Holospark’s Earthfall Brings Innovation to the Co-op Shooter Genre

After being kicked into high gear with the release and subsequent rabid fan base of Left 4 Dead, the four-player co-op shooter genre has seen little in the way of new games over the past few years. Bursting onto the scene in Early Access in April of 2017, Earthfall hopes to recreate and innovate on the magic Valve delivered way back in 2008.

Taking place in the not-too-distant future of 2031, players will be tasked with defending the lush environments of the Pacific Northwest against a violent alien invasion. Perhaps not as mindless as they seem at first, the alien invaders won’t go down too easy, but Earthfall will provide players with the firepower they need to mount their offense. Using the power of Unreal Engine 4’s development suite, Holospark has created enemies that smartly adapt to not only each player but the team dynamic as a whole, creating an experience like no other.

Now, coming out of Early Access and launching on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Earthfall is poised to fill that void created by Left 4 Dead’s long absence from the gaming scene. We recently took some time to chat with Holospark CEO, Russell Williams, as the growing developer filled us in on their thoughts about working with Unreal Engine 4 and protecting the human race from alien devastation.
 

Tell us a little bit about Holospark and how this highly experienced team came together?

Holospark is an independent video game developer in the Seattle area. We have two teams, one focusing on Earthfall, our four-player co-op shooter, and a smaller team working on VR projects.

Built from a core team of experienced developers that previously worked together we broke off looking to create something new and exciting on our own. After setting the studio up and working on some ideas, we decided we all loved co-op shooters and started building Earthfall in 2016.

Over the last two years, we have expanded to our current staff of 37. Many of these developers bring their extensive background working on dozens of projects including multiple award-winning titles. Holospark also has a great relationship with some of the local schools in the area allowing us to recruit an entirely new group of developers who are immensely talented and hungry to make an impact.

Aside from it being your own backyard, what is it about the Pacific Northwest that made it the ideal setting for your alien invasion story?

The Pacific Northwest is a gorgeous, moody environment perfect for spooky woods where aliens can come out at you from every turn. It feels both open and isolated at the same time, with small towns up in the Cascade Mountain Range that are perfect for desperate holdouts, alongside industrial mining operations and wood mills for varied locales.

For us, the Pacific Northwest is iconic and the visuals immediately root you in a distinct, recognizable, mysterious world.

Speaking of the Pacific Northwest, it is a very beautiful and lush environment, to say the least. Were there any specific tools in Unreal Engine 4 that really benefited the team in creating this stunning backdrop?

The landscape and foliage systems were both used extensively in the creation of our levels. The landscape system has many features that allowed us a lot of flexibility in the creation and editing of our terrain mesh. In some cases, we sculpted terrain by hand, while in other cases, we used a third party software to create height maps. In either case, they were easily modified with the sculpting tools provided if a revision was necessary. This flexibility also extended to the painting of materials on the landscape.  
 
The foliage system was another tool with immense flexibility. It allowed us to quickly place large amounts of foliage with ease but also provided functionality that allowed us to tweak individual foliage assets when needed. Again, as revisions were needed in the development process, the tool allowed us to replace assets that are used across a map with a few easy steps.
 
In addition to providing a great workflow, both of these systems provided us with many avenues for optimizing our performance. The landscape tools offer ways to adjust LOD’ing the entire landscape or portions of it. The foliage tool provides a variety of tools to aid in optimization including distance culling by foliage type.
 
These systems were invaluable to our process, and definitely made our lives easier!

Inevitably, Earthfall is going to see some comparisons to the Left 4 Dead series. How did you use that inspiration and twist it around to make Earthfall truly unique?

First, we started this project because we were huge fans of Left 4 Dead, so we had a very strong vision in mind when we started designing the game. But when you go back and play Left 4 Dead, it’s missing 10 years of innovation in the shooter genre! So we were more guided by our memories of Left 4 Dead than the actual game. The result of that is something that is completely new and yet instantly recognizable.

Beyond the basic gameplay, we also changed the setting, moving from a present-day zombie outbreak to an alien invasion in 2031. We did this because we’re hoping to be evolving Earthfall into the future, and for that, we needed an enemy to evolve with it. While the aliens start as ravenous, mindless creatures, you’ll find out there’s more to them as you play, and we’re looking forward to telling that story as we introduce new aliens for you to fight, and new weapons to fight them with. 

