I think it’s safe to say that most people that play video games, eventually go through that phase of believing they could genuinely make a better game themselves, or wish they could add something to an existing game. And that’s the kind of stage I’m at. It’s one of the reasons I don’t bother with games much these days outside of solid single player experiences. For numerous reasons, of which I might do a separate blog post for, but let’s list them…
- I believe games these days suffer from bad monetization practises that directly lead to detriment in gameplay.
- Certain games (like tarkov) I’d like to be fleshed out in another way
- Support for games is at an all time low. Phone support replaced with chat bots. GMs replaced with low-cost contracted support centers.
- … and many more
What kind of game?
The kind of game I want to build, really would be an amalgamation between all my favourite pieces of IP. I love Fallout for it’s post-apoc story line and absolutely crazy background plot with Vault-Tec. I’d love an expanded universe at the “Modern Day” of when that was going through. Mass Effect is a fantastic world, that I’d love to experience without the Reaper threat. Tarkov is a fantastic military shooter, but it suffers heavily from being eternally in Beta, support that rivals that of the dodo, and to be honest, I’d prefer it to be more casual. I know I’ll get hate for that. But that’s why I want to make my own thing. Everyone’s different!
So we’ve settled on what kind of game I want to build. Likely some kind of RPG. It would have to be multiplayer to a degree, although to what extent I’m not entirely sure. It would absolutely be post apocalyptic, likely down and dirty in the streets surviving. But not a survival game. Nothing I hate more than a thirst and health bar. I specifically went out my way to avoid any DarkRP server on Garry’s Mod that had those.
So let’s start getting into the details. We can figure out story and plot as we’re actually trying to figure out how to code. I know the systems I want, that’s rather important first, if I can’t build those then creating an entire world becomes redundant. I’ve got a few options. Thankfully the game development community is extremely open with what tools everyone is using, and chances are those tools are completely free as long as you aren’t making over $250,000. Chances are I won’t ever crack that, even then it’s a percentage share you’re talking. So, what are the options?
- Make my own game engine
- Extremely taxing
- Likely won’t come close to anything currently on the market
- Going to have something resembling Star Craft 1 in 2026.
- Use one of the engines already out there
Making my own Engine
So, this is perhaps one of the most complex things you can do, for a start it’s no where near as hard as it was all those years ago. Secondly a lot of the process of making an engine has been documented by the fantastic team that made Hazel. Thirdly it would let me build out something and basically know how to interact with everything. Perhaps it doesn’t have a feature you want, so you’re stuck either going through the Unreal Engine code to compile something that does, or requesting it gets added in! If you build your own engine, chances are you know how everything pieces together, so it’ll be far easier to change how something renders to more match the tone you want for this game, rather than having a system that needs to work for everyone. Bespoke engines can be very good that way.
I always say, a system which works for everyone, is a system which can’t work for someone. That someone tends to be me because I work in a very annoying way.
So making our own engine, that’s largely out. For a start, I’d need to start from scratch. Build a bunch of tools that already exist, and basically reinvent the wheel. There wouldn’t really be any innovation there other than learning how to do X. But I’d be learning that anyway because building a game would require me to get rather close to how these tools are all built in the first place.
Unreal is an engine for a while that I’ve wanted to use, but failed really to go all the way. I think the issue is, it hides a lot of what normal people want to do behind layers of “skill issue”, and by that what I mean is; say I want to develop a game that is an MMORPG. Completely possible on Unreal Engine, but it doesn’t seem to get any mention or help at all. The thought of persistent game servers rings empty in the documentation. That core concept of “How does player actions get distributed among everyone to avoid cheating etc” doesn’t really get spoken about anywhere in the docs.
I think Unreal suffers a lot from not teaching core concepts. It’ll give you a template, give you a tutorial and make a lot of the map building, UI, animations, gameplay features rather straight forward to build. But outside of that it struggles to get the point across. Which is where I think this series is going to come in handy. I’ll document my whole process! At the end of this project, I at least hope that you can follow along and recreate what I’ve done.
Yes, that means I’ll be going with Unreal, but I wanted to give a mention to Unity. Unfortunately I think I just stumbled a bit too much when I first opened it and got pretty scared. Generating terrain and it getting lost, then lights not working and various other calamities got me twisted up into myself. Out of the box it’s not the best looking either, and to be honest I’ve experienced enough of Tarkov’s performance issues to swear me off it. Is that Unity’s fault? Probably not, but I know better than to tempt fate. This is the part where the chunk loading issues that Unreal has bites me in the ass.
Right, we have our Game Engine. Unreal 5. We’re going to build a Post Apoc mashup RPG between the spooky undertones of Fallout, and the wonderful environments of Mass Effect with an indepth RPG element like what happens in Tarkov with the inventory, weapons systems and building your own base, that kinda thing seems pretty cool to me. Awesome, surely can get that done in a weekend right?
Well, it’s a massive project. And frankly I’m stuck for a name. I’ve had the domain PathOfImmortals.com for quite some time. And I’d like to use it as a codename for this project, pending figuring out if I want to use that as a name. Honestly it’s really just making sure that the name fits the theme and story of the game I want to build.
Now I’m going to put down a bit of a brain dump of features I want to implement that are important to me.
- No buying power
- No buying cool cosmetics
- No battle pass
- Monthly updates regarding game dev
- Monthly content updates
- Seasonal Changes every 4 Months with a wildcard 3rd month whereby everything gets turned up 400% and we just have a laugh. Kinda like the last day of wipe on Tarkov.
- Admin Tools for clans and server admins to control their own destiny
- Dedicated Servers, hosted by the community for the community
- “Normal Network” Mode whereby you’re in our environment.
Now many will be right to ask, if we’re doing a model from back in 2010, whereby there’s nothing to make billions of dollars, how on earth will it be funded?
Well I’m not going to mess people about. It’ll be a standard game + a monthly subscription. But I won’t stop you from playing on private servers with server admins that wish to develop their own communities and games further. I had such a fantastic time running my own server community at 15, and wouldn’t really want to take that away from anyone.
Server admins would be expected to pay a very small cup of coffee style charge per month for the sake of them maintaining access to updates, security, analytics that kind of thing. Think of it as a reason to donate to your friendly server admin. I don’t want to put people out so it’ll only ever be chargeable if you get X amount of public players. Again, these are all concepts that are rattling in my head that I want to get onto paper to see if it works.
There is no funding in terms of public or private money. So it’ll just be me working on this in my downtime. I’m pretty confident I can get it done though. The projects I’ve build over the past 3-4 show that I can figure pretty much anything out if I actually dedicate myself to it. Especially if I can get a PoC ready, showing something working, a world being built. I fully believe I can convince you to back it and I can eventually hire talented folks to bring it to life. I’m not the most fantastic artist, so I’d look forward at having someone that knows their way around a paint brush to help me bring these worlds to life. Afraid we’ll have a lot of placeholder models at the start!
And for heavens sake, it will not be another Star Citizen. Although I hear good things about that now, and it’s actually getting somewhere!
I’m building a game, I’m going to be writing about it, and I’m going to be taking you all along on the journey as we discover what can a solo web dev with hardly any C++ experience really do with the Unreal Engine. I’m confident, I’m ready to go, most importantly I’ve got dangerous ideas and a plot that I think you’ll all love. As with anything, give me a shout on twitter if you want to chat about any of this. If any of you are wanting to get involved in a project like this, or, heck if you have any advice, I’m always open. Sean (@sean_odonnell96) / Twitter