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Isn't it too much? (features vs. documentation)

I dont know. I understand Epic must make money by releasing more and more fancy stuff and keeping up with CryEngine and whatnot, but seriously: For a while now I just browse over these “new Release features” section whenever a new release comes out and I go “Mhh…interesting…nice…no idea what they are talking about…” and then I go back and do what I was doing before.

Sure I guess for those developers who do big budget games all these optical gimmicks are what their million dollar moneybags behind them demand so that they can create the next blockbuster like “Face Shooter 25”, but for a little guy like me who is working alone and has trouble keeping up with simple things like “I can’t even get multiple textures working on a character” and “where do I get good looking graphics from” all this looks like it’s made for aliens from another world.

What’s really lacking is a documentation part. Sure, there is a good intro part for the absolute newbie to get you going to a level where I am probably, but all the sophisticated stuff escapes people like me. It feels like you have to have at least 2 or 3 doctor degrees in various IT related fields to be able to keep up with all these gimmicks. It would be nice if there were in depth documentation parts not just regarding “how to make this and that work” but also “what is it, how does it compare to other features and when should I use it over other solutions”.

I know I will probably get these “you are just too stupid to understand it all” response but hey, not everybody comes from 5 years of 3D math class with an additional 3 years of specializing in render technology. Some of us just want to make a game and want a bread and butter system and a documentation that is in depth and doesn’t just scratch the surface.

You are not stupid… Get that out of the way… <grins> BUT, there is TONS of documentation and YOUTUBE videos that are available…That’s why I love working with UE4 is that there is always something out there in terms of documentation / how-to’s.

What this or that would you like documentation on?

teak

The engine misses a ton of documentation actually that is not properly documented.

Tons of documentation statement is overkill, especially C++.

I know I know and I always find something, that’s how I got so far at all. But there is the feeling that most of the stuff in the engine is only for people who spend half of their time reading white papers from colleges about new 3D techniques or give speeches at the Computer Games Developer conference every year. I mean I understand Epic must cater to the high end customers, that’s how they make their money. But with all that manpower that they supposedly put into those live streams and such, maybe they should have one guy who does nothing but to explain what all these fancy features do in simple terms for indy guys like me.
I probably couldn’t use half of it anyway because it also requires sophisticated 3D models which I can’t afford but I guess there would be some stuff I could use if I knew what it does not just “klick here, klick there and you have it activated”

From reading the OP I assumed that he wasn’t into C++. Maybe I’m wrong and I should have clarified… Yes, C++ and even some BP nodes do need additional documentation…BUT, how do people in our community make such great games? Well, from others. Like, YOUTUBE tutorials. I’ll stick by my statement… There is a TON of stuff out there… More so than most, except maybe Unity…?? Ton though does not mean complete.

teak

What parts of the engine’s tools do you need help understanding? I’m curious, since you didn’t mention any specific areas of interest for your game that you’re developing. We’re all here to help each other and if you have specific questions I’ll help where I can. The majority of my knowledge is the rendering portion of the engine, but I’m happy to help break down anything and/or point you to some resources that I may know of that may be helpful.

YES!!! I couldnt have said it better myself, I feel the exact same way :smiley:

I suppose this may go better as a book sold commercially, but UE4 could benefit from an All-In-One style O’Reilly book. That said, I would prefer that the engine reach some more stable ground first with the constant refactorings.

I appreciate it, right now I am fine with my project. That is not to say that I could not improve it by using some of the features that have been released over the last versions if I knew what they are. So I guess my answer to your question would be “I need help for all of it!”
I agree with some of the other posters here. A book like publication would be good, although a print book would be out of date too soon but a book like work in digital form that is updated every release with an in depth explanation of the new features would be good
Before I came to UE I was using the “C4” engine and as subpar as the engine was, there were 2 full scale books available, an older one in print from Amazon and a newer one that was made shortly before that engine was taken out of circulation ( tough luck for the poor guy who wrote that 800 page book). But if customers could do such a huge work on the side for a low end engine like that one, I don’t see why Epic can not set aside one guy to write a quality work of introduction for all the major features.