Earthfall is a high-intensity action game, but if you keep your eyes open, you’ll see clues in the environments as to what’s coming in the game, and as you unlock lore items in the game, you’ll uncover the backstory of the world and the aliens.

Finally, there are lots of moments when the players are just trying to hold out and survive, and we wanted to give them some interesting tools to define and control the battlefield. Being set in the future, we have auto-turrets that can watch your six, mounted guns you can man to mow down the enemy, and deployable fences to barricade off areas and channel the aliens into kill zones. You can even upgrade the fences with propane tanks to make flaming death traps, or arc grenades to electrify them.

The alien enemies in the game are dynamically generated but how much of their behavior dynamically adapts to players’ play patterns?

We have a number of ways that the AIs modify their behavior to encourage teamwork and keep players engaged. For example, some of the AIs will intentionally focus on a player who’s straying from the group, so if you’re a lone wolf, you’ll want to keep alert! Others will focus on players that haven’t had much action in a while. Some AIs will attack a target with singular determination while others can be drawn away by a teammate. The AIs will change their aggression depending on the overall group’s progress, so if the group is tearing through a level with guns blazing, they’ll quickly draw the attention of nearby enemies. On the other hand, if a group is moving very slowly, some of the AIs might be dispatched to hunt the group and prod them along. This all ties back into the AI Director, which is constantly striving to create a steady ebb and flow of intensity for the group. 

Continuing with the enemies, not only are they terrifying to look at, they come at you in absolutely insane numbers. How did Unreal Engine 4 help you bring these aliens to life exactly how you wanted them to be?

Unreal Engine 4 comes with a number of built-in systems that we were able to leverage to get things running at a high level very quickly. This allowed us to focus on the actual AI and gameplay very early on. Blueprints, in particular, were invaluable for prototyping. 

We make extensive use of the built-in navigation system. This includes dynamic navigation mesh modification, path-finding, support for multiple agents, path filtering, and even AI movement. For the actual AI logic, we make use of Unreal’s perception, behavior tree, and Environment Query systems. These systems tie into very powerful debugging tools such as the visual debugger and gameplay debugger. This was a huge help in refining AI behavior and identifying and fixing issues that arose. We were then able to build on these systems and tools to deliver game-specific functionality.  

For animation, we use a combination of animation Blueprints and montages. These tools help us bridge the gap between raw animation and the AI system to deliver a compelling performance.

Earthfall has a diverse cast of characters. What brought these four together and how important was it to Holospark to bring that diversity to the table?

When we started thinking about our characters, we started off by thinking about Seattle archetypes and building our characters from there. We didn’t start off to make a statement as much as we were focused on telling a great story with memorable characters. It’ll be nice when the day comes that having different races and ethnicities isn’t exceptional and that people view the story on its own merits.

3D printed weapons! While that alone is a pretty fun mechanic, how do you develop that in-game and are there any surprises awaiting players as they advance through the campaign?

From the beginning, we knew that we wanted to set the game in the future so we could give new capabilities to the players, and the 3D printer was a natural fit. It gives us some natural objectives in the game world (“get the power back on to get the printer working to print those sweet weapons!”) and good checkpoints to resupply your weapons.

In the game, you’re exposed to the printers as just an expected part of the world, but you’ll find some info into why they work the way they do. We’re looking forward to expanding their operation in the future!

What advice you would give as experienced developers to someone who is in the beginning stages of learning Unreal Engine?

Unreal is amazingly accessible. First of all, it’s free, so there’s no cost barrier to jumping in and getting started! Second, it comes with great tutorials that take you through the basics, and sample games that will really show you how everything works in a functional and practical manner. Beyond what comes with the engine, there’s a staggering amount of information on the web to help you learn Unreal Engine. With so many developers using the engine, there are countless “how to” videos on Youtube on almost every aspect of the engine and tons of in-depth articles to read on sites like 80.lvl. It has never been easier to jump into game development.

Where are all the places people can go to learn more about Earthfall?

You can go to www.earthfall.com, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unreal Engine caught up with Holospark during E3 2018 to learn more about Earthfall. You can watch the video interview below.

 

Unreal Engine Drives Monster Puppet for The Mill and Monster.com

When employment website Monster.com needed a new commercial spot, they hired The Mill, an international VFX and creative house with countless commercials to their credit. The spot features a giant, purple, hairy monster who rescues an unhappy employee and carries her, King-Kong style, to a new employment situation. The 1:30 spot, called Opportunity Roars, garnered numerous accolades for The Mill including a Cannes Lion Award for Visual Effects.
 

