Winter UE4 Jam

Rob Steiner 2018-02-23
Winter UE4 Jam

Finally, the stars aligned and the wizards of time spared me… I finally participated in my first ever UE4 Jam! Stepping away from my side projects and responsibilities, I took a little over 48 hours to create a game based on the theme On Thin Ice. A one-man team that made models, materials, music, sound effects, and blue prints that magically formed a game called Nanuq On Ice (NOI). It means Polar Bear. Anyways, without further ado here is a demo video with commentary by me!

Level Design

The level design for NOI was really straightforward as you can see. A rectangle with one fixed side length and the other side length expands every three levels by a fixed amount. With all that said, I was able to generate all parts of the level infinitely. Well, in theory. The tiles were all one meter in length. The fixed side of the level was eight tiles while the other was increasing by increments of five.

With these fixed numbers in mind, I modeled the sidings exactly five tiles wide with the ending being eight tiles wide! Thus, I can generate the levels on the fly and place all the models perfectly.

Plus, with a little bit of blueprint magic I stacked tile meshes on top each other in a single blueprint. The water, ice, and invisible collision mesh was all one blue print object. Made generating tiles with built in logic very easy.

Once the level was fully generated, the next step was to set the “trap” tiles. The algorithm for spawning these tiles was also pretty straightforward. Increase the percentage of “trap” tiles by 5% for every level till cap at 95%.

Now let’s stop a moment and acknowledge the possibility of an unbeatable map… It is possible and I did not account for it in my algorithm, but do to the player’s abilities to jump/boost it made the odds very slim for the player to be truly stuck. I believe the algorithm would have to choose at least five back-to-back rows of trap tiles to render the player stuck… Odds are small of that happening.


Luckily, the look I was going for was your typical low-polly flat matte colors that see you all the time. Accomplishing this look is really easy. I simply captured some RGB value, cranked the Metallic and Roughness settings till they were flat. Utilizing a Master Material, I just spun up Material Instances with varying RGB colors till I got everything I wanted. With that in mind, I just applied some panning normals to simulate water!

Pretty easy blue print with a pretty good-looking water effect. The built-in variables allow for some quick modification for instances, but for this project there was only one area for water…

With most the materials being real basic, I wanted (for some reason) to make some really sweet looking ice. The only thing that doesn’t really have that low-polly matte feel to it. After watching some Youtube videos, I captured a really nice-looking ice with the ability to add snow dynamically.

The most complicated Material Blueprint yet… I won’t claim I know what everything is doing here, but I got the general idea! This is a mash of multiple tutorials into one Blueprint. Hey, it works!


I don’t have much to say on Animation that I haven’t talked about in previous posts, but for one thing… Mixamo! What a freaking life saver. As a software engineer, I don’t really have an eye for art or a lot of experiencing with anything related. That includes rigging and animating… Well, Mixamo handles those two things for you!! Made a nice model, pop it into Mixamo, Mixamo pops it back out ready for animating! Incredible.

Well that about wraps this up! If you’re interested in playing the game yourself and you’re on Windows OS, find it here: Download (62MB)