unreal engine 4 tutorialintro to level design â hi everyone, and welcome to our crash course into unreal engine 4. my name is jim brown. i'm one of the senior designershere at epic, and, not surprisingly, i wanted to give you a quick crash course on our new editor systems and how it might be used or viewed from the perspective of a designer or a level designer. one of the strengths of unreal engine has always been
its incredible power and versatility, and, with unreal engine 4, we really tried to embrace that and go deep on a lot of the tools that are available as well as really recognizing who's using our tools and how they're using them and understanding that not everybody uses them in the same way. this new interface that we have is something that we call "slate", all these little gray windows,
and you'll notice that each of them has a little tab up on top, each of the different views. and we wanted unreal engine to bevery highly configurable to suite your own personal style and your own personal workflow. so, just as in the previous version of the editor, where you can kind of re-scale and move these around, you can definitely still do that. but the cool thing about these little tabs is that you can just tear them off and it creates a free-floating window for you.
and you'll see as i move it around, it has these little white lines, and as long as you stay within the center of that, it'll create a free floating window. but the great thing is that, as you move up into these little other quadrants, it'll automatically dock that window for you. so, you can really set this whole viewscreen up to be exactly how you want it and you'll see what windows and what configurations works best for you in your own personal style and workflow. you can even grab these and drop them on top of one another
to create little docked windows, or however you so choose. alright, so, very, very easy to move things around and get yourself organized, which is allways a good step in starting to build anything, which is also one of the main reasons that we have this new window here, called the "scene outliner" basically, what it does is it just shows you a list of everything that's in your map, which doesn't seem all that great at first until you realize
that every time you click on an object, it automatically updates in that window to what you're doing. so it's really a great way to kind of keep track. you can use it to set up hierarches of combining different things so that, like, when i move one thing it moves all these other things in the same way, setting up that way. it's also useful for getting around and navigating in the editor. for example, this takes me i know, to a column that's up there. so, i'm just going to double click on that, and boom, it pulls it right into view for me.
so, when you see the name of a static mesh, or you're looking for a specific object in your world, it's really easy to find just by double-clicking. on here, you can set up a filter to find the name, etc, etc. so, it's a really, really cool way to navigate through the editor and find the specific assets you're looking for. when you do have an object selected, of course, you want to know everything possible about it, and that's what the "details" panel here is for.
it shows you location, location,rotation, scale, what materials are applied, any type of information that you're going to deal with for that particular actor, you will find here in the "details" panel. i'm not going to go into too much detail, ha, no pun intended. i'm not going to go into too much detail there, as we have some other great tutorials that'll go really in depth. back over to the left side of the screen, we have our content browser, which is basically your library.
all of the objects that you're going to build with that are created outside of the editor and imported in will show up here. so this is where you have your awesome art team and they build a static mesh, or paint a texture, create a material, animations, audio, all of those things appear right over here and you can kind of organize them, again, into whatever hierarchy or system or organization makes sense to you and your team. you can filter through to see different types of assets that area available, all really easy to get around.
and, again, you can tear that off to give yourself whatever configuration you want, in terms of finding assets and finding a workflow that works for you. and then, up here, you have your "mode" window, which shows all the different things or the ways you can interact with the level that you're building. this is your "geometry", your "lights", your "volumes" all the things that you want to add are right here under this first tab, and it's really simple to just grab one and drag and drop into the world
and it should create it there for me in just one second...blop! there you go! so now i have a new brush inside the world that i can play with. and over here we have our vertex painting, and again, these are some pretty deep systems, i'm not going to go into too much detail. we have some other awesome tutorials that show how to use each of these things. this is for vertex painting. this is for combining materials on a static mesh for saying,
"oh, i want the edge of the, the leading edge of this column to be where it's hit by the wind to have some mold growing on that" you can just kind of paint that on in there, once your materials set up properly, or add scuff to the bottom of a door, chips along the edge of a column, or whatever it is that you want to do. that's a real way to customize individual pieces. our "landscape" editor allows you to add giant pieces of terrain, and you can sculpt mountains, valleys, rivers, all that real easy to just paint things. once you have that in place, you can create foliage to that,
