OCP shows off Project Frontier game based on Unreal Engine 5



OCP recently emerged as a new game studio focused on a new game dubbed Project Frontier and a creator platform dubbed CreatorLab. Both are powered by Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 game engine.

Project Frontier is a session-based survival game: a cross between Valheim and Helldivers 2. It combines the magic of survival games (Palworld, Sons of the Forest, Enshrouded) with retentive and social gameplay (like with Helldivers, Deep Rock Galactic and Rust). Now it’s about to get its first playtest.

Project Frontier is built with a mod-first approach: you can make new weapons, characters, gameplay, quests, and more. All of which can be instantly shared with everyone else playing Project Frontier. The ease of modding Project Frontier will keep the game evergreen and makes it an ideal long-term game for streamers, said Mike Atamas, CEO of OCP, in an interview with GamesBeat. He cofounded the company with his brother Nick.

The company is holding closed playtests of Project Frontier through June and it wants to build a relationship with streamers from now through and beyond launch. The goal with Project Frontier and CreatorLab is to support creators in making content and monetizing that content. The aim is to turn creators into stars.


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As for the difference between this and Roblox or Fortnite, players have more of a path to follow that gets them around the barrier of building an awesome game at the very start. Rather, they can develop small pieces of a game and then build up to their own standalone project, Mike Atamas said.

“If someone else made something cool, you can combine them together into a game, and you can combine those things with just a couple of clicks,” Mike Atamas said.

Project Frontier

OCP is making Project Frontier as an ARPG with UGC.

Project Frontier is Valheim meets Helldivers 2: a session-based PvPvE survival game, or player-versus-player-versus environment.

In each session, players load in as a team of three, together with up to nine other teams. Each team has a main objective that they need to complete. Before you can go for the main objective, you have to gather resources, craft gear, and explore the world to find more resources and powerful items. Once you’ve completed your main quest, you and your team need to extract from the island.

The world of Project Frontier is very dangerous and you cannot survive alone. You’ll need to work with your team and forge alliances with other teams. But beware, betrayal is always an option. Everyone is friends before it is time to split the loot.

The company is on track to have a few thousand people play the game in its first playtest. Players will be able to play the game, and the hope is they will be able to switch to creator mode with one button. You can add things to the game and you’ll see it as you play the game again. Compared to other survival crafting games, players don’t have to immediately go out and chop down 1,000 trees. Instead, the players can gain resources more quickly and then start being creative. You can also leverage the work of others.

More details

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Project Frontier’s environments are made with Unreal Engine.

Each session lasts 30-45 minutes. Players load in as teams of three. Each session can have two to 10 teams.

Players start with very limited equipment – harvesting, crafting, and exploration are a must to survive. Exploration is critical and the game is designed to remove the grind of survival games that would normally slow down exploration.

Players can build resource extractors to automate harvesting so they can focus on engaging with other players and the island, without being stuck manually harvesting.

And players have a mobile base where they can craft and respawn. They can also build bases via prefabs.
The island is filled with quests, which change from session to session. Discover and complete quests to learn more of the island’s lore and get powerful loot.

Every team has a main quest that they need to complete to win the match. Teams are assigned different quests which can be cooperative or antagonistic to other teams’ quests.

Once the main quest is complete, players can increase their score by extracting from the island. The map is procedurally generated so each playthrough is unique. The quests, POIs, enemies, and loot is different each playthrough.

CreatorLab

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OCP wants creators to help expand its world of Project Frontier.

Project Frontier is built entirely in CreatorLab (powered by Unreal Engine 5). CreatorLab is OCP’s game design and modding toolkit.

Easy to use, without sacrificing power, CreatorLab allows players to easily mod and improve Project Frontier itself. CreatorLab makes it easy to make anything from making a new weapon, creating a powerful boss, writing a new quest, and more. You can mod alone or with your friends; CreatorLab is fully multiplayer.

If you don’t want to be bound by Project Frontier, you don’t have to be. Players can use CreatorLab to make their own standalone games, just like in Roblox or UEFN. If you want to change the code itself, the company has made most of the game logic code of Project Frontier available through CreatorLab. Sophisticated creators can edit the code while playing and change the game at a fundamental level.

Because Project Frontier and CreatorLab were built for modding from the ground up, anything made by the community or OCP can be mixed and matched with no additional technical work. For example, if you make a monster hunter questline and your friend makes a cozy farming sim, you can combine them into one game with a few clicks.

You can also inject the monster hunter questline directly into Project Frontier itself and share it with every player. This solves discovery for creators – with no additional technical work, you can expose your creations to every Project Frontier player. Like YouTube and TikTok, we want creators to focus on making amazing games that we help get in front of players.

CreatorLab and Project Frontier are one executable. This means that any platform on which you can play, you can also create on. There is no cooking, local compiling, uploading. It’s one click to switch from playing to creating and one more click to switch back to playing.

