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Shift - UDK Indie Demo

polycounter lvl 17
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Oniram polycounter lvl 17
Objective: Build a fully playable demo using Unreal Development kit.
Time frame: 1 year

Part 1 - Planning: Establish game type, art style, objectives, and any other specifics about the game
Part 2 - Art: Begin the base component of the artwork, allowing for a "look and feel" for the game
Part 3 - Art/Level: Construct the level, finish the art, add in the programming elements.
Part 4 - Finish Everything!: Get the level art and programming done.

This game was a collaboration of 6 individuals. The goal: have a fully playable game for use of portfolio, and experience. Each member of the team worked on the game in regards to their strengths, ultimately trying to establish an experience for working with others. Throughout the year there were many debates, decision changes, and headaches, but the end result is definitely something that pleased everyone.

The Game:

Shift is a third-person sci-fi shooter, taking place on earth's moon after a successful colonization attempt. The artificial atmosphere mimics that of earth for a more comfortable surroundings.
Your name is Valshar The Keeper. As you land to investigate the disturbances that HQ reported in, you are immediately fired upon. Thinking quickly and relying on the tactics taught to you by your mentor, you dodge out of the way and take cover. A cylindrical door stands in your way, as you use your psionic mind powers to open it, you recall your troubled past. A glint in your visor reminds you of the furiously large scar across your face. After taking a moment to flush the vomit from your helmet, you proceed with your mission. You realize that this colony has had a massive failure with the cloning procedure instituted by HQ. "F*****n HQ they always f*** things up" you think extremely loudly. Taking your pistol in your hand you think back and remember your old partner Jeff. "Ha good ol Jeff!.. Always getting into trouble". You then Proceed down the corridor...

No but in all seriousness, we don't really have a story for this. We had initially planned for a story teaser. Just 1 level of a beginning to a story, but after getting all of the thumbnails of that storyline drawn out, we decided.. hey, why not do multiplayer. The original intent of the game was to have sort of a scifi vs steam punk shooter, with levels that mixed both worlds. unfortunately due to time and other things, we had to altogether drop the steam punk section, as well as multiplayer, because (and I will make a strong note of this... WE ARE NOT PROGRAMMERS), and we don't know how to replicate for multiplayer.

Anyway, here's the main focus. This was a HUGE learning experience for all of us, and we sort of treat this project now as a "R&D" for any future projects we work on together.

Features of this game:
• Third Person Camera
• Should Switching
• Cover
• Sprinting
• Reload system
• Reticule bloom (not shown in HUD but it is there)
• Roll-Dodging

We have a team of great modelers, animators, and level designer(s, mostly 1 guy), and now we are adapting to programming a bit more.

So, I'll go ahead and put in some credits here, even though they are in the game, but the guys worked really hard so they deserve to have their names shown.

Alex Barcelo (Paragon)
Anthony Barcelo (Death-a-Matron)
Gaby Garcia (3dGaby)
Justin Buentello
Randall Natal
Sean Marino (Oniram)

So without further adieu, I present to you our game demo, Shift. Here is a quick layout of the keys, and a screenshot of the game. Below that, a link to download.





ALSO! i know, i know, you just want the game already, but first you must know of some issues..
There are quite a few bugs still with this so let me explain them before you come back in a rampage.

AI (in general). Coding the AI was no easy task, so they are fairly simple from a distance. Occasionally they will not follow you and try and shoot you through walls.
Turrets: for some reason, when we test on a regular level, it will stop detecting you outside of its radius. On our level, it wont. Advice: KILL THE TURRETS
Checkpoints: The checkpoint system is screwy, it often leaves you facing backwards, and you'll often be thrown to the wrong one. Sorry (or hey, it may throw you ahead)
Warnings: UDK insists on warning you that you are running out of time. You are not. Ignore the woman screaming at you that there are 5 minutes left.
Cover: This isnt gears (yet lol). some spots will not allow you to take cover due to 2 cover areas being too close.
Shooting through walls: It happens.

If you should happen to find any other bugs (there will be some), report them. They probably wont be taken care of but its nice to know.