rather than have to go in and individually place every blade of grass, or every little weed that surrounds the base of a tree. this mode allows you to just go in and assign a static mesh and them paint them on and, as you paint, it'll create kind of a random orientation and scale and all seems to make it feel very organic, and it's a huge, huge time saver that has a lot of different uses. again, from painting grass, from painting weeds,
even little pieces of rubble that you want to scatter on the ground. rather than dropping in each individual pebble, or each individual tear of piece of paper, or whatever it is, you can just use this mode to paint stuff in. and then very, very important to designers, is this last tool, which is your "geometry editing" mode. and what that allows you to do is, once you have an object in the world,
which, again, geometry editing, i just drag and dropped a box in., you can select that box just like by anything, by clicking on it in this main viewport window, but when you are in "geometry editing" mode, you don't necessarily select the object as much as just select the individual faces or individual pieces of that object. so, for example, in this case i have this cube, or this cube selected, and i selected just this one face, and i can drag it all the way over and, bam,
it'll re-shape, on the fly, right there for you. you can kind of re-shape your geometry to create those shapes that you want to use. and it all updates in real time. and, um, in addition to selecting faces, you can select individual vertices and move those, or even just edges, for example here, to create a ramp, you just select one edge, drag up and drop, and let go of the mouse, and it'll create that for you. so, a very cool way to just sculpt your world on the fly. and, if you go back over,
there's a lot of different primitives for you to start with, from your cone, your cylinder, even some basic stair shapes that you can start with, and it just automatically drops in a piece for you, and you can start sculpting and moving on from there. now, in terms of the level design process, you're really going to be focused on this main, central window, which is your viewport. as you've seen before, this is a visual representation of,
essentially, what the player or what the camera would be seeing as they look into your world. so this is a really tactile, "your view into what's actually being built." by default, it shows up here, which is, you can see, "perspective" mode, which means it's from the perspective of the main camera or how a player would kind of see that, and in "lit" mode.
and just by clicking on those, we can change all the different so we want to see, without lighting, if you want to see just the actual polygons and wireframe mode, as opposed to lit geometry, there's all of those there. and then you can change even the way you see that. right now we're in perspective mode, and these are your orthographic, top side, front, these are your 2d viewports. you can very easily go into top-down mode, which, again, will show you here.
this shows you just the basic outline of the geometry as opposed to an actual 3d view of the world. and then, again, because everybody's workflow's a little different, you may not want this giant window in the middle of your screen, and, with a little click here, you can drop back down and, boom, now you have 4 cameras showing side, front, top, and perspective, all at the same time.
and again, all of these are highly configurable, so you can set it up however you want. looking at each of these right here, you have, these are your snaps, enable grid snapping, so this is how you keep things aligned, so to speak, and you can change the grid size by moving here. and then, again, snap, snapping rotations, so you can rotate things in increments. and then this is the number of degrees you wish to rotate that.
and scale, same thing. enable, disable, with a little click. but, as a designer, you always want things to be aligned, right? you want things to be perfect, so you want to leave your grid space on. but that's just my personal bias. alright. moving back to a maximized viewport, we have created this scene today and this is just real quick to show kind of an example of how we at epic
build the things that we build that the process that we use. and, when we build something, we actually tend to build it in various stages. for example, starting here, this is the area that we were just inside of. this is our prototype pass. this is very, very rough and dirty. this is where we will put something together really quickly using our basic geometry and/or some very simple static meshes. and the whole idea behind that is just to give you a basic outline of what the play space is going to be.
doesn't have to be pretty; we don't care what it looks like necessarily. we will often times do a couple different colors, so you can separate pieces of geometry visually. you can tell walls from floors, that sort of thing. and the whole idea here is that you want to get something up and playable as quickly as possible. and so, once you have this in place, it's really, really easy to play. you click the little button, and boom, it drops you in.
and you're now actually a player in this world, and you interact with it just as a player would. actually hit the wrong one,little trigger there. and so, what this gives you is the ability to go in and test whatever it is you're creating. you can test to see whether it actually works or whether it looks exactly as you want it to look, whether it's interacting and doing the things that you want. well actually, in the case of, say, a multiplayer map,
we'll go in and start testing the maps when they look just like this. so, we don't care as much that they're pretty as much as that the gameplay is good, and, once you have your systems in place, you can start testing your systems this way. alright, so, to pop back out, that's stage 1; really, really quick and dirty. and that's our prototyping phase. that's where we test gameplay, where we test systems.
