Image courtesy of Omeda Studios Limited

Why Paragon-fueled MOBA Predecessor shifted to Unreal Engine 5

Brian Crecente
Founder and CEO Robbie Singh started as a content creator on YouTube and Twitch, building a Discord community of over 42,000 members. Then he co-founded Omeda Studios, which has raised over $22.2 million in funding and is developing its first title, Predecessor.
Paragon was a multiplayer online battle arena packed with colorful, over-the-top characters powered by Unreal Engine 4 and an Epic Games’ design team that hit in 2016. Over the course of about two years, it went through a number of major overhauls, augmented by a steady stream of new, innovative characters, and design tweaks.

But then in 2018, the game was shut down. Typically, that would be the end of the story. But in a surprise move, Epic Games announced it was releasing all of the game’s assets–an estimated $17 million’s worth–for use by anyone to download for free via the Unreal Engine Marketplace.

A clutch of studios took advantage of the offer, but perhaps the most prominent among the bunch is Omeda Studios, which has raised more than $20 million in funding–including an Epic MegaGrant– to power the development of its cross-platform third-person multiplayer online battle arena Predecessor.

Studio founder and CEO Robbie Singh is quick to point out that Predecessor isn’t a remake, but rather a title designed to stand on its own, albeit with familiar characters. We chatted with Singh about the game’s development, slew of alpha tests, what to expect from the game when it hits, and the recent decision to shift to Unreal Engine 5.

How did you become interested in Paragon and what drove your decision to remake the game once it was shut down?
Robbie Singh, CEO and founder of Omeda Studios:
I became interested in Paragon early on when Epic released the Paragon announcement trailer with PlayStation. Having played MOBAs like League of Legends and Smite, I was blown away by how unique Paragon felt compared to traditional MOBAs and the fast-paced action along with the incredible visual fidelity really drew me in.
I wouldn’t say we’re “remaking” Paragon but we’re definitely inspired by it, as we are with other games. Naturally we are often compared to Paragon given that we’re using a lot of the assets and most of our team was a part of the Paragon community, but ultimately, our goal has always been to build a MOBA that we and more importantly, our community, want.
How important was Epic Game’s decision to release all of the original assets to your decision to try and create a Paragon-like game?
If Epic Games had not released the original assets it would have been an enormous task to build a game of this quality without significant resources. The assets allowed us to prototype quickly and iterate fast. We were able to play our first multiplayer session in less then six months.

On top of that, many of us had grown attached to the original Paragon cast and the chance to bring some of the characters back to life with our own unique spin or twist was an extremely exciting prospect.
Image courtesy of Omeda Studios Limited
How impactful was receiving the Epic MegaGrant to the plans for the game?
We were surprised how many doors the MegaGrant opened for us and to have support from Epic made a significant impact on our business. When we initially received the MegaGrant, we had not raised any capital, nor were we working full-time, but the grant inspired us and provided the first step to building a more solid foundation for the studio.

You later closed on a first round of funding for $2.2 million and announced a $20 million Series A this past June. How did that impact the game’s direction and development?
Our first round of funding changed everything. We went from a small group working on the game in our spare time to a studio with actual resources. The entire team was able to quit their jobs and focus full-time on the game and we were also able to secure additional talent in all areas.

The seed funding also allowed us to flex our creative muscles, something we weren’t able to do when we had to be concerned about time and resources. I think it’s extremely important to be able to try new things and take some risks, for the benefit of our people and for the game.

Our Series A has taken us to the next level. We are now fully funded far beyond the release of Predecessor, which has allowed us to ramp up investment in the game and continue to build a world class team (we’re hiring! See here for open roles). We cannot wait to get our game in the hands of our community very soon.
How have your initial plans and the game changed from the original Paragon over time?

One of the differences between Predecessor and Paragon is that we use a traditional MOBA item shop, something all players coming from other MOBAs will find familiar. We also wanted to increase accessibility for newer players, who often find the choice of items overwhelming, so we introduced auto-buy, which purchases the best items for your hero so players can focus purely on the moment-to-moment gameplay.

