UE Basics Thread, Talking, Learning, and Maybe More

About a month ago I got interested in Unreal Engine not to create a game, but to produce some interesting DCC environments. I have BFA in Commercial Art, but ended up not pursuing that as a career, but based on a long history exposed to the Unreal Engine, I decided this platform offers the most flexibility for my purposes.

I started with the First Hour in UE Tutorial and it was good because you actually got to function within a project. I’m just about to finish up Intro to UE Tutorial and while that throws a lot of info at you which is great, I suggest a lot of note taking, but where it comes up short is not much time illustrating how all of this actually functions in a project, especially the sections on materials. However the caveat is I have not completed this tutorial so maybe it includes more project action in the end.

Question 1: Material Instance. Doe the UE 4.27 version include the ability to swap out materials in a material instance?

I’m currently working on a UE Realistic Environment tutorial that discusses creating realistic environments. I’m asking because when the author opens his instance, I can see a list and illustration of the textures he used in the original material, as part of the instance. And he swaps out materials in the instance itself, not the original material used to make the instance.

But when I open my material instance in 4.27 mimicking the project, I don’t see a place to swap out existing textures. Is this something that changed with this or a recent version? Are the textures in the instance, but you have to open something to see them, and can they still be swapped out in 4.27?

Regarding working with materials, tlinked below is the best tutorial I have stumbled across on vertex painting, where the author illustrates how to put a material together and then uses it in a project. The only caveat is that he makes a couple of mistakes (the dangers of video presentations ;)) in material composition and then quickly fixes them, which you need to pay attention to, to end up with a functional material. He covers using a height map for texture manipulation, UV, a specular input, and World displacement. I did buy his content pack which was less than $4, but I wanted to see exactly what he ended up with. You can easily substitute different textures and see the results.


Hi Fantam,

So it sounds like you are somewhat new to the engine, so the way I understand your question is along the lines of understanding material instances.

Material instances can reference all parameters defined in the parent material they reference. Although I didn’t see material instances in the vertex painting video, I do see that the video uses texture sampler nodes for the grass and hex tiles. These are not parameters. When you right-click in the material editor, you can find the texture sampler parameter node. But if you already have your texture samplers nodes in the editor, you can simply right-click the node and there will be the option to convert it to a parameter. You will need to name it and this will show up in the material instance after applying the changes.

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Question 2: Mixing and Matching UE version Projects. Generally speaking, can I expect good results if I download a UE v4.26 project to be used with UE 4.27? I realize this is a “maybe” answer.

I just downloaded and opened a 4.26 project autoland project in v4.27 that is taking forever to compile before opening. And now that it is open, the scene is taking more forever to finish compiling. It opened with over 6k shaders to compile and it’s about 10 minutes since I started opening this in UE.

Question 2: I assume after this is all finished, when I save it, this will all be 4.27 as far as UE is concerned? And maybe it won’t take so long to open next time?

Right, transitioning from one version to another is always full of potential problems… or nothing wrong at all. In either case, because it is a new version, everything must be compiled - shaders, scripts, textures, etc. It will only be long this first time, though if you start opening texures or other assets, it may take a bit of time there. Nonetheless it should smooth out the more you work.

Unreal should make a copy of the 4.26 version so that you do not lose your actual project due to updated incompatibilities. A suggestion would be to only update if there are features in the newer version which are directly beneficial to you.

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Yes, I am new and thanks for responding. I should have include the tutorial link where material instances are mentioned. Here it is:

In this the author sets up materials, creates materials, and material instances, and specifically states that opening the Material Instance, you can see all of the textures active in the Instance and you can swap them out with new textures while in the Instance.

Between time stamp 3-14 minutes. The example given is copy and paste an existing instance, then open the new instance and there you can swap out the materials using an override function (I think). The textures can be seen in the instance editor, appear in a vertical listing, you can see the texture for each one. This is all based on the original material from which the instance was made.

However I have been following along and mimicking him, and when I open my material instance using v4.27, I don’t see the list of materials from the original material and as such, see no means of swapping them out. So I was wondering if there is a setting, that can be changed so that you can see the individual textures in the instance, and indeed they can be swapped out?

Or is this a function of a previous version of UE?
Thanks for listening!

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I cannot speak on 4.27, still using 4.26, but I wouldn’t imagine this kind of feature going away.

Still a bit confused. You are following this tutorial, but did you have access to the textures in the material instance in 4.26? And now they are gone after moving to 4.27? Are all parameters not appearing in the MI either?

Well, I was trying to avoid a situation where I’m jumping around to different UE versions if I can help it. I understand there are potential compatibility issues and thought if I can get a good copy of the project in v4.27, just stick with v4.27. :thinking:

Upgrade to your desires, wasn’t sure if you’re under the impression of always needing to update to the latest, such as for graphic drivers or other software where this urged (although I would also argue that it is not always ideal - I currently have some minor graphical problems due to updating my graphics card exhibited in Maya).

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My apologies again. The tutorial Create a Photorealsitc World, I am following along and am using UE v4.27 to follow along. This is where I am asking about the Instance and swapping out textures in it. I am not trying to do a UE version conversion, just trying to duplicate and this is where I don’t see a means of swapping out textures in a Material Instance, where as in the tutorial, the author clearly has textures listed in the Instance he made and can swap them out.

There is a second autoland project I downloaded just to get a look at it. This is the one that was done in v4.26 and I opened and converted it. This seems to have converted without issue in 4.27. But so far I have done nothing with it other then look at the materials included with it.

Well what I first said still applies: convert your texture samplers to parameters. Maybe you’ve done this, so if you please, post a screenshot of your current material network.

EDIT: And looking at the 4.27 documentation, instances should work same as usual. Creating and Using Material Instances | Unreal Engine Documentation

Thanks for your patience.

