1. Getting Started – Beginning Unreal Game Development: Foundation for Simple to Complex Games Using Unreal Engine 4

© David Nixon 2020
David NixonBeginning Unreal Game Developmenthttps://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4842-5639-8_1

1. Getting Started

David Nixon
West Palm Beach, FL, USA
In this book, you will be learning how to use what many consider to be the best game engine in the industry, Unreal Engine 4. This chapter will give you a brief overview of the engine, explain its licensing model, show you how to register an account with Epic Games, and show you how to download and install the engine.


The Unreal Engine is a game development engine created by Epic Games. The first game to use it was Unreal, released in 1998, which is the origin of its name. It was originally designed to develop first-person shooter games but has since been upgraded to support any genre of game. It has been used to create several blockbuster games and game franchises, including BioShock, Gears of Wars, Splinter Cell, Rainbow 6, Borderlands, Dishonored, Mass Effect, and many more.
There have been a few generations of the software released since the original version in 1998. Unreal Engine 2 was released in 2002, UE3 in 2006, and the current generation, UE4, in 2014. As of the time of this writing, the latest version is 4.23, which is the version used throughout this book. Versions are made to be backward compatible, however, so all examples in this book should continue to work with newer versions.
Today, the Unreal Engine is the most widely used open source engine in the world and is known for its robust graphics and high performance.


While Unreal Engine is open source, meaning it is free to download and use, this comes with some stipulations. In order to download and use the engine, you must agree to Epic Games’ licensing terms, which requires you to share a small portion of your profits with them. If you create something using the engine that makes more than $3,000 in a single quarter (meaning a quarter of a year), then you have to pay a 5% royalty to Epic Games for any sales above the $3,000.


You will need to register an account with Epic Games, the creators of the Unreal Engine, in order to download and install it. To register an account, perform the following steps:
  1. 1.
    Open a web browser and go to www.unrealengine.com.
  2. 2.
    Click the blue button in the middle of the page that says “Get Started Now.” You will be taken to a screen where you can register for an account with Epic Games (Figure 1-1).
    Figure 1-1
    The form to register an account with Epic Games
  3. 3.
    Fill out the fields. The Display Name will be used as your handle on the Unreal Engine forums (https://forums.unrealengine.com/) which are a great place to interact with the UE4 community and to get answers and feedback if you are having issues with the software or need help understanding something.
  4. 4.
    Check the necessary checkboxes, then click the large button that says “Create Account.”
  5. 5.
    You will be given an End User License Agreement to read. Once you have read and agree to it, check the checkbox indicating you have done so, then click the “Accept” button.

Download and Installation

After completing registration, you will be taken to a screen where you can download the installer for something called the Epic Games Launcher. Perform the following steps:
  1. 1.
    Click the large “Proceed to Download” button to begin the download.
  2. 2.
    Once the download has finished, open the file that was downloaded. The filename should start with “EpicInstaller” and the file extension will be .msi.
  3. 3.
    Accept any security warnings that may appear.
  4. 4.
    Choose a folder path where you want to install the launcher and then click the “Install” button.
  5. 5.
    Once it finishes installing, it should open automatically. If it doesn’t, look for an Epic Games Launcher shortcut on your desktop and double-click that. It will ask you for the email and password you provided during registration. Enter that information and click “Sign In.”
  6. 6.
    Now you will be on the home screen of the Epic Games Launcher. From here, click the “Unreal Engine” tab. In that tab, click the yellow button that says “Install Engine” (Figure 1-2).
    Figure 1-2
    The Install Engine button
  7. 7.
    Choose the folder path where you want to install the engine, then click “Install.” The Launcher will now begin to download the latest version of the Engine. Once the download completes, the Launcher will automatically install it.
Once the installation is complete, the yellow button will now say “Launch,” and if you click it, that will launch the Engine.

Installing the C++ Source Code

If you are an experienced software developer, you may want to download and install the C++ source code for the engine. This gives you access to daily updates to the source code and gives you an opportunity to make your own improvements to Unreal which you can then submit back to Epic Games. Note that you should only do this if you have extensive programming experience and are familiar with using GitHub. This step is NOT required to follow along with anything in the book.
To access the Unreal Engine source code
  1. 1.
    Go to www.github.com and register for an account.
  2. 2.
    Go to www.unrealengine.com and sign in with your Epic Games account you created earlier.
  3. 3.
    Go to your account dashboard by hovering over your username and clicking the “Personal” button.
  4. 4.
    Click the “Connected Accounts” tab.
  5. 5.
    Click the “Connect” button below the GitHub logo.
  6. 6.
    If you haven’t already agreed to the Unreal Engine EULA, you must do so here.
  7. 7.
    Click the “Link your Account” button.
  8. 8.
    Click the “Authorize EpicGames” button. The two accounts should now be linked, and you should receive a confirmation email.
  9. 9.
    Fork and clone the Unreal Engine repository at www.github.com/epicgames.
  10. 10.
    Install Visual Studio 2017 or higher (Community, Pro, or Enterprise).
  11. 11.
    Open the source folder containing the repository and run “Setup.bat.”
  12. 12.
    Run “GenerateProjectFiles.bat.”
  13. 13.
    Double-click the “UE4.sln” file to open the project in Visual Studio.
  14. 14.
    Set the solution configuration to “Development Editor” and the solution platform to whichever platform you are using.
  15. 15.
    Right-click the UE4 target and select “Build.” Compilation will take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on the speed of your computer.
  16. 16.
    Once the build is complete, set your startup project to UE4 and press F5 to debug.


In this chapter, you learned about the history of the Unreal Engine and how its licensing model works. You also registered an account with Epic Games and downloaded and installed the engine. In the next chapter, you will learn the most fundamental concepts of the engine, in order to create a solid foundation for you to build upon.