Top-Down RPG - Where to start?

Hi guys,

I am writing this because I would like to get some advice from you guys. For my final university project I would like to create a top-down RPG (Diablo, Path of Exile, Torchlight etc). I studied as an environment artist but I would like to push myself and create something bigger rather than assets themselves. We will be working in a group of 3. I want to make the bare bones of a game like Diablo - which for me is:

  • A good combat system (melee and ranged)
  • Loot system (with drop rates)
  • Good controls
  • Equipment Interface (so drag and drop grid, picking up and throwing away equipment.
  • Skill tree
  • Decent enemy AI

I made myself a list of things which I am NOT going to include as I don’t want to include bazillion different features which I can’t implement to work properly. I am wondering if my plan is good enough and should I add any features or remove them? The thing which interests me the most is the loot system as I couldn’t find any tutorials online about creating one like that.

For any of you guys are interested about a concept behind the game:

The game would be set in an alternative history scenario. The game will be based about Slavic Mythology around 1930-40 era and in this universe this war rages against demons of the old religions. The concept behind this is due to the dissertation topic which I have chosen which is slavic mythology. The character could be a part of a special operations team in the Polish Army and main quest would be exploring dungeons to find sources of where the demons are coming from. In this timeline, humans would be much more dependent on energy crystals (didn’t think of a name for them yet) which power their diesel-punk styled exo-limbs (for example arm) which they use to gain special powers (such as increased attack power or range).

I wanted to keep it simple but yet fun and have a nice story around it.

I hope you guys can give me some suggestions where I can start, what tutorials to watch and how to break down my work. Many thanks


Konrad the first place I would start is with the marketplace art of combat system.
2nd place is peter L newton wrote the book on AI. It’s on Amazon.
It’s like 8 months of college for $100, and a good start.

I can recommend these packs Content by Vanguard Interactive - UE Marketplace they can be merged, and offer excellent blueprint examples which can be extended upon. The social component I consider a must buy for any game which wants to use a chat system. There are various other solutions, especially for combat, skills, quest, dialog, and AI systems - often for free on YouTube. Personally i do not like the Behavior AI Tree stuff that much, that’s why i bought a solution for that part of the game. But it really depends on your team skill level, needs, and experience of course. From my perspective I would begin with Unreal tutorials, redo some of them, and then eventually extend from there, or use existing solutions.

Most issues are often in the details, either if you try to merge an existing package into your environment, or when implementing your own component additions. For instance, a variable might not be set to replicate, or a event function is missing, or sometimes you have to remove settings from assets which have been migrated from a project, to have the engine acknowledge updated references.

To save time I recommend to not move folder-content additions until you are pretty sure to not have to update the folders again, because moving assets and the involved processes take considerable time. Content packs I’ve added last year to the project have been updated by the creator, now after moving assets around in the project structure, updating the older versions is also very time consuming.

A plugin which is great to keep the project file size smaller, is the free image resizer plugin from the market place, after usage you eventually have to manually set mask and normal texture settings again inside those textures. Ofc there is much more to learn, thus I would also recommend to keep everything as small as possible when starting. This means also not to begin with a large landscape. Start with a small spawning area level map. Begin working on larger zones once functionality is in place.

Make backups from time to time.

My Top-Down RPG Template will be on the marketplace very soon in case you are interested: Diablo Template