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UE3 Home > UnrealScript > Basic Game Quick Start
UE3 Home > Gameplay Programming > Basic Game Quick Start

Basic Game Quick Start


Getting a new game project up and running can be a daunting task when you first start out. You may be wondering where to start, what goes where, etc. This document is designed to quickly highlight the important areas and key aspects to creating a new game. Along the way, you will be walked through creating a very basic game skeleton that can then be customized to suit any type of game.

Project Setup

The first thing to accomplish when starting a new game is to set up various project directories that will be used to hold scripts and content for your game. It is important to note that Unreal Engine 3 is designed to work with one single project at a time. If you want to have multiple projects, it is best to work with multiple installations as switching between multiple projects in a single installation can be cumbersome and confusing.

UnrealScript Project

Any new game project is eventually going to require using UnrealScript to create custom classes to form the gameplay for the game. Adding new UnrealScripts requires setting up a custom UnrealScript project to hold the scripts, which is compiled into a new UnrealScript package (.u file).

To create an UnrealScript project, first find the ..\Development\Src directory in your Unreal installation. Inside this directory, create a new folder with the name you want to give the project. Usually this is some abbreviated version of your game's name followed by "Game". For instance, the Unreal Tournament games would use UTGame.

In the example game being created here, the UnrealScript project will be named UDNGame. The new folder is located in the ..\Developement\Src directory once it has been created:


Inside this UDNGame folder, a new folder is created named Classes. This is the actual folder that will hold the scripts for the project.


For a detailed guide to setting up custom UnrealScript projects, see the Custom UnrealScript Projects page.

Content Directory

A game is nothing without content. You have to have visual elements to display on the screen, audio to play, etc. and of course maps are needed to put all the content together and present it to the player. In general, content is stored within packages (a map is package too) that are themselves stored in the ..\[GameName]\Content directory of the Unreal installation. There are usually folders such as Characters, Environments, Maps, Sounds, etc. found in the Content directory that allow for organization of the content packages and maps.

When using UDK, these sub-folders are populated with example content. You could very easily just save your game's custom content packages and maps in these same folders and everything would work perfectly well. However, if keeping your custom content separate from the other content is something you desire, you can simply create a new folder in the Content directory, perhaps with the name of your game, and save your packages in that folder. You can even add more folders within that one to organize the packages similarly to the manner in which they are organized in the Content directory.

Gameplay Classes

The framework for our example game is going to be almost entirely composed of a few important gameplay classes created in UnrealScript and saved in our custom UnrealScript project. The idea of these classes is to create a working, yet generic or vanilla gameplay experience. We aren't building the final game at this point. The idea is to set up a project you can use as the basis to build your game off of.


One of the most fundamental aspects of any game is how the player views the world. In Unreal, the position and orientation of the player's viewpoint is handled in the GetPlayerViewPoint() function of the PlayerController class. By default, if there is a player camera object, that is allowed to handle the calculation. It can use one of two methods to calculate the position and orientation:

  • Call CalcCamera() in the Pawn from the UpdateCamera() function.
  • Calculate the perspective directly in the UpdateCamera() function.

The basic example game is going to make use of a third-person perspective. As mentioned above, this could be implemented in the Pawn class using the CalcCamera() function, but the idea of keeping the camera logic encapsulated in a separate class in addition to the fact that using a camera class provides access to all the camera features, such as post processing and camera animations, the example will be using a custom Camera class to handle positioning the camera. Although this example has a third-person perspective, any other type of camera can be implemented easily by changing the logic that calculates the camera position and rotation.

The Camera Technical Guide provides a detailed explanation of cameras and has examples of other perspective implementations.

class UDNPlayerCamera extends Camera;

var Vector CamOffset;
var float CameraZOffset;
var float CameraScale, CurrentCameraScale; /** multiplier to default camera distance */
var float CameraScaleMin, CameraScaleMax;

function UpdateViewTarget(out TViewTarget OutVT, float DeltaTime)
   local vector      HitLocation, HitNormal;
   local CameraActor   CamActor;
   local Pawn          TPawn;

   local vector CamStart, CamDirX, CamDirY, CamDirZ, CurrentCamOffset;
   local float DesiredCameraZOffset;

   // Don't update outgoing viewtarget during an interpolation
   if( PendingViewTarget.Target != None && OutVT == ViewTarget && BlendParams.bLockOutgoing )

