Intro to Level Design | Live Training | Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine 4 Tutorial
Intro to Level Design   Hi everyone, and welcome to our
crash course into Unreal Engine 4. My name is Jim Brown. I’m one of the senior designers
here 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 be
very 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 of
starts 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.  

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