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Unreal Engine Game Development Cookbook
Unreal Engine Game Development Cookbook

Unreal Engine Game Development Cookbook: Over 40 recipes to accelerate the process of learning game design and solving development problems using Unreal Engine

By John P. Doran
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Book Oct 2015 326 pages 1st Edition
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Unreal Engine Game Development Cookbook

Chapter 1. Getting Acquainted with the UE4 Interface

In this chapter, we'll cover the following recipes:

  • Installing UE4 and folder structure

  • UI overview

  • Navigating the viewport

  • The Content Browser overview

  • Importing your own content

Introduction


UE4, created by Epic Games, is a robust game engine that contains several different game development tools, which can create any kind of game imaginable, with many areas for specialization. It would be good for newcomers to the Engine to first have a basic understanding of what the entire Unreal Engine consists of and then dive into the different areas that they are interested in.

These first recipes may seem a bit difficult for those who are unfamiliar with game development, but after a short period of time, it will become second nature to them. In this chapter, readers will gain some fundamental knowledge and have some awareness that will help and prepare them for the upcoming chapters.

Installing UE4 and folder structure


Now, in order to use UE4 at all, we have to have it installed on our computer. Even after we install it, we may also want an overview of what it is. In case you haven't installed it yet, here is how you can do this.

How to do it…

Now that we have our project set up, let's get started with creating our player:

  1. In the web browser of your choice, go to http://unrealengine.com.

  2. Once on this page, click on the light blue GET UNREAL button.

  3. Once on the Join the Community page, fill out the information and create your account!

    It's important at this point to note the subscription plan that Unreal has for its user. You need to pay a 5 percent royalty to Unreal for any games that you publish. Of course, if the title is released for free, you don't need to pay anything.

    Note

    If you happen to be a student who is 13 or above and are enrolled in a degree or diploma granting course of study, GitHub has a pack of resources for student developers that currently includes free subscription to Unreal Engine 4 for a year. If you have a school-issued e-mail address, valid student identification card, or other official proof of enrollment, check it out at https://education.github.com/pack.

    If you happen to be a teacher or school administrator, it may also be possible to get access to UE4 for your school. Find out more at https://www.unrealengine.com/education.

  4. Once you are logged in to your account, make sure that you are on the Subscription tab and then click on the Download button on the right-hand side of the screen for the operating system of your choice (I am using Windows).

    Note

    If by chance you don't see the preceding screen, you can always get the latest version of the software at https://www.unrealengine.com/dashboard.

  5. Next, once the installer has finished downloading, open it up and start the installation. If you see a security warning, click on the Run button.

  6. Go through the installation process, but make sure that the destination folder you're installing it in has a lot of disk space as UE4 will take up around 8 GB of space for each version that you have installed. Once the installation is complete, the Epic Games Launcher should open. If it doesn't, open it from your desktop.

  7. Once the launcher is open, fill in your e-mail and password and then click on the Sign In button.

  8. When you log in, the current version of UE4 will begin to download. Take a break as this will most likely take a while. Once the download is finished, you can see the Launch button lit up.

There's more…

Now that you have your UE4 installation completed, it's a good idea to see what actually has been installed. For a definition of what all of these folders are used for, please refer to https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/Basics/DirectoryStructure/index.html.

UI overview


One of the hardest things to understand when first starting out with a tool is knowing how to actually access all of the tools that are contained in the engine. Let's take a look at the interface of the Unreal Editor.

Getting ready

When you actually launch UE4 from the launcher, the first thing that you'll be brought to is Unreal Project Browser. Switch to the New Project tab, and you'll be given a choice of various templates to use for projects. For now, we'll stay with Blueprint visual scripting and will create a Blank project with starter content included so that we can see some stuff in the project. For the project's name, I have put UIOverview. Once finished, click on Create Project.

How to do it…

Now that we have our project set up, let's get started and see what the editor looks similar to:

  1. Once the project is opened, close the tutorial popup that comes up (if it does). This new window that's opened is referred to as the level editor, which is the core of content creation in UE4. Here, you can see the default interface layout:

  2. At the top-left of the editor, you can see the Modes tab, which contains various tool modes to allow you to put things into the world, such as BSP brushes, painting, and foliage and terrain. Below this, you can see the Content Browser tab, which contains all of the models, textures, and data that make up our game worlds. We'll be exploring this much more in The Content Browser overview recipe later in this chapter.

  3. In the center, the largest window that you see is the viewport , which is the actual level that we are building. We will talk more about viewports in the Navigating the viewport recipe.

  4. To the right of the window, you will see the Scene Outliner tab, which will display all of the actors within our level. This is a useful tool for being able to find actors easily as well as adding a parent/child relationship to objects. Below the Scene Outliner tab, you'll see the Details tab, which contains information about whatever object is currently selected in the level or the Scene Outliner tab. For each component on the object, it will display the functionality for it, such as the transform and the materials the object uses.