Award-winning commercial for Monster.com, “Opportunity Roars”

 
But there was little time for The Mill to rest on their laurels. After the success of that spot, Monster.com came back to the production house with a request for more than two dozen 15-second animated spots featuring the purple monster. 

The only problem was the turnaround time—a mere three weeks.

While The Mill used traditional techniques to produce the original commercial, this workflow wasn’t an option for such a short time frame. “What do you do with that?” says Boo Wong, Group Director of Emerging Technology at The Mill. “We realized there was no way to go down the traditional route.”
 

A faster way to animate: real-time motion capture and rendering 

That’s when The Mill came up with a clever solution: they would use a Leap Motion system to control the monster with finger motions, a kind of virtual puppeteering. The motions would drive the rig and generate real-time finished output of the monster, purple fur and all, with Unreal Engine.

Using the Leap Motion system to drive the rig  
 

“We pitched it to Monster.com, and they were blown away by the capabilities,” says Jeffrey Dates, Creative Director at The Mill. 

The team quickly put together a system and brought in the agency and clients for a live puppeteering and recording session. “They would give us notes on animation in real time,” says Dates. “As fast as they could say it, we then would make these adjustments and re-perform the next take.”

Performing live takes with finger motions and Unreal Engine
 
For the output, The Mill set up real-time post effects in Unreal Engine that encompassed everything they would typically do to finish a shot. As a result, the animation recorded in real time was ready for use without further processing. “The entire animation pipeline was happening in that span of just a few minutes,” says Dates.

“The client walked away with hours of finished quality work, basically final pixels,” says Joji Tsuruga, Real-time Supervisor at The Mill. The monster animation was used in videos for social media such as Touchdown Dance and Meet Your Purple Fuzzy Career Coach on Monster.com’s Facebook page.

The process set a new bar for character animation output. “It’s really unheard of in animation to get multiple takes of a performance,” says Wong. “For an editor to basically walk away with selects, was really groundbreaking.”

Exploring the future with real-time rendering

Inspired by the success of the Monster.com project, The Mill sees real-time animation as an important new paradigm. “Integrating game engines into your production workflow is critical,” says Wong. “It’s essential in storytelling today.”

A few of the many monster motions generated in real time with Unreal Engine
 
They also recognize the practical aspect of real-time rendering with Unreal Engine for short turnaround times. “This project answers the question, how can we generate a lot of animation cost-effectively for social media?” says Dates. “I’m not rendering, I’m not watching it render.

“Now, it’s more like experimenting. I want to do it and do it fast and have fun doing it.”

Making your own animation magic

Want to try out real-time rendering for your own projects? Join the Unreal Studio beta today and start creating!
 

Drive Studio Uses Unreal to Score Big for FOX Sports’ 2018 FIFA World Cup Broadcast

If you’ve been tuning in to the 2018 FIFA World Cup on FOX Sports, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the network’s stunning on-air graphics package featuring Moscow’s iconic Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral. Southern California-based Drive Studio leverage…

Epic Announces Unreal Engine Marketplace 88% / 12% Revenue Share

Epic Games has announced a sweeping change to the Unreal Engine Marketplace, whereby creators on the store will now receive 88% of their product sales, an increase from the common 70% / 30% split of other digital stores.

The Unreal Engine Marketplace is a store targeting the Unreal Engine community, and enabling game developers to purchase digital content sold by 3D modelers, digital artists, sound designers, programmers and animators, and use those assets in their own projects. Many successful UE4-powered games, such as ARK: Survival Evolved and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds made use of Marketplace content in their development.

This new 88% (developer) / 12% (store) revenue split applies to all Unreal Engine Marketplace transactions past, present and future. In addition to implementing the policy for future sales, Epic is paying out all Marketplace sellers retroactively, applying the more creator-friendly 88% rate to previous transactions dating back to the store’s 2014 launch. 

“Thanks to both the Marketplace’s growth and the success of Fortnite, Epic now conducts a huge volume of digital commerce,” said Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic. “The resulting economies of scale enable us to pass the savings along to the Unreal Engine Marketplace community, while also making a healthy profit for Epic.”

