Umbra Interview: An Indie Action/RPG built with CryEngine
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Umbra Interview: An Indie Action/RPG built with CryEngine
15 May, 2015

A new action/RPG game Umbra recently launched on Kickstarter. The developers from SolarFall Games are looking to get over $200k from the gamers. The project is being created with CryEngine and it looks fantastic. We’ve talked to the developers and discussed how did they manage to make such a beautiful project.

About SolarFall Games

We are SolarFall Games, a newly created studio based in Nice, France. Umbra is the first game we’re developing under the name of Solarfall Games. Prior to Umbra, all key members of the team worked together in another company using CryEngine for simulation purpose. Umbra was our side-project, a game we build with true love and passion.

About Umbra


One of the coolest feature of Umbra is the Apocalytpic Form. According to your play style, the game will generated unique “Apocalyptic Upgrades” for your character. All these Upgrades will provide a new look, and new powers for your character, such as wings, horns, or extra limbs to equip with weapons. You can pick up to 3 of these upgrade to create your own personalized avatar of destruction and jump on your enemies.

In addition of this, there is no class restriction in the game. The gameplay is balanced by three resources – Range, Stamina and Mana – that interact with each other. Exemple: If you gain too much rage, the other resource will deplete.

On top of that, we have really cool mechanic of Fire – Water – Lightning – Frost Interaction system also balancing the gameplay.

The global idea is to let player free of their action, but have a counterpart for each choice they make. Of course, it also allows great combos!

Finally, we have a really cool weapon creation and crafting module, plus the ability to build your house and expose your rare loot all around!

About CryEngine


I originally was a modder on the original Crysis, back when I was a student, and then I get a job in a CryEngine Licenced company, so I built a strong level experience with CryEngine and I really enjoyed working with it.

My need for Umbra was a game engine to simplify my work as much as possible, with several existing systems I could use to build my own game. Also, I chose it because I knew that its graphic quality will survive many years of development.

CryEngine was then the only real logical choice. I don’t believe CryEngine is really hard to learn, I started as a student and I had no idea how a game engine possibly worked at the time. For programmers, the code is very well written and easy to understand, and that’s what pushed me to keep going and learn on it.

My favorite tool for Umbra is the Particle System. I really enjoy working with it. Most of the effect you see in our videos were done by me, and I am not an artist, I am a programmer. It is really easy and fun to use. Thanks the Kickstarter, we hope we could have a full time artist to work on the effect of the game and raise the level even more. That would be awesome.

The hardest part to develop was the automatic transparency system for element in front of the camera, but our setup was quite complex: I wanted the system to work from any angle, for any type of element in the game including the vegetation, and should work with “modular” level design. In the end, we successfully did it, and I am very happy with the result.

On middleware tools


We use a classical 3DS / ZBrush combined with the Quixel Suite, including their awesome MegaScans technology. For character, we build our own integration pipeline from Exocortex Species. All these tools allows us to get an optimal quality/working time compromise.

For Level Design, Kythera AI system is very effective to build our scene and test the gameplay.

For the rest, we simply use the default CryEngine tools, the WYSIWYG side is great. Also, we have experienced member who know how to exploit the engine to the maximum.

We really tried to find the best solution for each side of the game, to allow us to work on the most interesting part: the gameplay!

Creating Special Effects and Lighting


The particle editor is extremely easy to use, even for a programmer. We usually design a spell from our gameplay needs, imagine a visual and try to reproduce it with the particle editor. We sometime end up with a totally different particle effect in the end, because of some effects we build by simply testing some features. That’s the kind of great surprise I enjoy the most!

Our environment artist has past experience in the cinema as Lead Lighter, and his skill are really helpful to create awesome looking environment. There are basic rules to follow in order to reduce performance impact, like not overlapping lights and so on. We try to follow them as much as we can, and we are incredibly happy with the result.

About Prototyping

Umbra’s development story is long and special. Initially, I wanted it to be an open sourced platform for modders on Crysis1. That’s the way the project started. However, since I am a big Hack’n’Slash player, I oriented the development of the project to a Hack’n’Slash game type quickly. As the project evolved, it became clear to me that the project should become an actual game.

About The Release

The full game should release around October 2016, the Kickstarter backers will access our GDC prototype just after the Kickstarter if they pledge the required amount. We would like to be present on most of the platform, from Steam to the non-DRM one, like GOG.


Daniel DoluiSolarFall Games


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