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Sharp decline in Official Responses from Epic throughout the community.

Yeah, sadly I fully understand Daniel. Public AH is a mess and I don’t see how this could be changed…

Most of developers never worked as QA. Many of them never participate in development in AAA engine. And their reports are simply unclear and messy. I don’t blame anyone, I started as QA at AAA game - I got trained to create awesome reports for developers. But most of people here (especially at indie studios) know very little about efficient bug reporting. It’s not enough to say “there’s bug, it looks like this”.

This is classic paradox of bug fixing.
If the bug report isn’t awesome and clear, you can’t say anything until you fixed the issue :wink:

  • Developer can’t say too much about issue until he finds the cause… And usually he needs to sacrifice few hours of work to find it…
  • But… when cause is found, very often it can be fixed instantly :wink:

Let’s look at this issue. I though I provided excellent repro. Nope…
So I took my time, created copy of the project. Removed most of the content, hunted down the proper repro. Provided minimized version of my project (just few files, not saying anything about actual project). It took me hours… but programmer got stable repro, required to properly analyze problem and test the fix.
https://answers.unrealengine.com/que…t-is-null.html

I don’t know… maybe the best thing here would be to create some awesome (but easy to understand) guide for efficient bug reporting. The basic QA training.
Pin in to AH site, even force people to watch it (let’s say it’s youtube guide) before posting in Bug Reports section for the first time :stuck_out_tongue:

EDIT
Unity hired entire team of students to go through this enormous amount of reports, they got 5K reports every month.

Whenever i face a problem i rather use google or youtube than searching the AH. It feels like 90% of all threads there never get a reply anyway. Also i do not even dare to post there.

I agree that Answerhub has a lot of noise and it also annoys me to filter bug reports by new users thinking they found a bug after using UE4 for a day (stepped back for the same reasons, also it takes away soooo much time and at some point, you think everyone should use google and then you start missing the real problems).

I disagree that saying “no, sorry” will wear us down, I think it’s disrespectful to think we are all kids that can’t handle some rejections. I believe the community is smart enough to understand that your focus is somewhere else, but the trend to give less responses makes me feel like the comic @S-ed posted.

(Side note: Alex P created a big hole when leaving Epic)

I personally quit AnswerHub after spam bots invaded over there again and again.

Much appreciate the candid response, and I don’t disagree with you on some points there. But like others have mentioned and I did in my OP. Any response is better than no response. I mean, “insufficient detail” is subjective right? At this time there’s nothing anywhere stating what the minimum amount of information you need to provide.

The issue with Google sometimes is being able to get the right terms into the search to bring up what you want. I would like to think that most devs knew how to Google and tried to before posting on AH, and so that should be the assumption on your end as well. I know for a fact that even when you start typing in the Title into an AH post, when it brings up “relevant” posts, that 90% of the time it’s not related to it at all. I’m pretty sure it’s just using keywords in its algorithm.

TBH, if there were a way to link Issues links along with the related posts, that could be helpful. But I do admit sometimes Issues is just as bad when it comes to searches.

Anyway, so, if it comes down to $$$ , like I mentioned in a later post, I would like to see a Priority Support option for developers. Something in between what you have with the public answerhub and UDN. Be it a monthly subscription service or what have you. If it’s a lack of personnel, which I suppose may come back to $$$ anyway, I would obviously just say then “hire some more” devs. Someone linked something on here about Unity doing some But Report experiment hiring out 20-25 student (forgot already while writing this), but they went from 2k to 5k bug report logs on average a month.

Obviously, hiring an additional 20 bodies may not be feasible.

Feature request: “No, sorry” is better than nothing. Trust me. Feeling “unimportant” or “invisible” because there are no responses to what devs feel are “important” to them, is worse than a “No”.

As for “Mentioning”, if we could get a list of Epic Employees that do not mind being tagged separated by division, that would be greatly appreciated. Pin that somewhere, maybe even here in “Feedback For Epic”, or every major sub-forum. /shrug

Thanks again for the response!

Just want to clarify - I’m sharing my experience as an engine programmer with very limited time. We do have dedicated support staff who are extremely active in these forums and AnswerHub!

