Man vs. Dinosaur Action Brings Unreal Thunder to Multiplayer Battles

By Dana Cowley

Pitting humans against dinosaurs in an all-out battle royale is no minor task for a small virtual team, so when indie outfit Lukewarm Media began work on their multiplayer first-person shooter Primal Carnage, they needed an efficient, high-performance development toolset more than anything else. The team turned to Epic’s industry-leading Unreal Engine 3.

“For a small studio without a lot of manpower, efficiency is key,” said Ashton Andersen, founder and lead designer of Lukewarm. “There is no doubt that the Unreal Engine 3 toolset is amazingly powerful, and while there are other engines out there with similar function, Unreal technology allows you to work extremely efficiently.”

“The ability to iterate quickly and get builds out to our QA testers in a timely manner definitely had a direct impact on the amazing balance we were able to achieve with Primal Carnage,” he continued, going on to cite the Unreal Engine’s multiplayer code as another major reason for choosing Epic’s technology. “UE3’s netcode has been proven with some of the biggest multiplayer titles in gaming history, and we could only accept the best for Primal Carnage.”

Primal Carnage

The team also found the Unreal Landscape terrain system and foliage editor to be incredibly useful. "We wanted to create a wide variety of indoor and outdoor environments," said Andersen, "and Unreal allowed us to deliver exactly that with great performance all around. The foliage toolset also allowed us to quickly populate our world and fill it with dense plant life with a simple brushstroke.” 

Primal Carnage - Launch Trailer

Not only did Landscape systems add verisimilitude, but opened up unexpected gameplay benefits. “The ability to make the foliage interactive added a whole new dynamic to Primal Carnage. Moving near plants actually gives away your enemy’s position, allowing you to use the environment to your advantage,” he said.

The documentation and support on the Unreal Developer Network (UDN) also helped the team jumpstart cool new game engine features without spending a lot of time figuring out how to make things happen. Andersen explained, “One of the best things about Unreal Engine technology is the documentation. Nearly every feature is documented down to the most finite of details on UDN. Whenever we need to add that extra level of awesomeness to our game, whether it’s interactive foliage, hilarious ragdolls, or post-process effects, UDN has the information we need to get the ball rolling.”

It's still a bit early for final impressions on Unreal Engine 4, but Andersen reports that the team's initial impression is, "Unreal Engine 4 is freaking amazing." The revamped and customizable UI provide only the options developers need, he said, while the new lighting and Blueprint system make prototyping easy and intuitive, even for non-programmers. “I honestly can't say enough good things about it, and I can't wait to see what the next generation of games powered by the Unreal Engine will bring to the table.”

Thanks to Ashton Andersen and Lukewarm Media for providing their comments. Watch out for more Primal Carnage updates at http://www.primalcarnage.com and follow @AshtonAndersen.

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