19Feb
2017
Unreal Engine: Advice from a Professional

JMC Academy recently hosted Epic Games’ Unreal Engine evangelist Chris Murphy, who talked to Animation and Game Development students and professionals about the platform and his advice for using it. unreal.jpg

We caught up with him after to find out more about his work with Unreal Engine. 

“Traditionally my job has been as a technical artist, which is a role that sits somewhere between an artist and a programmer, however now I’ve moved into a role of Evangelist that lets me help those jobs full time. I have game development credits across PC, Vive, Oculus, PS4, iOS and Android, all with Unreal Engine 3 or 4. My role as Evangelist for Epic Games is to help independent game developers build successful games with Unreal Engine 4 through support, training and education.”


What is Unreal Engine and how does it work?

Unreal Engine 4 is a suite of integrated tools for game developers to design and build games, simulations, and visualizations. If you’re looking to make something interactive for PC, console, mobile or VR it’s a great place to start! UE4 leverages the Blueprint system to provide intuitive and powerful programming functionality to empower artists and game designers while also fast tracking a programmer’s traditional workflow.


What technical advantages does Unreal offer over other game engines?

One of the great things in my job is showing newcomers how accessible Unreal Engine is. Blueprint really lets people that traditionally wouldn’t touch a line of code to prototype their own ideas and develop new features. Outside of this the multiplatform support is incredible and being able to make a game for PC that I can then deploy into VR or on mobile with a quick iteration time is fantastic.


 

How do the procedural tools in Unreal Engine enhance game development?

Procedural tools have historically been only really accessible to programmers, who are often following instructions or requests from artists. With Blueprint and a feature called ‘Construction Scripts’ we’re seeing some incredible tools being developed by the artists themselves. This is really exciting because you’ll get someone who’s traditionally worked with just 3D and 2D tools suddenly creating procedurally generated background cities.

What do you think the future holds for Epic Games?

I’ve only recently started working with Epic but I’m excited to see Unreal become even more accessible and open itself up to a wide range of industries that are only just starting to tap into realtime rendering. Outside of that I’m a huge fan of VR so I’m excited to see the public reaction to the upcoming release of Robo Recall.

JMC Graduate Nicholus Herrera attended Chris’ talk and commented on how “the use of Blueprint makes it easier to test ideas and operations without having to hard-code functionality. Not only that, but obtaining projects from the Epic Games learn tabs, there’s plenty of content that can help users learn their way around the engine. Chris also demonstrated the particle effects module Cascade in the workshop, similar to Unity’s particle system components, which makes it simple to create smoke and spark effects with simple integer changes.”

Chris, What do you identify as the key principles that contribute to great game design?

I think design is important but I personally think being able to embrace iteration is a huge part of game development. When your team are able to work together, recognise what’s “fun”, whether it was intended or not, they can produce incredible experiences.

 
What advice would you give to students looking to get into the industry?

Work hard but work smart. Anyone that can work even slightly beyond their traditional scope (ie artists that can implement their work or Programmers who aren’t going to treat an unrigged character as an obstacle) is going to be valuable to any development team. Outside of this it’s great to look into emerging technologies and fields to see where you can set yourself apart from the rest.

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