Trying to understand building the engine as an artist... Help?

Hey everyone!

Here’s a bit of background so you can understand my issue a bit better:
I’m a 3D artist that’s been using UE4 for quite some years now. I understand different parts of the engine quite well, such as the material editor, sequencer and blueprints. I’m even developing a game on my free time. My knowledge stops at C++ or software development though.

The problem I’ve been running into lately (and have before) is that sometimes when I launch a project after updating the engine, or when I install some 3rd party plugin I get that horrible window stating “The following modules are missing or built with a different engine version” and it asks me to build through my IDE.
I usually get around this by just either not using the plugin or copy pasting all my assets manually to a new project created with the new version. This because I don’t fully understand what “build” actually means. I’m not a software developer and even though I understand scripting, I don’t understand the context of these things. I read here and there people talking about recompiling the engine, or building the engine, but I’m just not sure why people want to do that and how even to do it. I don’t understand why sometimes the plugins don’t just work and I need to do some weird tinkering. Sure there’s guides with step-by-step on how to achieve this, but all those assume I know some C++ or assume that I understand some basis concepts on how game engines work. In the documentation it shows how to get the engine from github, but I don’t even know if that’s what I need to make “modules missing” window go away, because I don’t understand what’s happening.

I tried googling topics like the error messages I get, or “how game engines work” or “why should I build UE4” or “plugin install manually UE4” but never get the results I need. It’s either 5 hours tutorials on how to build a game engine from scratch or tutorials on how to install a plugin the way that I already know (inside the editor or from the marketplace). I’m feeling dumb and lost, maybe someone can point me in the right direction? Sorry if this feels a bit like a rant, I’m trying my best. Cheers!

Most of the plugins are have specific engine version specified in the .uplugin file in the project folder. Like this
“EngineVersion”: “4.25.0”

If the plugin was written in c++ there is real possibility that some part of the api will change with the next version of the engine and the plugin will not work. So engine version is baked into the uplugin. API changes are minimal and if you open it in IDE and compile UBT (unreal build tool) will tell what has changed or depreciated. Most of the time only small changes are required.
Some time if there is no api changes you could get away with changing the engine version in the .uplugin (eg change to “EngineVersion”: “4.26.0”) or when the engine ask try to compile for this version of the engine click yes and try. This can if there is no api change make the 'modules missing or build with another engine version" error to go away.

If you are not able to update the c++ code based on the changes then you will be at the mercy of that plugin developer! If situation is such avoid plugins if it’s developers don’t update their plugins for new versions of the engine