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UE4 or UDK?

Honored Guest
Question in brief: Should I switch to UE4 now, or should I wait until I have a working prototype in UDK and then switch? I definitely plan to switch at some point, but it's unlikely I'll have anything ready to release until late next year and could potentially switch engines virtually any time before then.

Where I am: I have been learning UDK on-and-off alongside a bunch of 3D modelling and animation tools. Most of my past game dev experience is with 2D games, although I did some bits & pieces in 3D years and years ago. I'm a self-funding lone developer so trying to fit all this around other work to keep the bills paid. With DK2 hopefully arriving soon, I plan to make a fairly big push to make some more significant progress before I get forced on to other things again.

Pros for UDK: Stable. Complete tooling. Lots of tutorials and documentation. Completely free (during prototyping phase anyway).

Pros for UE4: I know C++ and don't especially want to learn UnrealScript ⁽¹⁾. Better engine, full source access. Definitely what I will be using for anything beyond a simple prototype.

Cons for UDK: Not everything can be transferred directly to UE4. Possibly a lot of un-learning / time wasted learning things that don't exist in UE4.

Cons for UE4: Fewer docs, tutorials, etc. Some of the tools are still incomplete/nonexistent (AFAIK, but I haven't kept up to date with this). Greater chance of bugs. Monthly cost (would rather defer as late as possible). Possibly slower workflow ⁽²⁾

Neutral: Can do a lot during prototyping in terms of testing out assets, animations, etc., which won't be particularly dependent on game logic anyway. UDK might be better due to the cost, unless transferring assets is a huge pain. Working out things like final lighting models can really only be done in the production engine, but is also likely to come fairly late in the production process, long after the main assets & prototyping are done.

Unsure: possibly more direct control of Oculus SDK in UE4? Any significant practical advantages to that?

⁽¹⁾ I might bring in Lua or AngelScript to help speed up prototyping. Is this what others normally do?

⁽²⁾ I'd very much like to hear how people's workflow has changed since moving to UE4. Is there a lot more time spent compiling? Does that slow things down? Are other things faster? What's the asset import workflow like compared to UDK? Obviously most people will have a slightly different experience based on their skills, development priorities, etc., so would be good to get a few different perspectives on this for comparison.

I feel sad - for the above reason exactly I really want to develop in UE4, but it has one huge limitation (for me) that Unity doesn't have. Unity can take in OSC and MIDI data, UE4 cannot. And I'm just not a good enough programmer to implement a 3rd party version. :'(

Heroic Explorer
"mptp" wrote:
I feel sad - for the above reason exactly I really want to develop in UE4, but it has one huge limitation (for me) that Unity doesn't have. Unity can take in OSC and MIDI data, UE4 cannot. And I'm just not a good enough programmer to implement a 3rd party version. :'(

There's already a plug-in for this showing up in the engine add ons IIRC???? ??? :?

There is - live editor - but when enabled the engine crashes. you win some you lose some. (4.3)

Also to the other guy, yes subbing to get it then unsubbing is officially sanctioned/welcomed by Epic. They are not petty about it. In fact I unsubbed early on before resubbing some weeks ago (as I just wanted to check it out first to see if it was fit for my needs) and I got charged for the next month as I unsubbed on the very last day (it was a time zone error). Not only were epic cool about it, they refunded me instantly and let me keep the 'upgrade' I grabbed while still active (for the whole month in fact) :lol:

One thing to note is that unlike UDK, UE4 uses deferred rendering so things like custom lighting are out of the question.

Honored Guest
Well, I subscribed and downloaded UE4 and have started going through the tutorial videos. I actually like it a lot - it's not as different to UDK as I was expecting, yet it feels like a far more polished, more serious piece of software. There's also something oddly comforting about building the engine from source. Especially as it gives no compiler warnings!

Also while I pointed out that there's a lot of content out there for UDK in the way of tutorials, references, etc. (much of it 3rd party), I am seriously impressed with the work Epic has done for UE4. The new official content is much better focused, so it's much easier to get to grips with the toolset and typical workflow quickly by following their default videos and docs, to the point that all the 3rd party stuff for UDK is largely redundant. The vast array of "how to make a such-and-such" howtos for UDK might help out non-programmers more, but if like me you already know your way around building a game and just need to know how to use the tools, the UE4 documentation is just about perfect.

The UI also feels a bit more consistent and less clunky. I especially like their implementation of "Adobe tabs". The Adobe patent has IMO seriously stifled innovation and this is the first thing I've seen with a better implementation. There are lots of clunky versions that try to skirt around the patent (much like Android's crappy scroll behaviour is a kludge to avoid the Apple rubberband patent). I was very surprised to see this implemented so well in UE4: really nothing to do with the engine itself, but a very nice piece of UI innovation (the level of innovation is tiny but it's definitely a step forward). I really hope Adobe doesn't sue them for this, or even worse, like Macromedia, buy them.

It's just unfortunate, seeing as I now have a DK2, that SDK 0.4 isn't supported yet. Hopefully it won't be long. I tried installing 0.3.2 with the camera driver but couldn't get anything to work, so I'll just stick with 0.4 and wait it out.

Edit: I looked it up. The Adobe patent expired last month. Woot!

Honored Guest
Let's not forget, the license for UE4 is 5% over gross, not nett (as with UDK) and it's from the first cent you receive whereas with UDK you start paying $2500 when you reach $50.000 (net) and the royalties up to $60.000 are 0%, and from $60.000 and up you pay 25% over net (or if you think you'll make a bundle of money you can always buy another kind of license, or switch to UE4) ..

Here's a post about UE4 and royalties by TimS from Epic:
With the release of Unreal Engine version 4.1, we've updated the EULA to accommodate this long-tail / low-revenue situation:

Now, the first $3000 of gross revenue per product per quarter is exempt from royalties. And, if gross revenue is less than $3000 in a given quarter, then you don't need to file a royalty report.
So, for example, if your game makes $2500 in a quarter, then you don't have to pay anything or file a report. If your game makes $4000, then the royalty due is $50, which is 5% of ($4000 minus $3000).

There is also this:

Are any revenue sources royalty-free?

No royalties are due on the following:

  • Ancillary products, including t-shirts, CDs, plushies, action figures and books. The exception is items with embedded data or information, such as QR codes, that affect the operation of the product.
  • Consulting and work-for-hire services using the engine. This applies to architects using the engine to create visualizations as well as consultants receiving a development fee.
  • Linear media, including movies, animated films and cartoons distributed as video.
  • Cabinet-based arcade games and amusement park rides.
  • Truly free games and apps (with no associated revenue).