The Unreal Engine ecosystem is growing faster than ever, with Epic confirming:

  • As of July 2018, more than 6.3 million users have chosen Unreal Engine 4, an increase of more than 1 million users since March.
  • In the first half of 2018, the Unreal Engine Marketplace experienced 30% growth in active sellers. There are now over 1,500 creators offering more than 5,000 curated products on the Marketplace. 
  • There have been nearly 8 million downloads from the Marketplace since the store’s launch in 2014.
  • There have been more than 1 million downloads of the free Paragon assets to date, representing $300 billion in total value to the development community. 

We reached out to a few Marketplace sellers to brief them on today’s news in advance and to get their feedback. Here’s what they had to say.

“This is unreal. It’s a really wonderful day for all people using the Unreal Engine Marketplace. Now all involved artists, modelers, animators, programmers and other Unreal developers will be a bit happier, find it easier to live and invest more in their own dream projects and make more high-quality assets and plugins for others,” said Dmitry Smirnov, VEA Games. 

Caption: See VEA Games Ultimate River Tool in action

“I remember the moment when Unreal Engine became free,” he said. “It was a great event for the whole community of game developers and all the people who love games. And this moment is comparable and somewhat surpasses it. Epic Games is a company that every year surprises and creates an environment for people where it is pleasant to create and work.”

“Epic has proven time and time again that they do what they can to do right by the sellers on the platform,” said Michael Allar, director of Gamemakin LLC. “This is something that many sellers lose sight of, regardless of engine or platform, when working with marketplaces day to day.” 
 
“It is incredibly refreshing and even inspiring when a giant like Epic is able to move forward with such a strong move that will not just help sellers on the Unreal Engine Marketplace but should eventually ripple to all sellers of all game assets around the world,” he said. “There are still many challenges that game development marketplace sellers face, but finally, we can rejoice that one of our biggest obstacles for self-sustainability has been knocked down with such force.”

“The new revenue split is amazing, and retroactively paying this back is not only generous, it’s just down right magnificent,” said Mike Clephane, director of Synty Studios, whose co-director, Andrew Stairs, added, “It’s humbling that a company as big as Epic is giving back to the little guy in such a huge way. Thank you, this is truly Epic!”

Thanks to all of our Marketplace creators for being valuable members of the Unreal Engine community. We wish you continued success and can’t wait to see what you build next.
 

Exploring a Unique Approach to Story and Gameplay in Daedalic’s ‘State of Mind’

The ever-increasing role of technology in our daily lives has dramatically altered how we function as a society. To some, it is at the core of our advancement towards a highly-optimized and universally beneficial utopia. To others, an over-reliance on technology means a compromised future and, perhaps, a threat to humanity for all.
 
These possibilities are usually tackled from the broader perspective of society as a whole, but the team at Daedalic is more interested in how they can potentially impact us on an individual level. In State of Mind, you experience a dystopian future through the eyes of lead character Richard Nolan as you embark on a quest to put the fragmented pieces of your existence back together.
 
While State of Mind’s distinct visual style has allowed it to become instantly recognizable, what exactly players can expect from this unique experience in terms of story and gameplay has remained somewhat of a mystery throughout development.
 
I recently caught up with State of Mind’s author, Martin Ganteföhr of Daedalic, to discuss these aspects of State of Mind and to find out more about the role Unreal Engine has played in bringing the project to life.

Thanks for joining me, Martin! State of Mind certainly has an interesting premise. Can you please give us an overview of the game’s story and what inspired your team to create it?
 
Yes, but without spoiling too much. 🙂 State of Mind is a high-tech thriller game on the subject of transhumanism. It is set in the year 2048, and it tells the story of Berlin-based journalist and father Richard Nolan. Early on in the game, Richard finds himself in a dire situation after a serious accident. He has memory problems, his wife and son have gone missing, his career is collapsing – he is literally a broken man. But, as it soon becomes apparent, Richard’s situation isn’t just a result of unfortunate circumstances. It isn’t fate that has conspired against him. Something fundamentally more unsettling is going on. Upon realizing this, Richard sets out on a dramatic journey to reunite with his family, to put himself back together, and to find the truth. To do so, he must find out what happened to him and why.
 