Alongside the traditional item shop is a crest system which allows players at the start of the game to purchase a powerful item that upgrades throughout the game into a unique active effect, ranging from rewinding time to the formation of icy dueling zones. The crest system is completely new to any MOBA and during our most recent alphas, we received overwhelmingly positive feedback from players.
Image courtesy of Omeda Studios Limited
Steve Superville, one of the key creatives behind Paragon while at Epic Games, joined the development as an advisor. What sort of impact has he had on the game’s direction and development?
As a young and passionate team, we’re full of ideas and want to try new things all the time. Steve has really helped us focus on the right things at the right time which is extremely important for a startup with limited resources. On top of that, Steve also makes sure that we challenge ourselves to push the boundaries of what is possible – especially in a space where we feel there has been very little innovation and the possibilities are just waiting to be explored. His passion for the project is very inspiring and we feel lucky to have him on board.

What sort of lessons have you learned from the closed alphas you’ve conducted?

Every alpha we have done has been an incredible learning experience. Some went better than others but we are fortunate to have such a passionate community filled with people who genuinely care about the game we are building and support us every step of the way.

We have learned a lot from our players about how they want the game to feel and what features matter most to them. The Crest system I mentioned earlier is a perfect example of something that came out of one of the closed alphas. We started with a very limited selection of Crests and as players shared their excitement for this system, we doubled down and began expanding on it, adding a variety of more effects with more still to come.

On the flip side, we reworked a hero called Howitzer to give him the ability to fly for an extended period of time with the goal being to take advantage of the 3D aspect of the game. Unfortunately, here we missed the mark. In an attempt to balance the hero, we limited his actions that resulted in the hero feeling quite clunky and therefore while players were initially excited by his changes, eventually the clunkiness in his kit meant players were turning away from this hero. This was an extremely important lesson for us about what our players expect from heroes in the way they play and feel. We have since refined Howitzer and in our internal playtests, the results have been even better than anticipated.
Unreal Engine has evolved quite a bit since 2016 when Early Access on the original Paragon went live. How has the Unreal Engine’s evolution impacted the game’s look and feel?
We have found that the evolution of the Unreal Engine has helped us tremendously with the game’s look and feel. There have been a variety of features that we’ve taken advantage of, from animation plugins to the Gameplay Ability System that will directly improve the player's experience of Predecessor. As a studio, we’ve also been able to take advantage of the workflow improvements that Unreal Engine has made so that we are able to ship quickly and effectively once we go live—something that is extremely important for any game as a service.

The studio recently made the decision to shift the game to Unreal Engine 5. What made you decide to take that leap?
A lot of exciting technology was unveiled with Unreal Engine 5 that the team is keen to get their hands on and start integrating with Predecessor, but our immediate goal is to get Predecessor in as many hands as possible as quickly as possible. Having said that, we are making a game that we believe will be around for at least a decade, if not longer, so we felt moving to Unreal Engine 5 would help future proof our development.
How does that impact the timing of the game’s Early Access and release?
The transition from UE4 to UE5 didn’t impact the timing of our Early Access as we managed to keep the team working on UE4 while one of our senior tools engineers made the transition and fixed up any major issues. Once the majority of issues were solved, we moved everyone else over with very little difficulty and were able to pick up where we left off.
Image courtesy of Omeda Studios Limited
Can you tell us anything about when Early Access will go live and what you expect it to include?

Early Access is scheduled for release in 2022. We are not ready to share a specific date yet, but once players dive into Early Access, they can expect to see at least 20 heroes with more shipping throughout Early Access along with a traditional 5v5 game mode.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Where can people find out more about Omeda Studios and Predecessor?

You can find out more about Predecessor on our website or by joining our community of over 50 thousand members on Discord.

    Get Unreal Engine today!

    Get the world’s most open and advanced creation tool.
    With every feature and full source code access included, Unreal Engine comes fully loaded out of the box.