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Looking for input on "Learner Progression" for our future UE community/learning experience

Hi all,

As part of our major on-going initiative of revamping and growing the UE community and learning channels, in anticipation of the UE5 era, we are currently looking into the topic of “Learner Progression”.
We’ve identified a number of different sets of expectations on this topic, and we’d love to get your input to help steer our direction.


Added background
We are reworking large parts of our community and learning web infrastructure. We are building an all new learning and support environment, which will allow for a wide range of learning content and tutorials, including user written tutorials to be authored and shared.

We want to make access to learning content (tutorials, tech talks, webinars, livestreams, courses, etc.) as easy, frictionless, and as wide as possible, and we want to tie that experience into a unified community space, including a community profile that is meant to represent a person’s work, achievements and progress with UE.


What is "Learner Progression"
All things related to helping people who are learning the engine to be able to track their progress and feeling recognized or rewarded for it.
More concretely, the closest we have to that today is that on Unreal Online Learning, you receive a badge when you watch a video and/or complete a text based quiz.


There are a number of different paths forward possible

Option A. - Unreal Online Learning style badges and quizzes

  • Upon having watched a course completely, and/or completing a text based multiple choice quiz that poses questions on the content of the course, the person is awarded a unique badge that then lives in the profile, and that the person can then show to others as a type of badge of honor for having gone through a course.
  • Learner Progression comes from verifying a person’s knowledge through these text quizes, and awarding a badge when the person succeeds the quiz.

Option B. - A skilltree mixed with a portfolio

  • Each person starting to learn UE, is presented with a visual schematic that shows them the different paths they can take towards a certain outcome (such as World Building). The schematic sketches the different parts of the journey (=engine features/tools/workflows) the person is expected to master or look into to reach their goal.
  • By doing so this schematic serves as both an introduction to all parts the engine is made up of, and to help the person navigate these different steps and visually see their progress along that journey.
  • A person checks off on a feature or step by uploading a piece of work (perhaps on Artstation, Github, this forum, etc.) that demonstrates having mastered for example “Landscapes”.
  • Thereby the user receives no badges or immediate recognition, but instead is stimulated to create a piece of work that then becomes the demonstration of their progress.
  • Other people could view a profile and see a person’s progress by browsing their schematic and their work per engine feature and tool, giving them a more structured understanding of someone’s skill level.
  • This would also allow users of any experience level to participate, as anyone could add their work at any point.

Very very rough and basic picture to illustrate what it could look like if we were to go down this road

Option C. - Focus on content and other features instead
We focus our efforts on extending and growing other parts of the community and learning experience, be it creating a greater amount or more diverse content, or by focusing on different features altogether.
In this option we view the topic of learner progression to be low priority compared to all other possible things we could do.

Option D. - Something altogether different
If not one of the options above, we’d love your input on what you’d like to see.


  • Option A. - Unreal Online Learning style badges and quizzes
  • Option B. - A skilltree mixed with a portfolio
  • Option C. - Focus on more content and other features instead
  • Option D. - Something altogether different

0 voters

  • I have currently some badges on Unreal Online Learning
  • I have not pursued any badges on Unreal Online Learning but I have used the site
  • I have not used Unreal Online Learning

0 voters

How do you feel we should approach it?
What is most valuable for you? What do you look for?
If you are an experienced user, what approach would be most valuable for you?
If you are experienced, imagine being new to the engine today in 2021, which ones of the above options do you wish you had when you started with developing in UE?

I know I’m an outlier with stuff like this, but I say drop the badges, drop the skill trees, kill 'em with fire.

Concentrate on the important things: quality information, both broad and deep. We’re all (mostly) adults here and if you need a digital participation trophy as motivation to keep improving your skills, it might be time to re-examine your priorities.

5 Likes

Honestly I like the skilltree idea, I think it’s conceptually a really cool idea. The problem is I don’t think it would provide much value/incentive for me.

