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Unreal Modding Tool

Hello,

As shown in this thread there’s a lot on interest from the community and EPIC on allowing UE4 based games to be moddable.

I think on product that could really benefit the community and Epic would be a centralized modding tool developed and mantained by Epic and the community through github
This would be a simplified version of Unreal Engine (for a smoother learning curve) that allows to import meshes etc and do some basics Blueprint scripting and maybe level editing…

The basic idea is that any game made with UE4 could be modded either using the “Unreal Modding Tool” (aka UMT) or a customized version of such tool for a dedicated game, forked from github.

The benefit for developers is evident, as I realease a new game I will already have an experienced community of modders that used the tool for other games, wiki, community videos and such…

The benefit for Epic would be

  • the 5% on the additional revenue generated by such add-ons.
  • games developed by Epic would use the same tool (Unreal Tournament, Fortnite…) so will benefit from it.
  • giving free access to the Unreal Engine workflow for potential new customers (many modders might become developers in the future)
  • maybe charge something for the tool (one time, not recurring) as the tool will be updated with the engine…

The tool should have functional and license limitations that will prevent users from creating or prototyping new games with it.

Epic should decide what can go in the tool or need to stay out of it…

What do you think ?

Thanks
Fred

This sounds like a pretty good way to go since much of the work completed by Epic can be reused in the tool. I am sure they could slim it down so that you can only modify in game assets and data without being able to actually create a new game from scratch.

In the year before UE4’s public launch, we spent a lot of time considering whether there should be some sort of amateur/pro split in the Unreal Engine 4 tools. Ultimately, we concluded there wasn’t any split that would be widely satisfactory. The whole spectrum of UE4 features is used by at least some developers of all size levels, for example with some small games and mods having high-end graphics, or requiring C++ source, or otherwise. So, a UE4 Indie / Mod Edition would leave a great many indies and modders unsatisfied; though most of them wouldn’t require most of the missing features, each of them would be hampered by one or more of the missing features. Plus, we’d hate to fragment the community.

I don’t think an indie/mod edition would be the way to go. There would be the developer edition, and then there would be the piece that developers could break off and allow users access to in order to mod the game.

Instead of a separate modding tool, I would rather suggest some sort of plugin, that could let you create in-game custom editors. Think of Age of Empires. The editor is actually a part of the game, and runs inside the game. With such a plugin, the game editor UI could also be modified to have the general aspect of the game . With a custom in-game editor, you could also set up certain specific stuff.

  A separate modding tool is really not a good choice, because it would be received like some sort of Unreal Engine Free. This will fragment the community. I say no for external editors.

  A plugin for creating integrated game editors seems the better way, since it could be adapted to have more game-specific features, easing the work of modders.

Most modders are mappers. For editing the game map/placing units, the in game editor should be fine. If they want to do more complex stuff like modding behaviours, 19$ is a decent price.

Honestly, I think having the ability to ship with a cut-down version of the editor would be a fairly big plus. Many developers started as modders, including myself, and I genuinely don’t believe I’d be working in this industry today if I’d have had to have paid $20 a month (in fact, I couldn’t, let alone would have wanted to) to tinker with Quake back in the day.

The “simplified” word was probably misleading, and I meant it only to smoother the learning curve… I believe the current selling model is perfect and 20$ is not a big expense for an “advanced” modder.

But the basic modders those willing to add content to the game by adding meshes, textures, maps etc should not be forced to buy the engine… this is what i meant in “Epic should decide what can go in the tool or need to stay out of it…”

In no way I am suggesting to change the business model to the one I just came from (Unity…)

A plugin for in-game basic level editor would be nice. If not Epic, probably someone will bring this to the Market Place .

I would be interested in contributing code to something like this because things like scripting can be added, and maybe it would move away from Unreal’s editor to something much more suited to modding the game content that’s already working; previewing item model or AI changes ingame; that sort of thing. It could be a totally different tool. And this would not just be about needing it to be free, but making something more suited to modding from the beginning. But I do also feel that this is a waste of time when the same stuff can just be added to, or already exists in, UE4 as it is.

What are the general requirements for a mod? I really don’t know. If there was a few case study articles to read, maybe it would become clearer. One of the major problems with Skyrim for me was that mods couldn’t interface with one another as they’re packaged into files that overwrite the engine code in-order, meaning you have to add them carefully so as not to break other mods (race mods went earlier on in the list, and there is even a tool to sort them for you). If instead mods could be dynamically loaded and inter-tested to show the program user what is working and what’s not been integrated or modified in the game, then that’s very powerful as it allows you to build mod cross-compatibility. Now, simple features like this would then help to legally distance and justify the “mod tool” from the Unreal Editor.

For procedural games like mine, modding environments could just be changing the rules in the text files. But what if another animation is needed? The features like animation previewing can and should be, I think, branched off as separate small apps so you can have, plainly, a model viewer, animation viewer/previewer with editing controls and so on as other free modding tools, even just to encourage people to mod the game if they still have to pay for UE4 at this stage for games that ship in the next few months. It might be possible for my final game to just accept replacement 3d animation uasset’s from the current UE4 editor, in which case anyone in a mod community only has to export plain Max/Maya animation clips and have someone else, a licensee, add a blend system in Unreal Editor and export for the game, which is what I’d want to do for others if I got excited about their modelling skills. I can see it happening.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but weapons and static models could mostly be a simple FBX import. Your game code can do whatever it wants and share this code with external programs. The game or a “mod tool” could preview the different weapon configurations like fire rate and kickback before you swap in the new actual model. FBX import is not difficult to add for an experienced programmer, so you could always outsource the development to another programmer if you want to contribute something like this to the entire UE4 licensee community! And my budget might allow for this which is what excites me. There may be open source level editors, for which calls to your game code can be done over UDP/networking so it’s still a legal way to link applications up to sync the runtime game with a level editor, as long as you don’t use networking communication for the Engine Tools classes like the currenly internal-only (I think?) FBX import.

@Archibold Did anything come of this, I intended on eventually resulting in this, & found you here, so am wondering if there is people to help do this with.