Progress so far

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Project Frontier and CreatorLab are powered by Unreal.

Project Frontier and CreatorLab are both in a pre-alpha state. Empowering players to shape the Project Frontier and be active participants in game development is the heart of OCP’s mission. It is the reason the company built both Project Frontier and CreatorLab.

OCP wants to expose the game to players as early as possible and have the community help guide the development. It is still early in development, so there are a few existing limitations to note: The map is currently static. Procedural map generation tech is almost complete and the team soon transition to full PCG maps.

In addition, the current content library is limited. Over time, we will add more weapons, characters, quests, etc. World lore and characters are in active development and may change. Things are not set in stone at this stage. Some systems are still not fully implemented or limited.

For example, creating buildings in CreatorLab is on the roadmap and will be available in 2024, but is not currently possible. The meta-progression / battle pass system is in progress and not currently implemented. Overall UX/UI is slated for an overhaul.

Origins

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Nick (left) and Mike Atamas of OCP.

OCP is a new game studio, founded in late 2021, by Mike (CEO) and Nick Atamas (CTO). In 2022, they received $16.25 million in backing from Andreesen Horowitz and Upfront Ventures (and others). The studio is fully remote, with people in the U.S., Canada, Hungary, Germany, the UK, France, and New Zealand. The team is comprised of game industry veterans that have shipped: Fortnite, Gears of War, Unreal Engine 4 and 5, Doom, Roblox, Guild Wars 2, Little Big Planet, Call of Duty, Horizon, Shadow of Mordor, Tomb Raider, and more.

Prior to founding OCP, Nick and Mike Atamas were both at Epic Games. Mike Atamas ran strategy and operations for Unreal Engine and the other creator-focused products. Nick was the first engineer on Unreal Engine 4, was technical lead on Verse (the language powering UEFN), and worked on Fortnite, Gears of War 2 and 3, Paragon, and Robo Recall.

“We left in July 2021, to do our own thing. And we had a couple of insights that pushed us to do this. If you think back to early days of Blizzard when they put out StarCraft and the StarCraft editor, they had this explosion of awesome user-generated content. It gave birth to MOBAs, and tower defense, and just normal people were doing amazing things.”

Mike Atamas added, “They were doing it because Blizzard had inadvertently stumbled on the way to really not only inspire creativity, but make it really accessible. You weren’t getting a general purpose editor. You were getting a tool that was specifically built to express things with real-time strategy mechanics. It was really easy to go into the editor and start making changes you were basically playing while you were creating.”

Because Starcraft and the editor were so deeply tied together, developers could make one change and then go back and play. They understood everything because they had that shared vocabulary of StarCraft, he said.

“What we were seeing happening with UGC was more and more people were trying to give you basically a simpler version of professional tools. And that fundamentally wasn’t working,” Mike Atamas said. “We had seen how successful Fortnite creative was because it had really tapped into that same magic that StarCraft had captured.”

Epic Games moved into UGC with Unreal Editor for Fortnite, but the brothers felt like they wanted to go in a different direction.

“We realized there was this huge blue ocean opportunity to give normal people access to game creation,” Mike Atamas said. “Nobody was doing it. Everyone is fighting over how can we make this simpler with general purpose editors.”

But the industry is seeing less success with brand new titles, as the economics are changing. Triple-A game budgets are soaring, but the sales aren’t recouping those budgets. Titles like Palworld took off and then focused on how to keep players coming back and staying engaged. The brothers decided the way to do this was not with a general purpose editor but tools that were focused on action RPGs or multiplayer action RPGs, Mike Atamas said.

They are building their own game as a kind of full-fledged template for what the platform can accomplish. They want to capture the same kind of magic that StarCraft did, and then enable normal players to start tweaking it to unlock their own creativity. With more UGC, they can have players contribute more variety to the game and help solve the problem of continuous live operations.

“We’ve got a bunch of creators working on cool games, and we have enough of the core loop of our game as well,” Mike Atamas said.

The larger team

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OCP wants to enable cool ARPGs.

The OCP leadership team also includes:

  • Lowell Vaughen, product strategy fellow. He was responsible for Fortnite Battle Royale product and monetization strategy from inception. Vaughen invented the Fortnite Battlepass. He also worked on World of Warcraft, F.3.A.R., Batman: Arkham Origins, and many others.
  • Dmitriy Buluchevskiy, director of core engineering. He worked on idTech, Doom, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2, Tony Hawk 4, and more.
  • Dimitry Kozlov, director of online and platform. He built the online tech and ecommerce stack that powers Fortnite.
  • Ronald Kury, art director. He shipped Guild Wars 2, Shadow of Mordor, Icarus and others.
  • Deepak Nair, director of product. He founded developer relations at Roblox, Fortnite Creative, and UEFN.

The team has about 40 people, which is big enough to get the work done and small enough to be nimble, Mike Atamas said.



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