Midgard Saga | UDK

Development Info

  • Role: Level Designer/World Builder
  • Team Size: 15
  • Genre: Turn Based-Tactics RPG
  • Engine: UDK
  • Development Time: 5 Months

Game Info

  • Radial Movement System
  • 4 Unique Hero Characters
  • Skill Selection for Each Hero
  • Orchestrated Soundtrack
  • Five levels, each a different environment steeped in Norse Mythology

 

 

Game Summary

Midgard Saga is an isometric tactical role playing game with radial movement. Based loosely on Norse mythology, players control a group of four vikings on their quest as they climb from the mortal realm, Midgard, to the realm of the gods, Asgard.  Featuring five unique environments, each with a different challenge, and four characters with 25 unique abilities, Midgard Saga boasts significant replay value as players find new strategies with each playthrough.

Contributions

  • Created and decorated multiple visually distinct fantasy environments, ranging from a tavern to the Gates of Asgard
  • Lit every playable level
  • Assisted in creation and modification of particle systems, materials, and meshes
  • Assisted in game balance/conception

Goals

  • Create a fun, Viking Themed, Tactics game
  • Facilitate replay value with multiple character builds
  • Have fun while creating something we all enjoy playing

 

 


World Building and Level Design on Midgard Saga

Designing maps and decorating them was a unique challenge on Midgard Saga.  It was my first isometric style game, and I had never worked with a fixed camera angle before.  For every other game I've worked on, the scenes and play spaces had to be 100 percent decorated and sealed.  Changing my design paradigms to fit the fixed camera angle was difficult at first, but proved to be an interesting challenge.

My world building talents were tested when we decided to do 5 unique environments for the game, one for each level.  While I did not build every map wholesale, I contributed greatly to each one, and immediately found my favorites and grew to loathe others.  For example, I now understand why there are very few games that feature playable levels in the boughs of trees.  Creating believable and playable areas that are seemingly organic and wild is incredibly time consuming and difficult.  We redesigned the level that takes place in Yggdrasil four times due to this and other reasons.

Another particular challenge was switching gears from wildly differing environments, like going from the Gates of Asgard back to the Tavern or the Temple of Odin.  I had to switch from big, epic set pieces to understated modularity.  It was a great training tool, but for the first few months of development it was very difficult.

As we neared the middle and end of development, I got the opportunity to use the material and particle editors for a few levels, greatly expanding my abilities in Unreal.  Understanding the power of material instance constants is more empowering than I'd have thought in the past.

Lighting was something I'd dabbled in in previous projects and games, getting a cursory understanding in the process, but after my time lighting every single level of Midgard Saga, I understood lighting dramatically better.  I never would have known the answer to a shadow problem had I not figured it out in the level previous.

Working with other designers working in the environment was a new experience for me as well.  My team was very good at what they did and often inspired me to go in one direction or another and I inspired them back.  I really feel that we made the best environment that we could have for Midgard Saga, and am deeply proud of our accomplishments.


Lessons Learned

  • Always listen to someone who has an idea; it may be much better than yours
  • Remember to walk away from a project for a little while to come back to it fresh
  • A different environment for each level is ambitious
  • Don't get stuck in your own ways; you must always be learning
  • There is no better way of learning something than to do it yourself