Unreal Engine: what beginners need to know about software, on which masterpieces are created
To create a mobile game that has been intended, you should choose an engine as soon as at the idea development stage. Free Unreal Engine is popular among developers thanks to the platform’s versatility and openness – using its functions, you can develop even an AAA-level game, which is impossible in many other free engines.
Although the engine was originally focused on developing first-person shooters, today it can be used to create MMORPGs, fighting and even stealth games. Further, we’ll talk about the engine evolution, the rules of choosing a UE project, as well as the pros and cons of the software.
What dhould you know about Unreal Engine
Unreal Engine was developed in 1996 by Epic Games team and operates on C++ programming language. The first game made was Unreal – a first-person shooter – with the engine being distributed on the paid monthly subscription basis.
Only since 2015, UE has become free, but developers are still required to pay a 5% royalty after their game has been ready and distributed to customers. Since the engine is based on C++, it is suitable for developing the games for:
- Mac OS;
- Dreamcast and other platforms.
Mobile systems have also become one of the most priority GameDev directions on Unreal Engine, since iOS and Android support is guaranteed as well. You can import a game from one platform to another rather promptly using a modular system of dependent components.
Currently, the latest version is Unreal Engine 5, with new functions having been added by the developers. However, the system requirements remained the same as for UE 4, which means that the following ones are required to test the developed game:
- processor – 4 cores with 2.5 GHz frequency or higher;
- RAM – no less than 8 GB;
- video card – any that supports DirectX 11.
However, the engine is constantly updated and improved; Epic Games releases new packs and optimizes the development environment for new devices. The key goal of Unreal Engine is to simplify development of a high-quality project, including a one with a playable and stable multiplayer. Numerous assets with a capability to control not only the game’s mechanics but the graphics as well is one of the main specialties of UE.
Further nuances distinguishing this engine from others, are as follows:
- The full OOB toolkit. All you need is to install the development environment and run it – Unreal Engine will already contain all the necessary functions.
- Working with C++. Despite being more difficult to master than C# or Python, this programming language operates much faster. This enhances the project’s final version quality and performance.
- Visual script creation. Blueprints Visual Scripting system makes it possible to develop games even not being acquainted with C++. Although you will still have to edit and customize the code for better results, this will significantly increase the speed of creating basic objects.
Thus, constant improvement of Unreal Engine and innovations in its development ensures the utmost quality level for the mobile GameDev with the least possible effort and time.
UE4 and UE5 – what’s the difference?
A logical evolutionary step forward in Unreal Engine development was the engine 5 series released in 2021. According to Epic Games, it elevated the engine to a new photorealism level – this was the main goal of the update. A few of particular and noticeable innovations are worth mentioning:
- Nanite. This is the name of a presented virtualized geometry with micro-polygons, eliminating unpleasant concept of a ‘polygon budget’. This geometry makes it possible to demonstrate the cinema-quality geometry on the screen, which includes millions and billions of polygons.
- Lumen. Another feature for detailed images, which is an absolutely dynamic global lighting. Thanks to this Lumen system, the image reacts to changing scene and lighting conditions, meaning that the light incidence in the game will change in real time. The system will calculate the lightning intensity and angle, and the artist will only have to adjust the details.
- Sound reverberation simulation. Simply put, UE5 has got a realistic echo effect that appears in confined spaces. The sound fades out gradually, with the system calculating it on an individual basis depending on the drawn area’s parameters.
- Enhanced physical engine. Things are simpler here – the laws of nature work more correctly, the character models move more realistically, and the physical particles behave as they should in the real world.
- New fluid simulation. The system makes it possible to create spectacular scenes with liquids and increase the image realism. If compared to the previous UE generation, different liquids feature different parameters, with the projects’ atmosphere being much more impressive.
When talking about projects, which can be created using Unreal Engine, the answer is simple –any. Whether it’s a 2D game in a plain setting or a full-fledged AAA project, UE offers a fast development process with a huge set of assets and supporting systems.
You will undoubtedly need to use C++ language to adjust the nuances and personalize the project, but an intuitive mechanism for adding objects will enable you to work on your game world much faster than when using similar engines. Thus, if you want to get a result with excellent graphics, realistic physics, and stable performance, Unreal Engine is your choice.
Tips for beginners
Beginners rarely approach Unreal Engine due to the apparent complexity of its interface. But after spending a little more time on studying it, and finally you will get an excellent tool for any virtual space tasks. As for tips, we can give general recommendations that will help you to approach the goal – to develop your first full-fledged game:
- Explore the demos and templates available on the platform (Online Learning tab). By following the instructions in the lessons, you can create your first project and share it with your friends.
- Create a game based on free templates and only then start personalizing and updating it.
- Take advantage of the free visual programming Blueprint – with its help you can assemble code from ready-made parts without fear of typing errors or confusing something. There are many video tutorials online where experienced mentors will tell you how to create a simple game from scratch in a few hours.
- Don’t wait for the perfect result. You are unlikely to get a game masterpiece from the very first attempt – this requires experience, knowledge, and a full-fledged team. Therefore, treat your first projects as a source of all the above-mentioned things – you will need them in the future.
- Develop your product step by step. Don’t aim at a ‘quick and dirty’ full-fledged AAA game, this is completely impossible. Create something complying with the concept of the least working project. Later, after building a team around the backbone and testing it – you can add additional mechanics and improve the graphics.
- Join the game jams. Game development competitions teach discipline and show how to create a working product in the shortest possible time. Moreover, on the jams you can find like-minded people and even form a team for further cooperation on the game.
- Work on a regular basis. When you start working on a project, don’t put it on hold and avoid long pauses. Even if you think that the idea is a failure – keep studying the engine and experimenting.
Our advice will help you to get started with Unreal Engine, but they also apply to other engines. The only difference are technical aspects of the development process, but everything depends on your needs and expectations.
Unreal Engine has both pros and cons, which depends on each particular situation, since different characteristics are important for different types of projects. However, the list of advantages can look as follows:
- All project code is written in C ++, there is a built in interior graphical editor Blueprints.
- The software is as stable as possible, the developer can count on the complete absence of bugs.
- Versatility. Unreal Engine is equally good for being used for developing cinema-level special effects and video games, this engine will be useful even in building architecture.
- Free availability. Yes, you can use UE and all its functions absolutely free of charge. But don’t forget that you will still have to pay royalty for selling a successful game (if the amount exceeds a million US dollars). Moreover, there is plenty of free content.
However, this engine has a few peculiar disadvantages at the same time:
- High price for GameDev content. Despite numerous free files, necessary items may cost up to $100.
- Complicated interface. You can easily get used to this disadvantage; as soon as you understand the functions and get used to the menu, you can quickly use all the capabilities.
- High hardware requirements. When writing a code, it is difficult to notice the engine’s greediness, but you will need substantial power to process unoptimized graphics.
Usually, Unreal Engine is used for the most large-scale and beautiful games that appear on mobile devices. The five most famous products are as follows:
- PES 2020.
- Lineage 2: Revolution.
- Heroes Reborn: Enigma.
- PUBG Mobile.
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