I’ve watched all of the content I’m interested in on the learning hub, but I’ve made absolutely no effort to collect badges. I couldn’t even tell you which ones I have, if any… These kinds of things seems like they would motivate achievement chasers but gamification like this is mostly wasted on me, and I suspect that may apply to most people.

I think the biggest problem with learning Unreal isn’t a lack of incentive or progression tracking, it’s an issue of scope and prerequisites. I doubt anyone can make their own game (or probably anything else for that matter) using only the content in the learning hub. In order to do anything interesting with the engine you need to have skills already, whether it’s 3d modeling, animation, rigging, math, programming… there is always something else you need, often multiple pieces. But it isn’t feasible to expect Epic to teach everybody linear algebra, introductory programming, or blender/maya/max/modo/sd/sp/zbrush and so these steps are intentionally omitted so that the scope can be narrowed to just teaching the Unreal part.

This is a reasonable approach but it also just feels like “Here’s the tools, good luck” which probably just drives people to go straight to Youtube instead of the learning hub. Although I didn’t take advantage of it I think one of the better choices you guys made with the learning hub is parternering with GameDev.tv to provide their C++ course for free because they actually make some attempt to cover basic programming concepts…

It also blows my mind that you didn’t permanently plaster “ALL ARTSTATION LEARNING CONTENT FREE UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR!!!” all over the learning hub since you guys acquired the site. It was announced on the Artstation blog but probably never reached a lot of the users who it could have helped the most.

This is not just an issue with beginner content either, I really enjoyed your advanced materials course on the learning hub but for the most part I’ve found myself learning from other sites. A great example of this is Ryan Brucks blog, still one of the better resources out there for raymarching. My first experience with volumetrics in Unreal was courtesy of Asher Zhu’s blog. Both of these people work for Epic yet we have to hunt down their content elsewhere. I eventually just threw in the towel and made a twitter account so I could follow all of Epic’s tech artists and benefit from their occasional nuggets of wisdom that are nowhere to be found here.

I know there are a lot of challenges here, especially with deciding where to draw the line on what to teach, vetting content to make sure it is accurate and the cost of diverting people away from other tasks (I’m sure Ryan Brucks time is better served on other things than teaching people how to raytrace a distance field) especially when the benefits are not Unreal specific. But I feel those are the major issues that need to be tackled. While a skilltree is a cool concept, it just feels like the effort will be wasted when so much of what we need is basically everywhere but here.

I’d consider all of that “gamey” stuff to be a distraction and waste of resource.

It may motivate certain types of people but I doubt they would be ones to actually finish games in the first place. I could be wrong but the sort of gimmicks that get a player to play a video game for a few more hours I don’t think will translate to actual game making where progress is measured in months, not hours.

Overall I am very happy and impressed with online learning area, I think it is best in class compared to others.

If the epic team really wanted to provide motivation and true value for people using it, I think connecting it to some sort of game jam or other event where people can actually put there skills to the test and show the world would be worthwhile.

That of course takes a lot more time and attention but in my opinion it’s only thing that actually means anything. Maybe it’s not a whole game jam but maybe after you have completed X number of courses in a progression path you are prompted to make a project on your own with certain criteria to meet and this can be submitted to the community/epic to undergo some sort of grading. And if you met the criteria you get some prize, like coupon for more learning courses or something from the store.

Just brainstorming but to me, I think game developers are very clever people and they’ll know if the dangling carrot is real or not.

My take is a little different. I do like the Concept idea, but I think there needs to be some overhead in helping the new starters find the right material.

Instead of a dedicated single course (as per the hierarchy), maybe there are a list of “approved” courses, streams, YouTube examples etc that an individual can tick off themselves. I also think it is very important to have the version the learning material was created against and some applicable metatags.