Now..I give you.. Shift


  • Computron
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    Computron polycounter lvl 7
  • chadabees
  • shawnell3d
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    i like the environments reminds me of the convenant from halo and mass effect architecture and style. the gameplay is obviously not completely there yet. with in a year i feel like you guys could have something great. the characters and weapons in comparison to the environment art wise dont match up. i dont mean that they suck but they seem more like mobile style of designs. id like to see more and you guys should keep pushing this project.
  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 17
    thanks shawnell. yeah the gameplay was taken as far as we could really. as i state many times, we arent programmers, so naturally there are bound to be lots of bugs. we tried to just take it away from the Unreal Tournament aspect of udk. unfortunately we wont be touching this project too much anymore, as far as art goes anyway. our level guy still wants to change some things around for his portfolio, and myself along with alex want to maybe go back and touch on some programming things. ultimately, it was an experience for us, one which will definitely aid us in our next project
  • bisse123
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    Looks cool from the screens but where is the youtube gameplay vid?
  • gregs
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    gregs polycounter lvl 18
    Very good looking. A couple of things though:
    - the UDK menus (esc menu) came up with squares instead of characters, probably meaning a missing font somewhere
    - my gun had no effect (10+ shots on a single enemy), whereas theirs had instant effect.
    - IE9 says that the install file has been *reported* as being unsafe - maybe a certificate problem on your site?
  • Death-a-Matron
    @bisse123 There's no gameplay video, but there is a level fly-through.

    @gregs There are some issues with collision we didn't catch until it was too late. Shooting near doors seems to be a problem :P
  • Bombshell
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    Bombshell polycounter lvl 10
    I love the look of everything, the player and guns seems very basic though.
    The environment is brilliant, I could explore it for hours given the chance, if it weren't for some collisions that need smoothing.

    Sadly I don't have that much experience in modelling, I'm on these forums to work on that. But I have spent many years studying game design, mechanics and behaviors.
    Game wise,the HUD needs to be more visible, probably make it bigger and flesh it out a bit.
    Automatic reload would be a god send. doors should unlock faster. remove the delay on firing the gun when the guy is turning to look at where your aiming.
    Controls for PC are far more standard to have:
    ctrl - crouch/ roll
    shift - sprint (shirt and ctrl are hard to use simultaneously, but it is rare someone would run while crouching, so the control scheme makes sense)
    space - jump
    I for one have gotten used to that set up and changing to another has become awkward. Maybe have control options?
    Also having an animation for someone being hit would be very useful, for the look and feel of the game and for the player. I found myself questioning whether or not people were dying, until they fell over dead.

    You've done well establishing the look of the game, now I highly advise you take some time to revise the gameplay! Everything may be beautiful, but people won't play through to see all your hard work if the gameplay seems buggy and flat.
    Putting more definition in the player than the enemy is also advised, they may be the same size but you will see the player more than you will most enemy, so making the player pop is important.

    A lot of potential in this! I look forwards to seeing how it develops.
  • Death-a-Matron
    Thanks for the feedback. We'll focus much more on the gameplay for our next project. Unfortunately, we had to make several big changes as stated in the first post, and being under a tight schedule, we didn't have enough time to focus on the gameplay. Our first priority was the art.

    Our next project will be on our own time, and definitely much more polished. This was mainly our learning experience that we wanted to share .
  • JValencia
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    JValencia polycounter lvl 10
    Much respect for what you guys have done here. As a current student myself and indie developer, I know the work that is required behind bringing a concept into a full-fledged demo for others to experience.

    Everyone has already covered most of the points that needed to be addressed, but I wanted to put emphasis on the request to NOT ABANDON THE PROJECT. I'm not sure if anyone on your team currently has a job or not, but in the case you guys don't, the best way to get one is to do things that others cannot do. You guys have done that here.
    How many people can assemble a team they can trust to build an indie game? Not many. How many artists can write Uscript to create all these working game-mechanics? Not many. How many artists here on Polycount can create an environment scene? Too many.
    Do you see where I am going here? You guys have a full working game. Don't undervalue this and throw it away as a 'learning experience.' Sure, plenty has been learned from creating this demo and that information will always stay with you. But why stop now? What you guys have is great, but it needs polish here and there to be truly amazing. But of course, that's easier said than done.

