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Too many unanswered questions on answerhub, and no reply from Epic on bug reports

Let me introduce this topic, with a short story of mine.

I’m a solo indie developer. I’m officially handicapped, meaning based on my medical records, I shouldn’t be able to work. But I can. I can do the thing that I always loved to do, and that I started doing before my condition started: Game Development(Hey, I started coding on a C64 :slight_smile: ). Basically, that’s the only thing I know, the only thing that I taught my self. With the rise of mobile gaming, and the release of free engines like Unreal, I thought, my life is saved. I can go back to my childhood, where I passionately created mini worlds for others to enjoy, and if I do it well, I don’t have to live on those 100 dollars that our government pays me monthly for supporting my handicapped condition. I’m about to release my first game to the app store. But I’m stuck. Basically I’m on a PC, so I managed to get a Macbook from somebody who was kind enough to lend it to me every weekend for development and release. Remote build didn’t work, and UE4 crashed on launch on the macbook. I posted questions, and looked for other people’s question’s, but NO answer for days, or weeks. This is how my thrill turned into severe frustration, anger and bitterness.

I didn’t write this story to whine or complain about my situation, I just want the Epic staff to know, that there are real people using their engine who might not have millions of corporate dollars to afford the “Epic Games Hotline” for help, who are on their own, who have real projects going on, and can’t do ■■■■ even though the engine is free, if they feel that the helping community around the engine is basically dead.

If you guys could do something about it, that would be great.

Thank you.

Answerhub isn’t very active, there’s a lot more activity on the forums here

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Its interesting that Epic continue to push AH award badges at the start of most Twitch streams.

Why?

Many devs have abandoned Answer-Hub, others never used it much in the first place (if ever). There’s just not a lot of love for AH. The way its laid out for starters isn’t great… It divided / split the forums up, and fragmented information across several unconnected / unlinked sections… WTF???

In UE3/UDK we just had basic forums for everything, and tagged post titles with ‘solved’ or not. While unsophisticated it tended to work fine. But Epic have broken the forums many times since then.

Plus, there’s a bigger picture here. As UE4 has gotten more successful there’s far less actual interaction with Epic. Lots of devs have even abandoned the forums in the past year seemingly (victim of its own success maybe?).

Anyway, this kind of thing happened before with UDK / UE3… So if true, none of this is particularly new. But if the OP is hoping for some kind of support / forum renaissance, that may not happen anytime soon if ever unfortunately… Which is a bit sad, but also quite cyclical perhaps…???

I think many people still don’t realize the fact that Epic is not a company dedicated for game engine development for the masses (especially indie) like say Unity.

Their number one priority is their internal projects, as Unity’s Riccitiello rightly put it ‘They have a different revenue stream in that they make games. I could argue they compete with their customers’. Sometimes listening to the competitors head butt is a good way to understand the underlying structures of each company.

UE is a very big software which requires huge investment in maintenance and troubleshooting and time, this can be critical for indie’s with little to no budget, so i’m not surprised that after a major public alpha and beta testing phases (which these forums really are for Epic) coupled with their new games in production, one can conclude these forums wouldn’t be like they used to when they first opened up attracting the 20 mins internet buzz of an incoming new tech that most fly into only to discover later that this grass isn’t any greener and there is no magic button for AAA or any game development instead just more complications and headache like anything else that gets larger and more complicated over time.

I don’t think there is a right answer, either you need a vast amount of financial funding to sustain yourself and your team and get ‘some’ access to Epic directly if you are lucky and well connected and have enough cash to afford it, otherwise you are on your own relying entirely on luck in these forums and hoping that the next release would solve some of your technical problems (highly unlikely), not a pretty picture that much i can tell you.

I’d say consider other engines like Unity where you have far more dedicated staff and forum activity with tons of tools already available for your needs to start with, it’s not like you are going to be creating the next uncharted on your own so why would you need all the few visual bells and whistles that UE may provide?

I know this may sound like a pro Unity post but really it is not I use both engines and understand the pros and cons, I just don’t want people to have the wrong expectations like many of us once did when UE4 first came out.

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They seem extremely dedicated in my eyes. Honestly. There arent a ton of AAA free game engines out there that hand over the keys to premium content. Theres a simple creative node based coding system. Examples abound in the learn tab, and from the community. The engine is used by small single devs, and large studios. Not just for games, but apps, arch viz, ar/vr etc. Win/Mac, and Linux. It’s all here, and the free/ 5% deal is as good as it gets in any Indie world. Our example content is hands down better looking than anyone elses.
The answerhub isnt very organized. I posted maybe 3 questions over a years time, and one was answered promptly, but I don’t pay a consultation fee for support, or a monthly subscription, and Epic doesnt owe me “Answers.” One issue I posted was yesterday, and isn’t a time constraint, nor anything I want to pull someone away from there work for.

