Case Study
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Jan 18, 2024

"Escape from VIPE City", developing a videogame in Fortnite

“Escape from VIPE City” is a free-for-all race that involves killing monsters as fast as possible to farm gold.

Premise

As a result of a collective session of prototyping in UEFN, we chose one of the prototypes to develop it into a public experience in Fortnite. “Escape from VIPE City” is a free-for-all race that involves killing monsters as fast as possible to farm gold. Use the gold to gain access to the next areas and buy weapons to become stronger. The first player to reach the end of the game wins, being able to escape the infested city in a spaceship.

Mission

The main goal of this project was to create a PVE game centered around farming monsters. We incorporated a PVP component to enhance its and competitiviness, transforming it into a race against other players.

Art

For the art of this game, we decided to draw inspiration from the VIPE universe. This involved adapting environments we had previously developed for other platforms to suit UEFN. Let’s explore how to manage custom environments of considerable size:

Environment development

Preparing the scene

The initial step in integrating the environments is to create the scene in our preferred 3D software and establish the “final look” before exporting it to UEFN. This ensures that everything imported into UEFN is accurately placed accurately, facilitating quicker iterations when modifying models. In our case, we combined elements from three different environments in our VIPE projects, resulting in a macro scene that is ready for further development.

Environments overview in Blender

Importing to UEFN

It’s crucial to consider a significant limitation when dealing with extensive scenes like this: each model imported into UEFN is restricted to a total of 64 materials. In our scenario, we had to divide the scene into three different levels to adhere to UEFN’s limitations. The decision was also influenced by our final level design considerations. Rather than separating the environment randomly, we designated the City, the Train Station, and the Industrial Compound as different areas. Each will showcase different aesthetics and present varied difficulties within the game.

Train station level in UEFN

Optimization

With our scene prepared, optimization becomes crucial. For a scene of this magnitude, the main focus is on optimizing the colliders. When a model is imported into UEFN, it generates a collision mesh based on the geometry, which can lead to either inaccurate or excessively resource-intensive colliders. The proper approach is to manually craft precise colliders that maintain a low triangle count, offering the benefits of both accuracy and efficiency.

Here, you can observe the collider mesh outlined in red, using the minimum required geometry:

Colliders overview

It’s crucial to be mindful of the 100MB memory usage limitation imposed by UEFN. This restriction allows only projects within the 100MB range to be published. The main factors influencing memory usage are textures and triangle count. Therefore, it’s essential to optimize your models and textures, ensuring they use the necessary amount of resources to stay within the 100MB limit.

Lighting and VFX

Now that our scene is integrated and optimized, let’s enhance it with some cool effects and lighting. While our exteriors are illuminated by regular daylight, the final level, being an interior environment and the last stage, benefits from a special lighting effect. We’ve incorporated green point lights to give it a more industrial and dangerous ambiance.

Furthermore, we strategically used lighting to improve the UX and guide the player. For instance, our shops, scattered across different levels, are distinguished by pink lighting, making them instantly recognizable. Below is an example of our final levels featuring custom lighting, a shop with pink lighting and some VFX/animations to bring the environment to life:

Last level lighting and VFX

Gameplay

The gameplay of Escape from VIPE City is straightforward: kill monsters to earn gold, use the gold to access the next area, and purchase weapons to enhance your strength. The unique twist is the need to outpace other players in orden to escape the city before they do. Despite its simplicity, this concept presented many challenges owing to the limitations of UEFN . Let’s delve into details.

Game design and UX

For the game design, we introduced multiple “hostile areas” where monsters spawn, and players can attack each other to gain advantage. Each hostile area spawns stronger monsters and grants more gold than the previous ones. This way, we prevent players from staying and farming in the easy zones instead of progressing to the next ones.

Starting area

Level 1 shop

To gain access to the next area, you have to earn a certain amount of gold and use it to deactivate the barrier that blocks access.

Excess gold can be used to buy stronger weapons at each of the shops you can find across the levels.

Shops offer different weapons depending on the Hero you chose at the beginning of the game, but we will talk more about Heroes in the next section.

To guide the player, we used tricks like the shop lighting mentioned earlier. Additionally, we adapted the environment to ensure that players can only advance linearly, meaning they have to go from point A to B to C, no matter what. This design choice allows players to focus on the race and being fast, rather than worrying about where they have to go next.

We also created a pre-game lobby where players can wait for the matchmaking to be complete. This lobby provides essential information about how to play the game.

Pre-game lobby

Hero selection

To enhance the game’s replayability and add more interest, we introduced four different Heroes that players can choose when the game starts. Each hero comes with a unique stats, weapons and abilities. For instance, the Juggernaut is a slow but highly durable class, making it challenging to eliminate, and can only use LMG-type weapons. On the other hand, the Berserker class is very mobile, deals significant damage, but has low HP and handles melee weapons, making it easier to defeat. Each class offers a different gameplay  strategy, allowing players to adopt different playstyles that match their preferences and personalities.

Hero selection UI

Special features

Most of the gameplay has been implemented using the base functionalities of UEFN, except for the barriers. The reason we needed a workaround for the barriers is that UEFN doesn’t allow the deactivation of a barrier for only one player while keeping it active for the rest.

The only approach somewhat similar was to add the player to an ignore list after paying the gold,  allowing them to cross the barrier. However, this method had drawbacks as the barrier would be still visible, and there was no visual indication of the ability to pass through, resulting in poor UX design. To overcome this limitation, we had to push beyond UEFN’s constraints and devise a solution.

We discovered that the only feature visible for a specific team is the VFX particles. Therefore, we created a barrier using the VFX system, employing a permanent particle that visually resembles a barrier. Yes, a particle. This turned out to be the only workaround we could find, but it provided to be effective!

Barrier VFX

Conclusion

Creating a game from scratch in UEFN can be challenging at times due to the limitations of the Editor. However, there is always a workaround to achieve your desired results! Remember to prioritize optimizing your environment and effectively guide the player using lighting and thoughtful design.

Art
Development
Fortnite
Hugo Serichol
Environment Artist

If you are looking for me, you can find me following the sun

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