Focus: Unreal Engine - A New Start on the Dark Ride Project

Nov 10, 2019 at 09:41 pm by -gToon

Focus: Unreal Engine is a series of posts where I’ll share my experience and discoveries working with Epic’s free Unreal Engine 4 for video game creation. There will be no set time for the series to end, but I will have a goal: the creation of a playable game level for Halloween in October, 2019. I will share the level with everyone for learning and for fun!

Note that the Unreal Engine 4 is free with a royalty-based payment system for those who use the engine to sell their games. You can get the full terms here and download the Engine here.

A Fresh Start
I’ve been side-tracked a bit with Halloween (I do a big yard haunt), but I’m back at work on my brand-new Unreal project. As I mentioned in my last post, I abandoned weeks of work because I backed myself into a corner with the Unreal level I created. Too many technical problems (the least of which was the lighting wouldn’t build) and a far too ambitious size led me to realize I needed a project that is small and simple. So I went back to the drawing board.

After being away from the project for a week, I realize that my work wasn’t in vain. I’m much more familiar (and comfortable) with Unreal now and have a good sense of how to set up my new project. This realization comes from making mistakes and learning from them.

Research and a New Idea
I decided to go back to the beginning with my Unreal project. My goal was to create a “Dark Ride”, but update it a bit using Unreal technology. After some research on the origins of the Dark Ride, I decided to re-create a classic dark ride which means the actual ride is much smaller and more contained. I can keep the basic track technology I bought (hopefully with no lag this time) and find a floor plan of an actual ride for my building. This was easy as there are many of them online. I chose Unreal Frankenstein's Scream Machine - Barry Island. This was from an article by John Yardley on the history and creation of this fun dark ride. 

What’s great about this floorplan is that it is only one level, so I won’t have any track problems like I did in the first project. I can create 10-12 simple scare spots using traditional scares like monster in shakles, zombie, witch cackling, big head leering at you, vampires, etc. There are many videos out there that take you through an entire ride, so I can pick and choose scares with simple animations that I can trigger with a volume.

**Using Blender 2.8 to Model the Building**
Blender 2.8 has a good pipeline to Unreal, so I thought I’d model the building using the floorplan chose. Blender has a nice architectural plug-in called Archipack. It is the light version from the producer (I discovered this watching tutorials on the plug-in) but it works just fine for my purposes. You can draw walls with the exact dimensions you want right in Blender. It took a little bit of practice, but I finally got it built and brought it into Unreal (no textures at this point). It was much, much to large, so I started over and got a good scale from another dark ride floorplan (120’ wide, 90’ deep, and 10’ high).

Got the new version made in less than an hour and brought it into Unreal with a character for scale and it looks great (see below)


Up Next: Texturing Inside the Dark Ride

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