   // Default FOV on viewtarget
   OutVT.POV.FOV = DefaultFOV;

   // Viewing through a camera actor.
   CamActor = CameraActor(OutVT.Target);
   if( CamActor != None )
      CamActor.GetCameraView(DeltaTime, OutVT.POV);

      // Grab aspect ratio from the CameraActor.
      bConstrainAspectRatio   = bConstrainAspectRatio || CamActor.bConstrainAspectRatio;
      OutVT.AspectRatio      = CamActor.AspectRatio;

      // See if the CameraActor wants to override the PostProcess settings used.
      CamOverridePostProcessAlpha = CamActor.CamOverridePostProcessAlpha;
      CamPostProcessSettings = CamActor.CamOverridePostProcess;
      TPawn = Pawn(OutVT.Target);
      // Give Pawn Viewtarget a chance to dictate the camera position.
      // If Pawn doesn't override the camera view, then we proceed with our own defaults
      if( TPawn == None || !TPawn.CalcCamera(DeltaTime, OutVT.POV.Location, OutVT.POV.Rotation, OutVT.POV.FOV) )
          * Calculate third-person perspective
          * Borrowed from UTPawn implementation
         OutVT.POV.Rotation = PCOwner.Rotation;
         CamStart = TPawn.Location;
         CurrentCamOffset = CamOffset;

         DesiredCameraZOffset = 1.2 * TPawn.GetCollisionHeight() + TPawn.Mesh.Translation.Z;
         CameraZOffset = (DeltaTime < 0.2) ? DesiredCameraZOffset * 5 * DeltaTime + (1 - 5*DeltaTime) * CameraZOffset : DesiredCameraZOffset;

         CamStart.Z += CameraZOffset;
         GetAxes(OutVT.POV.Rotation, CamDirX, CamDirY, CamDirZ);
         CamDirX *= CurrentCameraScale;

         if (CurrentCameraScale < CameraScale)
            CurrentCameraScale = FMin(CameraScale, CurrentCameraScale + 5 * FMax(CameraScale - CurrentCameraScale, 0.3)*DeltaTime);
         else if (CurrentCameraScale > CameraScale)
            CurrentCameraScale = FMax(CameraScale, CurrentCameraScale - 5 * FMax(CameraScale - CurrentCameraScale, 0.3)*DeltaTime);
         if (CamDirX.Z > TPawn.GetCollisionHeight())
            CamDirX *= square(cos(OutVT.POV.Rotation.Pitch * 0.0000958738)); // 0.0000958738 = 2*PI/65536
         OutVT.POV.Location = CamStart - CamDirX*CurrentCamOffset.X + CurrentCamOffset.Y*CamDirY + CurrentCamOffset.Z*CamDirZ;
         if (Trace(HitLocation, HitNormal, OutVT.POV.Location, CamStart, false, vect(12,12,12)) != None)
            OutVT.POV.Location = HitLocation;

   // Apply camera modifiers at the end (view shakes for example)
   ApplyCameraModifiers(DeltaTime, OutVT.POV);



Another fundamental aspect of any game is how the input from the player is handled and how it is translated into controlling the game, whether it is directly controlling a main character onscreen, using a point-and-click interface to control the game, or any other method of controlling the game. Quite intuitively, the class responsible for determine how the player controls the game is the PlayerController class.

The base PlayerController implementation is enough to get a player running around as they handle player input and translate it into movement. The custom PlayerController class used in the example is simply to assign our custom Camera class created above. Of course, as you flesh out your game, you will undoubtedly need to make modifications to this class to add logic needed by your game's specific implementation.

The Characters Technical Guide provides a detailed explanation of the PlayerController class and how to customize it to suit new types of games.

class UDNPlayerController extends GamePlayerController;



While the PlayerController class determines how the player input is used to control the game, which in this example will involve directly controlling a character, the visual representation of the character and the logic for determining how it interacts with the physical world is encapsulated in the Pawn class. The custom Pawn class in this example will not be adding any special logic for interacting with the environment, but it will be responsible for setting up the visual representation of the character. This means it needs to set a skeletal mesh, animations, and physics asset to be used to display the character in the game.

