Unreal Engine : Getting Started

In a bit of departure from the usual posts in 8bir Heaven, I want to look at some more modern ways of developing game titles. This is in the hopes of helping others get a start in game development. This is a bit of a guide and tour of the interface.

First things first, download the Unreal Engine, this is completely free but will you will need to register.

The Launcher

Once you begin Unreal Engine, it will load up the launcher. At the time of writing I am using version 4.3.1. As you read this, there may be a later, more current version available so the launcher may look different.

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No matter what your version of the launcher looks like, you will want to click the launch button of Unreal Engine. There are of course lots of tutorials and learning materials available in the Learn section. The Marketplace is also another great place to browse, full of free and premium assets to use in your games. These include animations, models, blueprints and sample levels

Once you click the Launch button, the following dialogue box should appear

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If you want Unreal to auto reload a project that you are working on, instead of this dialog you can tick the “Always load last project on startup”

In our case we are just going to create a simple project today.

  1. Click the “New Project” tab and then fill it in as follows.
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If you wish to change the location, you need to click the drop down arrow at the bottom right to get additional options.

In this dialogue box you can choose from a number of project templates, these will use either Blueprints or C++. Templates include starter packs such as FPS, Racing games or Flying Games. In our case, to get a feel for the editor we want to start from scratch, so we choose Blank.

Once you click “Create Project” the Unreal Engine itself should finally load.

Unreal Editor

Finally we get to the Unreal Engine, this is where you will spend most of your game development life going forward. Let’s take a quick tour of the essentials.

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Unreal is an application that completely eats your screen space. It does support multiple Windows and you will often have several editors open at once. Let’s break the screen down into easy to digest pieces.

Modes Panel

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If you are planning on making a 3D game, this is a panel that you will use frequently. The tabs across the top are Place, Paint, Landscape, Foliage and Geometry Editing.

The Content Browser Panel

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The Content Browser is very important, this is how you get your assets into your game. All the various files that go into making your game, such as models, textures etc can be dragged and dropped into the right side of the window.

The Toolbar

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Across the top of the screen you have the convenient toolbar. Most of the buttons are self explanatory but a couple deserve further mention. Buttons with drop down arrows have additional options, like with the above example with the Play button.

Play runs your game, either in the current viewport, in a new window, as a stand alone game or in the mobile simulator. Launch on the other hand is used for running your game on an actual device, such as an iPad. Blueprints and World Settings are very handy but wee will cover those in another lesson.

Scene Outliner

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This is your scene graph. This is where you create actual instances of your game assets to put together a level. This is a little like using Lego to build a world. The individual lego pieces, these individual pieces which you would choose to build a post office etc, would be shown here.

As you can see from the screenshot above, there are a number of options for selecting each instance, editing its code, modifying its visibility etc.

The Details Panel

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Linked with the Outliner, the Details panel enables you to edit the individual properties of each object instance in your game world. It is context sensitive as you can see in the screenshot above, these details shown as with the Lightsource selected in the outliner.

The Viewpoint

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This is the 3D representation of your scene. You can drag objects from the Content Browser to the viewpoint to add them to the scene. You can select, move, rotate and scale objects. Speaking of moving, rotating and scaling. These can be controlled using these buttons.

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You can also use the W,E and R keys respectively.

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