After I was evangelized by an Epic evangelist Christian Allen at a local Game Dev Summit yesterday, I got fired up to check out UE4. The support that Epic gives to Indies is just unmatched to Unity or other engines and big companies. The Unreal Indies and new Online Learning Center, the Mega Grants, and 5 monthly resources that they give out to the community are… Unreal. While also paying the creators for downloads! Huge respect to Epic for using that Fortnite money for good, blessing Blender community with good funding money to improve the tools and the indie community. Just all around, nothing but respect making a dent in the industry and giving a lot of developers voices and funding they desperately need to finish the game while not going bankrupt. My heart is full of hope just cause of Epic doing god’s work.
That being said, it’s really, really hard to get into the Editor, and it’s very discouraging and heartbreaking to see such outdated UI. Not because it looks “outdated”. Sure it feels weird to see Skeuomorphic design in 2019, nothing unusual and not the problem, more of a distraction that you can get used to. The problem is that the nodes themselves make it really hard to read or understand them which flows back into the whole UI Design Philosophy of Skeuomorphism.
I tried to fire up Blueprints and in some nodes, it’s really hard to see which nodes connect where, which nodes do what (IntelliSense and pop-ups are very helpful, thank you), and which values connect where. Just so you guys understand what I’m talking about, I made a comparison of the same graph, recreated in Bolt (Unity VS plugin) which I use every day, to help illustrate the problems:
Bolt 1 Graph:
New Bolt 2.0 alpha Graph:
Notice the “Proxie” node that was generated from GetAxis node for Less node and for AddForce node. Less spaghetti makes a big difference in bigger graphs.
I want to point out the big thing that stood out to me about UE4 graph node design:
- The translucency of nodes. Makes text & content a little bit harder to read the cause of the noise that background adds.
- The overlap of Node Definition & the Values. Greater than, Less than nodes specifically
At first glance, and then the second one, I couldn’t understand what the purpose of those two nodes. The signs overlapped with the value, making it very confusing, and only on Hover was I alerted that the graph is Greater Than or Less than. This is a small graph, but I can’t imagine how this could be more difficult and cumbersome to see other bigger graphs with more complex logic.
I want to point out, that it’s not impossible. But it is more difficult in comparison to Bolt and than even Bolt 2.0. It makes me wonder as to why Epic hasn’t updated or is not planning to update the UI in the next few releases, even though they are pushing to get more of Indies under their wing. Cleaner UI would help bring down the confusion, but I will admit that most of the content that was generated for the past 4 years since the UE4 inception on the public market will go almost to waste.
This is just a discussion and I’m not trying to promote anything, just comparing and seeing if I’m being wrong about this or not. But so far I feel discouraged to explore UE4 with mild dyslexia. The visual aspect is very important to me and as a Visual / UI / UX designer, I look forward to improvements in UE4 engine User Interface.