  5. At the top, you'll see the tab bar, which will show the name of your project as well as a tab for the level that you currently have running with its name.

  6. Below this, you'll see the menu bar that will provide access to general tools and commands:

    • The File menu lets you save and open maps as well as projects. It also allows you to import/export actors.

    • The Edit menu allows you to copy and paste actors as well as configure properties in the editor. In this menu, users can configure Editor and Project Settings as well. It is in these settings that let you create the icons for the game launcher, set up input actions for your game type, and so on.

    • The Window menu allows you to toggle visibility of the various things that UE4 contains and save or reset your layouts.

    • The Help menu has a number of additional resources to help make working in UE4 as painless as possible.

  7. On the right-hand side of the menu bar, you'll see a search bar that you can use to look for help. The far right of the bar shows whether you are currently connected to source control through Subversion (SVN) or Perforce, which would be useful when you're in teams.

  8. Finally, below this in the center is the toolbar that contains a group of commonly used shortcuts to make it easier to find certain things.

    Note

    For more information on the default interface, check out https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/UI/LevelEditor/index.html.

Navigating the viewport


Now that we have an understanding of what the UI actually is all about, let's work with the viewport and learn how to move around and use it.

How to do it…

To get started, let's first try to move around in the game world a bit by using just the mouse:

  1. Inside the viewport, with the left mouse button clicked and held, move your mouse forward and you should notice the level moving as well. If you move your mouse backward, you should notice that the camera is moving in the same way, and when we move the mouse to the left and right, the camera turns, it doesn't move.

  2. Holding the right mouse button and moving the mouse will rotate the viewport camera in a similar manner to a First-Person Shooter (FPS) game. Moving the mouse up and down will make the camera loop upward and downward. And, when we move the mouse to the left and right, the camera behaves in the same manner.

  3. Holding the middle mouse button (scroll wheel) and moving the mouse will pan the camera in the direction you move it as if it is on a track.

    You can adjust the speed with which the camera moves by modifying the Camera Speed property in the top-right of the viewport to increase or decrease the amount of movement you need to travel via the camera. Alternatively, holding the left or right mouse button and scrolling the middle mouse button (wheel) will also change the camera speed.

  4. In addition to rotating the camera like an FPS game, when holding down the right mouse button you can also use the W, A, S, and D keys to allow you to move just like you would in an FPS in Spectator mode.

    Note

    If you're not a fan of the right mouse button, you can hold any other button on the mouse and move. If you aren't a fan of the W, A, S, and D keys, you can also use the arrow keys or 8, 4, 6, and 2 keys on the numpad.

  5. You can also use the E and Q keys in order to rise or fall in the air and the C and Z keys to zoom in and out, respectively, by changing the field of view (FOV). This change in FOV is only temporary though as when you release the right mouse button, it will reset back to normal.

  6. The final way we can move through the viewport is very similar to how Maya users can move around their models. We activate this mode by holding the Alt key. If we click and drag, we will tumble around whatever is there in our current pivot in a similar manner as we orbit around the pivot. Clicking on the right mouse button and dragging will zoom the camera in and out of the pivot, while holding down the middle mouse button and dragging will move the camera in the direction of the mouse movement. We can change where our pivot is easily by selecting the object we want to move around and then pressing the F key to focus on it.

Note

For more information on moving around the viewport, refer to https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/Engine/QuickStart/2/index.html.

The Content Browser overview


The Content Browser is a central repository for creating, importing, and modifying all of the content that we use within UE4. This contains all of the assets that our project is made of, and it's important to have a good idea about how to use it.

Getting ready

This recipe assumes that you have a project open with the sample assets included. If you do not have that yet, feel free to follow the instructions in the Getting ready section of the UI overview recipe.

How to do it…

Now that we know how to move around the viewport, we will next want to get acquainted with the Content Browser, which is what we use in order to import or modify contents for our project:

  1. By default, the Content Browser tab is docked in the lower-left corner of the main Level Editor interface, but it can be redocked anywhere within the Level Editor or floated as its own window. You can make it float as a separate window by clicking on the Content Browser tab and dragging it off. If you have a second monitor, having one for the Content Browser tab can often be a nice way to work as you'll often be grabbing things from there and bringing them into the world when building levels.

  2. Close the Content Browser tab by clicking on the X button in the top-right corner of it. To bring it back, go to Window | Content Browser | Content Browser 1.

    Note

    Alternatively, you can also click on the Content shortcut icon above the viewport or press Ctrl + Shift + F to bring the Content Browser tab back.

  3. You can snap the Content Browser tab back to where it was by dragging the tag over it and releasing. You can also create multiple Content Browser tabs to allow you to see multiple things at a time or to move assets between folders easily.

