Human Downtime - known issue, necessary evil or user error (compiling, baking, building, packaging)

I was intrigued by my downtime when working with Unreal. Shader and blueprints compiling very often and taking quite some time, packaging taking a lot of time for very minimal projects, opening projects… So I decided to sample ShowdownVRDemo to get an idea of how someone who works with the engine instead of against it would experience. So:

  1. I created the project and waited for it to start
  2. I waited for the shaders to compile (I thought the 15-20 min delay to start was because they were already compiling…)
    (Not sure why Epic Launcher insist on hogging 25%, so I closed it after a while)
  3. I waited the EXE to be built.

It was 61 minutes for that few meters scene on rails (it’s somewhat dense, but still very little content).
(i5 4590, 32gb ram, unreal and project on SSD, GTX 780, win 10, clean install)

61 minutes waiting and the lights were already built at least. Of course on a real use, you don’t wait all the shaders to compile at once, but the experience is similar. When designing shaders a change I try takes such a long time to give feedback that I lose reference to before the change. Trial and error seems very unsustainable, specially with lighting and packaging. So the question is: is this normal?

Is the human downtime with UE development a known issue, the lesser of a bigger evil, or user error somehow?

I know I shouldn’t compare with Unity and Quest3D, but trial and error in the workflow is kinda imperative, specially with so much redundant and retification learning content Epic releases every other day without indexing.

Bonus question: what’s the logic of the need to shader recompile if I imported the project someone already made?

this has been a huge issue for me as well. Im not sure how to save the building shaders time but here are some tips for reducing build of exe

  1. i think by default Unreal is set to reduce cpu usage if in the background - you can disable this in the editor settings. it might be worth tweaking this and redoing your time test on shaders as it may have been with scaled back cpu usage
  2. I ended up using a old dev machine as a build server, as while you are waiting for a build, the CPU is pinned
  3. I also ended up hacking some build scripts - here is a video of me trying to explain basically just some bat files that remove some of the steps of the build process so i can just have it runin the background without having to check in every 15 minutes to kick off another step/copy files etc

will love to hear suggestions from others to reduce these time sinks as well

one sink I have right now is with ads in mobile development, they dont show up when you play in editor, so you have to cook/compile your game before you can test them. super annoying if you go through the whole build process only to find out you forgot to hide them correctly in a specific menu