Set my expectations straight....

Hi, I am fairly new to game development and Unreal Engine. I have some but not very deep C and C++ programming experience but I wouldn’t call myself anything more than a slightly advanced beginner. My motivation is mainly the love for video games, my interest in the technology, and it would be a nice skill to have to give on to my son some day (my Dad and I built model planes, maybe my son and I someday can make small video games together). Seems like a fun father-son project…

I started learning Unreal Engine about 6 weeks ago and work mostly with two books, the Unreal Engine documentation, and some YouTube tutorials. I feel that I pick up stuff and knowledge fairly quick and I’m impressed bywhat I can already do. So far I don’t make any self-made custom assets or characters, but use free assets for now. Later on I plan to dig deeper into creating assets. For know, I am focusing on game design, character design (not the model, but the character mechanics, fighting, inventory, etc.), opponent AI, skill tree, Health, Stamina, damage system. And its going good so far.

Now I want to start creating my world/level. I decided to make a small simple single player RPG game with just a few characters, simple fighting/spell system, small world (with maybe a small village with a few huts, a forest area, some open grass land area, maybe a creek or small stream, a cave) filled with a few small quests that can be done by the player in less than one hour. I’m not creating this for any commercial success or so, its really a learning/hobby project with a game genre I like which will extra motivate me.

Here are my questions:

  1. for my simple RPG game (with learning purpose), what would be a good world size. I want to make it large enough in order to look good and have enough space to fill it with a handful of quests. But I don’t want to make it too large, so it will not become to challenging and impossible to manage/finish for one person that is doing it mainly for learning. I rather have small compact little game that I finish and I can be proud off, than a large gigantic unfinished mess. I have not enough experience to really judge workload very good yet, that is why I am asking the community what size of world they would recommend (500m x 500m or can I go 1km x 1km).

  2. Assuming I make a world 1km x 1km, how much time I can expect to spend on a project like this. I just need to get a feeling for what something like this takes, in order to decide on scope (what I am willing to invest time wise). I am aware that I have to invest a lot of time and that we talking many months, but I try to get a feeling for it and see how long something like this took other beginners.

Thank you for any input.

Depending on how you approach level design, you could stretch your world to infinity and still have a tight play space. The answer sits on: how much do you plan on using self-generating assets? If not at all, a 1kmx1km space might take a couple months at least. If you have any level of generated space, it could extent to infinity and the work might take you a week, then it comes down to how intrinsic or varied the terrain can be; the more varied, the more time it takes to build. (seen as 4-8 hour days)

I am eventually planning to do some of the assets myself. But I am not at that point yet. In the beginning I’m planning to use 3rd party assets, some as place holders to be replaced eventually, others maybe for good. Again, this is only supposed to be a practise/hobby project. but I am at the point were I am planning out the level/map on paper. and I am trying to make a plan of what I am planning to do, where I put what etc. In order to do that I am trying to figure out how large I should go, without starting a level/map that is larger than what I can realistically chew.