Over two weeks ago, Epic announced that UE4 was available for $19/month. This completely derailed things here at Inkthorne. We were in the middle of working on a minimalist 2D side-scroller using the Unity engine, but could not resist taking time-out to evaluate the industry’s premier game engine — and we’re still completely distracted with it.

UE4 is not Unity. It has a much steeper learning curve and for the novice UE4 developer things rarely “just work”. UE4 has a component-based workflow similar to Unity with a gorgeous user interface, but the systems are complex and understanding how everything fits together is non-obvious. Even after experimenting with UE4 since it’s first day of availability, it can still take several hours to build a simple controllable, animated character from scratch compared with the 15-30 minutes it would take in Unity. I suspect many, at this point, have returned to Unity where simply writing a script and attaching it to a game object can make that object do nearly anything and in almost no time.

Yet, after many nights of frustration, we cannot seem to put UE4 down. It’s powerful, it’s beautiful, it’s prestigous and most importantly it’s available in it’s entirety for only $19/mo — which, by contrast, makes Unity look expensive, if not downright unaffordable for a small Indie developer hoping to ship on more than a single platform.

Would we like to make a game with UE4? Definitely. Would that game be a 2D side-scrolling brawler? Definitely not. Will UE4 become a permanent distraction? We will just have to wait and see.

I have a confession.  I have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.  Yet, I’m having a blast trying to figure it all out.  I typically spend my time thinking about how many milliseconds a frame takes or whether the character’s animation states blend properly.  I’m not accustomed to all this new-fangled web technology!