Tech & Techniques Behind Creating the Characters for Paragon & Game Jam Kickoff - Live from Epic HQ


This past weekend at PSX, we announced a large amount of info on Paragon, our upcoming title for PC and PS4. As you would expect, the new features in Unreal Engine used to create the high-end visuals are on their way to you all! Brian Karis and Jordan Walker join the community team this week to take us through the technology and techniques used when building the hero characters in Paragon! Tech Artists, Character Artists - heck, ALL Artists won’t want to miss this one.

Also, we’ll be kicking off the December #ue4jam live on the stream. Come hang with us!

Thursday, Dec. 10 @ 2:00PM ET - Countdown]



Questions for the team? Let’s hear em!


How do you make sure these characters stand out against the environment and the AI minions? MOBA’s are pretty notorious for being messy and visually confusing.

How did you plan out the characters and try to balance their abilities? From the trailer and gameplay videos the abilities seem pretty unique, how hard was it to make them that unique?

First of all, your game look very epic! What kind of battle we will see in this game? Is it a MOBA mix with a Third Person Shooter? How many mode there will be and how many heroes? Thank you

can we stream the game on release? also are the cards essentially like items in other mobas?

How does the card system work ? Can we stream/record the game during the beta?

How are you planning to fully utilize the verticality your map has? It’s something I’ve not really seen be a factor in other MOBAs before and I am curious how the different characters may use height to their advantage.

I got a few questions:
How has the character development process changed since previous demos, such as infiltrator? Obviously, this is a game, not a demo, but still.

And what, if any, were some of the problems you’ve ran into so far that ended up prompting changes in UE4 itself?

Will players be able to create and sell custom skins for characters?

  1. Will this game include support for mods,custom skin etc?
  2. hardcore or casual?

I’m more interested in the process of creating characters. What method did you use for hair modeling? Did you wrote some complex shader specialy for this purpose?

Probably a dumb question, but will this be a Free-to-Play game?
How “new-user-friendly” will the game be at launch?
How will Champion/Hero/Character obtaining work?
Will there be free customization options for looks, not just builds?
Will there be paid customization options? And if so, examples? (Beyond the obvious skins)
Will there be different game modes in the long run?
Do You see this game as a competitive game and think it could become an esports title?
Will You have a beta environment such as PBE for LoL or PTR for Diablo, where players get to test fresh content before they are live?

That’s all for now! Hope You’ll answer 1 or 2!

Thanks in advance!
~ Sinful

Are there any particular rendering features that have been implemented for Paragon that will make it back into the Engine?

Great questions in here! While we’re glad’s so excited about the game, we’ll be focusing only on the technology and process behind creating the characters this week.

If you’ve got more general questions about the game itself, we won’t have the appropriate team on to answer them this time around. We hope you understand.

Looking forward to it!

I have a couple of tech questions:

  1. Does the skin shader now support back scattering? If not, is this still something that is going to be implemented in the near future?

  2. Does the new hair shading model fix the sorting issues for translucent hair planes or do we still have to use the mask blend mode?

  3. Is the hair/fur of the characters static or can it be influenced by a wind actor?

  4. Are the explosions all 2d card based or truly volumetric?

  5. Will Paragon bring volumetric lighting support?

  6. How does the new eye shader work, can you show a material setup for it?

  7. What kind of improvements are planned for the post effects, new lens flare types, reducing circle DoF noise?

  8. Is clothing being simulated via NVIDIA’s APEX or a proprietary solution?

  9. What is highest poly count for any of the playable characters?

  10. Are planar light types coming?

Thanks a lot!

My final question is for all involved:

AND finally, I’m not sure if this can be answered in the stream but:

  • Will there be any form of mod support?

Aw snap, I’m gonna miss this stream while travelling to the mountains (going on a snowboard trip for the weekend; so no Game Jam for me either). Thank god Shelley scribbles pictures and turns them into VODs for later while you guys stream :smiley:

Are anisotropic highlights still using the material parameter collection and complex material networks, or has this been added as a for-real, supported material feature? If it’s been added as a feature…
-Does anisotropic specular reflection work with all light types? Does it work with area lights? Tube lights?
-Is there a limit on the number of lights which can be reflected by anisotropic materials?
-Are cubemaps sampled anisotropically as well? How is this being approached, and what are the trade-offs? What does does the quality look like?
-Does the standard material now support anisotropic direction inputs, or are they only active on special materials?
-Can we easily create common anisotropic materials other than hair, such as machine-tooled metals, skin, or cloth?
-What workflow does Epic use internally for artist-authored direction maps?

Does skin shading now support transmission from back-faces (such as ears)?
Have any of the errors with SSS been fixed, such as the outlines which would appear around non-scattering objects?

Do transparent surfaces (corneas, tear lines, eyeglasses) now have direct specular reflections? Do they support all light types/areas/tubes? Is this a standard part of the “Surface” translucent lighting mode, or will it have to be enabled via secret rites?

Will translucent surfaces (hair, fur, cloth etc) now receive detailed shadows, or will they still use low-frequency volume shadows?
Is there any support for order-independant sorting for translucent materials? If not, have any improvements been made to the existing sorting?

Has there been any progress towards a more hybrid deferred/forward renderer which would allow for special-case effects like retroreflection(for safety vests, animal eyes, etc), art-directed exclude/include lighting(which remains performant), or totally non-photo per-character/per-object lighting like in Guilty Gear?

Have any improvements been made to character shadowing? Can characters now cast area shadows?
How about indirect shadows, like in The Last of Us?
How about (non-screenspace) reflection occlusion, like The Order/Remember Me?

Have there been any improvements to character skinning/deformation?

was any of this done with Blueprints?

*Roughly how long, from concept to completion did it take to make each character?
*Do they each have their own custom rig and animations? If so how many bones are being used, including bones in the face if there are any?
*What type of issues have you faced in regards to animation and replication?
*How many polygons are you using per character in-game and are you using material layers at all?

Overall though I would like to know why a MOBA and why a new IP? Who came up with the design or was it something Epic decided they wanted to do and the design came from there?