As far as inspiration goes, my main sources are certainly the theories and predictions made by transhumanist writers and thinkers. It’s probably safe to say that transhumanism has become the most influential belief system in the high-tech circles of the Silicon Valley. Some fantastically escapist and utopian ideas rest on the belief in exponential, radical developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, nanotech, and bio-engineering. It’s a tempting, alluring future for sure, predicted and pursued by some of the smartest, richest and most influential people on the planet. So, what could possibly go wrong? That is the game’s inciting question.

The game takes place in Berlin during the year 2048? Why Berlin? Is there something specific about the city that influenced the setting for State of Mind?
 
I wanted the game to play out in a major city because I think that’s where all future developments regarding technology and society will have the biggest impact. You can clearly see today that more and more people are living in cities, while smaller villages and rural areas are being abandoned. Almost every country has big cities or areas where changes are happening quicker, where technology gets adapted sooner, where start-ups disrupt the status quo earlier. For me, living in Germany and with Daedalic as a German developer and publisher, it was pretty obvious to choose Berlin since it is close to us. We know it and we can be authentic when we tell a story playing out there. Also, maybe more importantly, Berlin is interesting as a place supporting the game’s underlying theme. Berlin has a history as a divided city, with all the personal and political drama that’s been brought about. In the game, there’s the lead character’s story about dividedness (Richard’s split self, his broken family). And then, obviously, there’s the dividedness of the two game worlds.

So, yeah, Berlin seemed to be a perfect fit on many levels.

What can you tell us about the main character, Richard Nolan, and his motivations as both a journalist and individual looking to survive a world torn by dystopian reality and digital utopia?
 
Richard’s central motivation is certainly that of “putting himself and his life back together.” His life is lying in shards at the beginning of the game and putting the pieces back together is his strongest desire. To that extent, Richard’s profession is actually very much connected to his personal journey. Piecing together a story from researched fragments, revealing a bigger picture, finding the truth – that’s what he’d been doing as a journalist, and that is exactly what the players will be doing together with him in-game.
 
On a more abstract level, I feel that Richard’s crisis as both a person and a journalist is also a reflection of the world around him. Where the very concept of “reality” is in dissolution, where there’s alternative worlds, and alternative forms of existence, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find, or even define, “the truth.”

State of Mind has a gorgeous, unique art style that makes the game instantly recognizable. Did you start with this approach to the art style or did it evolve from various iterations?
 
Getting to the point where the art style looks as it does now was a longer process of course. We tried several different concepts and a lot of drafts ended up in the trash. I think that’s totally normal for almost any visual project. Right from the beginning it was clear that we didn’t want State of Mind to have a super-realistic look. We are not saying “this is what the world will be like in 2048.” The game is offering one possible scenario. The art style is supporting that with the semi-realistic look. Also, the story of the game is dealing with characters who are searching for something; they have questions and they are split up between their own reality and a virtual utopia. The fragmented look of the characters symbolizes that conflict between both worlds and the inner fights people fight in that scenario. Ultimately, this is a game about fragmentation and shards, and the sharded look reflects that well, I think.
 
Let’s talk about the gameplay. What will players actually be doing from moment to moment in State of Mind?
 
That’s not so easy to explain. State of Mind is a sci-fi thriller. It has a whole variety of gameplay elements, but the strongest element is probably investigative gameplay. Players must discover what happened to Richard and his family, and they will do so by engaging in dialogue, using items, operating tools and devices, and occasionally switching between different characters. First and foremost, we’re aiming to put you on an emotional journey, with dramatic moments that you didn’t see coming and gameplay tasks that you didn’t anticipate. To that extent, the game’s central puzzle lies in its narrative.

Are there any unique gameplay elements or mechanics that State of Mind is bringing to the action/adventure genre?
 
It is unique in the way we try to tell the story. You are playing in two worlds with six characters, and two of them need to team up to discover the truth about the past and future. Richard’s core objective of “putting himself together” is actually reflected by the game’s structure. It is a fragmented story, one with multiple vantage points, with jumps between locations, between characters, and in narrated time. Richard’s state of mind is quite literally one of fragmentation. Thus, piecing the story together is what he does and what we do with him.     
 
You’ve shown State of Mind at several events. What has reaction been like from players and how have you incorporated their feedback into the final version of the game?
 
The feedback so far has been very positive. The initial hook is certainly the visual style. That’s definitely what makes players curious. Once people learn about the story and the overall setting, it is interesting to see that almost everybody has an opinion about the reality in the game, because they realize it is their own possible future. Oftentimes that sparks a lot of discussion and that’s exactly what we are trying to achieve with the game.

