that, learn blueprint, it is a pretty nice system, however I would be careful with it, blueprints tend to get laggy when there are a lLOT of them, so for really intense stuff, C++ is better, not sure if you know it or not but its not too difficult.

Do whatever you can do in the engine, can you build levels? do Blueprint? Animate? Texture? Model? Concept art? Whatever you can do, do it, and do as much as you can before making a recruitment post, because when you have some stuff to show, it gets people a lot more interested when they can see that you actually have something.

For the open world, I would suggest using height-maps, they are a bit of a pain in the *** to get working correctly, but they’re worth it in the long run. They look far better than hand painted landscapes. If done right, you can make your terrain look really really realistic. World Machine is a good tool for that, but it’s a bit pricey, and has a bit of a learning curve in itself. So you may want to put in your advertisement that you are looking for someone who is good with height-maps and has WM already, that way you don’t have to spend extra time learning it and you don’t have to buy it. However for the prototyping phase, you can just hand create a landscape, not many people will really care what it looks like in the prototyping phase, they’ll understand.

World Machine: Purchase World Machine

As for prototyping, this phase you shouldn’t worry about how the game looks, just focus on mechanics, and worry about visuals later.

There are a bunch of free model sites out there that you can get placeholder models from. Ones like Blend Swap, Turbo Squid and some others. You can also get models from the marketplace, but theres not much free stuff on there. Textures.com has a lot of good textures. You can get them for free, but you have a limit of 15 points a day, some cost 1 point and some cost 3 or more, or you can pay and get as many as you like, but it is a good site among others out there for textures.

Blend Swap: http://www.blendswap.com/
Turbo Squid: http://www.turbosquid.com/
Textures.com: http://www.textures.com/

Also do you have a design document? one that details all the stuff and ideas that you want in the game? If not, your going to find it really hard to create a game of this magnitude and keep organized, so I would suggest that as well. If you don’t already have one. If you ever want a team, they’ll most likely ask to see one. Having a detailed one shows people you have a plan and a direction, which also makes people more interested and willing to join. You should really spend a lot of time on it, and try to put everything you can into it, really think about all the stuff you want to be in the game, this document is the blueprint for your game, and your teammates, if you decide to have some will use it as reference when working on the game. They cannot know whats in your head so make sure to make it really detailed, really explain stuff with examples where possible.

Also you’ll want to draw out some concepts of your world, settlements, world shape, important locations, spawn points, etc. Having a clear visual idea drawn out for your world(s) will help you a lot. dont worry if its not pretty, it doesnt have to be, as long as you can see where things go and how it should look, thats what important and it will help you and your teammates out a ton. The design document and drawing stuff out are your first and most important steps, if you just jump in without a clear direction, your setting yourself up to fail. Trust me.

If your game has story, make sure to get that fleshed out as much as possible, game worlds are built around the story of the game, so it’s extremely important that you have a clear plot and direction.

You can use Google docs to create a Design Document, or create one on your desktop. I personally use Google Docs, cause if something happens to my PC, the documents wont get lost. I would also suggest Google Drive for storage of assets and such. It gives you 15 free GB for file storage, if you need more space, 100 GB is only $2/month. You can store all your models and documents and whatever else project related here, that way if your computer ever crashes or something, all your files are safe.

Versioning software like SVN is the best option for a team, even if its just 2 or 3 people. It allows, for you to commit changes and additions with the click of a button, and to also get those changes the same way. Although its really difficult to set up, and you need a server to do it. However it makes the development process a million times easier for everyone. If you dont do this, you’ll find yourself packing up and uploading your game files to a site like mediafire very often which gets annoying for you and your team, and its very counter intuitive. Unreal is set up already to use SVN already so thats why i suggest it. It can also use Perforce but thats expensive as hell so I wouldnt recommend that. You can rent a cheap server like ones from Digital Ocean, the $5 option might be too low for your project, the $10 might be better, as it has more storage and speed.

For organisation, team or solo, I would suggest using Trello, its free and can help you create a road-map for developing your game. Real-time Board is good as well, but that’s more for visual stuff like adding pictures and drawing out designs. Here is a screenshot of my tTrello for House of Demons:

https://cdn.pbrd.co/images/MlUyb85.png

You can see how stuff is organized, this helped my team out a lot, and made development easier.

Trello: https://trello.com/
Realtimeboard: https://realtimeboard.com/

All in all, I would still suggest working on something smaller, but either way, I sincerely do wish you luck, and I hope you can get somewhere with this project, happy developing!

If you have any questions about game development, feel free to ask. I’m no master at it but i’ve learned a few things over the past 12 years.

2 years for a basic prototype is possible, but its a lot of work as the others have said.
The crafting and open world MP aspects will probably take the most time to get right.
Go look at WIP threads by those who’ve been working on similar games for 2-5 years:

ColdScooter -> UDK MP Rust clone,
CobaltUDK -> UDK Babylon SP project,
661gaz -> UDK Zombie SP open-world game.