First off, let me say that I am a huge fan of Epic, and UE4 and I really want to see it become even more successful than it is already. The business model you guys have chosen to adopt is really cool because it aligns your success with the success of your users, and again and again we see examples of you guys taking that to heart. I know all of these efforts don’t come easy or cheaply so thank you.
As time goes on though, there is one major sticking point that I believe could become a real issue for indie devs which I would like to hear some more feedback from you on:
**Simply stated, there are two competing issues for us small or one-man shops: **
- It costs us a tremendous amount of time to port our work to new engine versions because of all the QA inherent in that as well as various issues with certain blueprint features and bugs introduced in new versions of the engine. This isn’t a complaint, it’s just an inherent fact in software dev.
This would not be an issue except:
- Once a new version of the engine is released, support for outdated versions typically consists of a single hotfix. After that the answer generally is: “It’s fixed in the latest version/some future version”.
I love you guys, but because of the pace at which you release new engine versions this is a HUGE problem for us. We don’t have QA departments. Time is our most valuable asset and the more time we can spend working on our game, the faster we get it to market, and the faster we (and you) get paid.
Right now, it’s sort of a ‘pick your poison’ approach and neither are good options. Staying on an older engine version means that most of the answers we get on the answer hub aren’t useful to us since no bugs will be fixed in the version of the engine we are on. Moving to the newest version incurs an unknown time cost because we don’t know what new bugs we will encounter or how our logic may break. Epic is generally good about suggesting workarounds for most bugs but there again, there’s a tremendous amount of overhead for us to keep track of and remember which features are broken, what the workarounds are, and what version of the engine they apply to.
The issue is also exacerbated by couple things:
Not having a public bug tracker because it’s really hard to make an informed decision when weighing the benefits of upgrading to a newer version of the engine.
Updates focused on new features instead of completing existing ones. Shiney new stuff is great, but it doesn’t help us get our game done if the features that are in the engine already aren’t rock solid. In fact, new features which come with their own set of caveats, workarounds and issues justs increases our mental overhead even further. Many bugs have persisted through multiple engine versions. Add new features to that and after a while it becomes almost impossible to keep track of all the workarounds.
**Various facets of this have been discussed in more detail in a few threads but I haven’t been able to find any concrete answers about what, if anything might be done to help from your end. **
It seems like there are a few things that would go a long way towards helping:
Releases that focus on bug fixes / fully completing existing features & thorough compatibility testing
An extended hotfix window to support older engine versions. (bug fixes only)
All in all, the current approach isn’t very sustainable for small or one man shops, and I truly believe something does need to change.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying UE4 is bug-ridden or poorly implemented or anything. All software has some issues and that’s ok. The issue is the speed of the releases coupled with the almost nonexistent support window for older versions of the engine and relative lack of focus on fully completing existing features. I want to keep using UE4, and I champion it to all the game devs a come in contact with, but this key issue is a big sticking point.
Yes, a lot of people clamour for new features and I understand the appeal of that 100%, but I believe those of us who work alone and are in the position of absolutely needing to ship a completed game would all say that it’s far preferable to have a rock solid set of existing tools that we can count on.