Here is the Rock Material I’ve created:

And here is the Instance created from it. I see no area with texture overrides, where the textures can be swapped out of the instance itself. In the tutorial in the Instance the author made, at the top of the list are the textures can can be “overridden”, by replacing them. He mentions what a great feature this is and I agree if i can find it or turn it on. :slight_smile:

Yep, those are simply TextureSampler2D nodes. Right click each and convert them to a parameter, it should prompt for a name. In the tutorial, around 4:18, they use a TextuerSampler2DParameter node from the get go. :+1:


Ah hah! :star_struck: Thanks! I just don’t remember the author mentioning this, of course maybe he did. :wink: I’ll look tomorrow and see where I missed that.

Just double-checked, 5:03, he says “texture sample parameter” followed by a rifling of the keyboard.

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Wasn’t really following whole of the discussion, but I feel like you should be told not to stop, drop this engine, and transition off to something that actually offers both look and performance.
This engine is dying and getting worse with every “upgrade” they release, at a constant pace.

It isn’t capable of running anything “realistic” at a satisfactory speed not even with top of the line equipment.
In fact, is not even really capable of doing raytracing correctly, so much so that nvidia has to go out of their way and release their own branches.

For realistic looks and performance, in my opinion -because after all it’s just an opinion - go to CryEngine.

Since you are just starting to learn, you won’t miss out on much.

If your intent is to just render a single screenshot, or to make a rendered movie, then I guess ue4 can work, since performance doesn’t matter with those.
You’ll probably spend over a day on a 10m scene at 4k though.
Even 1080p logo work takes around 10m to properly render sometimes.

If your intent is to generate something playable - then UE 4.18 or even before is more likely a better choice.

I’d still suggest pulling the source and building from it in all occurrences.

Particularly since currently .27 is beyond broke off the launcher.

Thanks for you perspective.
I’m not really sure what triggered me into wanting to create an interactive digital scene, not a game, but at the time I considered both UE and Unity. I did not even think about CryEngine.

As a long time player of games made with the Unreal Engine, this seemed like the best choice. There seems to be ge good support from Epic, good tutorials available, everything is making sense, and I have no intent on creating a game per say. I do have interest in transitioning into VR with my interactive scenes. With UE are some perceived advantages such as access to Megascans/Quixel, but I am on the ignorant side about all of this at this point.

Now that said, this seems like a great topic to compare engines especially from a learning standpoint. Is there a thread like this here? Yep, I’m a newb who knows nothing, so I am opened minded about such a topic.

And as a group, how do Game Developers in general feel about the different game engines comparing one to the other?

But please do me a favor, while I want to hear your answer, please limit your replies on your topic in this thread and/or point me where the issue can be discussed freely and maybe without fear of the wraith of Epic falling upon us. :wink:

I see the ability to send private messages here…

General consensus:

Godot is OK. Hard because you have to do all of it. Tuts are rare. People never seem to finish projects.

Unity is OK. Definitely has better physics than unreal (havok if you pay). Can look quite good, but most importantly it performs constantly - and their support actually responds to requests / suggestions.
Lots of finished games out - doesn’t visually look the best 90% of the time.

Unreal is trash.
Bad and unfinished everything. No support. Never a single reply from devs. And since 2 years ago, completely ignored bug reports.
Since .26 it also sports a 20fps to 20% loss in the rendering thread which has yet to be solved, acknowledged, or even remotely addressed.
As stated. If you work movies or stills it can be OK.
VR? It can’t even render properly to a screen. Forget vr.

So, unless you are either a masoc hist(how on earth is that a censored word?) or you aren’t actually planning to ever use your project in something that needs to function at runtime, there’s basically no reason to stick to UE.

As far as cryengine.
Popular consensus is its harder because you have to use trial and error to learn. It has less tutorials and less docs.
I disagree with that. Just open c++ stuff and read the headers to figure out what does what.

You have to do that in unreal too since docs are mostly trash. There’s full on topics about this as well.

As far as topics.
There’s a few you can probably review. Use the search function from Google with the site keyword. Look for Godot or unity. You’ll probably find them right away. They are lengthy with plenty of opinions and people saying pretty much the same thing.

That’s all I got about that.
Just a final note:

There’s no need to “fear” anything from epic. They don’t even care about fixing the engine, they definitely don’t care about people discussing why they su ck, or they would do something to not su ck compared to the competition…

Good luck with your learning. Whichever way it goes. And if you have unreal related specific questions you may be better off making a separate topic for visibility.
The rest of the community here does help from time to time.

MostHost_LA, thanks for your perspective. For now I have started with UE, and so far, i’m getting good vibes from it. I need to get a couple of projects under my belt and then maybe I’ll have run into some issues and better decide if I need to try another engine.

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This is an uneducated issue on my part. I did not key in on parameter and just looked it up in the unreal documentation. Noted! :slight_smile:

Some material related questions:

In a tutorial the author used Diffused, and Normal maps for a tile and grass textures. I’ve noticed that some textures do not include diffused maps. Is it safe to say that Albedo Maps are interchangeable with Diffused? I’ve done this and it seems to work.

In a different tutorial Cavity was used for rocks, and Roughness was used for plant material. Interchangeable in a manner of speaking?

Is Height Map interchangeable with Displacement Map when it comes to blending? I’ve used a displacement map when a height map was not available, and honestly I’m not yet determined if it’s doing it’s job for vertex blending.

Using height maps, when it comes to blending materials seems to be useful if one of those materials is a brick or a tile and you want to fill the grout in with moss. Would height help with blending natural materials on the ground? Since natural materials don’t grow in brick or tile like patterns, can the height still be helpful when blending? My impression is this kind of blending using height, is different than height when it comes to landscape building, but I’ve not looked at the latter yet.