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My First Pawn

Created by Chris Linder (DemiurgeStudios?) on 11-7-03 for the 2226 builds. Updated by Chris Linder (DemiurgeStudios?). Last updated by Michiel Hendriks, changed animation code for 3323.

Related Documents

MyFirstCode, MyFirstController, MyFirstGameInfo, MyFirstHUD


If you have not looked over the MyFirstCode document you should do that first.

This document goes over how to make a simple pawn class that will move around in the world and animate properly. Animating properly includes walking, running, crouch walking, swimming, flying, jumping, falling, landing, and idling. Animating properly also include functionality for playing arbitrary animations not based on movement. All these animations will work properly in a net game. This document includes not only the class to make pawns animate properly but two subclasses, ExampleBoy and ExampleGirl, that illustrate how to use the animation code with different models. The guy and the girl are very lightweight classes that only adjust defaultproperties.

This document includes the UnrealScript source code as well as the compiled *.u file and the animation and texture packages to make everything work. See Installing the Example below for details on seeing this pawn example in action.

This example can be used in any 2226 build of the engine including the straight code drop, UDNBuild, UDNBuildOff, and the Runtime or a 3323 (and maybe later) build of the engine.

Class Setup

This example is composed of three classes, ExamplePawn.uc, ExampleGirl.uc, and ExampleBoy.uc. ExamplePawn contains the main functionality for animation and movement. ExampleGirl and ExampleBoy both extend ExamplePawn and do nothing more than specify their own models, set of animations, and collision cylinder in defaultproperties.

A New Model

Probably the biggest part of making a new pawn is making a new model for that pawn. For more information on how to create a character model see the ModelingTableOfContents document.

Once you have a model in a UKX file you can use that model for your pawn by specifying the Mesh variable in defaultproperties like so:

- or -

In some cases the imported model will not be the right size or orientated properly. You can alter the scale, location, and orientation of the modeling in the Animation Browser as described in the AnimBrowserReference.

You also need to adjust the CollisionRadius and CollisionHeight of the collision cylinder for the model in defaultproperties of the class.


There is a function, simulated function bool PointOfView() which is called when the pawn is possessed by the controller. This return value of this function determines if the camera will be third person (true) or first person (false). ExamplePawn adds the bStartBehindView variable so pawns can just set this variable in defaultproperties as opposed to overriding PointOfView to change how the camera starts.

Pawn Movement and Animation

Most of the animation for ExamplePawn is done using physics based animation. Physics based animation means that the motion of the pawn determines what animation the pawn is playing. This is the method with which animation is generally done in the Unreal engine. Not only does it work in single player but it is very good for multiplayer situations because each client just looks at the motion of a given pawn to see what animation should be playing; no extra information needs to be transmitted. To enable physics based animation, bPhysicsAnimUpdate is set to true in defaultproperties.

For more information on physics based animation, see the PhysicsBasedAnim document. This document is based on the 2226 code drop but it should still be helpful.

For v3323 and up you can ignore the next sections up to User Controlled Animation, it's not completely relevant because the physics based animation has changed. Read the PhysicsBasedAnim document for more information about this. In v3323 the below UnrealScript isn't needed, you just have to set the correct variables.

Movement Animation

To do movement physics based animation uses six animation names to play animation based on how the pawn is moving. These animation names are:

MovementAnims[0]      //Forward
MovementAnims[1]      //Back
MovementAnims[2]      //Left
MovementAnims[3]      //Right

When the pawn is moving forward the animation specified by MovementAnims[0] is looped. When the pawn is moving left the animation specified by MovementAnims[2] is looped. If the pawn is moving forward and left, the forward and left animations are blended together using animation channels and then looped. When the pawn is standing still and rotating either TurnLeftAnim or TurnRightAnim is looped. The faster the pawn rotates the faster the turning animation is played.