we're just making sure that everything's working. we don't care about visuals at that point. and in the background, while we're testing that, that's when our art team is hard at work actually creating stuff. and we may even give them something like this, and they'll start to do a paint over, they'll start to create assets to fill that space and make sure that our basic geometry fits the patterns of the world. 0and because that's when we start moving into a meshing pass.
and this is when, as the art team starts to have some assets come online, we'll slowly start adding them into the world, just to give you a bit of a feeling for what it's going to look like. so, this example is, now that we have this, the basic shapes, the art team has taken that, has broken it down into its component pieces, and given it some meshes. and so, you can see, each of these, like the column has been replaced with a little bit more highly detailed column.
we've added a little statue here, the little steps now have these railings on the sides and there's some all stuff. even so, the materials here are pretty basic. it's all just kind of a uniform grey color. a lot of the detail that you're seeing is done through normal maps. it's nothing super, super high-end, and the main important thing here is to recognize, see these shapes? right here? the blue column.
and then look at the actual column here. super, super important. if you've been investing so much time into testing your gameplay here, you want to make sure that it doesn't change, when you start actually adding in the visual elements of your level. so, what we do is, we use these basic shapes as the guideline or collision for the world, so that when we move into this space, where it starts to get decorated, the collision doesn't actually change.
and, therefore, the gameplay doesn't change. and it's super important that we try to follow those guidelines, because you get a lot of unexpected consequences, where there's now a window where there wasn't before, or there's now a, what used to be a solid wall is now exposed to this open, exposed vista, and you can no longer bounce projectiles off of it, or people can jump out of the world, or there's clutter on the floor that effects navigation.
all those sorts of things. so, you really want to try to stick to this basic geometry when you start decorating it, and using that as your bounds for what you build the visuals inside of. so you're not adding on top of, you're actually replacing those old assets with something that is visually more appealing, but still doesn't break the bounds of collision and gameplay. and, once those pieces are in place, we'll actually move on to our lighting pass, which is step number 3 here, placing lights, tweaking postprocess,
and adding, slowly adding materials. and, as you can see here, you know, the columns now have a little bit more detailed texture, some marble going on through the fluting, and we've added some kind of basic particle systems and the lights. so this is so you can kind of start to get a feel for what this actually going to feel like once you are um, starting, uh, once the visual start getting more a final pass, so to speak. this is at a point where, at this time, we'll usually hand the level off, actually,
to a level artist, and they will start to flush this out and finish it a bit more. but the key here is that because we've established the geometry, and because that geometry didn't change as we started to do the visuals, even as we get into the more complicated systems here, we try and keep these playable. so that you can hop in and, like in here, i can use these little arrows to move to the next stage, boom, 3. this whole space is still playable.
we can still test it. everything in it is still valid. if you're building within those bounds, and not adding outside of them, uh, then, the gameplay isn't going to change. the level isn't going to break. you can continue to test and iterate and do all those cool things that you were doing before, without breaking the level or slowing down the process. and, what the great thing about that is that, you can have multiple people
working on different aspects of the level, and, as long as they stay in sync, and they check them in, and you stay within those established boundaries, then nothing falls apart. it can all interact, they can flow together, and really kind of work as a team. so, that really helps us on our iterative passes because we may go in and test something here, and say, "oh, well, i needed a window there."
and, so it's really easy to carve out a window, in the basic geometry mode, and not have to move the window pane, and the window glass, and the grill that was over there, and the tree that was there, and all the other aspects that are involved with that in this basic geometry mode. it's really easy to add those, and then, but, once you then start moving on to these more highly decorative passes, you're going to incur that cost.
