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[Huge Feedback] Unreal 4 in general and Blueprint in particular

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    [Huge Feedback] Unreal 4 in general and Blueprint in particular

    Introduction

    Hello everyone

    This is a long feedback about what I think might be worth improving in Unreal 4 in general and Blueprint in particular.

    I started Unreal 4 one year and a half ago and I’ve been intensively coding and prototyping for the past 6 months. And I’m here to make my report.

    Before anything, I need to tell you about how I use Unreal 4 and what is my experience with it just so you can put my thoughts into perspective.

    I’m 25, I’m a Game Designer and a self-taught programmer-ish.
    I’ve been working with Blueprint since my beginnings on Unreal 4. I can make almost any feature a shipped game would need, within its limits. I’m using only Blueprint because I believe it is the future of programmation for Game Designers. It is our gate to become prototypers. It is a tool that make us a huge asset in the team. Being able to quickly prototypate and test features is a huge benefit. Not to mention the fact that it makes us more receptive to our programmer needs and way to communicate.

    You got it, I bloody love Blueprint. It reminds me of old Warcraft 3’s World Editor which I started on at the age of 12. It was using GUI, a simplified version of the JASS code used within their game engine. Well, Blueprint is as simple as GUI but a thousand times more powerful. I feel like a kid again. I even have some muscle memory that make me use World Edit’s shortcuts within UE (Q to hide all windows). When using Unreal 4 in general and Blueprint in particular, I feel at home.

    What is my report about? It’s about making our working environment so imbricated with our muscles and reflexes that we’re like pianists when using it. It’s also about reporting some strange behaviors I encountered (that might come from my mistakes, or not).

    I love Unreal 4 and Blueprint especially and I would love to see it last for decades. That’s exactly why I’m here doing that feedback and that’s why I’ll only talk about what and how to improve things I’ve noticed.



    The Feedback

    I made different categories that are explained here, in the order they appear:

    New Functionalities - things I’d like to see either exposed to Blueprint or simply added to the engine
    Editor Quality of Life - things that would make working within the editor even more enjoyable
    Blueprint Editor Quality of Life - things that would make working with Blueprint a dream
    Editor Bugs - ‘bugs’ I’ve encountered regarding the editor as a whole
    Blueprint Editor Bugs - ‘bugs’ I’ve encountered regarding the Blueprint editor

    Both quality of life categories are aimed at gaining 1, 2 or even 3 seconds on every little tasks we’re doing in the editor.





    New Functionalities

    Outline Material Settings
    I’m using the public resource MI_Outline to outline the interactible elements in my game. And it is very restricted in terms of use. I can’t dynamically modulate the width or the color for instance. It is something I would love to be able to do and I believe a lot of type of games would benefit from it as well.

    UMG Drag and Drop
    It is relatively easy to set up a drag and drop operation. But everything related to it is quite obscure at first sight. Payload, dragged image, mouse capture, dragging over the other widgets firing off. Everything looks a bit confusing and would need clarifications imho. Would be also great to be able to trigger a drag and drop operation out of a single click and make it so another click release the drag and drop operation. I wouldn’t mind being forced to hard code it in Blueprint but so many things are out of our control (how start drag and end drag events fire for instance) that I can’t really do that.

    Advanced Mouse Cursor
    I wanted a mouse cursor that has several ‘stances’ and several possible colors. That means code in the Cursor. Surprisingly enough, it is very hard to achieve. I tried many things and every solution had flaws. The solution I’m using currently has flaws.
    Built-In Mouse Cursor solution: All worked fine until I started to travel from levels to levels and my Cursor was not updating anymore. It lost the reference to its owner because its owner was removed during level loading. And I couldn’t seem to be able to find a reference to it anywhere in my code. Solution aborted.
    Slate Mouse Cursor solution: I don’t know Slate much but I made a simple setup that displays my cursor, I had tons of problem regarding Z order and my cursor going in front of or behind my widget elements. Solution aborted by lack of knowledge and will to invest time in it.
    Custom Cursor that follows mouse on tick: The solution I’m going for right now. The only problem is that a drag & drop operation captures mouse button what freezes the mouse cursor.
    I can’t seem to find a proper solution to my problem whereas I’m convinced it should be a very easy setup.

