Looking to teach UE4 to 16-year-olds, advice?

Hi all. I’m a secondary IT teacher and am about to start a semester-long subject for students who are around 16 years old. Traditionally we have covered hardware, networking, basic programming and game design using Gamemaker, but after discovering the recent changes to Unreal Engine (particularly blueprints) I’m keen to go down this path. Some of the students have not had any experience in computational logic so I have to keep things pretty simple.

My idea is to run 3 components:

  1. Hardware and networking (putting together PCs, installing Ubuntu, etc)
  2. Level design (create a first person environment in UE4, no direct interaction)
  3. Visual programming (using UE4 blueprints to bring their environments to life and create some interactive elements).

I’m also hoping to bring in Oculus Rifts to allow students to step into their environment virtually!

My question is, how feasible do you think this is over 1 semester? Can I expect students to be able to build a basic environment (apartment size space) and develop interaction using blueprints? Any good starting points beyond the Unreal Engine tutorials (which are fantastic)?

Depends on how many hours per week they have for this. But I think you could scale the content of the course easily. The basics of blueprints can probably be explained and shown in an hour or two. Then you could go from there. See how fast they learn. Let them built an elevator, doors, light switches. To get an idea for the possibilities and features, I recommend you download and try all the levels from the Content Examples project from the marketplace.

Well, if you want my opinion:

I think that level design and blueprints are actually really easy & quick to learn. (Especially level design.) The hard part is making levels that actually look good, and blueprints that have usefully complex functionality. But as for learning the methods, that doesn’t take long.

I don’t know about the hardware side, but that sounds to me like it would take much longer than learning Unreal.

Just my $0.02 :slight_smile:

Thanks for the responses. From what your suggesting it’s relatively easy to pick up but considerably more involved to master… in other words perfect for students at all levels :slight_smile:

In terms of level design, are there any free resources for assets such as textures and 3D models my students could use?

Well your project is big and interesting enough that personally I would contact Epic directly and ask them for some assistance.

Teaching use to be Zak’s thing, and still is, so it won’t take much convincing as to the value as to their direct involvement. If me my only condition is all students involved would have to wear “Think Unreal” t-shirts. :wink:

UE4 comes with plenty of free resources that would be appropriate for a beginners course. Especially if building an apartment is what you’re going for, just look at the example videos that are already out there. I’m glad to see teachers willing to put students through UE training, especially at such a young age. I never had that luxury, everything I know has pretty much been self taught over many years. Good luck with your course. =)

Here you can get free assets:

The most important thing is to tell us what are the specs of the pc that your students will use.I supose its a school and 98% of the time we are talking about low end hardware.If so you will loose time whit them while udk is less power hungry.So it depends on the specs i supose.

Thanks again for the additional replies. The PCs themselves are 2014 generation iMacs, the low-end 27 inches. I believe these are the specs:

27-inch: 3.2GHz
3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
8GB (two 4GB) memory
1TB hard drive1
NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M with 1GB video memory

I have tons of free stuff, (characters, animations, models) and I’d happily give them over to you for your students :slight_smile:
Drop me a line here on the forums or
I’ll only send creative commons stuff, so you have no fears about all that copyright nonsense :wink:

That would be fantastic Lex, email sent!

Since they’ve already learned about networking, have you considered teaching them to make the game multiplayer using blueprints? Just simple so that they can chase each other around or something, but coming full circle with how they started the course.

Lol I’m younger then 16!!!

The problem with using UE4 though it is could become quite expensive.

In what way? From what I understand we can get an educational license for $19/month for the entire school’s computers.

I think he meant in terms of hardware.

Oh I didn’t know that sorry.

Acturus.I dont have the ue4 but from what i read here and from a few friend at work those imacs are basicly laptops put in a big screen.We all know that macs have wors performance than pc in ue4(and in most aplications) so with those specs ue4 will probably be a waste and you wont be able to give your classes related to level design with normality do to the low hardware.Udk is a good option but its not for mac.Maybe with windows instaled on the macs will help but things get complicated i think.Ive read that unity is very hardware friendly and is mac supported.The rest is up to you.Maybe you coud bu i ue4 license and see how it does in one of tose imacs and see if it will behave.

No. I generally try hard to not be rude, but I’m trying less here. You’re giving advice without having UE4 or, I assume, a Mac. You are making pretty bold claims given your experience with running UE4 on a Mac.

You are right about one thing- iMac’s are basically laptops attached to a big screen. It just so happens that I have a Macbook Pro, which is also an Apple laptop. However, mine is an older generation with only a GeForce GT650M and a 4000 series i7 CPU. This is my development tool, and I have no trouble at all. I also use Maya 2015 and other software that has high hardware demands. I additionally run Windows 8 (prefer 7, but I got a good deal on 8) and it’s very trivial to run both Mac OS X and Windows. I use UE4, Maya, Microsoft Visual Studio and others on Windows without issue and it performs very well.

I understand you dkloving.Yes i dont have a mac(still im gona get one soon in order to be able to upload to the appstore xd)anyway…I dont have the ue4 right now its true but i read the forums.There is a topic named [Compatibility List] Unreal 4 - Hardware Feedback.There are a few mack books there and you coud see their performance and the equivalent of the windows waptops dont do much better.Im glad that you are happy with the perfomance of your macbook but as the man said he was going to teach level design.So unless he is making something smow (i doubt it)everything shoud be ok.Im sure those imacs will work fine but the question is will they be able to keep up?.With a gt 750m making complex things im not so sure.Im basing my self on what people said on the forums and on techical specs of the hardware/os.One thing is to strugle to make something with 25-30 fps and another with more better hardware.Thats way i said that the best thing is for him to put one license on one of the macs and see some of the demos how it behaves and as a alternative if hes not pleased to use udk+windows ore unity.If i was a student the last thing i woud want is to have the best software on a low end pc.Just curious,what framerates are you achiving with your mackbook and the gt650m?