Dev Diaries: KaramelLand


Back in May this year, I entered my UDK game, KaramelLand in IndieCade, it’s an International Festival of Independent Game. And it went through *Yay* and the finalist will be contacted by August 30th, so bsmellah =D

In this post I wanna talk more about the design iterations the map went through, so I’ve made the following collage to showcase just that.



( 1 ) [first paper prototype, far left] I initially designed a single platform for Death Match map, I imagined it to be on a mountain top, with the rivers in blue swirls and black squiggly line as rock walls part, all to work as separators between the pods where players spawn. The pods were 2-story and they had bridges to connected them all on the roofs. The colored dots represent health, and ammo packs and spawn points. The mountain top would have 3 levels in height difference. The pods in the lowest level of the mountain top, and the orange platform is central and on the highest level. An exposed vantage point. I pictured the aesthetics to be foggy, and nature focused.

[second paper prototype, second to the left] I’ve redesigned the map to be a Team Death Match map, I thought It was more suitable for the original idea, and I also wanted to add jumps and gravity mechanics. I was messing around with the physics in UDK with my professor and we had jumps. I loved the feeling of the jumps so I integrated them in the game. Two mountain tops connected via underground tunnels. And a central exposed platform, that was placed higher than the mountain ground level. Each island has 3 pods for each team, 2 holes for jumps and gravity pull holes. Gravitating holes *I still can’t think of a better name lol, any suggestions?* to pull the players down to the underground tunnels/room. Jump holes to propel the players to the central platforms, and that was the only way to get to it. Mid-air kills were fun when testing this. For this one, I pictured it in a remote planet, deserted by some civilization, that can be seen in the underground tunnels, and the player pods are of the robotic aliens that landed on that planet. Very red/orange for the world with blue and grey for the objects. The underground tunnels were to be observatory tunnels, you can see the outside world.

( 2 ) I was happy with the paper prototype, so I built it in the game engine. After a few testing rounds, I realized I’ve built a huge map in comparison to the UDK default robots characters.

( 3 ) I’ve cut down a lot of excess fat from the map, shrunk it down. At this point, I was inspired to create a totally different world theme from the I originally planned and researched for. It started with when I dragged the underground room box up in the sky to clean up, and I tested the map for something, then I noticed the box in the sky floating, I thought Jack-in-the-Box! I can do a bizarre toys/circus/candy world, and it was like a flood gate opened with ideas. I was pretty excited to create such a world. So I did my research, created the 3D models of the world in Maya.

( 4 ) The awesome process of polishing started, notice the fine lines of pink, those are the physics areas. I experimented with so many textures, for some objects I had a clear idea of what I wanted but for the ground texture, that was tricky. At some point, the game was radioactive, everything was glowing and dizzying lol. I wanted the players to feel slightly disoriented so I integrated optical illusions in the textures and had them move every so slightly. And in the Jack-in-the-Box, the creep factor were the clowns. I used some of these, I wish I know who took them so I can credit them properly. Kudos to whoever did, and to the models. Along with the images, I added sounds the portrays, whisper-y voices and shouts.

( 5 ) Final iteration of the map. I toned down the radioactive-ness by reducing the glow in the world. And ta-da! That’s it.

Download the game here. And for instructions on who to play it on UDK player follow the instructions at the end of this post.


Thanks for reading. =D


KaramelLand DeathMatch Map Game


This UDK project took about 8 weeks to be produced. I initially started with a different story and theme for the level, It went through 2 major iterations. I was going for a team deathmatch style map – for 12 players max- that was based on a deserted dusty orange planet mountain top. After the early testing feedback, It was evident that my map was too big, so I had to reduce the size of everything whilst doing so I was inspired to create a different setting for the level, a toy box/ candy land themed team deathmatch map with a dark twist to it.


So a synopses of KaramelLand map:
Miniaturized alien robots have invaded this whimsical eccentric dark oversized world, where sweet treats, cotton candy trees, jello trampoline and clowns coexist. These aggressive alien robots are in a vicious fight against each other, they’re split into red bots and blue bots with their corresponding red and blue islands in which they inhabit in KaramelLand.

Players spawn from the inside of a sinister creature’s mouth, jump spots are used to propel the players to the central wafer platform. Weapons, ammo and health pick ups are located strategically on the different platforms. Players can use the portals and jump spots to move to the different platforms/islands. Hint: Notice the colors around the space for navigational guidance. 

Download KaramelLand UDK Map, [link].

More screen captures of the level:

Spawning inside the creature’s mouth

On Blue Island, notice the jump spots with their different picks of weapons and armor. Each jump spot has its own advantage, depending on its location with the proximity to the spawning of the players inside the mouth.

The central wafer platform.


The Rocket Launcher weapon pick inside the jello, it is one of the items I mentioned earlier that are tricky to get. This jello is a trampoline, as in you can jump on it to spring up to the Jack in the Box in the sky. Image


The portals are shown here in each corner in Pink and Red and the side platforms that contain additional super pickups. Players will have to pick up the jump boots that are placed just before the edge, and they’ll have to time their jump properly so they can reach the side platform.

The Pink jump spot.Image

The Blue jump spot.

An overview of the central wafer platform, by jumping on the jello trampoline. Players are panelized for overusing the jello trampoline by losing 2 points of health each time they spring up into the box without landing inside the box. +Color coordination with the portals, so players are aware of their location.Image

The clowns inside Jack in the Box and the color-coordinated portals.


The Jack in the Box. It has no back. It’s double-faced to add that unruly feeling to the world.Image

Red Island

Blue Island

Instructions to play KaramelLand map:

1- Download the KaramelLand UDK map file, here.

2 – Download UDK (Unreal Development Kit) application. Here. (Note: I have used the Feb 2012 edition for Windows)

3- Grab the game’s map file [TDM_KaramelLand.udk], move it into the Maps/UT3 folder in the UDK root folder where you installed, it should be in your C drive. For example: Here’s mine (C:\UDK\UDK-2012-02\UDKGame\Content\Maps\UT3).

4- Search and open “UDK Game” application.

**to play in a team of AIs against another team of AIs. A Non-LAN **
1- Select the first option INSTANT ACTION.

2- Select:
b) MAP > scroll down to find TDM_KARAMELLAND > BACK.
c) SETTINGS > change BOT SKILL LEVEL to Experienced, and NUMBER OF OPPONENTS to 8 > BACK

Note: The Team Deathmatch mode of the map will only be playable between networked PCs with the UDK application and game map file on them.

I’d appreciate your feedback or if you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments.

Happy killing and exploring,