When Torn Banner Studios wanted to make a game that supported their vision of intricate melee combat in a multiplayer setting, they turned to Epic's Unreal Development Kit (UDK). The powerful Unreal Engine 3 toolset and generous payment structure is allowing them to make the game of their dreams.
“We came from the Source Engine,” said studio president Steve Piggott. “Our team actually started from a popular _Half Life 2_ mod named Age of Chivalry.”
Piggott explained that using UDK allows Torn Banner to stay on the cutting edge of visual technology because it is updated on a monthly basis. “Instead of developing a game with an engine for two years and then releasing that game with two-year-old technology, developers have the opportunity to launch with the latest version and keep updating it even after release. That's a really powerful thing.”
But it's never easy to switch engines in the game development process. A team learns to develop things a certain way, and changing game engines midstream can impede whatever progress has been made. Torn Banner found that the change to developing with UDK went very smoothly.
“The interface is very easy to learn and much more efficient to use than other game engines once you know what you are doing,” said Piggott. “We've been able to accomplish things with our levels that we would never have been able to do in another engine – and faster, as well.”
UDK is especially friendly to new users because it comes with a wide array of toolsets that are designed to make game development faster and easier without losing any of the power needed for high-end game creation. Piggott is especially fond of Unreal Kismet "Unreal Kismet").
“I couldn't imagine making a game without it now – a true lifesaver. Having a visual scripting language like that allows you to troubleshoot and navigate any issues really quickly.”
The more cinematic moments in _Chivalry: Medieval Warfare_ are credited to the team's experience with Unreal Matinee, another favorite tool.
But many of the real benefits of using UDK are found far from the designer's desk. The business relationship between Epic and its partners is very important, and Torn Banner Studios is grateful for how seriously Epic takes these partnerships.
“Epic Games is great to work with; they are very friendly and open with the community in a way that you just don't get with other companies,” Piggott continued. “I think they are a true example that a big company can still have a lot of heart and they really do. These guys are out to genuinely help you and they care, which makes a big difference.”
“The amount of documentation provided on the UDN is crazy. Any time you run into a roadblock in production or development, the answers are there for you in helpful step-by-step guides. There is a lot less fumbling through the dark with UDK because it’s backed by Epic Games. They've made it easy to use and they support their community.”
UDK’s royalty-based payment structure, Piggott explained, is a boon to smaller studios, since it helps offset a lot of the financial risk in game development and reduces the barriers to entry that prevent so many creative people from seeing their vision bloom on the screen.
“With _Chivalry: Medieval Warfare_, we're making the game of our dreams, we're making the best melee combat game ever made, and UDK is allowing us to pursue that dream. And I think that you will continue to see a wave of developers flocking to Unreal Engine technology in pursuit of their dreams, as well.”