To make this five-player, LAN-based PC game experience a reality, Virtual Heroes opted to use Unreal Engine 2.5 in an effort to reach the widest dissemination possible across the available low-resource hardware in Kenyan youth clinics, schools, and other facilities.
A team of 25 people spent 10 months working on the game. Under normal circumstances, a game of this scope generally takes over two years to develop from scratch. However, Unreal Engine 2.5 was used as the low-level foundation of Virtual Heroes’ platform and provided core functionalities, such as 3D rendering, audio, networking, and physics.
The team produced an open-world, multi-player environment with four large, distinct outdoor areas, several hundreds of interactive NPCs (Non-Play Characters) and a few dozen vehicles, resulting in a total of almost ten thousand game objects, all being processed simultaneously on the game server. From a resource point of view, this put tremendous strain on the game logic and networking side of things. With a balanced mix of UnrealScript and native C++ code, the fully integrated networking layer of Unreal Engine, as well as a few extra techniques, the team was able to optimize performance and tune gameplay. The development team used the conversation engine from their Advanced Learning Technology Platform to facilitate complex NPC interactions using thousands of lines of branching dialogue.
Additionally, Virtual Heroes’ platform implemented a generic game framework and a multitude of general-purpose functionalities, including conversation engines, user-interface controls, movie playback, or database connectivity. This allowed the team to spend most of the development time focused on game-specific features.
The current iteration of Unreal Engine, Unreal Engine 4 is a suite of integrated tools for game developers to design and build games, simulations, and visualizations. With its code written in C++, the Unreal Engine features a high degree of portability and is a tool used by many game developers today.
For more information on the game development, visit https://www.unrealengine.com/showcase/pamoja-mtaani.
Unreal Engine 4 can be downloaded for Windows and Mac at https://www.unrealengine.com/download