Regarding direct feedback in terms of beta-testing, that is not something we usually do on a show floor. We do a lot of internal and external testing and we let experienced reviewers play the game prior to the release. We certainly take feedback from public events into account, but it’s incorporated into the internal feedback processes, where things are being evaluated on a more controlled and systematic basis.

How has Unreal Engine helped your team throughout development of this multi-platform title?
 
It helped a lot. We worked on six stock keeping units simultaneously: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. This was only possible because of the excellent integration of the SDKs and the multi-platform support of Unreal Engine. When you put some thought into UI and gameplay for different platforms upfront, the porting then works like a charm.
 
With respect to the graphical power of the engine, Unreal is an artist’s dream come true. There are more options in the engine than Millers in the yellow pages. 🙂 You can create outstanding-looking games with it. We created the trademark look for State of Mind without ever worrying about any limitations.
 
In terms of multi-platform development, the Blueprint system sped up the iteration process significantly. It’s easy to adapt to for programmers or scripters, they can jump right into production in no time. Also, with the system being so intuitive, sound engineers, 3D artists or level designers can work on many tasks without the help of a scripter or programmer. In the same way, FX artists benefit from the Blueprint system and the built-in particle system.       

Are there any specific aspects of Unreal that have been particularly useful?
 
There are many, but what stands out for us is the immense productivity Unreal provides. State of Mind is a story-driven game, and we needed a way to have fast iterations. Also, we wanted to tell a story big in scope – thus we needed a powerful and easy way to stage scenes, change dialogues or create cut-scenes within the engine. Sequencer is a powerful tool for both cut-scenes and staging. In fact, we made all our cut-scenes with it, as well as the entire staging. We’re super happy that you expanded the featureset for the tool! We’re sure we will use it to its extremes in the future; we’re already developing new ideas of how to use it.

Thanks for your time! When will State of Mind be released and where can people go to learn more about the game?
 
The release date for the game is the 16th of August 2018, on all platforms. You can pre-order State of Mind for PC on Steam and GOG right now! We will share updates and new assets on our Reddit page on a regular basis, and of course, you can also follow Daedalic on Facebook or Twitter.
 

REWIND Uses Unreal Engine to Bring VR Hacker Hostel to Life

When UK-based company REWIND set out to create a virtual reality experience for HBO’s hit comedy series Silicon Valley, their goal was to make something that brought the fans themselves into the show. The result was Silicon Valley: Inside the Hacker H…

Grishin Robotics Aims to Accelerate the Future With Epic Games’ Unreal Engine

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Epic Games Announces $1 Million in Unreal Dev Grants

Epic Games has announced the recipients of its latest round of Unreal Dev Grants, with 37 teams and creators receiving a total of $1 million in no-strings-attached funding for games, tools, broadcast and beyond. The Unreal Dev Grants program was established in February 2015 as a $5 million fund for promising developers working with Unreal Engine 4; awards range from $5,000 to $50,000 with no restrictions or obligations to Epic Games. This latest round of Unreal Dev Grants underscores the variety of applications for Unreal Engine, with software plugins, VR games, AI-driven educational platforms, and healthcare tools all receiving financial assistance.

 
“The Unreal Dev Grants program was designed to give studios and other developers a boost to bring their promising working prototypes to market, and to give back to the wider Unreal developer community as they use the engine in interesting ways,” said Chance Ivey, Partnership Manager at Epic Games. “This new round is our biggest yet, and we are blown away by the potential of projects like Kara Education, an AI-driven online educational platform for kids with hearing difficulties; VStore, a VR tool for quick and portable early dementia screenings; and Anima, a robust crowd simulation plugin for Unreal that can be leveraged by any game designer or VFX artist working with Unreal. Congratulations to all of these recipients on their exciting work; we can’t wait to see what’s next!”
 
The new round of grant recipients includes:
 

 
Amid Evil by New Blood InteractiveSteam Page
In this 90s-inspired FPS adventure, players take on evil hordes with sacred magical weaponry and spells. Travel through seven distinct episodes to hone your skills against evil and reclaim your world.
 
Anima Plugin for UE4 by AXYZ DesignWebsite
anima© 3.0 by AXYZ Design is a robust crowd simulation plugin for Unreal Engine that helps architects, designers and visualization professionals to populate hundreds of 3D characters and bring them into Unreal Engine 4 scenes with just a few mouse clicks.
 