    Translucent Materials
    I can still see particle effects through a translucent material that has a 1 opacity value. I can’t seem to be able to tell a translucent material to still cast shadow. I don’t understand why a Opacity 1 translucent material does not have the same color than an opaque material using the same texture. I used that feature to make my translucent walls in my action RPG prototype but maybe I’m using it the wrong way or maybe I should not use it at all for that purpose. I’m not an artist, I don’t know much about the technical part of what I’m talking about. But I thought it was worth mentioning anyway

    Prefabs
    When I’m talking about Prefabs, I’m talking about being able to edit the properties of a Child Actor. Coming from Unity I feel like it’s a basic feature but it might not be. I’m working with random content a lot and I feel the lack of a proper prefab workflow that would make my life a LOT easier when creating the content of my random world generator.

    Child Widgets
    I would love to be able to create 1 single ‘widget_Button’ and use it everywhere while still being able to bind its press event on the parent widget.

    Networked Level Streaming
    I would like the possibility to say to a Streaming Level to be loaded but not rendered by the server machine. That would make my client players able to navigate through the world while still being able to interact with the level even if the server player is not with them. Right now I’m working around that by putting almost every gameplay stuff on the persistent level but it is not a valid method for a shipped game as it raises several other problems, first of them being performances. I do understand that what I’m asking for would make the server player laggier than other players in case of a massive split in the world map.

    Navmesh Character Move
    I tried but didn’t find a way to make my PlayerCharacter move using the navigation mesh. I was forced to socket its camera to an AICharacter and reference that AICharacter as the actor I’m supposed to move when using my movement inputs. I don’t know if I was being a complete noob or if there is no other way to do that. In any case I felt like it was something that should be easy to do and it was not so I’m mentionning it here.

    Child Blueprint Class Default
    If I have an array of Weapon_Class filled with Child Blueprint of that class, I can’t get any information on the class default of these child classes. All it returns is the default value of the parent class. It sounds logical but it is not practical. I’d like the possibility to get a child’s class default values without being forced to spawn it beforehand.





    Editor Quality of Life

    Content Browser Access
    Would love to have access to the Content Browser button wherever I am (no matter the tab I’m currently working in). Would love to be able to have access to Content Browser 2, 3 and 4 easier than finding them in the windows list. For instance, I could hold down the Content Browser button for 1 second to pop a selection of the other Content Browser. Would be also nice to be able to do that with the ‘Find in content browser’ option, holding it to select what Content Browser should pop to show the asset’s folder.

    Save Open Content Browser
    It doesn’t seem that the editor saves the fact that I had 2 content browsers open. When I restart my editor I always have one. Either that or I always close it. But in that case we’re going back to the fast access to them.

    Save Content Browser Display
    Per Content Browser. Would be neat to be able to set up CB#1 in column display while CB#2 in miniature. I’m using CB#2 for environment and CB#1 for coding (for instance) and both need a different display. And that would be saved per CB, even if I close them.

    Customize Toolbar
    I would love to fully customize the options the different toolbars give me. For instance I don’t want to test my game simulating a smartphone, ever on X project. Yet I missclick on it twice in X days, twice too much because I also missclick twice every X days on lots of other buttons that I never want to use on that particular project. I just want to get rid of them and if I ever need them I’ll go search them in the window list for instance.

    Delete Temporary Files
    Rather than having to open the window explorer and manually get rid of the Intermediate and Saved folders, I would love to be able to do it from within the editor (while still being able to stipulate that folder X should not be removed).

    Restore Open Assets
    Everytime I’m failing to click on that pop-up window I feel dumb. Is there another way to open previously open assets? I don’t know but I would love to see that window never go away if I don’t close it purposely. Maybe there’s an option for that already, maybe that should be an option rather than an automatic thing. I don’t know but I feel like there’s something to do with that ‘oh I missed it, I won’t ever be able to open exactly what was open now’ feel.

    Folders in Collection
    I would like to be able to simply have a list of folder shortcuts in my Collections. I don’t want to have to scroll down my hierarchy to find the folder I want. Especially if there’s one ART folder at the topmost and one TOPDOWN folder at the very end with 20 folders in between. Putting a folder into a collection would not put every assets of that folder in the collection but rather a simple shortcut to that folder. When I click on it, it prompts a content browser window that shows that folder.