You might be wondering how six animations account for all the different type of animation such as walking, running, crouching, swimming, etc... The answer involves the function simulated function PlayMoving() which is called whenever a player changes their movement type. This means the player changed from running to walking or falling to walking, or flying to falling. PlayeMoving calls other functions based on the type of movement the pawn is currently doing which reset the MovenmentAnims and also the turn animations in some cases. For example if PlayMoving is called and (Physics == PHYS_Flying), then AnimateFlying() is called. AnimateFlying() is as follows:

// Play appropriate flying animations
simulated function AnimateFlying()

Flying does not use the turn animations so those are not reset. Crouching does use turn animations and AnimateCrouchWalking() is as follows:

// Play appropriate crouching animations
simulated function AnimateCrouchWalking()

PlayeMoving and the Animate...() functions account for all movement animation except for jumping, landing, and falling which are covered below.

Jumping, Landing, and Falling

Jumping, landing, and falling are handled by the PlayJump, PlayLandingAnimation, and PlayFalling which are all functions the engine calls when it the pawn is doing those respective things. PlayJump and PlayFalling are very simple and are listed below:

simulated event PlayJump()
   if ( (Acceleration.X != 0) || (Acceleration.Y != 0) )
      PlayAnim(JumpMovingAnim, 1.0, 0.1);
      PlayAnim(JumpStandingAnim, 1.0, 0.1);

simulated event PlayFalling()
   LoopAnim(FallingAnim, 1.0, 0.5);

In PlayJump, AnimBlendToAlpha is called at the beginning because the landing channel described below was interfering with jumping multiple times in quick succession.

In the case of landing, I needed to specify an animation channel because if I played it on the default (channel 0), the movement animations would overwrite the landing animation. Because I used a channel higher than all the movement animations, I needed to blend the alpha of that channel back to 0.0 after the land animation was done playing or else no movement animations would be seen. This is done in AnimEnd. The functions below illustrate how this is done:

simulated event PlayLandingAnimation(float ImpactVel)
   AnimBlendParams(LANDINGCHANNEL, 1.0, 2.0, 2.0);
   PlayAnim(LandAnim, 0.4, 0.0, LANDINGCHANNEL);

simulated event AnimEnd(int Channel)

   if(Channel == LANDINGCHANNEL)


Idling is very simple. When the engine detects that the pawn is just standing there, simulated function PlayWaiting() is called. This function just calls LoopAnim with the appropriate animation based on the state of the pawn (see the function below). When LoopAnim is called, it specifies a rate, "1.0", and a tween time, "0.2". This causes the animation to play at the normal rate and tween from existing animations in 0.2 seconds. Since no channel is specified (one of the optional parameters of LoopAnim), the animation is played on channel 0 and affects the whole skeleton. Movement animations are played on higher channels so when the character starts to move, the idle will be blended over and not be seen.

// Play appropriate idle animations
simulated function PlayWaiting()
   if(Physics == PHYS_Falling)
      LoopAnim(FallingAnim, 1.0, 0.2);
   else if(Physics == PHYS_Flying)
      LoopAnim(FlyIdle, 1.0, 0.2);
   else if(Physics == PHYS_Swimming)
      LoopAnim(SwimIdle, 1.0, 0.2);
         LoopAnim(CrouchIdle, 1.0, 0.2);
         LoopAnim(StandIdle, 1.0, 0.2);

User Controlled Animation

User controlled animations are when the user presses a button or executes a command and the pawn plays an animation, like taunting in UT2004 for example. This is fairly easy in a single player situation. It unfortunately gets much harder in a net game because as mentioned above, animation is not sent over the network.

This is why the function simulated event SetAnimAction(name NewAction) and the variable var name AnimAction exist. They are designed to work together to send animation data from the server to all clients. If SetAnimAction is called on the server, it changes AnimAction which is replicated from the server to all clients. When the clients receive the new AnimAction, code in C++ detects if the AnimAction is new and then calls SetAnimAction on that client with the new animation which is then played by SetAnimAction. Once the animation is done playing, AnimAction is set to '' on both the client and the server so that the next time SetAnimAction is called, everything will work again. The code for this is as follows:

//Called to have all clients play a single animation in the idle animation channel
simulated event SetAnimAction(name NewAction)
   AnimAction = NewAction;
   PlayAnim(NewAction); //Play on base channel, which is the idle channel
   bPlayedAnimAction = true;

simulated event AnimEnd(int Channel)

   if(Channel == 0 && bPlayedAnimAction) //idle channel
      PlayWaiting(); //reset to normal idle
      bPlayedAnimAction = false;
      AnimAction = '';

Scripting Physics

When you are using scripted sequences to control pawns, the ScriptedController expects the function SetMovementPhysics() to be implemented. SetMovementPhysics is defined in Pawn.uc but it has no body. If you do not have your own implementation, the pawn you are trying to script will just hang in the air with its physics equal to "PHYS_None". The following implementation of SetMovementPhysics is simple and works well.

