Since I’ve struggled with this myself, here’s a “for dummies like me”-guide to getting substances to work in Unreal Engine 4, crossposted from Allegorithmic’s forums:
Download only the dependency packages (Optional, Required_1of2 and Required_2of2) from Epic’s UE4 GitHub page here. If you get a 404, make sure you’re logged in to GitHub and have your account linked to your UE4 account.
Create a new folder on your computer, and extract Allegorithmic’s source into that.
Navigate to the root folder, where you’ll find the “GenerateProjectFiles.bat” and “.command” files
Extract the three dependency packages Epic provided into that folder.
Run the GenerateProjectFiles.bat (if you’re on Windows) or .command files (if you’re on Mac) to create Visual Studio solution files
Make sure you have Visual Studio installed. VS Express 2013 is available for free online from Microsoft, and you’ll need it to compile this stuff.
Double click the .sln file to open it in Visual Studio. Wait for it to load everything.
When it’s done and ready, go to Build -> Build Solution in the menu, which will start compiling the Unreal Engine. This could take a while.
Now, basically, you’re done! You’ve just compiled the entire Unreal Engine, with Substance support built in. Open the editor by navigating to the /Engine/Binaries/[YourPlatform] folder and open UE4Editor.exe. Then just enable the Substance plugin in the editor’s plugin manager and restart the editor, and you’re golden.
Wait, are you saying that UE4 wont accept substances unless you’ve downloaded all of that? I’m not saying that isn’t doable, it just seems like a bit of a pain. I’ve been using substance designer for a while, although I haven’t downloaded UE4 yet, which is why I’m curious.
From what I understand, right now you have to compile the engine from source for this plugin to work because they needed to change something in the way UE4 handles materials to get it all hooked up and working properly. But the download of source + dependencies isn’t significantly bigger or smaller than the download of the released engine you can download through the launcher, so I don’t understand where the problem is.
Of course, compiling the engine yourself is an additional step, but hey, we’re in game development here And the substance folks have said that they’d like to try and get future versions working without having to go through these steps.
We are going to refine our process to make the Substance Plugin more resistant to version-breaking issues. In the meantime the plan is to support 4.0.2 and then migrate the plugin to 4.1 when it becomes the stable version.