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Nine-year old girls can do it

My nine-year old daughter makes a lot of crazy videos. She had to do a project for school and I suggested we build a gallery together.

Firstly, and most importantly, she’s nine and thinks that ‘likes’ are the most important thing in the universe so please, if you like it, perhaps show it around.

The reason I wanted to post here is so that Epic can see what they’ve done here. I had to help her with just a tiny bit of blueprint to get things running. But once I showed her how to create the video materials and apply them she was able to create new variables and add them to her model, she could manipulate the software really quite easily and fearlessly (a lesson for me).

I hope my daughter’s school see that, given a sufficiently powerful computer, children can build wonderful models and even delve into the blueprint and lighting systems. For anyone who’s bothered, we did it in 4.11. We used the hobbled version of the Level Sequence Editor to create the camera shots. (I am looking forward to the full tool in the 4.12 preview… it is a wonder.)

Apart from three colored lights the whole thing is just the default light source, with portals over the windows and entrance. She put everything together by ‘kitbashing’; she tried a million things and took the things she wanted. I created a few simple textures from her drawings; which she learned to do instantly, and we both fought with the cameras to get what she wanted.

Not just an enjoyable experience for me but clear evidence that advanced programming principles can be expressed to children using Unreal Engine without the child even being aware they are defining variables and firing executables. She captured using Nvidia Shadowplay (which is really excellent) in an editor preview window. She finished the thing off in Windows Movie Maker. We ‘upped’ the lighting quality by only a fraction on the default values.

This software is free and all schools should get it right now. Even taken in isolation the Level Sequence Editor seems like a software tool beamed back from the future.

9 years old learning UE4? Wow! That’s great man! You must feel very proud now!

Aye, I started teaching a 10 year old sibling Blueprints yesterday, and it was quite a breeze. However, that doesn’t mean much if they don’t have a PC that can run UE4 .

Today’s kids seem to be predisposed to learning this. tupikp: Indeed I am proud. She’s a great girl.

Jamendxman3: Indeed. The stumbling block.

Many years ago I worked in schools. Even back then, instead of buying (computer stuff) at regular prices they managed to pay insanely inflated prices that went through screeds of middle men and departments and great wads of paper were generated for every purchase. I guess that has not changed much. I don’t see real evidence that any school system has twigged that this kind of software really can work with very young children. But it would look daunting to teachers.

How could schools, even if they were donated computers by Bill Gates, for example, even believe that kids take to this stuff like it’s genetically coded? The Unreal Engine has a ton of giant learning curves and I’ve spent endless hours trying to overcome my own stupidity (‘but where am I? I did this yesterday and forgot. Has that changed? How do I? What’s a uv? Lightmass portal? Where? How?’) It seems endless. But once it’s ‘found’ or figured, the interface reveals itself. In short, show a little kid how to do it and they’ll be in there improvising.

The new Level Sequence Editor is just perfect for kids. It has an infinite messing about quotient. And the end product looks like a movie. Then you can whack it into VR (with a couple of clicks and thirty hours of teeth-gnashing) and get sick. Kids go ape for that kind of thing. But money and open eyes are required.

I love this software. From the moment I asked my son (who was killing people violently in a game I shouldn’t let him play 'cause he’ll become a mass murderer) “How the hell do they do that?” I have loved it. I’ve worked in software for 20 years and 99% of the software I’ve worked with cost millions, is s h i t, and could have been built, better, by a child.

No kidding. I worked for a large pharmaceutical company and once showed a project manager a framework I’d built for his upcoming project (using an 'off-the-shelf package). He loved it. My own manager’s manager came and told me I wasn’t permitted to talk to my own project manager after that. I told her what I had built. She went red and told me that was impossible. She told me the actual framework that was going to be used was already being ‘designed’ by her and my manager. They were ‘gathering requirements’. (OOoooo)

I told her that ‘my’ framework could not only be built in a few hours but that I could teach my nine-year old boy to do it in a couple of hours. She went purple.

Two years later they had a ‘list of requirements’ that could have been copied from the website of the company that builds the dreaded ‘off-the-shelf’ software I had used.

