Hymn of the Sands

Hymn of the Sands | UDK

Development Info:

  • Role: Level Designer
  • Team Size: 14 Developers
  • Genre: Isometric Hack 'n Slash
  • Engine: Unreal Engine 3 [UDK]
  • Development Time: 5 Months

Game Features:

  • Unique Realm-Shifting Mechanic
  • Five Legendary Bosses
  • Colorful Egyptian Aesthetic

385.66 Mb

Game Summary:

Hymn of the Sands is an isometric hack 'n slash dungeon crawler with light RPG and puzzle elements. As Egyptian god Osiris awoken from the dead, battle your way through your tomb on a quest for immortality. Regain your lost powers, upgrade abilities, and shift between the realms of the living and the dead.

The Goal:

Build interesting puzzles and challenging combat around the central mechanic of realm shifting.

What I Did:

  • Created prototype of realm-shifting mechanic
  • Curated or created all sound effects
  • Created all ability, character, boss, and most environmental particles
  • Designed and implemented Ptah: The Mad Craftsman boss fight
  • Cut together final trailer

The Result:

  • Created a colorful and bombastic hack n' slash adventure

Particle Design on Hymn of the Sands:

The majority of my time spent on Hymn of the Sands was with particles, in particular the player and boss ability particles. Working on particles placed me in position where I was talking almost every day with artists, programmers, and my fellow level designers about the materials I was using, how the particles were going to be hooked up in game, and how well they communicated the ability being used.


Sound Effects on Hymn of the Sands:

All of the sound effects in Hymn of the Sands originated from the Guildhalls own collection of sound effects or websites like freesound.org, but all of them passed through Audacity to be altered, blended, or trimmed down to match what we need for the game. Below is a short selection of sound effects from the game:


The Mad Architect Boss Fight: 

Someone on our team once joked about having the Guardians in Hymn of the Sands having laser eyes. When we decided on having a boss for each of our enemy types, it was the first thing I tried.

The main focus of Hymn of the Sands was our realm shifting mechanic. In order to reinforce this mechanic I made the platforms reachable by using the Blink ability alone, since the Guardians in the Ptah boss fight are more vulnerable to dead realm abilities.

Ptah's behavior was handled entirely through kismet.

Players arrive to find Ptah: The Mad Architect awakening from a slumber. Ptah, throughout the fight, continues to face the player on one of four platforms and fires a sweeping laser. This provided one of the constant threats. The other was a pair of Guardian spawners on each platform. Generally, the knock back from a Guardian's charge is painful already, but with the high ledges and lack of walls in this boss fight it becomes fatal. The Guardian adds spawn in pairs after both are destroyed until Ptah is defeated. In order to overtake Ptah, players must trigger chain points at each of the four platforms to pull him in to deal damage. Originally these trigger points would knock Ptah back with a swinging axe into the opposite platform, but due to the large size of the area it proved too difficult to communicate what was going on. Once Ptah is defeated, all the Guardians are destroyed, the player is rewarded with an ability upgrade, and a floating bridge of rubble rises up leading to an exit portal.