Rob Redman introduces you to part one of our video tutorial series for creating a playable level in Epic's free software, Unreal Engine...
To make this easy, I have used free resources: Landscape Mountains, Open World Demo Collection and Water Planes, from the marketplace for this series. Please download them from the Epic Launcher and add them to a new project to make them accessible to you as you follow along.
Setting up a new project
If you have any interest in 3D then you have probably, at some point, considered or just dreamed, of making your own game, level or map. Epic's Unreal Engine is the perfect tool to start doing this, and over this series I'll be showing you how to get up and running, using tools and assets Epic give away for free, so follow the links, download everything you need (be warned it's a lot of files) and install it all.
For this series I'm going to concentrate on a simple rural scene, guiding you from initial project setup, right through to atmospheric effects, particles and more. By the end of it you will have a good grasp on the engine and be ready to bring in your own assets, or even create your own game from scratch.
In part one, will get you started with your first landscape. The next installment will go on to refine the landscape, with custom-built materials, introducing you to the node editor and painting tools.
Start up Unreal Engine from the Epic Loader and go to File/New Project, then give it a name and a folder location. Next you need to decide on a project type, and for this series we will use visual creation tools and we want to be able to explore our map on foot, so choose 1st person from the blueprint tab. The C++ tab is all about programming setups, which we will ignore for now.
Blueprints are UE's encapsulated packets of pre-programmed information that allow for drag and drop with GUI controls for attributes
Upon starting the project you'll find yourself in a very basic level. Take some time here to get used to the navigation controls and learn where the basic menus live. I'll explain where specifics are when needed, but it's always good to start building some muscle memory. Try pressing the Play button to try going into 1st person mode and 'playing' your level. The navigation controls are different in this mode.
Getting to grips with an interface and viewport navigation is the first thing to learn
Now it's time to hit Ctrl+N for a new level. From the pop-up dialogue choose Default and you will see a simple level appear. This houses a directional light, for the sun, an atmospheric fog to give some distance perspective a small floor and a Player Start point, which is the spawn point when you press Play. If you select an item from either the viewport or the outliner (top right) you'll see its controls/attributes in the details tab, below.
A default new level has the very basics to get you up and running. Enough to press play and walk around on a small floor
Creating your first terrain
The third of the five icons at the top-left of the interface opens up the terrain options. Click it and you'll be presented with the new landscape options. First up click on the material drop-down and choose a material. I went for a generic rough grass, knowing that I'll add interest later. Keep the rest of the options at default and click Create. You now have a large landscape in your scene and the interface will have automatically swapped you into the sculpting tools, with a large brush in the viewport.
Generating a landscape is easy. The real work comes in the sculpting
Hopefully you have an idea of what you are trying to create and now is the time to start blocking out. The sculpting tools are best for broad stroke formations. Leave the detail to other objects. You can start drawing immediately, simply clicking on the landscape to apply a stroke. Hold Shift+click to produce a negative stroke. I've gone for a bowl-type landscape with folded over edge so they are hidden in play mode. Don't forget to experiment with the different brushes, including adding your own alphas.
Top tip: Camera speed
In the upper-right of the viewport is a camera icon. Click that and use the slider to change the camera's movement speed. Very handy for quickly moving about a large level.
Part 2 coming soon!
Download Unreal Engine 4
For more from Rob, check out Pariah Studios