    Blueprint Editor Quality of Life

    Blueprints Customized Shortcuts
    The one feature I’m dying for. I’m used to go fast. Really fast. I’m used to customize my softwares after I got the grasp of what I could do with them. I’m used to turn into a pianist. Here I can’t. I would love to be able to customize these ctrl+key instant node creation shortcuts. It is so powerful. Even if that does not come soon, please make Control + P spawn a PRINT STRING rather than EventBeginPlay that I merely create once every Blueprint.

    Fast Node Connection
    I don’t often spend time joining nodes together, but when I do, I go fast. But I shouldn’t have to. There’s one feature that would make that task last for at least 10 times less time. If I start dragging an empty execution pin while holding CTRL, every node I drag the execution route into would automatically be connected to the node I started dragging with. When I stop dragging, it stops and does nothing more.

    Comment Bubble Z Order
    It was a feature I loved. It was quite useful to organize our Blueprints and I hope we'll have it back!

    Comment Bubble Resize QoL
    When I’m trying to resize my code comments while zoomed out at the maximum, the interactible areas to resize the comment are so thin that I always have to concentrate a lot to get them. It is really frustrating and I think it would be cool to increase the size of these areas (at all levels of zoom but especially the farthest).

    Comment Bubble Zoom Text Display
    We once had the possibility to display / hide comment text at a certain level of zoom. It was quite useful when had to look at a big blueprint. I miss it when organizing my code sections.

    Multiple Research Tabs
    I didn’t find a way to open two (or more) research tabs in order to switch from one keyword to another quickly. It would be a nice addition.

    Blueprint Grid Snapping
    Would be very easier to organize our code if every node size was standardized (X units over Y units) and moving at the same pace (X units at a time), no matter the current selection. Currently snapping is different if I select one node, a bunch of nodes or a comment bubble.

    Copying Custom Events
    We used to have a simple ‘_copy’ name that was appearing, now it is reset back to ‘CustomEvent’ when pasting a custom event. That feature was quite useful. It would also be even better if it would copy/paste the replication settings as well.

    Navigation Shortcuts
    Previous/Next shortcuts work in Blueprint but in a strange way. I don’t really know what to say about that nor can I explain what ‘strange’ means here. I just know that I press ‘previous’ and I find myself lost in the middle of something I was not expecting. Maybe it brings me back to the Parent function I was previously looking at, I don’t know but sometimes it fails to work. It’s a shame because it is a brillant idea and being able to ‘previous / next’ easily between a function to another is very handy.

    Spawn AI Exposed on Spawn
    I don’t know why exposed variables don’t appear when using the ‘Spawn AI from class’ node but I believe that it should.

    Reordering Child Widgets
    Never found a way to reorder the widgets that were inside boxes (like moving stuff from up to bottom in a vertical box). It is not really hard to work around it but it would certainly improve the overall quality of what you can do using Widgets.

    Widget Hierarchy Organization
    While working on a widget, it would be neat to be able to create folders to organize its content. Folders would have no impact on how every elements are rendered and we would have the option to turn their visibility on and off in the editor.





    Editor Bugs

    Quantity Scroller Behavior
    I’m talking about the scroller that replaces our mouse cursor when hovering a variable value that can be increased or decreased. It behaves horribly sometimes: it lags because I increased the value by 100 000 with a tiny little mouse movement. Sometimes it lags as it changes the value. Sometime I fail to catch it with my mouse because I got my focus on 'window resize' tool instead.

    Child Actor Replication
    Having a Child Actor that replicates inside an Actor that replicates leaves a ‘Ghost copy’ of that actor on every Client machine. That ‘ghost copy’ behaves weirdly, depending on how hard the ghost glitched the game I suppose. For me it was half the actor was existing on the Client but not on the Server (whereas it was a replicated actor, a copy of an actor existing on the server).

    Viewport Blueprint Lags
    When working on the parent blueprint of a dozain of child blueprints that all have references to several different child actors, everything lags in the Blueprint viewport when moving components. I have a quite strong computer but it lags anyway. I understand that moving an element on that parent blueprint moves it on every child actors, but maybe it should only apply when I hit recompile? Because currently it’s almost impossible to work efficiently on that kind of blueprints.

