Rendering a Space Environment in UE4 vs Unity?


I am new to the Unreal Engine and am interested in giving it a try. However I have some questions about the engine concerning usability and ease of development as well as capabilities. Please excuse the newbieness, I have done a fair amount of research but may still ask questions already answered elsewhere in which case a pointer to answers would be appreciated.

I probably differ from most of the devs here in that I am don’t need many of the animation tools and other environmental tools that those developing a traditional FPS would need. What I do need is the ability to be able to manage a space environment with realistic dimensions, impressive effects and hundreds of users in a single area in combat. The game I am working on is a Massive Multiplayer game (over 200 players at once) in an array of systems. Those players can do battle in PvP fights. The physics I want to use are realistic. I am not looking to turn a space ship into an airplane as most space games do but rather model it on real space flight. I also want to deploy to console as well as Mac and Pc.

With unity the strategy for handling the scale was to have at least three cameras. The first one is “System Space” which contains the large celestial masses (stars, planets, moons) scaled down radically to make them fit in a level without running into floating point math. This camera a renders the skybox and from the point of view of the player the rest of the system. On top of that is layered local space which holds the immediate surroundings including what other ships are in the vicinity, missiles in the air, etc. The final camera renders the UI. In this configuration the player’s ship doesnt actualy move but rather everything else moves around them (its easier for handling scale) The question is, how easy is this to do in UE4 keeping in mind that I want to focus on my product, not re-inventing the wheel. I have no problem digging into C++ (though I must say Id Prefer C# as fewer things to go wrong) but I want to make sure that I am not programming things that I believe should be in the tool kit.

Second thing is related to the server side of my game. When the players enter a system to fight, i want them to connect to an authoritative server that will maintain all world state and communicate via buffered extrapolation and interpolation. This means I have to be able to run the physics on the server as well as the client. Can the UE4 Physics engine be used outside the main platform? Is there a way to run UE4 headless (no rendering pipeline) to act as the server? Are there tool sets available for the server side of a game with UE4?

Finally a business question. I am obviously hoping to make far more cash than the typical indie developer (though I am not at liberty to reveal who my company is at this time). However the 5%royalty scares me a bit. If the game does hit the big time I could be looking at hundreds of thousands of costs to the engine. Is it possible to negotiate a cap amount or reducing royalty rate? I would probably want something like that before I commit our resources too much to UE4. If the above questions can be answered I will try to prototype some basics in UE4 and compare my findings to our Unity Prototype.

  • Kraythen

P.S. I tried to post before but it wouldn’t let me? If this is moderated please remove this duplicate.

I can’t answer most of those questions, but I can tell you that ue4 does support dedicated servers.

In what way does UE4 support dedicated servers. do you have documentation you can send me to?

I am surprised this post has not garnered more replies. Small community? Everyone out for weekend? Or perhaps I just ask boring questions. :slight_smile:

You can get custom licensing deals. But I expect those to be feasible only for large studios.

Dedicated server - there are many threads discussing it, and there are documentation regarding it. You can search using forum search facility.

Actually it seems to me this community is pretty small, I think unity offers a better comunity and more capabilites when it comes t cameras and other tecniques outside the realm of the average FPS mockup.

  1. everything is possible with the UE4 as long as you have some good C++ skills (due to the source code) -> of course the thing with the server could be a little bit tricky, but in the UE4 there is no player limit for online games (just depends on your server)
  2. 5% is nearly nothing for such an engine :wink: But when you dont want to accept them, get in touch with epic so that you get a custom licence or just use Unity

Unity may have more voices; however, how much of what is said is lost to static I do not know. To help address some concerns:

Unreal can run in a headless/dedicated server mode. This is fully authoritative. Unity does not offer this and you would need to code this yourself or use a third party library like bolt to achieve the same.

Unreal can handle the same camera arrangement you are looking for; however may not be necessary. What kind of universe size are you going for?

The 5% royalty can be negotiated with Epic; however no one, but Epic can give you an idea of when this might become viable.