UE 4/UDK 4 learning curve and documentation compared to UDK 3?

UE 4/UDK 4 learning curve and documentation compared to UDK 3?
Hello all!

I wanted to ask about the learning curve of Unreal Engine 4 when compared to Unreal Engine 3, as well as the state/abundance of documentation and tutorials online.

The reason I ask is, I remember UDK 3 having a rather steep learning curve. I’ve tried a few years ago back when I was still in university, but the documentation was somewhat lacking, and the tutorials I found online were either broken because of being outdated, or didn’t really dive into the core of things that actually matter if you’re making a game that’s not an FPS.

I pretty spent a month or two just looking at how to get anything done, and failing, as opposed to when I used Unity a couple years later and managed to make radical changes (RTS controls, units moving around in groups, etc…) in a couple of months. But then again, I’m not sure if it was because by then I had graduated and had acquired a lot of experience in programming, or because UDK’s learning curve is much steeper than Unity’s…

So I was wondering if someone who used both UDK3 and UDK4/UE4 could tell me if the situation is different this time around and if getting into UE4 would be relatively easier than UDK3.

I’ve never touched UDK before starting with UE4 and the extent of my knowledge of the entire engine was “BSP’s can be subtractive”… I had substantial experience with Unity and while some aspects of the documentation were (are) lacking, the guys at #unrealengine and other online resources got me up to speed and now I can comfortably work in the engine.

UE 4 is a very intuative and great to work with, I wont say its hard to use the engine/ framework.
But i will say that it will take you some months in getting to know the API.
Atleast thats what i needed, am on my 3rd month now and i am just starting to get my head around everything

As for the documentation i say they need more spesific explinations target at small spesific subject.
But the API refrence and Geting Started stuff on the Offical Doc page will do just that get you started.
And with the content exampels and the great community that follows its a plesent experience.
Well thats my 5 cents atleast.

Edit: BTW i never used UDK so i can`t compare to that, but i used CRYENGINE (Both documentation and Crytek was/ is a nightmare. UE 4 is bliss. :slight_smile:

I tried to learn UDK back in the day and bounced off it, the combination of a non-standard and badly documented language like UnrealScript and a setup that seemed to carry a lot of random assets and code from Unreal Tournament 3 without any clear way to remove it just turned me off.

Unity was my next stop, and I do like it. The IDE is great, and gameplay coding using their entity-component pattern is really nice- and I do wonder why UE4 doesn’t have such intuitive ways to access things such as sibling components. I did find I needed to wrestle with a lot of the asset store to get things done though, and having Daikon Forge, Marmoset Skyshop, Lux, Candela, Behave2, Shaderforge as pretty much standard for all my experimental projects wasn’t fun. When I needed to code beyond the entity-component set up things were also less fun, needing to dive into Unity Pro’s C++ API, and then through that to the underlying OpenGL, to manipulate textures suddenly had me a long way away from the simple coding that I liked.

So far I’ve been really impressed by UE4. The IDE is different from Unity’s but just as powerful, and has the functionality of most of the Unity assets I needed built and and very nicely integrated. My project is now clean- I can start from a truly empty project if I want or I can use any of the standard starting projects knowing that I can see what’s in there and change it myself. The tutorials on Unrealengine’s YouTube channel while not yet extensive are a very good start to getting up to speed with materials, blueprints, animations, and the other absolute requirements (I didn’t actually bother with the level design one, I don’t use a BSP-based workflow)- and other tutorials such as the C++ FPS one and the Solus ones are good for building on that. Documentation and reference are not as strong as Unity meaning it can take longer to dig out answers, but that’s expected for an engine which has only been out for a few months. Although I am using C++ for a lot of my development the Blueprint system has really surprised me, it’s one of the few visual coding systems which actually seems usable and my expected “I’ll learn this, then ignore it and code everything” has instead become “I’ll learn this, then code the nasty parts and allow Blueprint to join them together into the finished product”.

Great answers folks, thanks :slight_smile:

I too am on the start of the learning curve, I haven’t coded in 15 years. Back in the days of Palm devices I wrote a few games with NSBasic & CASL. They didn’t retire me :rolleyes:

I spent a couple of months on Unity, got to grips with C# and realised as a hobbyist it was going to cost me a fortune. Then I seen the pricing structure here. Had a sniff around these boards, watched a few of the YouTube tutorials & here I am. I have to say it was the YouTube tutorials that won me over. Very professionally done.

Now I gotta go learn C++ but I’ll do that slowly while I learn Blueprint first.

This feels like the place to be, happy to be here & hope I can help others in a few months after I find my feet :wink:


I think comparing UE4 to UE3 it has become easier to get into. I’ll try to explain why.

Blueprints. You can practically do anything in Blueprint, even if you want to create some elements in C++ it’s perfectly viable to create a functional prototype in Blueprint and later refactor this into C++ once you nailed down the system. (This is how Fable Legends is handling it, blueprint for prototypes, C++ if it deemed a ‘better fit’ as a review step before moving on)

**Unrealscript **is now gone and replaced by both Blueprint and C++. I think you’ll see a lot more quality tutorials over time and C++ is an industry standard language, which helps for tutorials & getting into it in the first place. The knowledge is transferable to outside of Unreal 4 this time. I found that Unrealscript often lacked quality tutorials.

Documentation. We’re in the early days of UE4 and I find the document to be of very high quality already, especially with a combined search of Answerhub & forums I feel this is much better now than before (and will continue to grow far beyond)

The **interface **is superb, much easier to navigate and feels easy to learn, yet has a lot of power hidden in additional windows.

And generally a lot of rough edges have been smoothed over that should make your life easier if you’re getting into it and don’t know every detail, eg. the patching system used to be a pain to do unless you knew what you were doing.

Thank you all for the amazing responses! I honestly didn’t expect so many! Good to see there’s an active and helpful community here, which is another plus for UE4!

Thank you Molt, your answer really hit home and you answered all the questions that were going through my head! Indeed you’ve pretty much gone through what I have. If there’s anything I love, it’s a clean project that you have control over, something that I felt is lacking in both UDK3 and Unity, which is why I’ve decided to go through with UE4! :smiley:

Edit: I just realized my country isn’t on the payment page… Not even coming soon… Does this mean I can’t buy UE4 until they change the payment system? :frowning: