Project: My first UDK project

From the beginning, I had actually planned for a simple concept level (yet expansive in scope, once I sat down and went through it all) that would push what I knew about the toolset, though keeping those lessons simple. Little did I know that a lot of those simple ideas were far far beyond what I would ever be able to figure out on my own. Yet, I plugged away at it endlessly until I hit points that I just could not figure out: “Why is the lighting shifting when I add this pointlight here, but not here?!”, “How come this wall is transparent from this side, but not the other?!”(Normals where a new thing to me), “Why is it giving me errors when I try to spawn a bot?!”, the list goes on.

It was around this point that I decided to scrap the whole initial plan entirely, I needed to do something I understood right out of the gate, while keeping the learning end of it as simple as possible. What turned out was the 0.1 version of the level you currently see in the YouTube video I’ve posted. To put it simply, just about everything that is in the current version was in the 0.1, with some simple changes such as no proper grass material, no “god rays”, ect.

Now, as I moved on with the level, trying to implement some changes to make things much more believable became quite the problem. I hadn’t learned how to properly plan development, and as such the stability of my level fell through the floor; whenever I tried to add a new terrain material, change some figures in the lighting or an other major change, everything would crash. After a few days of trying and trying again only to have the same issue come up, it became clear I’d have to start over again. As such, I noted the locations and set-up of every mesh and terrain and started over from scratch.

It was around this time that I came across the 3DBuzz tutorials, these things would quickly teach me concepts that I never would have figured out on my own, as well as some strong development fundamentals, such as ordering what elements should be focused on first, which led to my final version.

To wrap it up, the learning experience with this project was very similar to the RedKnight: design within your own knowledge, know when something may be out of reach or beyond your skill level. And if you want to go that extra distance, take advantage of the resources before you dive head-first into the unknown. Should you feel you are unsure of your own skills, do as I just mentioned and take advantage of the resources you can and see how your knowledge compares to what they have to offer. Having this mindset from the get-go will save you a lot of wasted time and frustration.


What I did right

  • Start development with what I knew, to keep the scope in focus.
  • Taking advantage of the resources available to me. I can’t stress enough how much those tutorials helped me.
  • Restarting from scratch. Though I ended up having to restart one too many times, I was still able to get something out of it in a reasonable amount of time.

What I did wrong

  • Not tapping into the previously mentioned resources soon enough. Look up this info as soon as it comes into question, it’ll save tonnes of time.
  • Not enough pre-planning. Much of the final level design I came up with as I went and found where my limitations are as a junior developer. This may have worked here, but it sure as hell will not for any future projects.
  • Distractions. Since this was my first proper project I was jumping all over the place, deciding suddenly that I wanted this material here, that mesh there, and it made a jumble out of m development cycle, slowing it down considerably.