    Hierarchy Lags
    While browsing hierarchy folders that contains the same kind of blueprint I was talking about (parent, tons of childs, tons of child actors in them) the hierarchy starts lagging hard. It’s even worst when displaying them in miniatures. I’m talking hard lags like every action I do take 10 seconds to complete (selecting an asset, dragging it or right clicking it).

    Blueprint Viewport and Child Actors
    I believe Child Actors are the worst experience I had in Unreal 4. Even if everything I mention about them up to this point was fixed, there would still remain that section. When I’m adding a ChildActor to an Actor, I can’t directly select it in this Actor’s viewport. If I click on it, it does not select it. I have to find it in the component hierarchy and select it. It might not seem to be a problem at first sight. Except if you have 10 child actors on a Blueprint. Every one of them is named ChildActor_0X and I can’t directly select them in the Viewport. I can’t know which one is what without selecting them one by one in the hierarchy. I could rename them all but it’s just the beginnning of the random creation process. If I have a hundred different customized Blueprint that all have a dozain of child actors in them, I’ll have 1300 ChildActors to find in the hierachy and rename. That’s a lot of time consumed just because they can’t be selected directly in the viewport. It’s even worst when you start considering that I might have a LOT of changes to make to them (like moving, deleting and adding new ones). Manipulating Child Actor is such a tedious task currently.

    Thumbnail Camera & Child Actors
    ChildActors once again. They are messing up with the automatic picture thumbnail of the assets in the hierarchy when viewing them as miniatures. Example: I have a PlayerCharacter_BP and a DungeonTile_BP. The PlayerCharacter_BP contains a SkeletalMesh and that’s all, the DungeonTile_BP is empty. The thumbnail picture for the Character BP shows only the SkeletalMesh (logical, there’s only that in this Blueprint). Now I add a ChildActor to my DungeonTile_BP. And then, on the PlayerCharacter_BP thumbnail I can see the ChildActor I just added to the DungeonTile_BP. I don't know why that happens nor if it is so easy to reproduce as I say.

    getAttachChildCount(0)
    Or something of the sort. I sometime insta-crash on compiling my Enemy_Class because lots of child classes of that class have several additional components. Not sure how that happens and under what circumstances.

    Rotation Replication
    I believe that section will be all about me not finding a particular option or doing some mistake somewhere in my logic. I made two top-down prototypes as learning projects and both times I encountered the same strange behavior: when I ask the Server to rotate a Player Character that has movement replicated, 4/10 the client’s character does not rotate on the client’s machine (but does on the server). I don’t know if there’s any settings that I might be missing regarding the character’s rotation that would be bypassing a networked information of rotation.

    Play Loading Time
    When forgetting to compile a Blueprint that has a lot of references to other Blueprints before hitting play, that takes a while to start because it is recompiling every Blueprints that have the reference to the one we forgot to compile. Fair enough, we shall not do that. But sometimes, I don’t know under what circumstances, even if there’s no Blueprint not compiled when I hit play, it takes AGES to launch, exactly as if there were. Like literraly a minute or so. I don’t have any more detail about that unfortunately. I'm restarting my editor and everything is fine again.

    Public Variables Reset
    When modifying a public variable of an actor on the scene, this variable value might be reseted to the class default’s value under certain circumstances. These circumstances are unclear but it happenned to me after an editor crash.

    Hidden Editor Buttons
    The 'change preview mesh' button is hidden.
    The 'sync' button is hidden. When working with SVN and source control I was searching for it and didn't find it. It was because it didn't have an icon in the list of buttons that were clickable, it looked like the title of the dropdown menu.
    When creating new asset in the hierarchy, sometime I fail to realize that I can scroll down the menu to see more categories of assets I can create (in the fast access categories).
    What I mean by 'hidden' is 'not looking like buttons' or 'not looking like something I can interact with'.
    The 'change preview mesh' button literally made my studio change a part of our importation workflow because we thought the feature was missing. Only by chance, I was giving a lesson to my students the day after and I accidently missclicked on that button only to realize it was the thing we were looking for.

