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Why UE4 looks so much different compared to UE1, UE2 and UE3?

I couldn’t find any proper category for generic UE question, so posting here.

I was working with Unreal Editor since UnrealEd2 for Unreal Tournament (first one), now after long time I am trying to mess up with Unreal engine again, but I noticed that latest UE4 editor seems to be /completely/ different thing, compared to older ones.

UnrealEd (the one in Visual Basic) was the first one, subsequent versions were always improved with more features and stuff, but UE4 looks to me like complete rewrite, with different logic and philosophy. The user interface is also incomparably different. It’s like working with completely different engine that only shares the same name as other UE versions.

What happened? Why this shift? Is there any comprehensive explanations together with list of major changes in UE UI? I remember back then in old days you had this infinite space in which you had to substract brushes and created basic level design with that, but nowadays everything seems different.

thanks for explanations

Why would it be hard to understand that things change drastically over ~20 years?

Unreal 4 was developed when QT-Framework was booming (everyone started using dark UI from that kit) and more importantly, UE4 was developed when Physically Based Rendering was becoming industry standard.

PBR caused all major engines out there to be almost entirely rebuilt, at least for the rendering code everyone was remaking everything, to leave DirectX 9 behind. So there are still some source code in there from older engine versions, but I believe at least 80% of the whole package is new code, what people often called “next-gen”.

All I’m gonna say is look at literally all other programs’ transformations. 3DS Max and Photoshop when from a white, naked windows skin in early 2000s to a dark, stylized suite.

I think I didn’t explain myself properly, obviously being myself a programmer I know that stuff changes and gets improved over time, but what I mean is that UE1, 2 and 3 all followed same path, they seemed to be some incremental improvements of same engine, while UE 4 seems to me like complete remake, it looks similar to UE1 or 2 just as much as Unity looks similar to it. It’s completely different engine and editor that looks nothing like its predecessors at least from my perspective. It seems to be based on different philosophy and logic. I am just trying to understand why that happened. While UE 3 was less powerful, the UI of Editor was IMHO much easier to understand and work with.

It seems like at one point in history someone in Epic said - nope, we are doing it wrong, let’s screw everything and rebuild it from scratch. Is that what happened? What’s the history behind this?

The changes were to draw more artists the ability to use the engine without a programmer serving as translator to stuff. It became basically more easier for an artist to get used to it, less logical to a programmer thou.

Coming over from UDK it was a painful switch and still is…:stuck_out_tongue: But its also kind of hard to look back and see UDK in the same way now. UE4 just feels more complete! But its also harder to tame. UDK seemed easier / simpler… But hey - was that mostly due to working on shooters? - Maybe…

Game engine tech has also evolved on so many levels. There’s much more to master now… Overall, I think Epic looked at areas of Unity or other engines they liked (prefabs etc), and said: we can supercharge that. They also looked at Kismet or drag & drop editors, and said its time for node based programming to become big…

UE4 still has quite a bit in common with the older editors, a lot of the changes are going to be due to wanting to improve the UI and adding more advanced features–games are more complex than they used to be. Part of that also is that the engine can better support a variety of game types now than they used to. Old versions were very much designed for Unreal Tournament which made it more difficult to do something completely different with the engine. UE4 also was rewritten so that the source could be made available without them having to deal with third-party components.

Coming from UDK I’d said it was a quite easy transition. Even though a lot of stuff had changed in UE4, it wasn’t as huge of a step as it is coming from say Maya to Houdini, or Unity to Unreal :slight_smile: Also UE4 in general feels much more intuitive, and got a lot of nifty features I could just dream of in UDK.
I would also say that it’s great when companies dare to redo everything from scratch, and not follow the path Autodesk is going with Maya (Maya feels more broken after each update).

Well UDK maybe, but I was comparing UE1, 2 and 3 with UE 4 - especially Unreal Editor wise.

While UE1, 2 and 3 share the same origins, UE4 seems to be a /complete/ from scratch rewrite. More like Windows 95, 98 and Windows ME vs… er. Ubuntu?

It seems to be completely different thing. The name “unreal engine” is probably most prominent similarity, which is why I was curious about what was going on.

I found some articles on internet explaining why Tim Sweeney decided to completely rewrite whole thing, mostly the Unreal Script was no longer viable, it was a language of its own and was getting constantly more and more complex, and instead of creating their own compiler, it was just easier to transition to C++ and re-use existing compilers for all platforms.

Regarding editor, I guess the “legacy unreal editors”, last being editor for Unreal Tournament 3, were probably written in Visual Basic? But don’t quote me on that. I don’t know if all of them were, or just the first one, but I guess all of them and they just decided to switch language there. So Unreal Editor for UE 4 (the one we can see now), is probably a complete rewrite from scratch.

That kind of answer my original question - why does it look completely different