What Programs Should I Get To Make A Game With Unreal?

Hey everyone!
I’m very new to the game developer world and was hoping to make some degree of a 3D game all by myself. I’ve been a professional sculptor for over 10 years and the program Sculptris came almost naturally to me, taking me only a couple minutes to learn and sculpt in.
I would like to get Zbrush as I think with a few tutorials I will be able to pick this up well too.
Originally I was thinking about making a 2D game and did research into that, but with how I prefer to work in 3D I think this is the most obvious direction for me- which is why I automatically thought of Unreal engine.

Someone told me that I should use Daz 3D (to make the character models), zbrush (to modify those models) and Iclone (to animate the models). Is this all I need?

I’m someone who works very heavily off documentation and tuturials. If there’s a million page textbook on a topic, generally I can figure out what I need to know and how to implement it. But if there is little in the way of tutorials and I’m expected to simply experiment until I get it right, I learn significantly slower, if at all. The reason I mention this is so far in my exploration of the Unreal tutorials, I have noted that it has instructions that team up with programs like Maya or 3DS Max.This leads me to believe that maybe there is more documentation on using those programs, rather than programs like Daz and Iclone in the Unreal Engine.

What programs are most supported, ie easier to use with Unreal? Is there still support in using cheaper programs? What programs will I need to make a complete game?

Any help on the topic is greatly appreciated. I haven’t bought any programs yet and would hate to buy something I either didn’t need or is poorly supported.


I have heard literally no mention of Daz 3D, ZBrush, or Iclone on these forums so I’m not sure whether or not those are a good fit. I noticed you only mentioned character creation, are you interested in any software that is good for UE4, or just those for characters?

I’m interested in everything I’m going to need to create a complete game.
I want to make a 3D point and click atmospheric game. I’m not entirely sure yet what I actually need to pull that off as I’m still only in research phase. I’ve seen that you can create objects and characters in Zbrush (zbrush is for people who like to create characters via sculpting tools, which I have an affinity for). I only presume that you can put all your objects together to create a level in Unreal and that if something is animated I would also need to pre-program that in another program. I figure that all the game mechanics themselves are done in Unreal.

If my understanding is scarce or faulty, please correct me because I’m still in very early learning stages :slight_smile:

Your understanding seems to be right on . Here are a few pieces of software that I reccomend for starters:

•World Machine (Generate game worlds, paid license, only if you are making a large game world)
•Adobe Photoshop
•3DS Max
•Make Human (Haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard it’s great for creating characters)

Those are just a few, but if you were to make an large game world, I imagine the software above could get you by with no trouble, although I can’t say I’ve done every aspect of a game.

So are those programs more supported with tutorials and documentation than the ones I’ve listed?
I’ve noticed that 3DS max is a whopping $5000 but it has (in some areas) a similar interface to Unreal Engine. Does Unreal gear you towards a preference for 3DS Max? I say this because from what I can see from the features list, iClone has the same features but is only $200-$300. However, I don’t see much documentation or tutorials pointing towards using iClone with Unreal.
Ultimately, I would like to buy programs outright, not a subscription so I don’t have time constraints, but $5000 is a lot of money. $1000 and lower per program is more my budget at the moment unless there is a really good reason to use the more expensive programs… such as it being vastly easier to use.
What made you choose those programs? Is it just personal preference?

Any program that can export in .FBX is fine. And if you plan to make your game completely free, you can try taking a 3DS Max student license first.

And about World Machine, I alwayd liked to make my landscapes in Mudbox(or in your case Zbrush) first. use World Machine to generste the required blend maps.

There is no specific reason or need for an expensive program from Autodesk. They all have their pros and cons, but in the end it comes down to your skill and personal preferences. Although I would go with MODO, Blender, Maya, Max and a few others, because those are most used and therefore you’ll find the most resources online.

Since there is a relatively powerful free 3D modeling tool out there, you might want to check that one out before going to spend money:

Many indies/first time developers are using it.

You can also get The Foundrys MODO for less Autodesk products, though IIRC their latest version is still somewhat pricy.

