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C++ UE4 programming book?

While I see surprisingly good material already available to developers, I was wondering if a UE4 book focused on programming (pretty much like this great book for UnrealScript: http://www.amazon.com/Unreal-Development-Game-Programming-UnrealScript-ebook/dp/B006MGDJBS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1393427019&sr=8-2&keywords=Unreal+Development+Kit+Game+Programming+with+UnrealScript) is planning to be published anytime soon.

This is mostly because I would like to have a compact kindle or paper reference next to me while programming or travelling.

I suppose I’m not the only one looking for such resource, so please let me know if there are any plans for this in the upcoming future :slight_smile:

Seconded. I’d mostly like to see a detailed API with additional focus on ‘interesting’, important, useful functions…

Might as well throw in a Cookbook style book (series?) as well.

for example: https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/API/Runtime/Engine/GameFramework/AActor/index.html

I imagine someone has plans for this. Regardless, since it’s just been released, if you have enough time you can keep up with most developments through the forum/blogs/your own methods and attain way more knowledge than any one book. Though a book done by professionals will definitely be insightful.

Indeed. While I agree there’s enough material to get started on your own, a book is where I’d look at when looking for a quick refreshing.

As a published author of programming books who has seriously considered (and even talked with a publisher about and tried talking with Epic about) writing a UE4 book, I can speak a little to this.

First, publishers don’t like the bleeding edge, and UE4 right now is the bleeding edge. The publisher I spoke to (who shall remain nameless) was having a hard time accepting that there would be any market for UE4 books. The acquisitions editor I spoke to was responsible for all game-related programming books, and she was setting up a lineup that was 90% Unity books. That’s what has sold in the past, so that’s what they’re publishing in the foreseeable future.

Epic’s move to make UE4 accessible to indies and small shops is disruptive, but publishers don’t see the potential in disruption until somebody has made money on it. A very similar thing happened with my first book. Beginning iPhone Development was one of the first iOS programming books to market, and it was the first one targeted at beginners. At the time, Publishers didn’t like Apple-related programming books because, in the past, they hadn’t sold well. The book came out about during the App Store “Gold Rush”, and it sold like hotcakes, peaking at #23 on Amazon’s overall book ranking. It sold over 100,000 copies in its first year alone. Now, that’s not a lot of copies compared to, say, a well-known fiction author, but in the realm of technical and programming books, it’s a runaway best seller.

Once the BookScan numbers showed the industry that the book was selling really well, every technical publisher started flooding the market with iOS titles and acquisition editors started actively looking for new iOS authors. In the Game dev programming world, right now, it’s Unity. That’s what has sold in the past, so that’s what they are mostly filling their pipeline with.

That’s not the only issue, though. As an author, UE4 is a difficult subject for a few other reasons. The pace of development is insane. We’ve gone from 4.1 to (almost) 4.5 in, what? 6 months? Things are changing fast. If you were writing a book right now, you’d be constantly having to go back and update. That makes undertaking a UE4 book quite a challenge unless you focus the book on a very specific part of the engine (which will have less appeal and sell less). A general UE4 book is going to be partially obsolete by the time it’s finished. Even the three months that it typically takes to get a physical book into the sales channel is potentially an issue here.

Another thing to mention is that UE4 isn’t free and there’s no free trial. I’m not bashing the pricing - I think it’s brilliant and a great value - but that subscription fee is going to be an obstacle for people thinking of buying the book, especially beginner-targeted books. A $30 book that requires an additional $19 a month subscription is really a $49 book in the mind of consumers. Publishers don’t like obstacles to entry, which is why “back in the day”, most programming and technical books came with a CD attached to the back cover containing trial or free versions of all the software used in the book.

Finally, there’s just not an enormous amount of money in writing programming books, and the smaller the niche, the more true that is. Honestly, nobody is likely to get rich writing a UE4 book and most people who are competent to write a UE4 book aren’t likely to have a lot of free time to actually write one.

I think we’ll start seeing UE4 books from major publishers, but my guess is not in any quantity until the middle of next year at the earliest unless Epic takes an active hand in encouraging both publishers and authors.

