Human(oid) user avatars in a small-scale (10 people) rpg in Unreal Engine?

dear all,
I want to create a - not really a “game”, maybe “simulation” covers it better - consisting of a large landscape, where people can log in to, walk around in, and talk; preferably in a customisable human shape. Say, something like a a virtual online meeting-place.

It doesn’t need to have game-like interaction (achievements, fighting) or second-life-style in-world building; and nothing needs to be saved (achievements, trophies, …).
The accent is purely on the environment and, if possible, speech (though that can even be done using another sort of connection).

Until now I have always used Unity. The environment is more or less set up and running, though only in stand-alone mode. The next thing I wanted to tackle is to add a networking option and some way for people to not be just a disembodied camera … talking to someone is a lot easier if you can see them :slight_smile: !

Long story short - the networking seems doable: Photon Voice even provides voice communication between players. But the avatars - wow, that’s something else.
I honestly had no idea that this would be so difficult. I played around with OpenSimulator years ago, and that offered that out of the box; it just worked. I never gave that much thought.

But when I searched for how to set that up, I couldn’t find anything. It was quite odd, actually: there are some assets that will give you nice human characters, but it’s impossible to find anything about how to use them as a player avatar. Having 100 of those run around on your terrain is super easy, though.

At the other end of that conceptual gap, I could find something about how to use a kind of robot skeleton as avatar, but even that looked amazingly difficult.

So, eventually I posted a question on the Unity user forum, and the answers confirmed that it was, indeed, discouragingly difficult. I still find it hard to understand why, because Second Life and OpenSimulator had all that included nearly 20 years ago.

So, that is why I wondered if this doable in UE: it needn’t be very fancy, but it would just be nice to add some substance to the “player”. It’s probably better to ask this before trying to port the project to UE, then finding it out afterwards :smiley:

I already read quite a bit in the documentation, mostly about creating terrains etcetera, because that is at least something I have done before. But I’m not sure if use the right search terms when trying to figure out the technicalities of networking / audio / avatars work.

Though I’m quite a newbie re. building games (or even playing them), I have experience in 3D modelling and animation, and coding is no problem either. I wouldn’t mind if it is a lot of work, or if it is hard; as long as it is doable.

I’d appreciate any advice!


Hi, could you please elaborate on the issue. It’s hard knowing what exactly you need.

The 3rd Person template when creating a new project has an avatar built in. There are also the Paragon assets available through the Marketplace (also free). There aren’t any readily available VR characters but there are plenty of tutorials to map the UE4 mannequin to simple vr hardware (i.e. oculus rift) if you’re willing. Search term “ue4 vr ik” will pretty much grab everything.

I built this exact thing in Unity using Photon. It was fairly easy, especially with Photon’s working third-person voice chat example. However, “fairly easy” is relative. One of the weird things about Photon is the way it segregates its services into separate products that sometimes take some effort to integrate in a way that does what you want, and that there IS some per-character type setup that assumes some knowledge of the way positional, rotational, animation states and other data is shared in a networked game.

That being said, I am now re-implementing that application in UE4 and personally, I am finding it a treat. Unreal engine is, out of the box, designed for multiplayer, so much so that to enable an actor for network play is pretty much just a single check box, built into UE4 itself, and it seems just a logical assumption on the engine’s part that a person might want to do multiplayer. Gee, what a concept.

One of the stock template projects in UE4 is a virtual shared space industrial viewer that supports multiple players and even VOIP chat. Crazy, I know, but UE4 just assumes that people might want to do something like that and provide a template to get you started.

Photon DOES support UE4 as well as Unity, so if you do need to scale up to more users with a dedicated service, you can, but for what you are describing, the UE4 stock capabilities might do. You should try that UE4 stock project and see if it’s what you’re looking for.

Hope this helps.

hi NotSoAccurateNo1,

of course, sorry if it wasn’t clear. Part of the problem is that I’m not always sure about the terms.

I noticed! I had just started to work through the ‘your first hour with the Unreal Editor’ tutorial, which uses that template. I also took a closer look at what exactly the difference is between 1st and 3rd person controllers / templates … and I’m a bit ashamed to admit :flushed: that I misunderstood the difference between them. I was thinking about 1st and 3rd person in the grammatical sense, where 1st person is “me” and 3rd person “him or her”.

It did not occur to me that there is not necessarily an avatar in a 1st person game. That’s probably why I couldn’t find out how to add an avatar to my 1st person controller … because I actually needed a 3rd person controller / avatar all along.

Thanks a lot!

Thanks Leslie, that is good to know in advance :slight_smile:

That’s also the impression I have reading about UE the past few days! There is so much to game development - well, actually way more than just game development - that there are a million different ways to achieve something. Though Unity provides a lot and does a good job at that, but looking for multiplayer capability feels like entering an emptied room.

Really? Wow, that must be one of those non-gaming categories that I hadn’t even had the time to look at. That sounds EXACTLY like what I need.

I have a hunch that it might :slight_smile:

Thank you! :bouquet:

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