They too have an Indie License available through Steam. I am not quite sure though how much it differs from their other commercial releases: MODO indie 901 on Steam

Last but not least SideFX has an “Indie License” for Houdini, but I am not sure how well that works by now. They come from the SFX space and have very powerful simulation tools for dynamics. http://www.sidefx.com

The same goes for 2D software. Photoshop is still the most powerful tool, but there are others that get things done too and GIMP is free as well.

Only scultping is somewhat restricted to commercial programs, with ZBrush being the undeniable king. But Pixologic too has a free tool available called Scultpris, which you may want to check out first. http://pixologic.com/sculptris/

Personally, I am no fan of Mudbox but I’ve never used later versions, so maybe its worth the money by now.

You may want to check the free tools out first, since they’re all as complex as paid software, time consuming and not so easy to master and learn. Going 3D is a lot of work. Especially if you’re new to the entire space. So I would suggest to spent some time with the tools you can get for free and decide later on, if it is worth for you to spent money. In the end, you can get a lot done today with free tools. Also there are a lot of smaller tools you can sink money into, for normal map creation or advanced texturing.

Thanks for the info. It looks like Iclone with it’s plugin will export to .FBX. I’m not sure what this means for my game construction just yet though. Does this mean if I create a scene in iClone with lighting effects that I can export that and Unreal will recognize all my lighting effects? I’m not sure just yet what these programs are capable of so any enlightenment would be great.

I would like to be able to make a test game (that’s free) and move straight into a small but commercial game using what I’ve learned without having a huge money out lay, so I’m not sure getting a student license would work for me. If I made good money from my first commercial game, I would probably be more inclined to pay money for more industry standard programs… but not yet :wink:
I probably wouldn’t need a game like world machine until I make a couple smaller commercial games (trying to keep scope down), so I’m not too concerned about that program yet. I’m more likely to make a more linear world like that of Fable (but first person probably).

Thanks for all the info! I’m more than happy to buy Zbrush, as I said I used Sculptris and loved it so Zbrush just kind of makes sense to me. I don’t mind spending some money, I just can’t afford the huge money sinks like Maya etc. I have tried Blender as I heard a lot of people swear by it. But I was finding the interface so painfully slow to learn in (and that’s saying something since I learn best with tutorials and Blender has plenty of them) and I really didn’t like the “sculpting” feature like I did with sculptris/zbrush. I have myself Photoshop CS5 so if GIMP would do the trick I’m sure my old copy of PS will, thank you for mentioning!

So far I’ve been finding the Unreal Engine interface quite easy to pick up through using their tutorials so provided a program isn’t more complex that this it should be ok. Like I said in the start, I learn best when there’s a lot of documentation.

I’m presuming that MODO does what zbrush can do or am I incorrect in saying that?

Yeah Blender does need time to get around the interface, although since it’s open source it does has a lot of community content. A while ago when I took a look, it had a variety basic control schemes from Maya and Max and plenty of others. All those, and MODO, are allround 3D tools for ordinary poly modeling, animation, rendering, texturing. They all can do most stuff you need. No sculpting tools like ZBrush or Mudbox.

The thing with sculpting is, that it’s awesome (unmatched even) for characters or some props. But for environment and general lowpoly modeling, other tools are better suited. I am not aware of any great workflow that goes ZBrush -> Engine, you usually put some of the other tools in between for retopo and other things. Not to mention animation.

So you would need at least one of those. I don’t think anyone could give you any clear advice here, because it does come (mainly) down to preferences unless you want something extremely specific. But as mentioned, except for 3DSMax, there are plenty of not-so-expensive alternatives. That reminds me that I forgot Maya LT, which is a dumbed down Maya version (don’t know exaclty whats missing) and comparable cheap as well. But it is based upon a subscription and not a single purchase. Autodesk doesn’t want that anymore (it’s also the last year you even could purchase a non-sub Max version)

At some point, you probably have to give them a try and see for yourself. So since you’re not unfamiliar in that sector, you may just want to check out the available trial versions:


There are still more tools around, such as Lightwave3D or Rhino but those exceed my knowledge of use-cases.