Of course Epic is not obliged, that’s entirely understandable but that’s also somewhat part of the problem.

  • Example content is not really anything to go by : ) and nothing compared to when you really want to start understanding the engine to get a real game done. most software have these.

  • oh and its 5% on the surface it will be more like 10 on actual paper income since the cut comes in before publisher takes its share :wink: there’s also the vague % from crowdfunding too. Nothing wrong with all this everyone must live at the end but how does this deal justify the feedback and interaction with a potential developer in the community is up for debate and another matter. since one out of X number here may be generating Epic some extra cash now or in the future.

But I never thought this 5% deal puts UE developers at a financial advantage at all. Unity also has free edition to learn and if you are serious about the game and can afford your trash bills at the end of the month i’m pretty sure you could afford your game development software, (eat one less Burgerking a week).
What many newcomers don’t realize is resources and fair amount of modest cash up front in the right tools is much more important and will save you more money in the mid to long term than time wasted on troubleshooting basics and trying to find resources and support which would definitely cost you more from all angles later.

This reminds me of the example when offline renderers started applying tweaks and coming up with workarounds to make an image render faster at some point, when they unintentionally introduced all sorts of limitations and troubleshooting from artists that in the end the time tweaking didn’t justify the time rendered.
So the solution was to buy a few extra render nodes and save work time while giving the machine to render the frame without the tweaks and extra 10 mins attached.

That’s money saved. Since artist time is always more costly and valuable than machine time in this case Troubleshooting a software.

[USER=“202133”]William K[/USER] A real issue is with clutter, and having the resources to send your experienced people into answerhub to answer, and clean up trash. I’m pretty sure fortnite would’ve been delayed if Epic employees sat around answerhub, and forums all day. We would also be stuck around 4.14/5. Maybe Arkit would be available in June.
It’s mostly there for community, logged answers, and bugs. I don’t need a publisher. Crowd funding is nice, but they want the same fee as Epic, or more?
We could really use a flowchart for troubleshooting simple things, but Game dev has too much involved. One huge REAL problem is Game development isnt entertaining. If it was we could start a video streaming service, and pay people for answers. Have game shows, and an Esports Development League. The other problem is when we find solutions. We don’t always post them as solutions. That’s a social issue though.

I think that’s true. There are lot of people, who are like starting out in game dev, but don’t even put in the minimum time and effort, to learn the things they can learn on their own, and either ask very basic questions, that can be found in documentation, or are like “I want to make an RPG, how do I that?”, and when you start answering with a polite general answer that drives them in the right direction, you end up being asked to create that RPG for them, basically. What’s funny, I’ve seen many people like posting a question like that and don’t even bother to put the question mark at the end of the sentence.
On the other hand, there are those people, who have learned and figured out on their own what they need to know, and ask questions when there’s no other way out, and in that case, they provide as much clear information on the problem as they can, in way that it is easy to understand for others, who might have an insight on the subject matter.

I think the solution would be if the one who questions, would offer a micro payment(1-5 dollars) for a working answer. This would be great for many reasons. The clutter would obviously go away, the people who provide good answers could make some extra cash, and even Epic games could make his own cut, and put back the money in the Engines’s development or wherever it is needed.
I would personally be happy to skip a BigMac menu, just to be able to release my game :slight_smile:

As a new Unreal developer coming from Unity , I find documentation and community really poor compared to other places. StackOverflow works so well because there’s people in charge to clean stuff and make sure people fix answers and join them, fix titles, etc. Gamification works, getting badges out of doing things like cleaning and organizing posts works really well.

On the AH there’s no way to fix wrong posts or fix anything on Answer Hub. Duplicated questions, etc. There’s no management or monitorization there. No moderation.

I could never imagine forums are better than a proper question/answer place to put questions and then find the answer directly marked by the owner of the post. It’s really bad to see endless threads in forums to not find an answer at the end.

If Epic was hiring a single person full time dedicated to answer forums and AH posts, that would make huge difference I think. Not only this person would answer questions, but would also consolidate valid feedback to Epic staff and help improving the knowledge base that are the documentation and the wiki. This person could pinpoint recurrent questions and ask the documentation team to document this once and for all, etc. So many things could be achieved with a single coordinator dedicated to this, but as I can see from the many unanswered posts and valid feedback not taken into account, I think staff people answering posts do it on their own will and are not dedicated to this. This is understandable devs cannot spend their time on the forums and AH, but if a single person was dedicated to coordinate this I am quite certain things would drastically change.

