Action Square aims beyond Action RPGs with sci-fi mobile shooter Gigantic X
Action Square’s fourth project, Gigantic X, is a top-down, sci-fi shooter that takes place in space. It’s important to note that top-down shooter action games are nearly non-existent in the Korean market. While commercially successful sci-fi movies and games are prevalent around the world, sci-fi themed games in the Korean market are generally unprofitable and the track record of unsuccessful launches deters studios from developing these games. This exemplifies the fact that Gigantic X was a risky and ambitious project for the Korean developer.
Eventually, Action Square’s hard work paid off, however, and Gigantic X soft-launched in Singapore and Australia last April. There were two key takeaways from this process. The first takeaway was that while demand may be limited, a niche demand actually exists. Secondly, the studio gained affirmation that if they infused the fun factor of shooters with the mobile platform, they could expand beyond their niche demand and attract general users.
The dev team’s programmers and artists were already familiar with UE4, which made the initial engine-choosing process easy. It also helped provide the look for the Gigantic X’s enhanced suits and heavy metal material assets featured throughout the game’s sci-fi theme.
Gigantic X’s universe is set in an era of space exploration, where military enterprises advance into space following the discovery of valuable resources, but are met with fierce resistance from alien creatures. To deal with the issue, the enterprises hire mercenaries to wipe out the alien creatures. Gamers play as a hero mercenary who must form a squad to take out this threat.
In order to implement Gigantic X’s core value of “having fun together,” Action Square strived to create a game that offers variety, enabling players to combine different elements and to create diverse ways of enjoying the experience.
To create the game’s variety, for the first part of their endeavors, the studio focused on developing several main characters with their own unique backstories and personalities coupled with various armor, weapons, and item-specific skills.
There are three heroes in Gigantic X. Each of them has their own unique fighting styles, share a general growth system, and can be swapped out at any time depending on the player’s needs or preferences.
For instance, legendary space mercenary Scardy uses rifles to take down enemies at long range and shotguns for enemies up-close. He delivers a shoot-and-hide gameplay experience that is common in shooter games.
Titan, the champion of the underground arena where challengers dual alien creatures to the death, is physically stronger than monsters and doesn’t use guns. He can crush nearby enemies in a single blow with his battle axe and eliminate foes with powerful barrage attacks and combos using his gauntlet.
Rhea uses an enormous cannon to blast away alien creatures and summons various droids to annihilate her opponents. Using powerful cannons and handguns with different support skills as her weapons, Rhea is especially fun to play in multiplayer.
There are more than 30 armor sets and 40 weapons in Gigantic X. All armor is available as a set, and combining different sets can activate various armor-set effects. Weapons each have distinct skills. For instance, backpacks trigger a deathblow skill that wipes out opponents in a single strike, while greaves contain survival skills that enable players to survive in various situations.
When weapons and backpacks are equipped with certain armor sets, different skills will produce various synergies that not only enhance character stats, but also transform the battle style. Players can become a master of mines and exclusively eliminate enemies with explosives or become a dash master to dodge enemy attacks as they please. Also, by customizing the ultimate gear in the game, players can specialize their weapons according to their preference and create their own battle style.
The variety offered in this game really comes to life when players “combine” them. Raids, a hunt for giant alien monsters with three other players, represent the core content of Gigantic X. Separating itself from other mobile games that mimic raids, Gigantic X allows users to enjoy an authentic raid battle where players can identify the monster’s movement pattern, dodge attacks, and team up with other users while sharing skill synergies. In addition, there’s more competitive/co-op content available in the game. This includes the two-player ranking mode and a competitive mode with only one winner.
The core philosophy of “having fun together” links all this content together. Each hero has a different weapon preferences with disparate controls. They also produce different synergies depending on the combination choice. This means that strategizing against the same opponent requires a different approach according to the situation at hand.
Although the game facilitates numerous playstyles, players may not voluntarily infuse them together. Creating an environment where players must combine skills was therefore vital to the experience. Players will have to dodge dozens of rapid missiles and barrages that fill up the entire screen. They will have to install a shield at the right time or distract enemies. These situations are not limited to a single screen, but shared among fellow players to make the best possible call for the sake of the entire team. To this end, Unreal Engine’s dedicated servers were naturally the best choice.
The battle system was initially developed around the single-player mode and had to be modified to allow multiplayer within a short time period. Building a multiplayer battle server required features that extracted data from resources and the migration of various battle logic and Blueprint configurations from the existing client to the new server. The original base code was also incompatible with multiplayer, making the entire process incredibly daunting to the dev team.
After researching multiple solutions, the studio looked into Unreal Engine’s dedicated servers. After starting a dedicated server for a simple multi battle test, the team was able to confirm the server’s capabilities with a few trials. The entire process was not perfect out of the gate, but ultimately lead to the development of advanced multiplayer battles with relatively high efficiency, especially considering the time and effort that went into implementing all of the logic in the server.
The Action Square team was also able to produce great results on mobile using the same process as the PC platform, thanks to the physically based shading feature supported in Unreal Engine 4. In the same lighting environment, the look of the results drastically changed even with slight adjustments to the roughness and metallic values in the Material Editor, which helped the team preview early concepts.
As of July 29, 2019, Gigantic X is available on the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store across 150 countries.
For the latest news on Gigantic X, you can check out the game on Discord, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the game’s official website.