MOA - Multiplayer Offroad Action
Unreal Development Kit, 3dsMax, Photoshop
2010 - today
At its core, MOA is a capture the flag game with vehicles. Our approach to creating the game was to follow a clear set of guiding principles, such as to start with a small and manageable core game and feature set, that could be expanded uppon easily. We put the focus on encouraging teamwork and coordinated, tactical play, as well as creating a challenging and fun driving experience, where the efficent use of vehicle upgrades always depends on the players ability to control his vehicle.
MOA started as a 3rd semester project with a team of 2 Game Design students. The team grew over time, currently we are 3 Game Design students and 2 Computer Science students. After 3 semesters as an university project, we continued, and still continue, to develop the game in our free time, with the goal of releasing it eventually.
My role in MOA
I am the initiator of the project, and throughout development i served as the vision keeper for it.
Over time, i was responsible for many different tasks, that kept changing with the progress of the development and the evolving team structure.
Please have a look at the workflow example article describing in detail what i did
in my role as a Level Designer for MOA.
Game System Design
Game System Design involved many different subsystems to get the game to where it is. One of the main focus points was vehicle handling. Other examples are the function of the different upgrades, a scoring system that aims to encourage teamwork over solo play, the functionality of the HUD, menues, icons and other means of giving direct feedback to the player on the game situation and consequences of his actions. The spawning system, the rules for losing a flag, team sizes, halftimes for a match, and many other details are also important aspects.
Ballancing and finetuning all these subsystems through repeated iteration and testing has been the main work focus of MOA, and is an ongoing process.
Game System Design was always a team efford, involving meetings, discussions, and as much practical testing as we could. We used paper prototyping and ingame prototypes, and as a multiplayer game, we organised regular testing sessions with external testers where we collected feedback. For these sessions, i created questionnaires and conducted interviews with the testers. We also collected feedback from a broader public as we presented MOA on the anual exhibition of games created in the Game Design course of studies, called Game Space, as well as
Gamescom Cologne in 2011 and 2012, where we were an integral part of the booth of our course of studies, as well as of organising the entire matter.
One of the first tasks when we started the project was to chose an engine to work with. We were considering the Cryengine 2 or the Unreal Development Kit. I reviewed the tools and documentation for both, looking at aspects as
- Level editing tools, their ease of use, potential and limits
- 3D model and texture import and integration
- The vehicle systems, their ease of use, potential for customization and limits
- Programming and creating the basic game rules
This was not limited to reading the documentation, but i tested every step in practice. For example i created simple test vehicles, essentially a box with 4 cylinders, and went through all the steps needed to drive them in both engines.
We chose to work with the Unreal Engine, the main factor behind this decision was the vastly superior documentation of the codebase for the UDK, allowing me to create a first prototype during our first semester, that had the player spawn as a vehicle with a working suspension and take up, drop and score with the flag. That prototype convinced two very skilled Computer Science master students to join our team, and they took over all programming aspects.
I was still responsible for the entire pipeline of setting up vehicles, except for the coding aspects. That means setting up bones in 3dsMax, importing the skeletal mesh, creating the anim set and anim tree and the node network needed to animate all the moving parts, like the wheels and suspension.
Parallel to the development of MOA, i organised an UDK course together with another Game Design student, within the self organised learning course offered as part of our curriculum.
We covered various aspects of the UDK, such as the particle system, sound, kismet visual scripting, materials, and more.
I created the 3D models for the vehicles, upgrades and spawnpoints and unwrapped them. The vehicles are based on concept art by another game Design student, who i gave feedback on his designs and outlined to technical limits the designs would have to respect. The upgrades are based on a mixture of his concepts and my own ideas, and the spawnpoint is my own design. I also created prototype vehicle models before the concept art for our buggies was available, and provided feedback to our texturing artists when they started to work on the buggies.
I did visual research on technical aspects of vehicles, as well as possible colour shemes for our first level. I also regularly worked on documenting and presenting our project, for example at regular Milestone Presentations during a semester, and a written documentation on the project and my peronal work at the end of each project semester.