Thanks for all your responses. It’s good to have a dialog about this =)

While you’re here, why directional light doesn’t support Lux yet?

I think a paid support option would be nice. If you are a serious developer, and not just a hobbyist, you would likely take advantage of that. That would also encourage people to do there own research so they can save money instead of spamming the forums and AnswerHub. Otherwise, when you are stumped, you pay. I think that is a good idea. I know that is what Crytek is currently doing and I have been taking advantage of that. It’s rather nice actually. You get to talk to the staff about any issues you are having. Which for that engine is even more appropriate.

In addition to what you suggest above, how about documentation on the level of QT. Can you imagine how many questions would be resolved with outstanding documentation? (with examples, and the why).

teak

  1. There should be separate place for suggestions, something like UserVoice
  2. I think it would be nice to have optional paid support (i.e. same questions as on answerhub but with mandatory feedback)
  3. Bug reporting should have very strict rules to follow (ideally - bug reporter have to make a video with steps to reproduce it on a blank project)

@DanielW Thanks for the answers. But IMO getting “this feature is not/won’t be planned” is better than nothing.

@junfanbl IMO Crytek doing it wrong. You pay to get access to hidden answers. WTF??? And paid support is expensive. $100+/hr.

Please don’t sidetrack this thread. Create a new thread or post in Answerhub. Thanks

Aye, Uservoice for Feedback is something a long long long time ago I asked for. Another thing was bug reporting directly to Epic from within projects (with the ability to take desktop/editor screenshots). Sadly, they even took a decently helpful feature out from the Editor…the Google/Doc Search bar…

+1 - Better documentation that actually explains things would be huge. In BP its easy to hotwire nodes and try things, but that doesn’t bring much depth in knowledge.

In that sense BP is a fail, whereas C++ offers actual insights. However, only a few lucky devs are equally productive with both. If you’re a small-Indie-team / solo dev, do you want to spend your time becoming an engine programmer or focusing on gameplay etc.

So please Epic, if you do offer premium support MAKE DOCUMENTATION part of the equation. Right now, its still too low a priority!

Funny thing. I’ve recently offered Epic to make new documentation engine for them.
(I’ve been thinking about it for years, but just recently got some confidence)

I think implementing a stackoverflow moderation would help alot.
in SO, every member can flag posts as duplicate, on hold and too broad (afaik if you have some reputation threshold) which all reduce the reputation.
Having your own threads marked as these surely encourages to overthink the question and searching for a solution yourself.

@S-ed I’ve been using CE since it came out, so I don’t use paid support a lot. Only occasionally. Otherwise it does add up fast. Sometimes you need it though.

@franktech I haven’t done too much C++ development in UE4, what exactly is it lacking? Is the API documentation not thorough enough? As far as BPs go, those are great for prototyping game mechanics, but are hardly suitable for packing and shipping a game. I wouldn’t exactly call them a failure. I don’t think they were meant to replace good old fashion coding.

I think at some point if you aren’t paying for support, then you are going to have to struggle through the process. Unless of course something just flat out does not work. That’s a different story.

This is the thing about time and money when it comes to Game Development. You’re either spending time doing something or wasting time trying to do it and in the end time equals money.

You could try to debug something that may not be fixable on your end for 8 hours (or days), or you could get that reply from someone within an hour, and saved yourself 7 hours (or days) of dev time doing something else. Let’s say it’s an engine bug and there’s no way to fix it, so you need a workaround, well, hopefully the engine tech will be able to give you that workaround a lot quicker than coming up with it yourself. Or at the very least, you know that you don’t need to try to debug it on your end any longer and you can figure out a workaround yourself.

Either way, a priority support system in this scenario would work for 90% of devs. The other 10% will be the cheapskates that can’t afford the priority support and will no doubt be “all up in arms” about it.

Trying to please everyone is futile, but you sure could please a lot of folks with priority system in place. It’s optional. The regular answerhub “answer rate” should not be affected, especially with the money coming in from Pri Support, you should be able to afford a few extra bodies.

