Escape in UE4

Just over four years ago, for Ludum Dare 23, my friend Pete and I made a game called Escape in C++/OpenGL. The theme was ‘Tiny World’, which we chose to interpret as ‘the level shrinks as you play’. Inspired by the red weed from H.G. Wells’ War of The Worlds we decided the player is stranded on a planet, surrounded by alien goop which is slowly spreading towards them. Their task is to harvest resources strewn about the environment to fuel/repair their rocket and escape. Different types of resource are needed, and each type requires a different length of time to harvest, during which the player can’t move. Adding to the difficulty, the player can only carry three resources at once, after which they’ll need to drop off at the rocket before going out to harvest again. The player is also in a vehicle, controlled with the mouse – so it feels ever so slightly out of control. Pete wrote a great theme tune which lent the whole thing an unnerving, anxious feeling. The graphics would politely be called ‘lo-fi’, but overall I was rather pleased with it.

Fast-forward to last weekend, and I was investigating networking in UE4. It occurred to me Escape would be a good project to try out in Unreal, because I’d networked the original shortly after Ludum Dare and I remembered how long it had taken to find the balance between prediction and sending lots of data – it would be interesting to see how smooth that part would be in UE4.

Since then I’ve been recreating Escape in UE4, and in my network research I noticed a few people on the forums asking for complete networked demos so I thought it’d be useful to release the source. It’s not finished by any means, there’s only one type of resource right now and the logic detecting win and lose is decidedly crummy, but the networking is all there and you can play a complete game from start to finish in single and multiplayer. You can grab the project here. I wanted to do the whole thing in blueprints, but I also wanted to play online via Steam – and right now the blueprint session interface just isn’t up to the task, so I’m using Mordentral’s Advanced Sessions plugin. Which means it does need compiling, though all of the game code is still in blueprints.

I’ll be writing a bunch of posts about the project next week hopefully – the networking aspects, but also some of the effects were quite fun to reimagine so I’ll probably write about those too. And maybe a word or two about why the UE4 vehicle looks like Postman Pat’s van. For now though, it’s the #ue4jam!

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