  4. The interface of the Content Browser tab needs space to look nice. Move your mouse over to the edge of the Content Browser tab and drag to extend it. Do the same from the top. Next, double-click on the StarterContent folder to open it.

  5. The top section is called the navigation bar. It allows you to create, import, and save assets on the left-hand side as well as to move through the different folders in a similar way to a web browser.

  6. Below this on the left-hand side is the sources view. This contains a list of all the folders and collections inside the project, formatted in Folder Hierarchy. Extend the StarterContent folder in the view to see all the folders.

  7. Below this is the Collections view, which provides easy access to your created collections. Collections are a way for us to organize assets into personally-defined groups, such as all characters or environment meshes for a level. Unlike being in a folder, you can think of all of the objects in a collection as being a reference or shortcut to that content. This can be collapsed if you're not using it by clicking on the icon to the left of the Collections text.

  8. On the right-hand side, below the navigation bar, is the asset management area. This is used mostly for filtering out files or searching for a particular asset that we will see below in the asset view.

  9. Below that is the asset view, which is the largest section of the UI. This is a grid displaying all the items that meet the filter requirements in the navigation bar's folder. Right-clicking on an asset or folder will show contextual options based on the objects. All of the assets you see can be dragged and dropped into a scene easily by clicking on the Shapes folder and dragging one of the objects into your scene.

  10. You can also create new objects within the folder you have selected by right-clicking on some open space and then selecting the desired asset from the menu.

  11. In the bottom-right corner of the Content Browser tab, you'll see View Options. Select it and notice that you can view these assets in three different styles. Go through each of them and note the differences. Each of them have their own advantages and disadvantages; it's good to know that they all exist. You can also change the size of the thumbnails and this may be helpful as the number of objects that you have increases.

In View Options, users can also see the game engine's contents by selecting Show Engine Content. This will allow you to see all of the content included in the engine, by default, which can be quite useful for creating content for the game projects of your own.

Importing your own content


Now that we have a good foundation on the Content Browser tab, let's start off by bringing in some of our own content into the game.

Getting ready

This recipe assumes that you have a project open with the sample assets included. If you do not have that yet, feel free to follow the instructions in the Getting ready section of the UI overview recipe.

In addition, this recipe uses assets from the example code provided for the book. If you do not have it, download it from the Packt Publishing site at http://www.packtpub.com

Tip

Downloading the example code

You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at http://www.packtpub.com. If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit http://www.packtpub.com/support and register to have the files e-mailed directly to you.

How to do it…

Let's start off by importing a simple model from the Content Browser tab.

  1. Make sure that the Content Browser tab is at the Game folder and then click on the Import button.

  2. Once there, browse to the location where the example code of this chapter is placed and open the Ship folder. Select the Ship.fbx file and then click Open.

  3. You'll be prompted with an FBX import dialog, click on Import, and you should see your new asset included in the Content Browser tab, accompanied by Materials that was created to be used for the Ship model.

  4. The other way to import assets is simply by dragging and dropping them into the Content Browser tab. Let's do this by opening up our Ship folder in our operating system and then dragging it onto the asset view of the Content Browser tab. You'll notice that textures (images) do not have a dialogue like the model did.

  5. Currently, all of the objects have a * in the bottom-left corner of their images. This is because they are currently not saved to the project. Fix this by clicking on the Save icon (blue floppy disk) in the Content Browser tab.

    Alternatively, you may also right click within the Content Browser tab and then navigate to Import to /Game to import assets into your scene from whatever folder you are currently in.

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Product Details

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Publication date : Oct 30, 2015
Length 326 pages
Edition : 1st Edition
Language : English
ISBN-13 : 9781784398163
Category :

What do you get with eBook?

Product feature icon Instant access to your Digital eBook purchase
Product feature icon Download this book in EPUB and PDF formats
Product feature icon Access this title in our online reader with advanced features
Product feature icon DRM FREE - Read whenever, wherever and however you want
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Product Details


Publication date : Oct 30, 2015
Length 326 pages
Edition : 1st Edition
Language : English
ISBN-13 : 9781784398163
Category :

Table of Contents

18 Chapters
Unreal Engine Game Development Cookbook Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
Credits Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
About the Author Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
About the Reviewers Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
www.PacktPub.com Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
Preface Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
1. Getting Acquainted with the UE4 Interface Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
2. Level Design – Building Out Levels or Greyboxing Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
3. Creating Quality Interior Environments Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
4. Building the Great Outdoors – Exterior Environments Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
5. Lights, Camera, Action – Cinematics Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
6. Lighting and Shadows Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
7. Art Pipeline – Working with Materials Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
8. Blueprint Scripting – Level Effects Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
9. C++ Programming – Gameplay Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
10. User Interface Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
11. Publishing and Deployment Chevron down icon Chevron up icon
Index Chevron down icon Chevron up icon

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