    Everyone here on Polycount can critique you on art, so I am not going to go down that route. I'll give you advice on tech, since my team and I are also creating a 3rd Person cover shooter demo (but with Uncharted's art style instead of Sci-Fi) and I have encountered a few things you guys have here:

    Cover: I'an assuming you guys are using the White Mode cover code that's on the UDK forums. Its super buggy straight out of the box, but you guys have it working pretty well. Guessing its the CoverNode version. Make the 'Slide into cover' a lot faster. Play GoW and see how fast their character slides into cover. I would stop the character at the edge, not take him out of cover. Take the player out of cover when he presses the 'back' arrow key. All standard stuff in cover shooters. I would also add 'peeking' states while at the edge of cover and blind-fire, which could all be done through simple animation calls.

    Weapons: Give all of the weapons recoil. Tone down the Spread amount on the assault rifle, as its too wild at the moment. I would also add Camera Anims to all weapons. Camera Anims are called through he PlayerController class. There is melee code on the UDK forums that you guys should also be looking into.

    Camera: Speed up the shoulder shift, its too slow at the moment. Make the shoulder shift happens automatically while moving left/right in cover. If you've played Dead Space 2, they switch shoulder aiming when the player presses spacebar and they have the gun aimed. I would remove the option to switch it while you are not aiming.

    HUD: It's super busy. I would just have an ammo bar and a weapon icon. Make the screen de-saturate or bleed if you are taking damage. There is no current obvious way of knowing I am taking damage and I found myself surprised when I died. Make it super obvious. I would also add anims to the Top-Half slot of the player and the AI whenever they receive damage. I have this in my game and it works REALLY well. Visual sign of damage being taken is HUGE in a game like this.

    There is more stuff to mention, but I hope you get the idea. Play Gears or Uncharted and really see how they do these things. Those guys have already figured this stuff out, so take a page from their book. As artists, its tough to do proper programming, but little things like the ones I mentioned are possible to do by you guys. If you got cover implemented, you could easily add whats left. You could always PM me if you need help with this stuff.

    Hope to see this taken further in the future!
  • Fishypants
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    Fishypants polycounter lvl 18
    Great work guys! Really awesome atmosphere / styling going on. I love it. :D
  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 17
    thanks a lot for that reply juanitudev1. in regards to cover, ill just say we arent using White Mod, or ameyp's.. we did it completely from scratch. hence why it is so buggy. a lot of the gameplay aspects we did take reference from gears and uncharted for.. i personally didnt want it to go too close to gears (we considered the option of booster jets instead of rolling because of that.. but inside it didnt make too much sense).

    in regards to not giving up on the project. the only reason we are not continuing with it at the moment is because before it was the project for the classes we were taking. so we sort of had to devote some time to it. now that we are not in that class anymore, we all want to have the time to work on our portfolios for graduation in about 3 months. by now (being 1 year for this project), we are all pretty sick of it, mostly just scifi in general. the programming in this, i could probably keep polishing, but i know that most of us are tired of the hard surface art and really want to get into something organic next. because we all are artists, thats what we want to keep going on, instead of gameplay.
  • kYo
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    kYo polycounter lvl 9
    looks awesome! i´ll check out the demo

    i remember you wanted to model an assault rifle after one of my concepts, seems like you didnt tho .. unfortunately :)
  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 17
    yeah i still have those concepts. unfortunately the other members of my team didnt really like the assault rifle. they said it looked too much like a shotgun. i dont see it but i didnt argue (much). since we all decided to do one of the game-artist.net challenges for cyberpunk weapons, we just used our submissions for that in the game.
  • Alberto Rdrgz
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    Alberto Rdrgz polycounter lvl 9
    this is awesome guys! really like the fidelity and quality you guys are getting!
  • toxic_h2o
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    toxic_h2o polycounter lvl 8
    the moon is a bit closer these days.


  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 17
    haha. yea. i saw a tutorial on how to do that a while back and just wanted to toss it in the level. you arent necessarily on the moon, i just made that up as i wrote it. lol
    No but in all seriousness, we don't really have a story for this.
  • Wonkey
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    Wonkey polycounter lvl 10
    I enjoyed the game, but came across a few issues/bugs,

    At first, I didn't understand that the doors had to be stood beside to make them open all the way, so I backed away... and broke them, had to restart.

    When changing weapons, I had trouble telling them apart or at least that they were changing between them. Maybe bigger icons when they switch and shrink back to normal size over time?

    When I was being shot, and moved back from the enemies, bullet 'scars' were floating in the air.

    Other than that, it kicked butt! Thank you for sharing!
  • Oniram
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    Oniram polycounter lvl 17
    Glad you enjoyed it. :D thanks for playing.
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