That person would have to have a pretty good grip on all aspects of the engine - I don’t think such a person exists!

Maybe not everything, but there are people on Answerhub who got some serious broad knowledge and they are dedicating their free time to answer these questions. Now imagine how much more time they would spend if they are actually getting paid for…

I glance at forums every 30~60 mins when I have 5 mins break… I would gladly answer all day to those basic questions ppl post on AnswerHub, but as already mentioned we all got bills to pay and projects to deliver ^^
AnswerHub demands elaborated answers, you can’t just post random thoughts so it takes time to deal with all that stuff… And then the people asking won’t even come back to mark their issue as resolved, so why bother.

Well, honestly, after many months of what appears to be radio silence and UE4 growing way out of what their community and documentation team can maintain, I think the right answer is to have some sort of official community empowerment system where select users can contribute to the official tutorials, documentation and examples. Scrap AH completely and move support to a dedicated forum here where questions can be properly browser, skimmed and searched intuitively and regular veteran users can discuss and reply in a conversation-like manner. That’s the most viable thing I can think of to re-invigorate this community.

Great idea. How are we able to achieve or empower this? Ever since UE4 went “free” the community is a mess. It’s a shame. Do you have any idea how we could re-engage with a great community? I would be in to help.

Epic could shutdown AnswerHub and buy a license to implement their own StackOverflow website for Unreal. These days they can afford it :wink:

Do I understand it well? Are you seriously suggesting that we need a system, which doesn’t look like it’s been made for IE6 and Windows XP, and is maintained more frequently than the alternation of ice ages?
Nowadays kids have so many needs… :frowning:

The problem as I see it.

There are two ways to get answers to questions via two totally different pathways.

The forums is a social based environment where thous with a generalized interest in UE4 “hang” out with little or no purpose than being part of the larger community. Asking and answering questions is just another activity as part of the bigger picture

Answer Hub on the other hand depends on the kindness of others who take part based on the desire to answer questions as to the reason and purpose of taking part in the process and as a reward can obtain a “badge” for their effort.

That said badges are cool but what is the motivation once a member has revived their badge or once the general member pool interested in badges have tapped out?. Thinking about it logging into the answer hub to answer questions sound more like a job than something fun to do as is the random nature of “playing” on the forums

So ideas.

  1. Tie both the forums and answer hub into a single one stop shop. I stop by the forums every day but never the answer hub “just” to answer questions (not interested in badges). The trick is in the format and what to do with the data. :wink:

  2. No idea how Epic is structure as to staff being allowed to answer questions. The job is to much for one person but how about an end of year employee bonus based on the total number of questions answered?

  3. A points purchase program. This kind of idea just works and has been around forever, think air miles, where the best answer can earn points towards real world bling.

Of the three number 3 is the more feasible as anything can be part of the points purchase program. T-shirts, market place coupons, or even partnership products like video cards . Points programs are awesome as items can be added or removed as interest changes.

The badge idea was good but the problem is the hype has died so maybe time to try something new and since the dev grants seem to be working well maybe the current answer hub program needs a bump?

Although it sounds like a great idea to get more people involved, it can also lead to scams, people creating and answering their own questions with different accounts, super-useful questions and super-detailed answers both having the same value as questions like “HOW I CREATE VARIABLE” similar answers like “you cant”.
Also, there would be many low-quality answers which are not professional at all, in the hope of getting a few accepted to earn points.

Well, Epic wasn’t even willing to put a few days of web development effort into making the website something that is a bit better than horrible (and they had half a decade to do it), I really doubt that out of the blue now they would try to get partners & build up a system to properly support any of these (or further) ideas, sadly.

I believe the community would have a bunch of ideas to make some services (like AnswerHub) into something with quality, but the reality is, we can cry about it day and night (like we did it for years), ain’t nothing’s gonna happen, we’re lucky that these are maintained and not shut down.

Totally agree.

I also liked the “Voting system” so more important or popular topics can be viewed immediately. Now it is hard to find relative of more popular topics.

As of point 3. Seems like a good way for people to gain by participating in the community.

Are we able to suggest or propose our needs to Epic? If so, how? It needs to be taken seriously.

I have spent a lot of time enjoying and learning the engine. It would be a shame to throw that away because of poor community management. I want to prevent that the engine becomes dead in the water.