The Switch to Unreal Engine

The Switch to Unreal Engine

As someone who was began learning in Unity back in 2014/2015 let me tell you that switching game engines isn’t the easiest thing to do. This is especially true when you’re comfortable enough in an engine that you can build just about anything you could imagine.

After getting hired at Epic I decided I should probably give up Unity, if not for the sake of my current job then at least because I wanted to focus on UE4 and the potential to get hired as a dev at some point in the future. I had messed with UE4 a couple of times but had never really dove in and it took me about 4 months to get over the “but I could do that in Unity” phase. I pretty much had to forget how to do things in Unity before I was able to get around that mental block. I kept myself busy with general game design work in the mean time but not touching Unity everyday was one of the key factors to making the switch.

Picking up what I could from the events I helped work, online tutorials, talking to our devs and reading books about UE4 I was able to start getting the hang of the engine. I also was able to learn a huge amount from a single course that I was allowed to audit from Full Sail. All in all, UE4 and Unity are similar enough that the switch wasn’t too daunting. 90% of it is getting over that mental block.

Here’s a quick list of similarities UE4 and Unity share:
* 3D oriented, drag and drop style world building. You have assets, you drag them into the view window and they’re now part of your game.
* GameObjects from Unity are essentially Actors in UE4.
* Both have built in terrain editors that allow users to sculpt, paint and populate huge areas.
* Both have a massive number of assets available for purchase from the marketplace/asset store.
* Both have post processing effects and lighting effects available that can give games an additional layer of polish.
* Actors saved as Blueprints are the equivalent of Prefabs in Unity.

The main difference was the programming languages for me. I was heavily into C# in Unity and found that C++ was too different to just pick up right away, the compile time was also detrimental to my process of “try this, change that, try it again.” Eventually I started using Blueprints and was able to get the hang of scripting again.

Finally I was feeling confident enough with UE4 that I started to build actual games. I convinced a couple of co-workers to help me work on the first real game I made with UE4 which was basically dodge ball with a traffic cone… the why of that game is a bit of an inside joke. I also started doing Game Jams and refused to use anything but UE4 to work with.

To sum everything up, the switch was a bit daunting at first but I’m glad that I did it. Knowing the things that each engine is good at allows me to be more efficient with my work and also lets me avoid the typical Unity vs. Unreal discussions on various social media outlets. I’ve got a long way to go to learn Unreal Engine but I’m getting better at it all the time.

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