// Sets up Physics correctly for Scripted Sequences
function SetMovementPhysics()
   if (Physics == PHYS_Falling)
   if ( PhysicsVolume.bWaterVolume )

Installing the Example

Unreal Runtime

If you are using the Runtime, simply download the ExamplePawns.zip, unzip it and run ExamplePawns.urm. If you can not simply run ExamplePawns.urm this probably means you unchecked the "Runtime modification association" box when installing the Runtime. In that case you will have to follow the steps below:

  1. Open ExamplePawns.zip and extract ExamplePawns.urm to the "System" directory of the Runtime.
  2. Open a command prompt in the "System" directory of the Runtime.
  3. Type "setup install ExamplePawns.urm"

In either case, follow the instructions presented in the install window and this will install the example pawns for the Runtime.

Once the pawns are installed you can use them in several ways. You can alter your User.ini to specify the type of pawn to. In the [DefaultPlayer] section of User.ini set Class as follows:

- or -

You can also run the game from the command prompt with either of the following lines. This method will alter User.ini as well.

UE2Runtime EM_Runtime?Class=MyFirstExample.ExampleBoy
- or -
UE2Runtime EM_Runtime?Class=MyFirstExample.ExampleGirl

Another way is to type one of the following lines in the console in-game. This method will also alter User.ini.

Open EM_Runtime?Class=MyFirstExample.ExampleBoy
- or -
Open EM_Runtime?Class=MyFirstExample.ExampleGirl

Code Drop, UDNBuild, UDNBuildOff

If you are using the UDNBuild or UDNBuildOff, download MyFirstPawn_UDNBuild.zip and unzip it in your build of the engine.

If you are using the 2226 code drop, download MyFirstPawn_CodeDrop.zip and unzip it in your build of the engine. For 3323 and up use download MyFirstExample_CodeDrop3323.zip

At this point you can play with the new pawn by altering your User.ini to specify the type of pawn. In the [DefaultPlayer] section of User.ini set Class as follows:

- or -

You can also run the game from the command line with these arguments. This method will alter User.ini as well.

UT2004 <YourMap>?Class=MyFirstExample.ExampleBoy
- or -
UT2004 <YourMap>?Class=MyFirstExample.ExampleGirl

Another way is to type one of the above lines in the console in-game except replacing "UT2004" with "Open". This method will also alter User.ini.

Using these Pawns in Net-Play

If you would like to use these pawns in net play you have to do a few things on the computer hosting the game.

First edit <YourGame.ini> (UE2Runtime.ini or UT2004.ini for example) and include "MyFirstExample" in your ServerPackages list. The ServerPackages list is in the [Engine.GameEngine] section of the INI file and you can just add the following line to that section:


Next you must rebuild the MD5 database. Do this by opening a command prompt in the "System" directory of your build of the engine and then type:


Now you can host a game and other people can connect to it and you can all run/fly/swim around together. You can host a game by typing the following at a command prompt in the system directory:

UE2Runtime <YourMap> -server
- or -
UW <YourMap> -server

You can connect to server as described above in the Installing the Example section but instead of the map name, use the IP address of the server. For example, from the command line one might type:


Making Changes to the Example - Using the Example in UnrealEd

If you wish to make changes to the given code or you want to place ExamplePawns in UnrealEd, you will have to add "MyFirstExample" to the EditPackages lists in <your_game>.ini (UW.ini or UE2Runtime.ini for example). Do this by opening your INI file and doing a text search for "EditPackages" and then add the line "EditPackages=MyFirstExample" to the bottom of the list. There are two lists so make sure to add the line to both lists. If you are making changes to the code you can recompile the changes you made by deleting the existing MyFirstExample.u file in the system directory and typing "ucc make" at the command line.