top of page

Ember Point is a combat-focused, third-person action game with horror elements. Play as an ex-soldier and member of a research team working for a Mega Corporation, developing a top-secret project to reverse the effects of a planetary catastrophe called The Overheating. I am the combat, enemy designer, and gameplay programmer on this. It is also my college capstone project. 

Platform |  PC                                     Engine | Unreal Engine 5          Duration |  Sept 2022 - Ongoing                     Team Size | 11
Playtime | 10 Minutes                         Download | Coming Soon        Roles | 
Combat & Enemy Designer, Programmer              


  • Led the design and implementation of gunplay, melee combat, cinematic executions, and camera behavior. 

  • Designed and scripted all enemy archetypes, and behaviors in collaboration with level designers to create intense encounters. 

  • Prototyped a system that detects the direction of player attacks for responsive directional enemy hit reactions. ​​

  • Designed and implemented shock gun from concept to completion. 

  • Wrote documentation for shock-gun, core combat loop, and enemy AI. 

  • Collaborated with level designers to develop a tool that allows players to push objects using the shock gun.



In 2075, humanity migrated to a distant planet while Earth succumbed to the effects of The Overheating. While a majority of humanity could escape safely, radiation exposure introduced a new disease GH, or Gradual Hyperthermia, that is slowly wiping out humanity. As GH begins to progress, it begins to cause hallucinations, unexplained rage, hyper strength, and emanating heat. Once the infected human reaches its Ember Point, there is no chance of survival, and the victim, once human, will have become a monstrous creature simply waiting for its demise.  Gravitus, an ex-soldier, and researcher a part of Katani Industries, has been tasked to travel to Earth with a powerful heat neutralizer, The Wave Gun, as well as the Regen Suit for protection and run experiments on what’s left of humanity to observe the possibility of reverting the effects of GH. As he journeys down to the fiery planet alongside his associate via wireless transmission, he crashes into a desolate town. Along the way, he encounters what is left of the human race on Earth, which are now mutated, monster-like heat vacuums. 



The Wave Gun is the core ranged weapon of Ember Point to progress through levels and defeat enemies. The purpose of the weapon is to fumigate fire and heat. It also exposes enemy weaknesses called Ember Points which contain highly explosive, radioactive liquid. Destroying an Ember Point immediately puts an enemy into an executable state; when executing an enemy, players gain a high amount of ammo to progress through an intense encounter. We went through many iterations for this mechanic. Initially, the wave gun was a syringe! Yes, you heard me right, a weapon with a needle as a projectile. I'll first talk about my brainstorming process, followed by why the syringe gun REALLY hindered our combat flow. This was the first time I'd ever worked on a third-person shooter! 


Syringe Gun (Very early prototype)


Wave Gun (at Alpha)

Gravitus is a character with expertise in medical research and military training, meaning he's a solid fighter with skills in ranged, and close combat, he is also an expert in medical procedures. We had first to discuss his ranged weapon in relation to the narrative. The remaining humans on Earth have succumbed to Gradual Hyperthermia, a disease that causes incredible levels of heat to emanate from their bodies, making them incredibly violent, aggressive, and grotesque; when reaching their max heat capacity, their heat becomes so intense, they reveal Ember Points -- an external sack of radioactive fluid that is the source of an infected human's strength. I recognized this would be an excellent design opportunity since our game was pitched to incorporate horror elements. Now I am no horror fan, but I needed to do the necessary research to brainstorm our core weapon. The two most valuable games were Resident Evil 4 and Dead Space, take note: I AM VERY SCARED OF HORROR GAMES; THESE WERE MY FIRST!  


Third-person horror combat has three incredibly vital pillars: resource management, deliberate positioning, and spacing. I pitched and prototyped a weapon called the syringe gun to match said pillars. This weapon allowed players to shoot a needle into an enemy's ember point, which would siphon heat and convert it to ammo (resource management). When a needle makes contact with the Ember Point, players must hold the RT button to extract the heat; during this state, they are incredibly limited in movement and rotation (deliberate positioning). The syringe gun is effective farther from an enemy since it offers more time for resource farming but was heavily ineffective up close (spacing). When a player successfully extracts enough heat from an enemy's ember point, they can expel the heat as a flamethrower. I felt seriously embarrassed by this mechanic because I forgot ONE thing: 



Nothing felt more mind-shattering than seeing a player rant about your mechanic as they play. Crowd control felt like a nightmare, inputs were disaster and overall, nothing felt responsive. The main issue was that the syringe gun kept hindering combat momentum. If we didn't have any melee combat, the gun might have felt a bit more interesting; however, since melee was incorporated, some players didn't even bother using the syringe. It turned into a waiting game: run away from an enemy, siphon until they approach you from afar, and attack using the flamethrower or melee combat, and players DEFINITELY picked the latter. The ultimate rule of action game combat is never to break the momentum or remove player agency, decisions need to be quick. Players must express themselves; in this example, the playtester felt like they couldn't.


