Distracted by Unreal Engine 4

Over two weeks ago, Epic announced that UE4 was available for $19/month. This completely derailed things here for me. I was 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 I’m 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, I cannot seem to put UE4 down. It’s powerful, it’s beautiful, it’s prestigious 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 I like to make a game with UE4? Definitely. Would that game be a 2D side-scrolling brawler? Probably not. Will UE4 become a permanent distraction? I will just have to wait and see.