Tutorial: Light Functions in UDK

January 29, 2014
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Here I’ll show you a quick video of how I used light functions in UDK to bring simple fire to life in my Gothic Cathedral demo.

I forgot to mention this in the video, but any material you create to be used as a light function will need to have this property enabled: MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE USAGE Be sure to tick “Used as Light Function” in order for this material to, well, be used as a light function…..


Below you’ll find a still image of the material I built for this light function. You may also be interested to know that I used this same technique to achieve the stained glass lighting for the Gothic Cathedral. For stained glass, it was as simple as creating a new light function material that added the stained glass texture to an emissive node. Nothing fancy about it like the one below, just texture to emissive. Though you’ll also need to make the static mesh with an emissive material to achieve the proper effect.


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Oculus Rift: Gothic Cathedral

November 30, 2013
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A representation of a Gothic cathedral for the Oculus Rift using UDK, built as a project for an Art History course at the Art Institute Atlanta.

Lighting is one of my favorite things to do inside of UDK. The Unreal Engine has just made it really easy to take mediocre assets and, through decent lighting, create something that looks truly amazing. This was one of my first experiences attempting to create a stained glass lighting effect, and while I may have gone a tad overboard on rendering light shafts, I think it turned out really well overall. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll probably make a tutorial on how exactly I pulled this off.


The meshes and textures I used to build this cathedral were purchased from a user on TurboSquid, and they were not my favorite option. They were simply the cheapest route, and I guess you get what you pay for. Either way, at least as my first experience with TurboSquid, I managed to get those assets in a number of different formats and was actually able to use them (albeit with some modification to the textures). Sadly, that’s a pretty huge bonus compared to scraping the internet for free assets. Even with these meshes being low-quality, once they’re inside UDK you’re able to just do so much to improve their visual fidelity that the quality argument is much diminished.

This was also my first look at creating light functions in UDK, which I used to make the flickering lights emitted from the fires. I can see how this can be an incredibly powerful technique, as it was really simple to implement and can create a lot of really cool effects based on the textures you sample. Will need to do more experimentation with these to see what I can come up with.



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Spire of Babylon – Oculus Rift

October 3, 2013
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A while back I made a post about a level I built in UDK which I called the Babylon Spire. I am pleased to now bring you an updated version of this level, optimized for the Oculus Rift.

Download Spire of Babylon for Oculus RiftDownload the installer here.

As something I’ve been working on in my spare time, this is a third person tech demo featuring original music by a talented local Atlanta artist, Allen P Smith. The character model used was provided to me by Denaf Games out of Indonesia, for an unannounced JRPG project we’re collaborating on. You’ll find two areas in this demo… the Spire’s exterior, and it’s interior, both levels built primarily with assets that ship with UDK (I obviously made a few changes…). You can use the bottom option of the pause menu to restart the demo at any time. (sorry there’s no like “restart” text… a bug I haven’t fixed yet).

I highly recommend using an Xbox 360 wired controller, as this demo does not have full keyboard/mouse support.

Controls are simple… left thumbstick to move the character around, and the right thumbstick to adjust the pitch and yaw of the camera. You can hold the left trigger to run, and use the shoulder buttons to zoom in and out.


Download Spire of Babylon for Oculus RiftDownload the installer here.

For the Rift version of this demo, I dropped the post processing effect I was using for rain, and went with straight particle effects. While the rain post process didn’t really look all that great to begin with, it created some really odd distortions in the Rift simply due to the warp of the lenses. It’s a much larger drain on resources, but the rain particles do look pretty awesome in the Rift. I’ll need to revisit the process to make them a bit more realistic… more like rain and less like snow.

As I had built this level originally in an older version of UDK, once I had imported it to the Oculus version of UDK I found a lot of my scales were off. This caused me to rebuild the tower, expand the background city, and enlarge the skydome. In a future revision I’d really like to revisit the skydome and add a lot more effects, to where it looks as if the tower is powering the sky.