Atomic Heart by MundfishWebsite
Atomic Heart is a first-person shooter that takes players inside an alternate universe during the high noon of the Soviet Union. Follow a Soviet special agent to unlock thrilling secrets and show the Motherland what you’re made of.
 

Brief Battles by Juicy Cupcake Website
A hilarious platform fighter, Brief Battles uses underpants as a weapon. Players can choose from a variety of super-powered underpants and different game modes as they compete to see who has the mightiest buns.
 
Project “Caillou” (Working title) by AwacebVideoWebsite
Awaceb is a small indie team of two childhood friends from New Caledonia in the French territory of the Pacific. Project “Caillou” tells touching, poetic stories in an open, physics-based and dynamic 3D world.
 
Desolate Sands by Blacksmith StudiosWebsite
Desolate Sands is a VR puzzle game set in an ancient pyramid. The objective is to reach the bottom by leveraging nearby movable objects and levers to solve a series of complex puzzles.
 
ELLI by Bandana KidWebsite
In this puzzle platforming game, players travel as ancient time guardian Elli on a journey to recover the stolen sands of time.
 

 
Feri VinczeWebsite
Feri Vincze is a freelance 3D artist and videographer using Unreal Engine 4 to render elegant animated films such as “The Chest.”
 

Ghost by Sky Machine StudiosWebsite
Ghost is a sandbox stealth game set in a Victorian era world, where players seek to uncover the truth about Arthur Artorias’ past. In this game, light is the enemy – stay in the shadows and explore the darkness to survive.
 
Guntastic by Ludicrous GamesWebsite
Guntastic is an arcade-inspired game involving shooting and mayhem. Battle with up to four local or online players in fast-paced, one-shot one-kill, nonstop matches over continuously changing levels.
 

 
Headsnatchers by IguanabeeSteam Page
Headsnatchers is a multiplayer party game where players each try to keep their heads on their shoulders while trying to remove everyone else’s. Play across four different game modes in over 25 unique environments, each with different rules and attributes.
 
Hear No Evil by Rockodile GamesWebsite
Hear No Evil tells the story of humanity’s last remnants, who return to earth to fight for their future. This game is a visually spectacular top-down action shooter inspired by Alienation and Helldivers.
 

 
Hellbound by Saibot StudiosWebsite
Hellbound is a demonic first-person shooter game inspired by classic 90s games like DOOM and Quake created by an independent team of developers in Argentina.
 

 
Kara Education by Kara TechnologiesWebsite
Kara is an online education platform for children with hearing difficulties. The platform delivers educational material using an avatar, driven by Kara’s AI and machine learning algorithms and Unreal Engine.
 

 
Kine by Gwen FreySteam Page
Kine is a 3D puzzle game about three whimsical machines that aspire to be musicians. Players embark across a theatrically rendered cityscape and solve increasingly difficult 3D puzzles to help the machines form a band and catch their big break.
 

 
Little Devil Inside by NeostreamWebsite
Little Devil Inside is an engaging 3D action adventure RPG game where players are thrown into a surreal environment with elements that challenge their survival instincts. Explore, adapt, and fight to survive.
 

 
M.A.S.S Builder by Vermillion Digital Co., Ltd. – Facebook
M.A.S.S. Builder pits humans against invading aliens in the fight for the Earth. Players will build, customize and control the ultimate M.A.S.S. (Mechanical Assault Skeleton Suit) in an effort to save the world.
 

 
Midnight Ghost Hunt by MellowsoftWebsite
Midnight Ghost Hunt is a multiplayer hide-and-seek game that pits a team of Ghosts against a team of Ghost Hunters. The hunt begins at the stroke of midnight, and it’s a race against the clock to either stay hidden or uncover the ghosts.
 

 
NanoSpace by Synthetic SystemsSteam Page
Nanospace is a 3D platformer with elements of real-time strategy. Players take control of three “nano-mites” in levels full of riddles, monsters, inventory and more.
 
Neon Giant – Unannounced TitleWebsite
Neon Giant is a group of game veterans with a experience in some of the world’s biggest action game franchises. The studio is hard at work on its first title, set in a brand new cyberpunk world.
 