But, we’re getting ourselves a bit off topic with the pri support sadly. Still need to do something fundamentally about Answerhub Bug Reporting and Feedback For Epic.

  1. Automatic-documentation-generation, so not real actual docs.
  2. Partially or totally out-of-date sample projects and tutorials etc.
  3. Broken promises regarding adding more examples and wikis.

C++ examples: 1 2
BP - examples: 1 2

The vast majority of the BP-API docs are auto-generated or code-scraped one-line reference pages that lack clarifications, examples, explanations of nodes that appear to do the same or similar things. I’m saying that’s an ‘F’ grade fail in documentation, that’s all. BP rocks overall, even lesser-loved Kismet when leveraged had moments of brilliance! Whereas Wikis (Rama etc), quality-forum-threads, free-community-projects, compendiums by eXi / Romero etc… That’s real documentation!

There will be struggling even with it, just more so without new docs! :stuck_out_tongue:
So better to keep expectations low for now, for two reasons. Why?
The numbers don’t really add up. Some Reality check / guesswork:

#1. Priority / Premium Support… But who really gets priority…??? :stuck_out_tongue:
Its likely that even with paid support, it won’t be a level playing field.
Some kind of priority / system would probably begin to emerge imo:

  1. Epic-Active Games / Internal Projects,
    2, UDN partners and high rollers,
  2. Premium engine contributors (Rama and co)…
  3. Community leaders and visible supporters (Victor and co).
  4. Skilled game designers or higher-profile Indie-projects (TheJamsh / Jacky and co).

So what about everyone else? Its reasonable to assume those lacking high-profile projects or badges would be further down the list at tier 10 sitting in a queue somewhere. :stuck_out_tongue: That’s just reality, and why new solid documentation is so important, because it brings possible benefits to everyone…

#2. Headcount… Subscriptions - #How many new extra Epic staff…???
For a long time Epic held off adding headcount to the marketplace team, claiming it was a break even operation. So we know Epic are vary of adding headcount, just like any US corp really. But lets say 1000 devs sign up to premium support. Lets say the cost is what the engine used to be or $20-$30 USD / month. How many devs does that pay for? Salary for a dev in NC (75-100k mid-level, 120-150k top-pro?). But the overall cost to Epic will still be double or treble after all govt-taxes / benefits / all hiring costs are factored in. So how many people will get hired? 2 Maybe!

But ok, so what-if 10,000 devs sign up? Now things are looking brighter. But there’s still going to be a trail off at the end of Year1, Year2, Year3 as devs leave the program (after getting what they need) or finding out it isn’t what they wanted. So maybe 5-10 new staff get hired overall. But realistically speaking 10,000 subs is a lot for this community. So at a guess I think 2 new hires is a more likely outcome, one dedicated to documentation and the other an engine-specialist / support-tech. If so, that’s not going to bring overwhelming change, but the documentation might improve…

Ian Shadden actually explains the problems with the docs quite well during one of the streams( I think it’s the fireside chat stream from a year or two ago ). He said something like with 500 men and 10 years they still couldn’t get it done because the engine is constantly evolving, things are added/removed/modified, and that instantly makes them out of date or not quite right. It’s one of those infinitely endless tasks. He also mentions that often times the code comments, from which the docs are generated, aren’t always that great either which also causes problems.

Personally my first port of call when I’m researching something is usually youtube. Matthew Wadstein’s channel, places like that( and some of the others franktech mentioned ). I only go to the official docs as a last resort.

I avoid answerhub like the plague. I think I’ve only ever posted there once. It’s such an ugly thing to try and read.

You have to note though, how this tactic sort-of gives Epic a license to get out of creating new docs. :stuck_out_tongue:
Not that it isn’t true, its a fact particularly at the C+ level! Its just that its also built on a few mis-truths…

What do I mean by that???

Well imo the engine changed more radically and broke more things between 4-4…4-10 vs 4-10… 4-16.
Whereas at the Blueprints core code level, movement / collision etc, hasn’t really changed that much…
So it’d still be invaluable to get detailed documentation on these 2 topics for example… This and This