Let me know what you think!

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Cape Riverne for Oculus Rift

September 16, 2013
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I’ve had the dev kit in my possession for a month now, and I still cannot even begin to fathom the possibilities for this technology. It’s just unreal. And speaking of Unreal…

One of the first things I did when I received my Rift dev kit was build a new level using some of the assets I had pulled for my FFXI: Soldier demo. With the Rift in hand, I really wanted to do something to feel that sense of scale that only VR can provide, and opted for remodeling the Bahamut scene at Cape Riverne.


This demo is pretty basic, but showcases what Soldier may have been like in the Oculus Rift. There isn’t much to do, as I haven’t yet built any gameplay… but staring up at Bahamut like this definitely gives a wondrous feeling of dread. I highly recommend simply falling off the island, as it’s really all you can do in this demo. Also, it’s surreal.

Download Riverne for Oculus RiftDownload the installer here.

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Spire Interior – in the Oculus Rift!?

July 15, 2013
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Yes, it’s true. I’ve gone ahead and purchased an Oculus Rift developer’s kit. I have not yet used one of them, but if it does what they say it does… then it truly is the future of gaming. Day Zero for virtual reality, is what they’re calling it. To be a part of that is highly intriguing, and an opportunity that I simply could not pass up. So although I’ve paid for the dev kit, it’ll likely be a few months before the actual device is in my hands. However, the purchase did provide me with immediate access to all of the relevant software to develop Rift applications. Most importantly, the Rift integration of UDK.

I spent the weekend getting myself up and running successfully on the Oculus-ready build. I’m amazed at the difference in scale required already, from my simple editor testing. I have converted the Spire itself to the Rift, and then put together a new level to serve as the spire’s first floor interior. Enjoy the video below to catch a look.

The basic idea is that you will spawn in the center of the room, looking at the only active portal. Upon investigating the effect, you will teleport to a new level. When your objectives in that level are complete, you return to the center of the spire’s interior, to enter the next portal. When all four portals have been cleared, the ceiling’s barrier will fall and allow you to proceed to the next floor of the tower.




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The Babylon Spire UDK Level

July 7, 2013
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in UDK

A video comprising the tour of what I call The Babylon Spire, a level made in the Unreal Development Kit.

I’ve been working very diligently on Soldier, but I decided to spend the weekend making something a bit more original, and this is what I came up with. The Babylon Spire will not be used in Soldier, though, you can see now how the level works with the Soldier game code.

This work was inspired by an initial level design I made in one of my first courses at the Art Institute, which you can view here. I’d need to reconsider some of the design in order to actively implement it in UDK, but it may be a concept worth developing.


The Babylon Spire pushed me to learn a couple of new level design techniques, including how to use post-processing effects, how to build a cutscene with matinee, and my first attempt at simulating weather. I was also able to expand on lightning techniques, and I feel as though this is my best lit level yet.

I also created a matinee with a randomized delay that toggles lights and particle effects to achieve the atmospheric lightning. I also used an orange exponential height fog with some orange point lights to give the city around the spire a warm, eerie glow.

I had mentioned earlier about using post-processing effects, which I used to generate the rain material over the camera lens. I had originally attempted a different technique, applying the rain material to a vertical sheet… but no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it to look good and opted for the post-processing route. I added a number of “splash” particle effects to the ground, so it’d look more natural. I definitely feel I have some work to do with building weather, but this worked out alright.

I absolutely wanted to do something different at the top of the spire, instead of the randomized orb I placed there. The orb is actually a series of particle effects that shipped with UDK (a slightly modified version of the Shock Rifle ball), that I made oversized and applied an Orbit mechanic to. Originally I had wanted to tear open the sky with clouds and lightning, forming a kind of tornado above the spire… but I wasn’t able to come up with anything that even remotely resembled that. So for the sake of time, I put the orb there and finished up the level so I could make the video and post it. I’d definitely like to revisit that at some point.