I appreciate it, right now I am fine with my project. That is not to say that I could not improve it by using some of the features that have been released over the last versions if I knew what they are. So I guess my answer to your question would be “I need help for all of it!”
I agree with some of the other posters here. A book like publication would be good, although a print book would be out of date too soon but a book like work in digital form that is updated every release with an in depth explanation of the new features would be good
Before I came to UE I was using the “C4” engine and as subpar as the engine was, there were 2 full scale books available, an older one in print from Amazon and a newer one that was made shortly before that engine was taken out of circulation ( tough luck for the poor guy who wrote that 800 page book). But if customers could do such a huge work on the side for a low end engine like that one, I don’t see why Epic can not set aside one guy to write a quality work of introduction for all the major features.

You are trying to improve yourself; that is NOT stupid. Not all at.
Just give it time, don’t give up. Also don’t try to “know everything”, learn as you go, learn what you need.

You are right. I have a C++ part but only for some stuff that can’t be done in BP. My main game is in BP because the C++ documentation is utterly lacking. It’s basically a reprint of the H file with rephrasing like “void DoStuff();” -> “Does stuff”

I was looking into C++ first because I am an old C++ programmer and couldn’t even imagine writing a game in a visual script language like BP but for a newbie it is basically impossible to understand how these classes relate, what they do, what is there, what to use and how to use them. BP at least has a relatively good docu for most nodes (except the material nodes) and the context sensitive help which is probably the one thing that keeps people with UE. Frankly without the context sensitive BP system, I would have given up after two weeks. That is the only thing that allows me to do what I do, because when I have a vague idea like “there should be something that returns a color from this object” I type “color” in the context menu and get the nodes that relate to color and then guess from there. Kind of like people who make it to their high school degree by guessing 50% of the multiple choice questions.

So that’s why I stick with BP which is actually quite OK in my view, better than I expected when I read about it first

https://www.google.com/search?q=Unreal+Engine+4+book&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS678US678&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjppbab3e_OAhXC6SYKHXaGAvcQsxgIHg&biw=1680&bih=925

There have been a few that have already hit the market made by publishers and the community. No All-In-One books that I see though.

Even if there were an All-In-One books available I still think there would be questions and concerns that they didn’t cover “enough” or make it simple enough to understand. The engine is continually being updated with new features and sometimes changes in workflow from previous versions that can be hard to get into a book without it quickly becoming outdated. If you end up waiting around for that one book to be made that will teach you everything you may find yourself waiting indefinitely. Sometimes it’s better to just dive in and see how things work. Start with whatever feature it is and just get a feel for what the different settings do. A lot of times this can easily teach you how something works and you may find that to be a more valuable experience in learning. This is how I’ve learned a lot when something isn’t yet documented or there isn’t enough information. If I can’t figure it out from there, sometimes the sifting through the source files can be helpful to find comments that explain how something works. I understand this method isn’t for everyone, but it’s been a valuable way for me to learn and retain the knowledge.

Regardless of it all, we all have our own ways of learning the tools.

Changes so quick it would become outdated fairly quickly…But, I do remember seeing on Amazon there were a few books coming out. Also, check out UDEMY, there is a C++ course that people rave about.

teak

This might be too basic for you, but there are a number of C++ tutorial videos that the folks here at Epic put together…Check their channel on youtube, part of their playlist.

teak

Kitatus has some books he put together covering Blueprints for free a while back. All in digital form or you can buy a hard copy from Amazon, I believe.

http://kitatus.co.uk/category/free-content/books/

There are a number of other resources out there that could be helpful. The Community Content, Tools, and Tutorials section of the forums has a lot of good information, projects, and things like Kitatus’ books. Unfortunatley, you don’t know what you don’t know and it can be hard to find that information until you’ve had to work your way through learning it.

Your account was created around the time I started with Unreal, so might be able to level with you.

The way I see it is Unreal is a Game Engine that caters to MANY different styles of products and use case scenarios, this could be 2D, 3D, VR, Mobile, Architectural Visualisation, real time rendering, production work, simulation, and isn’t limited to a single use i.e A Procedurally Generated 2D 8-bit MMORPG.
Because of this, the Angles at Epic have to cater to this and work 'round the clock to provide a stable product that continues to iterate and expand upon an established framework, and like most iteration processes they work in blocks, one build might be aimed towards VR/Mobile, and another Openworld tools all while providing bug fixes and extensions to existing packages.

When I first started game development with Unreal I would do the same thing as you, skim through the release notes, but after a while you start to gain an understanding of what sections of the engine apply to you, for the first 3-4 months this was the Material Editor since my first endeavour was creating a Procedural Terrain Material, so when release notes came through I would look for anything that would affect me or anything relating to parts of the material editor I am somewhat familiar with.