New Reality Co. – Unannounced ProjectWebsite
New Reality Co is a creative studio by Milica Zec and Winslow Porter, dedicated to synthesizing storytelling, art, and technology into groundbreaking and emotional projects. New Reality are the creators behind the award-winning Giant and Tree VR experiences, both of which are built with Unreal and previously benefitted from Unreal Dev Grants.
 
NotMyCar by NMC StudiosVideoWebsite
NotMyCar is a white-knuckle, lead-footed massive multiplayer vehicular combat battle royale game. Drop into the battleground and use cool weapons and abilities to fight your way through single-elimination combat and become the ultimate survivor. Customize your ride to make it a beast of a vehicle to take on anyone, anytime.
 

 
Oceanhorn 2 by Cornfox and Bros.Website
Oceanhorn 2, which was showcased in the Unreal Engine booth at GDC 2018, is the upcoming sequel to the action-adventure mobile game featuring exploration in a colorful world with items, puzzles and battles.
 

 
Origin Zero by Black Amber Digital – Website
Origin Zero is an episode-based, sci-fi animation project lovingly crafted by a small, dedicated team using Unreal Engine 4.
 

 
Paradise Lost by PolyAmorous  – Website
Paradise Lost is a non-linear narrative driven adventure game with meaningful, kinesthetic interactions dynamically changing both the environment and the story you are experiencing.
 

 
The Path of Calydra by FinalbossWebsite
The Path of Calydra is an 3D adventure platformer set in the fantastic world of Calygore. Explore as suburban teenager Matheus, who has been transported to Calygore and must rely on an unusual entity named Calydra to seek out four powerful crystals and return home.
 
Point Cloud Plugin by PhobozForum Post
The Point Cloud Plugin by Phoboz is a free plugin for Unreal Engine 4, developed to help with importing, processing and rendering of point clouds. It is currently in beta for Windows.
 

 
Raji: An Ancient Epic by Nodding Head GamesWebsite
Raji: An Ancient Epic is an action adventure game set in ancient India. Raji is a young girl chosen by the gods to stand against the demonic invasion of the human realm, saving her younger brother in the process.
 
Rocket Jockey by Burn Ward Games – Website
Rocket Jockey is a team-based game that plays like a cross between Rocket League and Super Smash Bros. Fly on top of modern jet engines with classic car chassis at break-neck speeds.
 

 
Scene Fusion by KinematicSoup TechnologiesWebsite
Scene Fusion for Unreal Engine makes real-time editor collaboration possible. Developers can build all sorts of content together in real time, resulting in significant time savings.
 
Second Order
Independent developer Second Order, creator of Claybook, is being recognized and awarded for contributing numerous fantastic rendering features and optimizations to Unreal Engine 4. This is the team’s second Unreal Dev Grant.
 

 
Session by Crea-ture StudiosWebsite
Inspired by the golden era skate culture of the late 90s and early 2000s, Session is an upcoming skateboarding game that is all about authenticity, creativity and the freedom of expression that skateboarding provides.
 

 
SMALLAND by EMBU GamesWebsite
With SMALLAND, the survival genre gets a tinier take that lets you appreciate the little things, or flee in terror of the little things. The slightest breeze can sweep your items or even your house away from you. The simplest rainfall can form puddles the size of lakes in a matter of minutes.
 

 
Solar Warden by Polar ZenithWebsite
Solar Warden is a six-degrees-of-freedom space shooter combined with an overarching campaign with real time strategy elements. Jump into your fighter and combat the silicoid menace up close, while you command and dispatch the Solar Warden fleet for reinforcements.
 

 
Someday You’ll Return by CBE SoftwareWebsite
Someday You’ll Return is a story-driven psychological horror game about a desperate search for a missing daughter deep in the woods where you swore you’d never return.
 
Twenty StudiosWebsite
Sweden’s Twenty Studios, together with SuperFly.tv and LeViteZer, is crafting intuitive open source software that brings the power of Unreal Engine 4 to live mixed reality production and video compositing pipelines.
 
VStore by VitaeVRWebsite
Vstore, which recently entered wide clinical trials, is a fully functioning virtual reality supermarket which offers a fast, accurate and portable method of screening for early indicators of dementia. Diagnosing dementia at the earliest possible stages is critical because that is when treatment is at its most effective.
 
To learn more about Unreal Dev Grants and to apply for a future award, visit: http://unrealengine.com/unrealdevgrants