A good place to start learning game development
Unreal Engine 4, the heavy artillery of game development used by a lot of AAA games such as Gears of War 4, Darksiders III and the new popular time sink, Playerunknown’s Battleground. Surprisingly, this engine is currently free to use for all to create Mass Effects of their own! But of course mastering such a tool as UE4, abound with opportunities and flexibility, designed to run blockbuster games, can’t be easy. Especially if you are a beginner and don’t even know where to start.
Well, your wandering in the dark is over! David Nixon’s Unreal Engine 4: Complete Beginner’s Course can quickly lead you out of the woods and set you on a path to mastering UE4.
About the course
David Nixon does a good job at introducing the Unreal fundamentals. It’s very easy to follow along as he introduces each new concept. The course truly lives up to the title “Complete Beginner’s Course”: Nixon explains every little detail of even the most trivial things like how to select several files at once using the Ctrl key. Yeah, the course really is that beginner targeted.
David takes a lot of time to explain even the most basic controls, including keyboard shortcuts (hotkeys), even if those things are universal for most of software nowadays. Basically, if you’re new to game development then you’re the target demographic here. However, those with Unreal engine experience might find this heavy, beginner-focused curriculum to be tedious. Nixon tends to repeat basic instructions that I found at times unnecessary. Fortunately, the course videos are divided in a way where I could skip over these parts without missing anything important.
The course is divided into 9 major lessons. Each one is broken down into smaller videos that cover a concept. Most lessons cover a lot of common ground of modern game engines, but are focused on the context of Unreal (e.g., Mesh vs. Brush). This course will help get you familiar with a lot of 3D-modeling terms. For example, you will learn why it’s better to use static meshes with particular properties in Unreal instead of other available options. I found the course flow made it simple to skip over concepts I was already familiar with. If you’re sure you know enough about, say, navigation in the Viewport, you can simply skip the lesson. Since it makes intermittent watching easier, you can stop and go at any point without getting lost.
The course takes you through the process of creating a simple first-person game. It doesn’t require you to type any code, since all the programming is done with the Unreal Editor’s Blueprints system, which is covered in the course. This tool was created specifically to make it faster and easier for people unfamiliar with any programming language to build mechanics (from basic ones, like game controls, to much more complicated ones, such as programming basic AI behaviors). I found lessons on Blueprints to be the most valuable ones. While the course doesn’t go in much depth about Blueprints, it does show you what they are and what you can do with them. It teaches you how to use Blueprints to accomplish tasks that the course sets for you, which gives you the foundation to continue learning yourself.
“Whether you know nothing about game development or have some general idea of how it works, this course will build the necessary foundation for you to continue learning the craft of creating games.”
At the end of every part of the course there’s a quiz that should help you reinforce what you learned. Unfortunately, those quizzes are often redundant for the most part. For example, the questions will demand you to remember unimportant trivia such as the names of the windows in the editor or the order in which tools are positioned in the toolbars. Overall, there is a gradual improvement the further into the course you get. Starting at Lesson 5, you get more relevant tasks that force you to review important points you might have missed during the lesson. In general, even the best quizzes are still filled with unnecessary trivia, so if you’re not a completionist, I’d say the first 4 quizzes can be skipped entirely, and after that, you can answer questions selectively.
David Nixon’s Unreal Engine 4: The Complete Beginner’s Course is a popular place to start in the community because it does a good job of introducing you to all the basics. After 10 hours, you will be familiar with every major tool and function the Unreal Editor provides. Whether you know nothing about game development or have some general idea of how it works, this course will build the necessary foundation for you to continue learning the craft of creating games. However, those with some Unreal experience have less to gain.
- Extremely beginner-friendly
- Course structure lets you decide what to watch and what to skip
- Encouraging author
- Simple intro to Blueprint system, a tool that helps you make games without coding
- Gives you the right tools to create games by the end
- Accurate subtitles
- Somewhat tedious for those with Unreal experience
- Quizzes too trivial
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