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Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
Free-to-play games are all the latest craze right now. There’s World of Tanks, Crossfire, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Angry Birds 2 and other projects both for mobile and PC. These products have a huge commercial potential, generating millions of profit (if successful). This year we’ve met with the creators of a couple big F2P games, created with Unreal Engine 4. One of them is David Hanson who is originally from Belgium, but he moved to China to create his own dream game – Storm United.
Storm United is a multiplayer online shooter, heavily inspired by Halo and other big budget action games. The project is being developed by Pixelbeam, which is entirely based in Henan province (China). The studio is located in the center of the country, far away from the biggest development hubs. However, the team managed to get the game up and running and right now they are looking for a publisher and distributors in different countries. Storm United was also one of the few lucky projects awarded with the Unreal Dev Grant (you can read about it here).
I ended up in China simply because I’m from Belgium and there’s (almost) no videogame industry in my country. There’s like 10 million people living in Belgium and just in the province where I live in China there’s a hundred million people. In terms of available partners and personnel there’s no comparison. Not to mention that China is going full force in videogame development. It has awesome artists, a lot of technical specialists. It’s a perfect place for developing games.
The Battle between Unreal Engine 4 and Unity
Before we starter the project with Unity 4. I’ve played around with both engines. I actually got in touch with Epic and we talked, but the licensing model just did not work for us. So we went with Unity at first. Then Unreal Engine 4 became free with 5% revenue share. The day they announced this – we switched to Unreal. It just made more sense to us.
The problem was that the whole project was already written in Unity and in terms of coding we had to scrap everything and start from the very beginning. However, when you do something you learn how to solve issues and do everything faster. So with Unreal Engine 4 we actually already knew how to build our game and organize stuff, so it did pretty fast.
It was a good exercise for the team and I’m very pleased with what we’ve achieved.
If you do 3D games especially for PC Unreal Engine 4 just does not have competition. If you do mobile games – you can definitely try Unity. The tools are awesome, there’s no denying that, but what I like most about Unreal Engine is that the developers add new features lighting fast. Check out what features were added to Unity during the last year and compare it to UE4 and you’ll see that Epic updates it’s engine much more frequently.
The reason behind this I believe is that Epic is making new games themselves and they know about the problems that developers have. Unity doesn’t make any games. Epic designs tools that really help to make better games. It’s all tested and optimized for game devs.
Storm United was heavily inspired by Halo. We’re going for bright colors, using more cartoonish style. I believe that this whole trend for more cartoonish games started a long time ago with the success of World of Warcraft.
Before that we were more used to more realistic game look. World of Warcraft had that amazing success and I think a lot of people actually started to think that this cartoony look is really interesting.
This kind of style is much better for the developers. It’s easier to design, it uses less GPU power and it’s much more flexible.
Apart from Unreal Engine 4, we’re using pretty standard stuff. We have some artists who do 3d meshes with Maya and some with 3DS Max. It works very well for us since we know how to mix these two kinds of content in one game. We just keep these products in different universes. For example we do buildings with 3DS Max and weapons with Maya. it works great for us.
It’s a tough decision to pick up the market for your game. We’ve got a lot of different offers and we’re not sure exactly how we can work. I can assure you that we’re going to continue to work with Steam.
We’re also going to do cooperation with local companies for special markets like China, Indonesia, Japan, Russia. We haven’t signer anything yet.
The game should launch in about 5-6 month as an open beta. Right now we have everything ready for the gameplay but there’s still some polishing required. We need to adjust the player co-operation systems, set up the shop and add clan management systems. We actually aim to become an esport centric game.
We’re selling different stuff that does not influence the gameplay. There’s no pay-to-win. Since we’re going to work with esports this is definitely something we’re not going to mess with. I think we’re doing something similar to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, selling skins and image stuff. We’re also going to sell access to tournaments.