The spire was built with static meshes provided by Jcaulton on the Epic forums, and the skydome is a modified version of one originally created by Julio Juarez at 3DBrushwork.com.


This video also shows off some of my very first custom animation, which you can see by keeping an eye on the character during the first few moments. I’ve built a custom idle, and a run to go along with it. I made them in 3DS Max using the CAT tool, and as my first attempts, I think they turned out okay. Not great, he’s pretty stiff… but they’ll do for now. I’ll be building some new stuff soon, strafes and rolls and whatnot for mobility, along with some attack and spellcasting animations.

Hope you enjoy the video and screenshots!

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FFXI: Soldier – Alpha version 1.0 release

June 25, 2013
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Official FFXI:Soldier Alpha 1.010 – 06.27.2013 (376 MB – download in browser – SORRY, THIS SOFTWARE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE!)


About one year after I originally began this project, I am proud to release the first version of Final Fantasy XI: Soldier.  An early exercise in level design, this is a recreation of the HNM hunting scene from Treasures of Aht Urghan, the third FFXI expansion pack.  In this quick demo, you can experience the Aht Urghan Whitegate, Caedarva Mire, Wajaom Woodlands, and Mount Zhayolm.

The video below will guide you through a quick walkthrough of using this particular version.

This release marks a huge milestone for Soverance Studios, by having this game officially enter it’s alpha phase and become available for testing. It’s come quite a ways from last year, from when I knew next to nothing about building games. Having a working prototype in one of the industry’s most advanced engines feels like a great personal achievement, even if it’s not much of a game yet. It does still have a number of issues, those known to me are documented in the README, and fixes are in the works.


  • Windows XP / Vista / 7  (32 or 64-bit)
  • 2.0 GHz processor
  • * 2.0+ GHz multicore processor recommended
  • 2 GB system RAM
  • SM3 compatible video card
  • * 1 GB video memory recommended
  • DirectX 9 or higher
  • 500 MB Hard Disk space

Download Options

Official FFXI:Soldier Alpha 1.010 – 06.27.2013(376 MB – download in browser – SORRY, THIS SOFTWARE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE!)


NOTE: The rendering thread exception bug has been fixed in Version 1.010.

To learn more about this project, I also recommend viewing the following documentation:


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Mount Zhayolm

June 1, 2013
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A short video of the Mount Zhayolm level I’ve created for Soldier.

As you can see, the game is coming together nicely, despite still relying heavily on all the guts that was Unreal Tournament 3. I’ll slowly be working those functions of of the code, replaced with functions that more reflect the vision I have.

More importantly, I’ve finally managed to get the “flow” working… that is, you are able to transition between levels through Scaleform menus by using triggers on the Runic Portals. As a pretty major milestone, I’ll be packaging the game soon in it’s first state and distributing the .exe here on soverance.com for testing before I delve into building combat. I’d love to get some feedback on the project, so keep an eye on this blog for news on that if you’d like to play test.

Enjoy the video, and comments are welcome!


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Tutorial: Scaleform HUD

March 20, 2013
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EDIT:  8/24/2015

Due to some changes in our services with Google Drive, I no longer have access to the presentation file that originally formed this tutorial. Luckily, the three videos involved still remain on our YouTube channel and are now embedded on this page. I’ve also recovered the UnrealScript classes via Pastebin, which are now linked below.

Below you’ll find a new tutorial for creating a working Scaleform HUD. I recently began working on this HUD project, and during my research I came across a number of tutorials that were of exceptional quality, but a bit outdated. Many of the tutorials I found were a few years old at best, operating on deprecated code from previous builds of UDK. It took a few hours of research to figure out how to make it the UnrealScript work with a more current version of UDK. During that research I found a few threads on this very forum where other people had run into the same issue, so I figured I’d shoot a couple quick videos and put it all together here for your perusal.

I’ve also posted this on the Epic Games forums, of which you’ll find the thread here:




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