you're going to say, "now i have to move all of those individual pieces" and "oh, i missed one, that's going to create a bug" so, again, as long as you're working in sync, and you're keeping your goals aligned in this way, it's really easy to get rid of some of those miscellaneous bugs and things that pop up later in the project. and then, finally, the last pass that we have is our polish pass. and that's when the gameplay has solidified,
and the art team is finishing up assets, and the scripting has come into place, and everything is really kind of falling into line. this is that, those final touches that you add. you start adding particle effects, reflection actors, blocking volumes, audio, all those little things that really bring a level together. and, again, very, very stark contrast between 1 and 4 there, sorry. 1 and 4. you can see how the detail levels change, how the, how the, the lighting has gone from just a basic
"okay, this is what the world is going to look like" and now we start adding in a few more materials and really polishing things, and finally you get some nice reflections on the ground doing all sorts of things. so, i'm going to play right from here. you can pop into the editor and see exactly what your world is going to look like. and, this is much more finalized version,
and this is much closer to something that we would ship. and, again, as long as you are sticking in to all of your, your boundaries, as long as you have gameplay in mind with everything that you add, all of these things really tend to fall into place quickly and easily, even when you have multiple teams working on a single project. and, that's also another thing that i didn't talk about too much, or, really, at all, i think i mentioned it once, is that, once you start getting into the basic geometry,
we might even start basic scripting. this map itself doesn't have, i believe, any scripting in it. we'll take a look real quick, and i guess it does have some. that's right, because of the level transport systems. we'll do some basic scripting as well at this point, and as you move into the later stages, that the scripting gets polished in the same way that the level does. so, like, at this point, the scripting will be functional. at the second stage,
it'll start to have some of the elements kind of flesh out. and then, by the end, you know, you'll have your full ai systems in place. you'll have all the little events. you'll, you're trying polishing all of your bugs at this point. with specific regards to scripting in unreal engine 4, we have a new system called "blueprint" and there are different types of blueprints available to you. the one that everybody is familiar with from, if you've used kismet in unreal engine 3, for example,
is our level blueprint system. and, what this does is, it's called a visual scripting system, and it creates these little nodes, and each of these nodes are objects or events or things that are interactable in the world. and each of these nodes are connected by wires, and the wires kind of dictate the flow of information, the sequence of events that goes on. so it's really kind of cool to say, like, oh hey, let me, let me zoom in here and you can see, on "event begin play"
so this is as soon as you begin playing, "bindevent to onactorbeginoverlap", so this is basically saying when you touch something, uh, what's going to happen over here... it's binding all this stuff... get info from the player pawn, and set the actor location... so again, this is, these are these little arrows, when you touch them essentially, when you overlap with them, it's going to set your actor location to that new spot in the world.
now that's not anything too new and different, and if you're at all familiar, like i said, with our kismet system in unreal engine 3, however, this is much, much deeper than we've ever had in the past. basically, anything that was available to you, from a code perspective is now going to be open to you as a designer as well. so you can script, fully script, just about anything now moving on from, you know, creating your own pawns, creating your own, weapons, creating all the systems that you would be able to do
you can now do visually with this system. and, while we do have the level blueprint, which is what you're seeing here, when you create something like that, it's also a second type of blueprint available. for example, down here, called a class blueprint. and what those are, again, just to show you real quick here, these are, your players, these are your weapons, these are different systems that you can create using blueprint.
but you can also create something really simple, such as, for example, a door, and when you touch it, a trigger, the door opens, and when you walk through the door, the door closes. maybe that's a door that you want to use all over your game. in the past, you'd always have to re-script that, or redo that in every level, even if you have a solid level blueprint, you'd have to copy and paste the scripting,
you'd have to move the actors over, you'd have to reassign everything. with a class blueprint, you can basically create a door that opens and closes and does all those things and has all those components that you need and then drop it as many times as you want in as many different levels that you want, and then just customize that to use a different door mesh or a different door sound, or however you want to use it. um, it makes it really, really simple to organize and, um, create,
kind of, multi-use objects or groups of objects, um, that interact with the player. so, once again, just briefly, um, uh, uh, again, go back and look again at our blueprint tutorials, they are amazing, uh, and then there's so much that you can do with them. but, in with regards to actually specifically creating the level, um, we use our basic prototyping pass. this is our geometry. this is really nothing pretty at all
we're not focused on visuals; we're only focused on gameplay. once that is solid,once we're established, uh, our systems are in place, we'll move on to the visual pass, the meshing pass, this is where the art assets start to fill in. but nothing is done yet, this is still very, very early stages, and, our, we kind of focus on keeping the level playable at this point. before the artists can then go in and then get a sense of what this scene is going to look like. they can start adding basic lighting, basic materials, basic particle systems,
and this is where the game kind ofstarts to evolve until, finally, we move into our final polish pass. where this is where you get to your shipping game, or your shipping product, whatever it is. this is full-on, all of the details, all of the things available to you, and your players. and this is where your strive for. you want to get from there, to here. so, hopefully this was useful to you.
if you have any other questions or things you'd like to go, look us up online, there's plenty of other tutorials there at your disposal and, hopefully, we'll have some more coming very shortly, and we'll see you soon. thanks for your attention.