First, I want to say that I’ve been a 3D Artist for 15 years and currently an animation manager for an architect firm. I consider myself an expert with V-Ray and 3D Max. I also have experience with Unity3D for real-time walk-through animations and a number of other 3D software.
Second, I’ve always heard of the Unreal Engine but never used it outside of purchasing games developed by it. Last week I downloaded it after hearing of the free announcement and I have to say, Unreal is by far one of the best pieces of software I have ever seen. Hands down has amazing features for a real-time rendering engine. I’ve started creating an architectural scene inside of Unreal and it’s coming together much easier, faster, and looks ten times better than what I had in Unity. I’ve been a fool not using this software after all these years and I’ve been sharing my experience with as many artist that I can. Introducing them to Blueprint and removing their fear of programming. Thanks Epic!
With that said, my only feedback at the moment I can provide would be setting up the materials seems a bit more step-involved than most node-based interfaces that produces the same results. For example, in 3D Max there is a node-base material interface called “Slate Material Editor”. Regardless if I’m using Max’s standard materials or V-Rays, I can easily change common values without having to create additional nodes or think about a formula to give the proper mix. Such as the Diffuse texture in Max, if I want this to only apply 50%. I just change the 100% value to 50, right next to the Defuse slot. I do completely understand that this can be done by adding a “Multiply” or “Add” node in Unreal’s material UI, but I feel like they are extra steps into a common CG feature.
Coming from an Architectural CG background and have worked with thousands of objects in a single scene, these extra steps become extra time wasted. Believe me, it adds up even with the shortcut keys. Basically my suggestion is to allow common changes to be quickly changed without node hunting. (See Slate Editor in 3D Max for an example)
Thanks and keep up the amazing work on this program!