Fortunately, Epic’s official tutorials and a lot of the unofficial third party ones are excellent, so there’s plenty of material for people who want to learn and I don’t think the lack of books is going to be a huge problem.

I understand what you are saying, but in some cases publishing a book is not meant for making tons of money, but to provide a service.

That’s great, if you have enough money laying around to justify the expenses of writing a book in order to “provide a service” without “making tons of money”.

It’s up to Epic I guess then.

I’m not arguing that there shouldn’t be books, I’m just explaining why you might not want to hold your breath waiting for the UE4 books to fill the shelves at your local bookstore. :slight_smile:

I would argue that in most cases, writing a programming book is not about making tons of money. A great many technical authors never see anything beyond their advance. Nobody goes into writing a technical book expecting to make a lot of money. Cases like my first book are few and far between.

But for publishers, it is all about making money, and they are the ones that decide what goes on the shelves of the book store. Of course, with eBooks and self-publishing, riskier books are still possible from individuals and smaller publishers, but big publishers play the averages. They don’t like risky books, or books that they know will sell below a certain threshold. Until somebody shows that there’s a demand for UE4 books, the big tech publishers are going to be hesitant.

Once somebody shows there’s a market, then the big publishers will jump on board with a vengeance. Until then, I expect a trickle unless Epic takes an active role to get publishers interested (which they might be doing - I have no idea one way or the other)

Footnote - I should clarify that for author’s it’s not about making money directly in terms of royalties. Having your name on a book opens doors for programmers in a way that’s hard to put a price tag on.

I see the point for publishers.

As the thread topic was C++, how about “Learning C++ for IOS Development with Unreal Engine 4”? UE4 may evolve at lot, but the basics of C++ don’t, so a good part of the book would be static. IOS development books are obviously still en vouge.

UE4 is $19 (one month is fine if you don’t need updates, there is also already a way to enter a code when purchasing, probably a way to make a deal for a free month with a book - consumers love “get … for free!” stickers on books ;)), Unity for IOS is like $150 a month (if I remember correctly?).

Last time I checked, there were >11,000 subscribers to the UE4 source code, which is probably just a part of the current developer base. My guess would be, that a good beginners book could lead to a huge spike in numbers. For the benefit of both, the book and UE4.

Sounds like a winning formula to me.

I was pretty clear that I think the pricing is amazing and really didn’t intend it to be a knock on the price. :slight_smile: I was looking at this from a publisher’s perspective - it’s an added cost that would deter some purchasers. Any time you reduce the size of your potential audience, publishers are less likely to take the chance. I would hope Epic would work with publishers to give access to a trial, but I haven’t had much luck getting them to respond to me on this particular issue, though. Publishers generally want authors to do this kind of leg work as part of their proposal. Being able to include a coupon code for one month access (without source code access even) would allay a lot of my concerns about investing time into a UE4 book.

Now you’re just preaching to the choir. I’d love to write a good beginner book on UE4. Beginner books are very rewarding and fun to write.

I’ve talked to two publishers, and while neither have said no, neither were enthusiastic about a UE4 beginner book. Both wanted me to convince them it was worth their time to publish a book for UE4. I’ve considered self-publishing, but without some way to give readers some kind of free access to the tools, I’m hesitant to invest the time it takes to write a good beginner’s book.

I personally would never buy a UE4 print book until the engine (or feature set) stabilizes. I would consider buying a digital book that would be updated for the next X months-1 year. A digital book would also get around the hesitant publisher problem jeff_lamarche mentioned, since you can get anything published digitally. (Possibly NSFW)](http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/10/qa-the-women-who-write-dinosaur-erotica.html)

I would also be less inclined to buy it if it wasn’t written by someone who has worked with any UE in the past. That’s just my personal (and prejudiced) preference. Those people know best, “the ‘unreal’ way” to do something. People who worked under deadlines and had to ship a real product would have great experience and ‘war stories’ to share. Games engines that are this big and advanced usually have quirks and pitfalls.