The Characters Technical Guide provides a detailed explanation of the Pawn class and how it works in tandem with the PlayerController class.

class UDNPawn extends Pawn;

var DynamicLightEnvironmentComponent LightEnvironment;



   Begin Object Class=DynamicLightEnvironmentComponent Name=MyLightEnvironment
   End Object

   Begin Object Class=SkeletalMeshComponent Name=WPawnSkeletalMeshComponent
       //Your Mesh Properties
      //General Mesh Properties
   End Object

   Begin Object Name=CollisionCylinder
   End Object


The HUD class is responsible for displaying information about the game to the player. The information and the manner in which it is displayed is extremely game-specific. Because of this, the example implementation will simply provide a blank slate from which you can build your own custom HUD, either using the Canvas object or Scaleform GFx.

The HUD Technical Guide provides detailed information about creating heads-up displays using both the Canvas object or the Scaleform GFx integration in Unreal Engine 3.

class UDNHUD extends MobileHUD;



The gametype is the heart of the game. It determines the rules of the game and the conditions under which the game progresses or ends. Clearly, this is entirely game-specific. The gametype is also responsible for telling the engine which classes to use for PlayerControllers, Pawns, the HUD, etc. The example implementation of the gametype will simply specify these classes in the defaultproperties and leave the rest of the implementation up to you.

The Gametype Technical Guide explains the concept of the gametype in-depth and should provide insight into which areas to customize for your custom gametype.

class UDNGame extends FrameworkGame;



ALERT! Important: You must close the editor in order to compile scripts. If it is open, close it now.

To compile the UnrealScript project into a package that makes the gameplay framework usable in-game, the engine needs to be made aware of the project. This is done by adding the project to the EditPackages array in the [UnrealEd.EditorEngine] section of the DefaultEngine.ini file. The syntax for adding the UDNGame project is shown below:


If you are using UDK, you'll notice that there are already some other projects being included in this section, namely the UTGame and UTGameContent projects. That is a decision you will have to make based on the type of game you are making. The final [UnrealEd.EditorEngine] section should now look something like:


There is no shortage of ways to force the scripts to be compiled. You can:

  • Run the Make commandlet
  • Compile through UnrealFrontend
  • Run the game or editor

Any of the above will compile the scripts. However, we are simply going to run the editor to automatically compile the scripts. Run the editor and you should see the following dialog:


Choose Yes and a console window should appear showing the status of the compiling process.


You should see Success - 0 error(s), 0 warning(s) if the process was successful. If there were errors, the error message will tell you what the error was along with the filename and line number where the error occurred making it easy to find and fix the error.


The filename where the error occurred should be clear in the image above. The line number is shown in parentheses () following the filename. A description of the error is shown as well. This error is telling us that the item following the equals sign (=) is invalid. This could be due to a misspelled name, undeclared variable, etc. Fixing the error and compiling again using the same procedure as above should result in a successful compile.


In order to test out the game framework that was created in the example, you can choose one of two methods:

  • Set the UDNGame as the PIE gametype in the WorldInfo properties of your test map in Unreal Editor.
  • Set the UDNGame to be the default gametype for the engine in the DefaultGame.ini config file.

Map Gametype

To set the UDNGame gametype as the Gametype used by a particular map when played in Unreal Editor or the engine, choose World Properties from the View menu. This will display the WorldInfo properties window.


Expand the Game Type category and find the Gametype for PIE property. Choose UDNGame from the list of available gametypes.


Now you can run the map in the editor using the Play in PIE or Play from here functionality and it should use the custom gametype, showing the third-person perspective with a fully controllable character.


You can also set the Default Game Type property to UDNGame to force this map to use the custom gametype, regardless of the default setting in the .ini file (explained below).

Default Gametype

Note: The editor should be closed when editing .ini files.

To set the UDNGame gametype as the default gametype for the engine, open the Defaultgame.ini config file from the ..\[GameName]\Config directory of your Unreal installation. This will cause this gametype to be used for all maps when no gametype is specified in the map URL or no gametype prefix exists for the map. In the [Engine.GameInfo] section, there are three properties to assign the UDNGame gametype to. There is also a property to assign the PlayerController class to. Finally, there are a few extra lines setting up gametype prefixes that are only used for the UT3 example game which will be removed.

The final [Engine.GameInfo] section is shown below:


Now, the custom gametype should be used - showing the third-person perspective with a fully controllable character - for any map run in the engine or using the Play on PC functionality in Unreal Editor (unless overridden by the map URL or Default Game Type property in the World Properties.