    Collision Settings Scrollbar
    When entering the Collision Settings of the Project Settings window, we always need to change the size of the window to make the scrollbar appear. Else it is hidden and we can’t scroll down to see all of our collision presets.

    Content Browser Column Size Reset
    The column sizes of my Content Browser keep resetting everytime I close my editor. I’m talking about the columns that display the name of the asset / its type / weight and so on and so forth. Anytime I resize it, it resets the next time I’ll open up the editor.





    Blueprint Editor Bugs

    Custom Event and Max Zoom
    Warning: I started this list of things a while ago (back in 4.10) and this is something I’m not sure to have encountered in 4.12. When creating a custom event in a Blueprint while being at max zoom out, we can’t rename it right away. Usually we can rename it right after we created it (it automatically focus the custom event node we just created and gives us the possibility to write immediatly). Even worst, it goes bugging and we see the node as if we could write the name but it doesn’t do anything. We have to compile the Blueprint to make the bug go away. I never tried to create other nodes when that bug occured though.

    Blueprint Editing Locked
    Sometimes all of a sudden (maybe after creating a Custom Event?) I can no longer modify a Blueprint I was just working on. I have to hit CTRL+S to be able to continue editing it.

    Blueprint & Structures
    They are not friends. The rule looks like ‘once you’ve made and used a Structure in a Blueprint, you’re done modifying it’. If you happen to add a parameter to it, every thing might turn into a mess. Or not. Not sure on what it depends. ‘Turning into a mess’ means: everything is fine after I add a parameter. Then I close and open up my editor. Everything is fine. I hit play, it says one of the Blueprint that is using the structure has errors and has not been compiled. I open it up and see an array of the structure I modified disconnected from a function parameter it was attached to. I connect them again. Hit play. Everything is fine. Then I close and open up and here we go again, fine, play, error, open it up, wires disconnected. I worked around that by deleting the culprite nodes and recreated them (I avoided spelling the functions the same) and everything worked fine again, even after an editor reboot.





    Conclusion

    Here is the end of my list of things I’d love to see improved.

    If you made it so far thank you very much.

    Feel free to ask me any question if you need more details about something. I tried to be short but I’m much of a talker and unfortunately English is not my mothertongue so some things might have sounded clunky. Sorry about that.

    If you are interested in my work, you can check what I’m doing with my free time here and you’ll hear about the project I’m working on full time soon!


    Good luck and have fun in your projects everyone
    Last edited by Yun-Kun; 07-08-2016, 03:34 PM.
    [Released] Multiplayer Combat Editor
    A-RPG Sacred Swords
    Auto-Chess Live Development
    Youtube Tutorials

    #2
    I agree 100% with Prefab functionality. Right now, if I want to alter the default properties of a Child Actor, I have to use the construction script to get the child actor instance, then set each property for each actor, and it really makes a mess of the construction script. Especially if I want 20+ child actors within a single blueprint.

    Comment


      #3
      I used to work on Corel and some other visual design softwares some years ago and I really miss the customizable hotkeys during my workflow. It would be SO much more comfortable inside the Blueprints Editor to have one hand in the mouse and another in the keyboard, all the time. The less we have to type, the better.

      About lag issues I have to reinforce that I share the e.x.a.c.t same situations as mentioned above.

      As I see, imho, all of his suggestions (without exceptions) sound as improvements for devs in general, and not an exclusive personal preference.

      Thumbs up! Really liked the suggestions, specially the hotkeys improvement. Looking forward to Epic's manifest here

      And thanks for the feedback, Yun!

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you for your attention.

        I would love to know what Epic thinks about that and what is already planned or not.

        Or simply to have a word.
        [Released] Multiplayer Combat Editor
        A-RPG Sacred Swords
        Auto-Chess Live Development
        Youtube Tutorials

        Comment


          #5
          Hello Yun-Kun

          Firstly, thank you for your feedback. We appreciate you taking the time to post this thread.

          Keep in mind here, when creating Answerhub posts, please ensure to create a separate post for each issue in question.

          Ensure that you're always taking the time to search the Forums, Answerhub, and Documentation for any issues or concerns that you experience while working in the editor.

