September 2018 - November 2018

Chris Schickler

Systems Design

Kyle Hanselman

Level Design/3D Artist

Ky Shinkle

Narrative

Julie McNamara

Texture/2D Artist

Aiveen Dunn

Voice Actress

Summary

 

     Made with Unreal Engine 4, Sword of the Dead City is a metroidvania action-adventure in which the player takes on the role of Jin Keishi, a ronin who has returned home after many years to find it overrun by evil Oni. The game sets the player in a fantasy Edo era Japan, where they must use fast reflexes, platforming, and more to defeat enemies and wipe the demon scourge from their homeland. The game features cinematic combat, character upgrades, vintage graphics, traditionally painted textures, and more!

Early Development

 
Sword of the Dead City
Sword of the Dead City

     The first build was mainly  focused on player movement and tweaking Unreal's default settings. Gravity, Jump Velocity, Max Walk Speed, and Mass were all properties that were changed. A basic dash system was put in place to allow the player to get a small speed boost. Wall climbing and sliding was added to give the player more maneuverability. Other basics like a pause menu, title menu, and a health system was implemented. A little bit of experimentation with cel-shading was also done.

     From early on, the game never really picked up that "high speed" aesthetic we were going for. I decided to go with a more precision platformer vibe, and took a lot of inspiration from Mega Man X.

Player Zoo

 
Sword of the Dead City
Screenshot (208).png

     The second build introduced a lot of UI revisions, 4 enemies, environmental traps and combat mechanics. This build's focus was to really show off the user experience we as a team were trying to create. I added a bat-type enemy that floats towards the player, a gunman that simply shoots at the player, another ronin who will clash swords until their guard is knocked down, and a large tank-type enemy that chases and charges up an Area-of-Effect attack. Adjustments were made to improve the previous features and a health and damage system was implemented. I also added black bars to the side of the screen to give it the feel of an old 4:3 television. All of our art was trying to match early 3D from the days of Nintendo 64 and PlayStation, so I felt this aesthetic change would be a nice addition.

     I was pretty happy at this point with how the game was designed. We set out to simply make something fun for no real purpose, and It was definitely fun. While it lacked identity, It reminded us of the sidescrolling games we grew up with.

Prototype

 
Screenshot (1).png
Screenshot (2).png

     The third build was mostly about implementing art and optimizing the game. Art, animations, spawn triggers and save states were added to start bringing the world together.

     Now that the art was in, the game was really shaping together. I had to struggle getting the hitboxes of the enemies to work properly and the enemy spawners to spawn correctly. All the pieces of the project were coming together, and the vision was taking shape. The world contained 2 levels with a boss at the end.

     After finishing up the level design and other non-system related issues, the piece was complete. While not a full game, we created this to learn more about 2.5D game development and how to tackle its related challenges and issues. The game had it's share of design and programming flaws, but the value of the project came in the form of experience. I gained a lot of insight in to making a fixed-camera action game, and hope to revisit this medium again in the future.