Starting an adventure with Unreal Engine 4

Ok, "what are you doing?" you’ll probably ask. This has already been on this blog! Do I have no any new topics to cover so I dig out an almost 3 years old topic? Well, I decided to rewrite this entry exactly because it is almost 3 years old and Unreal Engine 4 changed a lot. What’s more, my experience grew up and my opinions and approaches to many things changed too.

This article is aimed to people who want to start working with Unreal Engine 4 but is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of online tutorials and simply don’t know where to start. I just want to share you the collection of articles and tutorials that helped me the most with learning UE4.

I can’t decide between Unreal Engine 4 and Unity. Which one is better?

There is no simple answer to this question (especially when you don’t want to start a flame war). Both engines are mature and have impressive portfolio of released games made with them. I think, that I will simply tell one, in my opinion the most important, major difference between these two engines.

Unity is easier to start with and easier to learn. You can create and publish game very quick. It also gives you more freedom on how the game is constructed. But, if you are making bigger project, which might take few years to finish, managing such big project in Unity is a terrible pain. Doing changes will start to be gruesome task and the compilation will start taking ages.

Unreal Engine 4 requires more time to learn it. There are a lot of hidden options and rules which developer will have to be aware of to make game work well. It forces to construct a game in a specific manner. But, because of forced standards of the game construction, the game itself is better planned and more stable. It is also magically easy to put big changes to a game even in the late stage of work. UE4 also gives all tools embedded into editor, which allows to create professionally looking games over the years of development.

Long story short – if you are doing small game, which you plan to finish in less than a year, or maybe some small, 2D mobile game then Unity is probably a better choice for you. But if you are planning to make bigger game (which will take more than a year of development) then, in my opinion, UE4 is the only right choice.

Blueprints or C++?

Blueprints are a visual scripting language for UE4. If you start learning UE4, no matter if you know how to code or not, I suggest to start with Blueprints. You can iterate with them much faster than with C++ and they will teach you basic ideas of how UE4 works. After some time you will discover that Blueprints can be easily rewritten into C++ and you will learn where to use Blueprints and where to use C++.

What is the best tutorial to start with?

There are two series of UE4 tutorials which, in my opinion, are the brightest gems in the whole sea of UE4 learning materials and they both are made by one awesome guy - Mathew Wadstein.

The first series is an Intro to UE4 in which Mathew describes all basic stuff like working in the editor, using Blueprints and using some of the tools available in UE4.


The second one is a FPS in which the simple FPS game is made. It shows how to plan the development of a game,  the more advance use of UE4 structures and how to create a game from scratch.


I also recommend his other series like "WTF is ..." where he explains single features of the engine and "UE4 Highlights" where he describes new features in every engine update.

C++

If you want to enter the world of C++ in Unreal Engine 4 I recommend the tutorial from RaywenderlichIt gives easy and smooth introduction to C++ in UE4. It should explain all the basic concepts to you. You will also notice how Blueprints can be easilly translated into C++ code. Unfortunatelly, further learning is simply writing stuff and looking for answers in Answer Hub

Other worth mentioned materials

With such basics I really recommend these materials for a more advanced topics which, in my opinion, will help you with better understanding of how the engine works and how to use it.

Koloska's Shooter Tutorial - I mean, the first chapter. It shows the importance of game components, their roles and order of their creation.

Blueprints In-depth - describes how Blueprints works in details. It shows the most common pitfalls the developer can fall into when working with Blueprints and shows some really cool under the hood stuff.


Introducing the Principles of Real-time - from the Unreal Academy is a must watch if you want to make your game works smoothly.

Overcoming Common Early Challenges in Unreal Engine - for dessert - really light and cool to watch presentation about some common mistakes and how to unconsciously break some stuff ;)

Good luck and have fun!

That was a my "private collection" of the best materials to start learning UE4.

You probably noticed I didn't include any tutorials for animation, cinematics, particles, materials, UI and more, because these are more specialized topics. You can find more tutorials about them in Unreal Academy and official UE4 Youtube Channel, there are plenty of great videos about how to use every single part of the Engine.

But, with the knowledge about the basics and Engine core - you are ready to do some Unreal things!