It was evident that all of our playtesters didn't enjoy the syringe gun, including our faculty members, and they were concerned about where the project's combat was headed. We all felt very attached to the idea, thinking there was something salvageable about it; we discussed the concept of the syringe pulling players into enemy vicinities or grabbing objects from afar. However, I addressed that these concepts felt like we were abandoning the weapon's identity and ultimately gives more leeway for players to ignore the horror elements of our game; we want players to feel anxious and consider their space in relation to the enemy's position. Ultimately, I gathered the team and had to tell the truth... we had to cut the mechanic since it was not doing us any favors, to which they all sadly agreed. 



After cutting the syringe gun, I returned to our narrative documents and realized that the syringe's function didn't make much sense. If we extracted heat and expelled it in the form of fire to inflict damage on our enemies, who are literally on fire, then wouldn't that make them stronger? Doesn't fire constantly expand when we're giving it more ways to fuel itself? Wait, why are we even fighting fire with fire? Then it hit me, the simpler our mechanic is, the easier it becomes for our players to digest. I asked myself the following questions: 

  • Why not have the gun fumigate enemies and objects?

  • Wouldn't that make us craft situational encounters in relation to narrative pillars?

  • What if we rewarded them after they fumigated their enemies?

  • What if close-quarters combat helped players gain ammo instead of picking it up?

  • Wouldn't that encourage rush-down style combat?

I discovered this was the ranged weapon we needed! I wrote a feature document, then pitched it to the team, and they were all on board. We called it the Wave Gun.


I was responsible for implementing all gunplay and melee combat, so let's get into the nitty-gritty. The wave gun has two firing modes: a heat bullet and a wave bullet. Many factors must be considered to ensure we are nailing our game feel for the wave gun in general: aiming, distance, and damage values. ​

bandicam 2023-02-20 13-17-19-631.png

Let's start with aiming; one of the essential factors behind well-designed ranged combat is user experience. Usually, third-person shooters have a UI reticle in the middle of the screen — many games like Gears of War and Uncharted use this approach. However, while in aiming mode, Ember Point takes inspiration from Resident Evil 4's laser sight, accompanied by Dead Space's movement system. Part of what makes Resident Evil 4 scary is the field of view on aim; it is so close that Leon's head and weapons obstruct most of the screen's boundaries, leaving players unaware of their surroundings, adding that with Dead Space's ADS movement gives leeway for players to distance themselves from enemies since they move tremendously quick in our game. 


Wave Gun Actor 

Aim Animation with re-edit bones in-engine

The Wave gun is a separate actor created with its logic. It contains a cylinder component with an emissive material to imitate a laser and an end-point particle. The end-point's location is determined by a ray cast which fires every frame and will translate at the site where the ray cast has been hit. Therefore, the end-point will constantly reposition itself wherever the ray cast hits. The wave gun actor is attached to our player character's hand socket as a child component and is rotated or translated to our liking to match our game feel goals. Since our wave gun is attached to the hand socket of our player character's skeleton, I realized it was essential to also edit our aiming animation's spine bone in-engine to match the position of our laser sight to be in the center of the screen. 

Our intended target audience for Ember Point is fans of third-person action games like God of War and horror shooters like Resident Evil 4 or Dead Space. Still, we needed to offer accessible gameplay features to audiences interested in these genres but have never played them. I had to consider that some beginners might have difficulties dealing with enemies.  I programmed an aim assist and implemented a large collider sphere so bullet shots could still be detected slightly out of bounds. The aim assist uses the raycast logic I discussed previously but will snap to the target depending on whether or not it hits the collider sphere for a specific duration; the collider sphere is essential since it also makes shooting enemies a bit easier since they move pretty quickly. After implementation, I focused on making sure things felt accessible, and easy to use. 


Now let's get into the distance and damage values; since I was also responsible for programming the gameplay, I did my best to create highly versatile tools for both the wave gun's projectiles -- the heat bullet and the wave bullet. Our gunplay values are all driven by editable variables in our player character, and they help us control many factors that drive the heat bullet's behavior and feel. The values control the following: 

  • The bullet's radius. (we are using a spherical and elongated ray cast to have more lenient hit windows)

  • Shot length (to what extent should our shot's distance be?)

  • Cooldown (how repeatable is it per x seconds)

  • Damage 

  • Ammo loss amount 

When initially testing these values, many playtesters didn't bother using the heat bullet of the wave gun since it wasn't inflicting enough damage on enemies. So we had to consider making bullet shots stronger, longer, quicker, and more costly on the player's energy meter. 

bandicam 2023-02-20 16-33-12-503.png


I'm working hard on polishing melee combat and enemy AI. I'll add additional documentation to this page regarding these two critical areas. I thought I would write down how I implemented the wave gun and its overall aiming properties since this was my first time working on gunplay. I had to do a heaping amount of testing to ensure our combat was on the right track, which was super beneficial. 



bottom of page