And from that time until now it has been Blueprints, Animations, Materials and AI/Behavior Trees, so for me these patch notes provided some much needed improvements and implementations for all of those areas i listed before, even if 4.13 was aimed towards the rendering side of things, some of these Included:
Shadow Map Caching for Movable Lights
Physical Animation Component
Improved Landscape Tessellation
Texture Coordinates from Line Traces
Optimized Landscape Shader Memory
Added a pin to the Montage Play node to allow choice over the return type of the node for either the length of the selected montage or its playback duration
Added “Get All Actors with Tag” blueprint node which returns an array of all actors with the given tag.
Automatically filled the first weight-blended landscape layer

Then there were things that would not affect me now or in the foreseeable future which was basically anything to do with Mobile, VR and I’ll include Sequencer for the time being because it is such a new release and I have no use for it atm.

I have also found myself looking back at past patch notes for information as an extension of the current documentation section.

As an indie developer wearing all sorts of hats you kind of have to have an understanding of the engine and all of its features, but say you were primarily a C+ programmer you would have no business poking around Art and Animation tools, so basically, don’t worry about the stuff that shouldn’t worry you.

There will always be something in the patches to wet your throat

And as far as I’m concerned with documentation, it is lacking, a lot, but at the same time it does it’s job, certain areas were written in some sort of alien dialect, but spending time with these aliens you naturally start to learn their language, just yesterday I revisited the lighting documentation to look for ways of optimising and understanding the different lighting sources and functions working inside of my levels, 6 months ago I didn’t really take much from it, and now I am able to make sense of everything.

You are kind of expected to have an understanding of your respected field before working with the Engine, game developers don’t hire random people off the street, nor are they required to take said person and spend 2-3 years giving them a formal education so they can start working for them

I might be a special case since I spend a lot of my free time bouncing between Unreal and League of Legends so it could be case of accelerated learning conditions :L

Knowledge can come from anywhere, not just schools.
A lot of knowledge of blueprints came from ripping content from one project and implementing it into another, as well as the various YouTubers who take it upon themselves to keep us educated, and fine example of this is Mathew Wadestein who is my go-to guy whenever I have a problem, and the ANSWER HUB! I love that thing <3

Also, as a side note, regarding those two problems you listed above, the one about getting multiple textures working with a character ins’t really engine related, but if you needed help with it I would make a answer hub post and they will give you some keywords that will help you search for modelling and texturing tutorials, as as for ‘good looking graphics’, open up any material used in the sample content, a HUUUGE amount of work has gone into optimisation and rendering, this is where you would hire someone with degrees in Rendering fields to write those shaders.

Just keep at it, and if you are driven by this idea of creating the Next Elder Scrolls then you need to lower your standards, aim for a minimum viable product, then expand on that (Raising funds, Hiring talent) and ease your way into an Executive Producer role and relax :smiley:

Yes that all sounds well and good, and believe me I know my limits so I’m not even aiming at a visually pleasing game because I know I don’t have the skill nor the resources to make it happen and for my purpose the standard lighting stuff works.

I give you an example of what I’m talking about from the latest release: Mesh Decals. I read through the description in the release notes and I get the feeling OK, I know roughly what it is. Probably some sort of mesh that attaches itself to another mesh like an overlay for details. Then I look at the two pictures they provide and I feel it’s like one of these “spot the difference” riddles. I don’t even see a difference and then I notice I have no idea what this thing is supposed to do or what it is good for.

Same with the “Physical Animation Profile”. It sure sounds interesting, then I look at the sample, I have no idea what it does, how it does it and it looks to me like a ragdoll that’s tossed around. Same results we had before with a simple physics body, right? I’m sure there is more to it if Epic spends money to implement it, I just don’t know what.

Like I said, I have my stuff here and I work with it and that’s it. As a result, I don’t install new engine versions anymore until the last hotfix is released before they are working on the next version, because I don’t want to get caught with bugs since I dont even profit from new versions, so why bother with possible bugs? I let others deal with it and wait to the last possible moment for an update, just so that I am not left behind with the version history, in case there is a serious bug that will be fixed in a later version otherwise I would probably stop updating altogether, since every update brings new risks.

Haha, so much true ;_)