The philosophy of level design in UE4?

After more than ten years of working with CryEngine 1 (Far Cry 1 modding) and Game Maker, I’ve decided to switch to an engine which actually has a future.

I’m slowly learning how to work with UE4, the blueprints etc. Currently, it feels like the biggest drawback for me is mapping. I’m not sure what’s the right way to do mapping here. (sure, I know that I should start with less detailed architecture and then add details etc.)

How do I make walls, floors, ceilings in an interior scene?

Let’s say that I’m making a long corridor. I see 3 different ways to make it.

  • Place two long and narrow basic geometry blocks as walls and two long and low blocks as a floor and a ceiling. Then use negative blocks to make doorways etc.
  • Place one long hollow block as a corridor and then use negative blocks to make doorways etc.
  • Place wall, floor, ceiling, doorway… meshes to make the corridor.

From the CryEngine I’m used to the third way (since it was the only way) but I don’t think that it’s a good way.
Is there a prefered way, which is best for the performance or/and for the designer?

How about “VisAreas” and “Portals”?

I don’t know how it’s called here. In CryEngine, it is good to place every room into an VisArea. Everything in the VisArea is invisible for everyone outside and everything outside is invisible for everyone inside. The Portals served as windows into/between the VisAreas.

Can I place something similar in UE4? I’m sure something like that must exist in UE4 but I doubt that it is generated automatically. (or does it?)

Is there something else which is good to know?

After all, I have experience with a 16 years old engine and with a mostly 2D engine, which poorly supports 3D. (on the other hand, it was and interesting experience - programming my own terrain system)

Thank you in advance for your help

I assume you are referring to brushes. Don’t do that. Epic discourages the use of brushes for level design except for quick prototyping. Use meshes. You find plenty of meshes that represent walls, doorways etc on the marketplace.
With regards to your visibility portals, I don’t think UE supports that because it has automatic occlusion culling. There is something like precomputed visibility but I never used it since it is more for low end machines like mobile devices.
There is a plugin on the marketplace that is called something like “light portals” which does what you describe for dynamic lights. It should not be too hard to change the BPs to make meshes or other BPs visible or invisible based on zones and portals with that. You can also contact the author for help he is generally very quick to respond

Thank you very much for your answers.
Working with brushes was a pain, so I’m glad you say I shouldn’t do it anyway.
The automatic occlusion culling sounds amazing, I didn’t know that it would exist. That’s great news since VisAreas and Portals were often quite annoying to work with.

vis areas are hard to work with but critical for dynamic lighting
in UE4 automatic culls is pretty cool but vis area Best feature was to mute out the global skylight
Something in UE4 that can Prevent the Main skylight in specific areas would be Extremely useful in prototyping a level, or even final dynamic lighting level for open world games
Dying light also has a volume of some kind that removes the sky light inside rooms

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