Crudely something like (somehow associated with a hierarchy):

Modeling

  • Documentation (v5.1)
  • Live Stream (v5.0) #Stylised #Environmental
  • Unreal Webinar - Modelling Basics (v4.27) #Basic
  • Unreal Presentation X - #Use-Case
  • Course Y - #Advanced
  • ArtStation A
  • ArtStation B
  • YouTube Example 1 (v5.01) #Modular Components
  • YouTube Example 2 … #

This could also be a badge on honor (and increased traffic) for those who produce these artifacts. It does not need to be an Epic production, but Epic “approved”.

1 Like

Gamification of game development is an interesting approach, but please, please focus on bug fixes and stability. Too many features have been added and too many loose ends linger in the engine for years. The jump from UE4 to UE5 is going to be bring a lot of headaches with all the new integrations as it is.

I assume this effort stems from the more fundamental goal - help new people learn the engine better/faster.

In my opinion, what would go a long way would be to simply have functioning documentation.

I will give you a very practical example - I mostly use BP, but sometimes I have to dive into C++. The gaps between using C++ are long enough that I often forget some aspects. Just the other day, I was trying to search how to properly make Unreal Enum in C++, because I knew the syntax changed recently.

Intuitively, I avoided using official UE docs because I knew I’d never find anything so fundamental on that page. So I had to resort to Google search and visit numerous random third party sites, each of which had different information of different quality, and some shown the outdated enum syntax which won’t compile anymore.

It wasn’t trivial, even for me, someone who is not a beginner and had already possessed the obscure piece of information that enum syntax has changed in some of the recent engine version. So a complete newbie, just starting off with UE, would be completely lost on something as essential.

First, they would try the official UE documentation:
1, Go to: Unreal Engine 4 Documentation | Unreal Engine Documentation
2, In the search box, type “Enum”

Literally none of the results in any of the search categories will give you the simple answer of how to properly make a C++ enum in Unreal.

So as a newbie, next place you turn to is probably Google. After Googling “Unreal C++ Enum”, the first hit I get is this:

An outdated enum syntax which will likely not compile anymore.
The second hit also contains outdated syntax, and only the answer in the response contains the correct one:
https://answers.unrealengine.com/questions/961048/creating-enums-in-c.html

If you, as a beginner, don’t have this obscure piece of information that the enum syntax has changed recently, you are in the process of wasting time and pulling your hair out asking why doesn’t it compile.

There is absolutely no official place to find out these essentials. The UE just assumes you know them… from where, that’s up to you.

Compare this experience to Unity for example. Googling “Unity Make Enum” brings you to the official Unity learning portal describing how to make an enum: Enumerations - Unity Learn
An easy to access, up to date information.

So in my opinion, you should not be trying to build a house on a rotten foundation. Good, easy to navigate documentation is a necessary foundation, and no amount of fancy “skill tree” fluff on top of it will fix that.

The sad state of UE is that pretty much everyone knows that UE documentation is quite lacking and is never ever a first choice for a source of information to anyone who has tried it at least once. Or perhaps in other words… if you are a complete beginner to UE, trying to learn certain aspects of it from official UE documentation sources is one of the worst ways to go about it. And it should not be.

7 Likes

The learning portal is currently somewhat disorganized at the more detailed levels of learning. It’s easy to access courses, but when I have, I don’t know how to get at certain ‘lessons’ or videos about more particular things in the engine. There’s at least 3 materials courses, each of which could contain how-to instructions for transparency and its different methods. As a beginner, I don’t know which is the one, or if one contains the method I’m looking for or not…so I’m going to be clicking around and trying to fast-forward thru videos and presentation slides to target the exact instructions (which I already don’t recognize entirely). The courses need a fresh change in organization and accessibility that’s more helpful in bringing users to the content they’re looking for or require to learn engine features. Since Youtube is not the easiest to target specific lessons / tutorials in either, it would present an opportunity for Unreal Learning Portal to become a more relevant and established source. One idea for that is supplanting the current structure with the linking and tooltip hints with context-specific “Table of Contents” or “Index” pages that connect directly to the different content they reference. Index is a model to use because it’s similar to the index of a textbook where page numbers are listed for a specific topic or a word / phrase. Table of Contents is useful for not overwhelming the user with a ton of words, instead making it easier to discover and relate to in a categorical organization with ‘page’ references. If interested in the idea I’m presenting, I would create a detailed example and share it in or outside of the forums.

