At work I spend most of my time in C++ and C# when working with Unreal. I am skilled and experienced programmer — so why would I choose to work in Blueprints in my own time?
Well first up I believe in “dogfooding”. The professional designers I work with are experienced in using Blueprints and champion it. As a senior infrastructure engineer I am tasked with ways of making our designers and artists workflow better by making improvements in the engine. I cannot make something better without a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the tools.
So with that open mind I embarked on Blueprints tutorials in my own time and discovered for myself what I consider their greatest strength — iteration time.
Fast feedback and iteration is part of what keeps motivation high and the mind engaged. Programmers are all too familiar with watching output logs and frustrating compile times. Hot loading C++ in Unreal helps this a lot, but it still does not feel quite as immediate as making Blueprint changes.
I have had a few false starts with Blueprints over the last couple of years while dabbling in Unreal. Some of that was down to me coming in to it with a certain amount of arrogance “I’m a programmer, this is just flow charts and spaghetti. I’ve used other engines, I’ve got this” etc. Well Unreal has a hefty amount of both nouns and verbs to learn in an unfamiliar grammar — so programming via auto-complete will only get you so far.
You should allow yourself to go back to school a bit and sit through some video tutorials. Now not all tutorials are created equal and I have had to turn a few off that were just plain wrong. I can highly recommend the Endless Runner with Blueprints tutorial — it assumes little and gets a lot done. Following it to the end will give you an actual game in a surprisingly short time, that you can then hack on. Perfect if you want to practice for a game jam to learn some tools!
So thus ends my first Tuesday developer update. I am trying a different snappier style for these regular updates then the last time I tried regularly blogging. I will keep tweeting and instagram’ing throughout the week and write longer Alt Dev Blog A Day essays on occasion. My main purpose for these regular updates is to wave to the world and give people something they can digest in five minutes.
Engagement is super important because it is through conversation that I’m likely to be inspired and learn something. So please do comment or thumbs up this post if you have enjoyed reading it. I will be streaming tonight at 9:30 PM Central so feel free to drop by twitch, subscribe and say hi! https://www.twitch.tv/paulecoyote
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