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  • Writer's pictureBrad

Holding A Place In Line

Our previous post gave some insight into the game we are making. There wasn’t much detail, but at least we can give some context to our topics moving forward. Today is a brief look at getting content ready to create and iterate on maps that will support our strategy play, as well as the real-time action.

Last year we created a multiplayer prototype to test out our idea through external playtesting. We learned a lot about the strengths of the concept as well as well as the weaknesses. We spent some time reworking various aspects of the design and started to layout what we needed to do to move towards a non-prototype environment.

During prototyping we decided that we would do whatever we could to get to something playable so we could test out ideas as quickly as possible. As you can imagine, while this is a really useful and exciting part of the development process, working in that state means the work you do is quick, sloppy, inefficient and not something you want to build off of. After we decided to move forward with some variation of the prototype, Baker started to create the systems we need to accelerate our production with a strong stable foundation.

While he did that, I worked on developing the design and began to build a library of placeholder assets we need to layout our levels. We needed these assets set up to be easily replaced in the future with new assets as they become available.

An all-purpose test level with placeholder assets.

I established early on our grid snapping rules so I could create or edit proxies to work on a 3 tier snapping rule set. We are using a snapping grid of 50, 10, and a custom snap setting that matches our pixel density. Since we are doing low poly pixel art it was really important to have a snap setting that matched our pixel size, so we could line up mesh and texture as easy as possible.

Grid snap setting matching our pixel density

With the pixel density and grid snap set, I could go in and use the Unreal Mesh tools to unify all proxy objects to work on the grid system, allowing us to put levels together with as little concern about how things line up as possible. I also used those tools to create low detailed modular sets to give us content to quickly and easily snap levels together for fast iteration and testing.

I spent time browsing the Unreal Marketplace to find content that would be easy to use and easy to replace. Luckily there is a ton of clean and easy to use assets that are perfect for detailed proxy objects. I edited some of that content again with the Unreal Mesh Tools to match a bit more of our style and the grid settings mentioned above. I also used them to create variations I think we might need in the future, or to create modular sets from one or two base objects.

This process lined us up with over 1,000 objects we could use to block out the game. We are only working with a small number of those to help focus our efforts.

Asset dump level where available assets are laid out.

The rest of the objects??? Well, they are sitting on the sidelines waiting for their chance to make it to the big show.

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