Your recommendations for tools and software for UE4

Hi all,

Before I ask my questions, I want to briefly introduce myself (since this is my first post here :)… you can skip this blabla if you want and jump to the questions, I’m really looking forward for your answers).

Six years ago I “studied” Game Design in Munich (Germany), especially programming. I put “studied” in brackets because this was more or less an one year crash course, but I think it was enough to have an overview about making games and how complex this actually is. We’ve programmed a simple “Space Invaders” game (using the dark gdk engine back then) and I had a superficial insight into programming with Direct X. Well, I cancelled back then further learning and working with games in general for different reasons. However, I noticed that a lot changed since then and I already experimented a little bit with UE4 and I love it :o. So I’m back again :cool: on making games!

I like to develop in C++ but I also like the artistic part of it (played already with Blender, which is fun). Now, I want to find out where I want to put most of my energy in and UE4 is perfect for this I claim.

So, here we go with my Question:

Questions for developers:

  1. I currently have VS Express 2013. What would you recommend to use if I want to be a serious developer? VS Professional, VS Ultimate? What are the benefits of each version? This is for future planning, because I think Express is sufficient for learning, right!?

  2. I would need to refresh my math skills. What is fundamental for developing games (matrices!?, what else?)?

  3. Superficially I know that six years ago we programmed basically in three steps which is: 1. Initializiation 2. Updating 3. Cleaning obsolete data (please correct if I forget something). I think that this is still the case, but did something changed since then? How does this work superficially in UE4?

  4. We learning developers made objects with the index- and vertex buffer. How is it today, especially with UE4? How does this work with UE4?

Questions for artists:

  1. Ok, I think I’ll need Photoshop if I want to make good textures :)… Are there alternatives which would be ok? What are pro’s working with?

  2. Which equipment is a must for a pro? Camera? Wacom board? Something else?

  3. 3D software: Back then 3ds max was the software my fellow students were working with. Also Z-Brush was teached (which is kind of sexy :D). What do you recommend for UE4? Where are the limits for each software (including Blender)?

Please feel free to add something if you think that I missed a crucial point. I hope this is the right place, since these are general questions, right!? Please let me know if a question requires a more detailed answer. I’ll ask in the specific place then. I just want to have a good overview of this complex topic (making games). I’m really willing to learn something!

Of course I don’t think that one person can answer all of this, so I appreciate every answer or hint on the specific questions.

Thank you in advance and regards,


Substance2Material to make normals, etc from your Photoshop diffuse, maybe also CrazyBump for offset images. 3D = Blender or Maya or Zbrush (Last two for character modelling, animation). Blender has a steep learning curve, because it has different modes and a lot of shortcuts (all accessible via menu navi). Because it includes the highest functionality density, you could even use it to make a game. There are good tutorials around too, which you should start watching.

Welcome! :slight_smile:


  1. use gimp
  2. I personally would recommend you a good camera + when you also want to do concept arts a Wacom board
  3. Use blender, because it’s nearly as good as 3ds max or maya -> in blender and 3ds max you wont be abel to use the “ART tool” (animation tool for maya) but everything else should work perfectly (they can do everything that you need for game development)

Use the Community Edition instead, its free and resembles the Professional Edition, allowing f.e. third party extensions, which I think are excluded from the Express edition.


  1. Get Visual Studio 2013 Community, which has pretty much all the features as the Pro version (you may need to upgrade if your game makes a lot of money).

  2. Math skills are helpful, though an engine like UE4 will do much of the heavy lifting for you. Look to learn: vector, matrix, and quaternion math.

  3. The basics of a game loop haven’t changed that much, but most of this logic is done for you behind the scenes.

  4. Again, you shouldn’t have to worry about this much as it’s handled for you.


  1. Yes, Photoshop is great and is what mostly all the pros are using. I like the Quixel SUITE (Photoshop plugin) that makes creating normal and ambient occlusion maps easy.

  2. If you want to take photos to use as textures, you may need a camera as phones are pretty poor cameras usually. A Wacom tablet is good, but won’t make you a master artist overnight.

  3. Maya and Max are still the top dogs. Blender is a good alternative (since it’s free) but you may want to look into Maya LT (which is $30/month).

Hope that helps.

^ Nokia phones have very high quality cameras. I have the Lumia 925 and it’s amazing. High end smartphones also have decent cameras but you’re already paying $500+ for them, so unless you’re in for a new phone or have excess savings then it’s not worth it.

ZBrush is also good but the entry fee is very high. I’m thinking of getting it someday but likely not at the moment.

@fighter5347 solution is great and really the artist behind the tool makes all the difference. So it’s really smart choice, the only downside it… the commercial market is not using that kind of software. So if you’re looking for a job it will be a little harder for you, because they request commercial ones.

Most companies have the policy to work with commercial software, not because sometimes they’re a little better, but mostly because they have support and adequate updates, with the expectation they’ll stuck in the future.

So my point is… you can create quality work with free software too, but when the time comes to find a job not a lot of serious company will have a requirements to know them at all… But you have always adapt quickly.


  • Photoshop is a must, but you may want to also look into Substance or Quixel. Quixel is a photoshop texturing plugin whereas Substance is a standalone program.

  • Personally I’d recommend Maya. You can get the LT version for a very affordable price, either overall or monthly.

Yikes, bit of a steep price for laziness. :rolleyes:

Hi all,

Wow, didn’t expected so much answers in this short period… thank you guys thumbs up (like this community already :))!


Ok, Photoshop is a must, that’s what I’ve expected check :).

Regarding the camera, I think the range is pretty wide and I don’t need a recommendation which specific camera I would need but some specs would be great. How much mega pixel should it have in your opinion? I think we’ll play in 4k in the near future but I don’t know if I need a mega camera for this (maybe Photoshop can manage a lot!?).

I already did some stuff with Blender and I’m impressed because it’s pretty straight forward and easy to learn in my opinion. But what do you think about Z-Brush in combination with a Wacom Board, it looks like you can save a lot of time, don’t you think? Or is it just luxury, because every software is able to sculpt this way (is this even true?)? Maya was mentioned the most till now, so I’ll check that out too!

From UE4 perspective, which 3d software is interacting best with it (Maya?)?

I’ll check the other mentioned software too… thanks again for the hints guys!


So in UE4 you basically have to code game mechanics!? Ok, I think it depends on what you want to do… but that sounds already really good for prototypes. Everything else is deep engine coding, right!? And here I maybe should ask in the dev section, right :)!?

Is there somewhere a summary of different game mechanics in C++ already done by UE4? Let’s say I want to build buildings like in Rust or the upcoming Fortnite, are there already some methods/functions in the library of UE4 I could use?

Do you know good literature which would be useful (my books are years old)?

Thanks again :slight_smile: and regards,


If you want to do C++ coding with Unreal, you can check this book:

It’s definitely beginner level (not sure how proficient you are in C++) but I think it could be helpful to anyone new to C++ in Unreal.


  1. A 2d app like Gimp will do the job but textures with out materials is really of little use. Unless I really needed a custom texture I’m more inclined to wait until the material resources build up.

  2. A real comfortable chair. I also found having a personal cloud server for back ups useful. (local not a drop box)

  3. “ANYTHING” that supports FBX. I don’t put to much effort into a given app, except for 3ds Max, and instead focus in what it would take to harvest the asset.