A year after that they had the most preposterous documentation system I had ever seen in my life ‘ready’ to go! It must have cost at least 2 million dollars. It used an old warhorse called Framemaker (which is a terrific application for a completely different thing) and zapped some ‘DITA’ into it but without any understanding of what DITA is for or how to implement it for the job at hand; it was completely random and infuriating. The software I had used also had ‘invisible DITA’ that didn’t have a nervous breakdown at every style. The software I built (in a few minutes, so easy was it to use) had a built-in WIKI, for feedback. But my manager, for feedback, sent 8 people to two different countries each (meetings for months were dominated by ‘I want Malaysia! Have you got Japan? I wanted Japan? San Francisco for me, please’). They went with a ‘questionnaire’ for ‘customers’. (The customers were laboratories.)

The questionnaire asked (and I am not paraphrasing):

Do you want better navigation? Yes or no?
Do you want the pictures in color or black & white? Yes or no?
… (a prize for thinking up anything with such eye-exploding stupidity)

It’s disgusting. They fired me three times, by the way. They had to keep getting me back because they were snookered in the ‘getting something done’ department. I had two managers who only managed me so they hired three technical writers to help me out but they weren’t technical writers because tech. writing is so ‘easy’ they hired other skills instead. Then they made the three of them my manager so I had five managers with a tool that didn’t work. So my manager asked me what I wanted and I told him I wanted him to write something. To do something instead of going to meetings that I should be at. The third firing stuck when I explained how ‘we’ would most certainly kill people as avoidance of errors was impossible. We were actively ‘forced’ to introduce error because of their ignorance of the realities of the actual software development (These were documents that teams of five or six people used for weeks to install and configure the software interface for laboratory management systems; they were not only complex but the software was so awful that much of the actual values used were inside these massive manuals (and getting ‘wronger’ every minute).)

At the world’s biggest genetics company I documented the underlying configuration of the ‘software’ they used to gather all of the clinical trial and adverse reactions data (where someone dies or grows a new head). A guy from the UK called me to ask where all the problems in the software and process were as he had been ‘tasked’ to ‘analyze’ our processes. After a two-hour call, in which I described our surrounding processes, some American guy I didn’t really know who was in the room during the call turned out to be the boss and he fired me for ‘making him look bad’ in front of his staff. He did it the next day and he wore jeans. I know because one of his staff commented on it. He looked pretty fit for a tailor’s dummy. He should have been a senator, or maybe he was. But I later realized the jeans were to keep his regular trousers clean from the beating he was going to administer when I lost my nut. I suggested he was a ‘King’. He is still the King there.

I didn’t even really know who he was. All he did, it seemed to me was come in at 10 and leave at one and spend time organizing his trips to China and the US and making sure his wife had a ticket. He had a big giant book called ‘Big Data’ which was the proof he knew what he was doing. He had no idea at all what ‘his system’ was. I had spent six months immersed in it, drowning in it. He got minions to write speeches for him ‘explaining things’. I had heard him once moaning about having to give talks on how s h i t our software was while all the other ‘Big Data’ execs giggled in the back row. (But he did it with a long face.)

At another (giant pharma) we were doing a ‘cloud installation’. We had two architects; the German guy got fired 'cause he was an architect but a contractor. The American architect, who was ‘staff’ shipped-in from an newly-purchased and entirely unrelated company, thought that cloud installations were done by fairies and leprechauns. He was staff so that was okay. The German was a contractor so he was gone. So, there’s 100 people ‘installing and documenting’ a huge installation and the guy in charge is maybe a salesman or something. I don’t know. But the boss of the whole thing had the solution figured. He was a genius. He gave us a lecture about Michael Jordan and he gave a box of chocolates to the American architect for doing such a good job so everything was fine.

This is my way of saying thanks to Epic for reminding me that I love software as much as nine-year olds.

And thanks for the ‘likes’. My daughter has 13 and she seems happy with that. Cheers.

Z6 no wonder we have such marvelous projects as windows.

In my company they are very stubborn with using version control systems. Problem is that those systems are designed for humans, not for scripts that add and remove millions of “randomly” placed lines per hour, scripts basically touch and change each file in tree every 30min or so. Then poor version control goes apeshit about every two weeks.
And they are deaf when i am telling them that moving to perforce from bzr will not solve this, and we should move to some database for that.

Then you are asking for some idea to be implemented for 2-3 years, nothing happens. After year or two some manager gets that brilliant idea (your idea) that gets implemented. Great it got finally trough, but its like 5 to 10 years too late.