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This Is How You Create a PvP Top-Down Zombie Shooter in Unreal Engine

Andrey Tishenko told us more about Zombie Raid, the challenges faced during the game creation, and detailed how their team approached and developed the isometric look, explosions, and the ballistic system.


Hi there! We are RedDot Studio, based in Kyiv, Ukraine, and our team consists of four people. We have two talented Programmers and two skilled 3D Artists, with one of them also working as an Administrator. With a collective experience of 20 years in 3D outsourcing, we have successfully worked on various projects, including Sniper Ghost Warrior, Sniper Ghost Warrior: Contracts Series, and Silent Hill 2. Over the years, we have gathered a lot of experience in our field, which has bolstered our confidence in our abilities.

Zombie Raid

In 2017, when we finished the Sniper Ghost Warrior game, we faced challenges with a new outsourcing contract. So, we decided to embark on our own small project and become game developers rather than switching projects every few years.

Being a fan of Left4Dead, I decided to explore a zombie theme in a photorealistic style, as it aligned with our previous experience. To control development costs, we opted for the top-down genre instead of a first-person shooter.

Initially, we wanted to create a single-player game. However, during the development process, we experimented with multiplayer gameplay against each other, and it turned out to be incredibly thrilling. As we lacked experience in narrative design, we shifted our focus toward PvP with zombie elements.

Currently, there is growing interest in a single-player mode for our company. After the early access release, our team plans to prioritize the development of a co-op mode. By combining well-crafted PvP mechanics with cooperative gameplay, we believe this will offer an appealing experience to players.

The Technical Side of The Project

Our base tool is Unreal Engine. It's a fantastic engine, which have great capabilities for optimization and debug performance. Unreal Engine has everything that you need from the box to make a game without additional plugins.

As we are making our own project, we can use all those tools to make our game run smoothly even on an old PC. From my experience as an outsourcer, big companies do not pay enough attention to optimization, and a month before release, the game barely runs on top-end hardware.

We constantly track game performance from the beginning of the project because hitches and freezes can cost you a match. And as a hardcore FPS player, I know how important it is.

Working on the Isometric Look

At the beginning of the project, we didn't have any challenges because we played on the streets. Later, when we started implementing indoor environments, we developed a "hider" system that hides floors corresponding to the player's position.

We also made a focus mode that virtually transports the player's camera to the enemy's position, and the "hider" system behaves as if you are right next to them. This makes it possible to shoot at enemies on the second floor of multi-story buildings. We later added a visibility system that hides enemies when they are out of the player's line of sight.

The most challenging aspect for us was to make fair shooting mechanics, as the player's screen is wider than it is tall. This means that players with extra-wide monitors have an advantage.

Approaching Explosions

Explosion effects are a hodgepodge from the Unreal Engine marketplace. As all FX are made by one artist, it's the right choice. But, you should be careful with marketplace content. Usually, it's not optimized and you can have 2048-size textures for bullet holes. You get a nice explosion if you pay attention to details like shockwaves, sparks, secondary fire, and destruction. Also, nice sound plays a key role.

Developing the Ballistic System 

The ballistic system in our game uses a physical bullet model, which includes speed and penetration. Each object has a penetration stop value, and if a projectile penetrates through obstacles, the damage is proportionally reduced. Also, ricochet mechanics provide tactical possibilities.

To shoot precisely, it's important to understand your shooting pattern. For example, it's not a great idea to hold the trigger while shooting from an AK. It's better to use short bursts. Also, many things influence your recoil, such as crouching, angular velocity, and movement speed.


The biggest challenge we faced was perfectionism. We often added new features to the game while other parts of it were still unfinished. However, finance situation forced us to complete the missing sections of the game. So, we can consider that we overcame difficulties by chance.

Nevertheless, I still have a lot of unrealized mechanics and game modes that I plan to do after release.

Andrey Tishenko, CEO at RedDot Studio

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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