          Bug Reports: For each of the topics that you considered a potential bug, please create a separate Answerhub post. This will allow us to investigate each as a separate issue.

          In each Answerhub Bug Report, please answer these questions:

          1. Can you reproduce this in a clean project?
          2. If so, could you provide a detailed list of steps on how to reproduce this on our end?
          3. If applicable, please provide screenshots of blueprints, settings, widgets, and code associated to this issue?

          New Functionalities

          For the following suggestions, please create a separate Answerhub post for each one, as we found them to be lacking enough information to follow up on, and will need to investigate further: Outline Material Settings, UMG Drag and Drop, and Translucent Materials.

          Advanced Mouse Cursor: Navigate to Project Settings->User Interface->Cursors. This will allow you to create custom cursors out of widgets.

          Prefabs: This is currently a feature that we are considering for sometime in the future; however, there is currently not a timeline for when this will be complete.

          Child Widgets: This can be accomplished via the user-created section of the widget's Designer tab.

          Networked Level Streaming: We suggest using a dedicated server in this case. If you feel that this is not a usable suggestion, please create an Answerhub post providing more information.

          NavMesh Character Move: Take a look at the Top Down project. The player character in that project moves using the Nav Mesh; however, this may not be the best way to approach the task. Feel free to post specific questions in the Blueprint Scripting section of the Answerhub if you'd like additional help from the community.

          Child Blueprint Class Default We have entered a feature request, UE-32967

          Editor Quality of Life

          Content Browser Access: We have entered a feature request, UE-32968

          Save Open Content Browser: Please create an Answerhub bug report for this issue.

          Save Content Browser Display: We have entered a feature request, UE-32969

          Customize Toolbar: This is currently not a feature that we will be looking to implement at this time.

          Delete Temporary Files: This is not something that you'd want to do with the project open, as it could potentially conflict with files that are currently running.

          Restore Open Assets: This is not something that we are looking to implement at this time.

          Folders in Collection: One thing to keep in mind: when you package out your game, having a complex folder hierarchy will cause the packaging to fail if the path names are too long.

          Blueprint Editor Quality of Life

          Blueprint Customized Shortcuts: We have entered a feature request, UE-32971

          Fast Node Connection: There is a feature request in for this currently, UE-9987.

          Comment Bubble Z-Order: Currently, we are not looking to implement removed features, as it is likely that using this feature was responsible for a crash or other serious issue.

          Comment Bubble Resize QoL: Try drag-selecting your nodes, and then hitting the C key. While it can be tedious to resize the comment bubbles, it is often better to just remake them while zoomed out.

          Comment Bubble Zoom Text Display: We have entered a feature request, UE-32970

          Multiple Research Tabs: Please create a new Answerhub post containing more information.

          Blueprint Grid Snapping: Use the arrow keys while the node is selected to make small adjustments, and consider using the alignment options available when you right click with a group of nodes selected.

          Copying Custom Events: Please create a new Answerhub bug report post containing more information, and answer the bug report questions we posted earlier.

          Navigation Shortcuts: These seem to be working as intended. If you feel that there is a bug here, please feel free to create a new Answerhub post for this.

          Thank you again for all of your suggestions!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Sean Flint View Post
            Hello Yun-Kun

            Firstly, thank you for your feedback. We appreciate you taking the time to post this thread.

            Thank you again for all of your suggestions!
            Whoa! Nice breakdown Sean. Hey Yun, thanks for all the info here, just let us know about those bug reports as you make them and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
            Twitch /unrealalexander| Twitter @UnrealAlexander
            How to report a bug? | Installation & Setup issues?
            Call me to a thread by posting this: [MENTION]Alexander Paschall[/MENTION]

            Comment


              #7
              Wow indeed.

              Thank you for answering this and taking the time to enter so many feature requests!

              I'll do it properly next time (search before, repro project or steps, one by one feature / bug reports, Answerhub, more details).

              Thank for the tips and advices as well.

              Keep up the good work guys
              Last edited by Yun-Kun; 07-08-2016, 07:37 PM.
              [Released] Multiplayer Combat Editor
              A-RPG Sacred Swords
              Auto-Chess Live Development
              Youtube Tutorials

              Comment

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