/edit But of course, others have already pointed out quite a few of them, so check them out as well :slight_smile:

that is absolutely wrong on both points.
First, just exporting FBX isn’t good enough. If you’re sculpting you need to retopologize the model. You also need to be able to control the vertex normals, you need to be able to UV map, you need to be able to rig, you need to be able to animate, and you need to be able to bake maps all at the very least.
Second, you can’t use a student license to make your game. Not even just initially. It’s illegal, and you’ll get sued or worse.
A lot of the advice in this thread has been awful.

Just use Blender, it does literally everything you need for free. That includes sculpting.

I’m curious about Maya LT. I hadn’t realized there was a light version of Maya. This is apparently what feature constraints it’s got though:

“Basic keyframe animation, with some HumanIK, spline IK (but no Muscle deformer).
Basic rigging is supported (joints, smooth skinning, blendshapes, basic constraints and utility nodes, and retargeting), but more advanced deformers and constraints are not available.
Basic lighting.
Full import, limited export.
While you can save native .mlt files with as many polygons as you like, exported FBX and OBJ files are limited to 100,000 polygons per mesh. You can also export an unlimited number of polygons directly to an Unreal project, a Unity project, or Mudbox using the File menu. See Export objects to a new file.
Note: You can load .ma and .mb files in Maya LT, however any unsupported nodes are removed. If you load scenes that include file references, the referenced objects are automatically loaded in the scene.”

I’m not sure what this means for my game however. Does this mean that realistic characters and scenery may not be able to be pulled off? That it’s more for stylized games like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons?

Thanks for the extra info Grimwolf. I’ve asked a friend of mine (who uses Iclone a bit) if those features are available in Iclone. Like my post before though, I really don’t like Blender. So far any other program has been easier to navigate for me than blender. I guess it’s just the way I’m hard-wired LOL :slight_smile:

Here are some free programs:
-Blender - 3D engine
-MakeHuman - Character creation
-gimp - poor man’s photoshop
-Inkscape - poor man’s illustrator
-Audacity - audio recording

Personal use:
I use all but I substitude blender for Maya LT (student edition since I’m not releasing anything)

I think the Maya LT limitations are good for game design.
"While you can save native .mlt files with as many polygons as you like, exported FBX and OBJ files are limited to 100,000 polygons per mesh. "

any mesh higher than that runs the risk of slowing the frame rate horribly.

Here’s a question- what program would you make a cutscene in? Can that be done in the Unreal Engine itself with animations created in programs like Maya LT?

A cutscene? I believe that is reffered to as matinee in UE4, which can be done within the engine. If you haven’t seen the Kite Demo, take a peek, they use the matinee for the camera flying around the map: kite demo - Search Videos

I believe you can do this with characters as well, I saw a nice post in the docs for UE4, let me check.

Edit: Couldn’t find the same post, here is a link: Animating Characters and Objects in Unreal Engine | Unreal Engine 5.3 Documentation

Blender and Wings3d are good FREE alternatives to 3ds Max.

Thanks for the clarification. I had seen the Kite video on Youtube but I wasn’t sure how they pulled it off. A Matinee hey? I’ll have to get used to all this terminology :stuck_out_tongue:

As I said above, I really don’t get along with Blender lol :wink:

Just a quick note to say iClone 5 (Standard Edition) is currently available to download for free. Expect attempted upselling, but when do you not?

EDIT: The URL is Reallusion - Page Not Found

I love sculptris myself! I’d recommend the following apps:

Modo Indie - you can sub it or buy it out right(cheaper than the commercial version which is 1.7K USD). Modo is a great general purpose app that comes with sculpting and painting as a added bonus, you’ll be create anything from characters to environments. IClone isn’t for serious game dev :stuck_out_tongue:
Substance Painter - Photoshop while nice, doesn’t support PBR workflow out of the box, Substance Painter does that, there is a indie version on Steam for cheap.
Zbrush - if you need to do high resolution sculpting. Sculptri is nice and all but you can’t get extreme detail with it.