While a progression system with visual representation sounds like a nifty idea and could provide a guide of sorts to newer users, I think it would be mostly an annoyance or a hindrance to experts and experienced users. It would also be insubstantial to people who want / need to learn Unreal Engine quickly and thoroughly, such as those people who work for architecture companies or independent contractors who produce visualizations for cars, landscapes, and such. GIS and other mapping technologies would also probably be rather disinterested in utilizing a learner progression system unless it somehow helped to speed up their access to information / instruction and made their work reasonably more efficient and their time/effort more sustainable.

I agree with the view of documentation needing improved function and completeness. Sometimes I wonder if people who didn’t really know the engine well enough wrote it. Like a mechanic who specializes in car transmissions wrote a textbook about airplane engine cooling, not truly understanding or having worked with airplanes. Other times I obtain exactly what I need in the docs. Yet, it is often enough for an outdated version of the engine in a way that the information on new features is missing and how pre-existing features work now is not complete or is inaccurate. For instance, I still cannot find a doc page on the mesh editor’s details panel with an explanation and instruction on how to use the various settings. I found it before, but haven’t discovered it again. I had bookmarked lots of doc pages, then got a new computer so those disappeared from my reach. It doesn’t bode well for beginners, intermediates, or experts in regard to the docs overall. CVars aren’t easy to understand all the time, and I see no direct link to those in the docs or in the engine. Is it assumed that I should learn from doing an archeological dig in the forums to understand how I can fix certain issues with shadows or ray tracing by testing the cvars and their unexposed parameters? My point is the learning content needs to be accessible and thorough rather than hidden behind a veil of in-depth linking among pages, treasure hunting in the myriad videos and slides of broadly categorized courses, and reverting to youtube search algorithms…even to learn pretty basic things.

I think features and having everything function without glitches is most important but it would ultimately be cool to have something like what we see on xbox badges for example. Could have a “skill tree” of tutorials in the engine help section that you undertake and once done, it gives you the badge as an accomplishment for immediate gratification and check marks that tree. The tree would almost be like a “world map” of tutorials if you will like in your rough example. Once again, I feel that function is more important but would be a neat feature to help new people learn.

Those badges rather fell like a weird showoff - Leaving the focus out of the actual thing (Tracking Progress).

A Progress Map would be interesting - Cool.
But in my personal question is, where are official made programming tutorials (C++) ?

I got severe Problems getting started with coding in Unreal Engine

1 Like

You need to fix the documentation instead of wasting your time here.

I’m currently learning UE4. I’m definitely starting to get it, as I can work on my game by myself a lot, but there’s some stuff I just haven’t learned yet (materials, blendspaces even though I know they’re super simple, landscaping). Most of that stuff I get why there’s not a lot of documentation, it’s mostly either math or creativity. However, why are basic nodes so difficult to find definitions for?

For example, let’s say I want to find out how to send information over a BP interface. It takes me five hours to find the answer, and that answer is “you can’t”. WHY does it take me five hours? Why can’t the documentation CLEARLY say what it does? What does “common behavior” mean? I don’t understand what’s so hard. Even if you just direct people to tutorials on YouTube explaining what is right, JUST DO THAT. I don’t care,I just want information and for me to not have to waste precious time trying to figure out what in gods name one node does. Ryan Laley and Matt Weinstein are basically the only reason I know the engine decently, the official developers refuse to put effort into documentation.

1 Like

Just an idea about the UE community development:

Turn answerhub/portfolio_tree/badges whatever else into a publicly recognized and acknowledged RECRUITING or/and PROFESSIONAL SOCIAL NETWORK (sort of mix of Stackoverflow and LinkedIn).

