Unreal Engine 4 – An introduction

In our previous article on the topic of Game Engines, we covered a few of the most popular, easily available game engines out there. One of them was the incredibly powerful Unreal Engine 4. An engine so powerful and jam-packed with features that it’s preferred by indie developers and big players alike. The engine is so powerful and disruptive that it is actually shaping the way for real-time virtual production and AAA level game development, and it’s free. Yes, it’s free. In this new series of articles, we will be diving into Unreal Engine 4 and exploring its features. These articles are designed for absolute beginners with little to no programming knowledge. We also may or may not make an actual game in this process.

Games in a nutshell – Where do game engines fit in?

The game industry netted a total revenue of $120.1 billion in the year 2019. A number that dwarfs Hollywood and the entire music industry combined. Games are an amalgamation of technology and art, where programming meets animation, music, stories, aesthetics, and 360 no-scopes. So, how exactly are games made? How do artists and programmers create an immersive, interactive experience that often ends up being better than any other form of entertainment out there? The answer is game engines.

If games are a simulation of worlds with varying levels of artistic liberty, then game engines are responsible for the rules that govern the simulation. In other words, they let you play god. Game engines lay down the software framework upon which games are built. Support systems such as lighting, rendering, Automatons, physics, animations, music, and sound are a few examples of such features. Game engines have come a long way since their inception in the 90s. They are IDE’s for games just like eclipse is for Android apps. A complex, powerful, and fully featured package that is easy to install and get results from.

Unreal Engine 4 – Epic games’ most powerful offering

A trailer showing off the capabilities of Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine was developed by Tim Sweeney in 1998. It was specifically built for a game called “Unreal”, a first-person shooter whose graphics, and optimization was way ahead of its time. Tim Sweeney then went on to create Epic Games, A modern-day gaming giant with celebrated titles in the past such as the Unreal Tournament series, Paragon, and Fortnite. Various iterations of the engine formed the basis of all these games. The Unreal Engine 4 was made accessible to the public in 2012. The engine has come a long way since then. Bug fixes, animation features, ray-traced hyper-realistic lighting, film grade animation studio, world-building, and node-based programming are a few of the many upgrades the engine has received in the past 8 years.

Epic Games has always been a champion for indie game developers and has acquired many other supporting companies and services in order to provide a full and well-rounded package for developers thinking of taking a deep dive into Unreal Engine and making games. From tutorials to free online workshops to free assets every month, they have been kind enough to provide almost everything that even a child with enough smarts could use to bring their dreams to life.

Unreal engine is a powerful suite of tools to bring any visual dream to life

What are we going to learn?

The goal of this series is to introduce the uninitiated to the interesting world of making games. over the next few weeks, we will cover the basics of games and the logic that goes into making them. We will cover the various features the engine offers, and learn to use those features in systems for games using practical examples. In fact, these articles will impart enough knowledge to you, the reader, to make your own game!
Feel free to check out the Epic Games official page for Unreal Engine!

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