Meet Leandro! He’s teamed up with instructor Zack as part of Game-U’s New Jersey Accelerate program. Lately Leandro’s spent a lot of time in GameMaker Studio, which uses rooms and tiles to create games, but today Leandro and Zack decided to take on the professional gaming engine Unreal. See how they did!
Using Unreal, developers-in-training like Leandro can create full-fledged games in one tool. Leandro already got a crash course in Unreal a few months ago, so he and Zack jumped right in, creating an animated character – “Toad” – with a level to explore. When gamers fire up a video game, select a character, and start playing, they don’t always think about the technical expertise that goes into building the player or his environment. But Leandro does! After creating a new Unreal project, with a simple game space outfitted with a few default props (a stairway, a walkway, etc.), he used blueprints – flowcharts telling the computer what actions to take under what conditions – to create a playable character. Starting from scratch, Leandro imported his art assets into Unreal so he could create a “skeleton” with which the engine interacts. The art became part of an Unreal Third-Person Character, to which Leandro added an animation blueprint that connects movement commands to animation sequences. From there, however, things became more complicated. Unreal works with movement “states,” so Leandro and Zack had to fine-tune their code to make Toad’s transitions more realistic. Their goal was for Toad to remain in an “idle” state until he gained first enough speed to walk, and then enough speed to run, without Toad switching between the idle, walk, and run states too abruptly. Leandro crunched the numbers, with 0 being the idle benchmark, 300 initiating a walk, and 600 becoming a run. Success! Of course, when the player stops moving, he needs to slow down, so Leandro reversed the process to transition Toad from a run back to a walk and finally to the idle state. The last step? Anchoring Toad to the ground (gravity isn’t a given in the digital world!) to make him an official playable character!
Great job working behind the scenes of gaming, Leandro! Zack says you’ve got plans to expand Toad’s blueprint to include new animations, as well as add another level to his world. Keep in touch – we’re excited for you and we want to share your progress! (And maybe play one of your games when it’s finished!)