This will probably motivate beginners to join to show off and track their progress with all these badges/portfolio&progress trees and whatever else.

And it will likely also be an initiative for more experienced guys to participate more actively in the community helping less experienced people. Showing off their professional projects perhaps can also make sense.

Thus, the UE community will hopefully have another self-maintaining power to grow and develop.

Maybe something like this already exists, but I think it’s not developed to the extent that it can be easily noticed.

Dear Sjoerd,

I think people will measure their own progress as they create fancier and fancier UE projects, and that is the real badge, being able to post some awesome thing you made with pictures and videos.

I don’t think the badge/progression system is as important as generating actual content, and making sure that the user experience navigating the content is as useful fun and streamlined as possible.

People will measure their own progress.

A progress UI / skill tree sounds like a great v.17.0 feature :slight_smile:

:unicorn:

:heart:

Rama

5 Likes

I agree with most other sentiments voiced here. The main priority should be increasing the quantity, quality, value, and ease of use of learning resources. With an emphasis on eliminating empty doxygen documentation wherever possible.

A portfolio page attached to someone’s profile, similar to ArtStation would be a cool place to showcase projects, blogs, etc. But badges/achievements in this space seem like bloat.

A personal-only list of learning articles that you haven’t completed could be useful so that you are aware of new educational content that you haven’t consumed.

A points/achievement system seems unnecessary for the user and for the 3rd party. Look at professional consulting sites (e.g. upwork) that have tech quizzes, the answers are widely published, which makes the certifications meaningless.

Not that the advice is likely to be taken into account, as previously observed.
BUT.

Maybe focus less as a whole into acquiring new users when you make the current user base feel completely unwelcome and disenfranchised.

What would adding any of those feature do for User Retention?
Nothing. That’s what.

IF the idea continues instead of taking our advice.

Please - at the very least - make sure you are teaching correct things to the users with a multi-faceted approach that also explains why doing something “this way” is better than doing something “that way”.
There’s so much content even in the learn section that should just be Unlearned because it’s a bad practice that it’s not even funny.

IF your team intends to do this seriously…
Then a head person needs to be put in charge of the effort. He/She also needs to be held accountable for “bad” choices and they have to be available to discuss/explain in the forums when these “ad-hoc” choices are brought into discussion.

AS things stand currently, Some of the tutorials teach wrong things that shouldn’t be done. No one from staff has ever actually addressed any of those concerns or given explanations when asked on answerhub or in any other avenue.

If anything, that’s even more of a problem than the lack of new content.

1 Like

I’d say the skilltree may be a terrific resource for new learners. Maybe not even as a fillable/interactable thing. Especially those teaching themselves online, it’s hard to stare up at the mountain of things and know which direction to start climbing.

So whatever final choice you come to, if you can keep that skilltree as a graphic somewhere for people I think it’s still valuable!

Convince the community to write an guide on how to create an certain genre of a game and pin on the forums as either a PDF or a forum post.

There’s already youtubers making money off of releasing an step-by-step guide on how to make a FPS or a RPG, so why not make an online encyclopedia about it?

I don’t think the badge/progression system is as important, because it doesn’t measure your creativity. It’s more about creating awesome things and making sure that when you are navigating through these creations. With great tool in hand and proper training hunting will improve eventually.

Well, i would prefer a better documentation, because often i find myself checking Youtube channels like Matthew Wadsteins to figure out, what a certain node does, or to discover completely new nodes i never knew about, and when and where they are useful

Seriously, just hire that guy or link his channel to your documentation. Recently i am also on William Fauchers channel to learn better render practices and tips and tricks, and also for troubleshooting.

Not to mention all the tutorials, and channels, that showcase the entire process of making a complete game from start to finish.

Why should i watch for a badge? If i find someone posting a solution that works for my problem, then why should i care, what badge he had or had not earned?