I spent a portion of late summer/early fall 2022 learning a little bit about Unreal Engine 5. I reviewed a course covering designing a realistic landscape environment, designing a realistic cabin, and building a small game. Each of these furthered my interest in learning more about Unreal Engine and everything is capable of doing.
The next thing to learn about in my Unreal journey was blueprints. You can build an entire game without writing code, and I wanted to learn more about how to accomplish this. I selected "Learn How To Make A 2D Platformer In Unreal Engine 5" by Uisco Dev to take this next step.
A quick spoiler before you get further down - the content of this course was pretty good. The demo I have below shows what I was able to accomplish following along with this course. The presentation of this course was frustrating and an excersice in patience to get through.
On to the review...
This course is advertised as a 7 hour course. If you are following along, as I was, with the course on one monitor and the Unreal Engine development environment on another, it's going to take much longer than 7 hours. The reason for this is how the instructor presents the course. It took me a month to get through the course.
It seems that the instructor is expecting students to watch the course and work in Unreal Engine at different times. There is a lot of statements like "connect these two nodes", or "connect this to the new node" - which on the surface are relevant. What isn't noticed though, because you are rapidly clicking through the blue prints and attempting to keep up, is that the instructor has moved to another node or isn't explaining which output needs to be connected to the new node.
So, the you need to pause the video, rewind a few seconds to get oriented, and rewatch. Then you go back to Unreal Engine and replicate the change. But, you didn't pause the video so the instructor continued to move on while you were catching up and the process repeats multiple times in a 5 minute lesson. That five minute lesson quickly becomes a 20 minute lesson because of the constant shifts between the lecture and the course with few natural break points.
The content of this course is really good. I mentioned above that I wanted to learn about blue prints and this course did a great job of showing how powerful blue prints are. It also provided an eye opening overview of how "simple" things are more complex under the hood.
A simple coin pick up system involve setting up a sprite, checking for collision and ensure it's the player and not an enemy, adding the coin to the player's count of coins and doing something if you collect enough coins. Conceptually, I knew all the happened, but setting it up showed just how much goes into the small aspects. Setting up a player or an enemey that will fight and interact with the environment is even more complex.
I really enjoyed learning those aspects of simple game development.
Another positive attribute of this course is the instructor interaction. The instructor has cultivated an environment of providing answers and explaining how the answer can be found or set up in the future. The is one of the most active Q&A sections on Udemy that I've seen. This should be commended.
Lastly, the instructor has updated the course to account for differences in Unreal Versions. The course was originally developed for Unreal Engine 5.0. I utilize 5.1 and appreciate that there are a handful of lectures - specifically during control set up - that show the differences between 5.0 and 5.1. While I was taking this course Epic released a preview version of 5.2. I imagine the instructor will be adding lectures as appropriate to show differences with that version in the future.
As mentioned above, the presentation of this course was frustrating. On several occassions I considered stopping the course because I was so frustrated with the constant pause, rewind, replay, repeat cycle. Normally, I enjoy getting through a section at a time in a Udemy course and on many occassions here, I could barely get through a handful of lectures before I needed to stop for the day.
However, the content of the course was very useful and I was learning. I would have appreciated some more "why" lectures but those existed for the areas that I felt they were most appropriate. It's the useful content and that I was learning something that would pull me back in after a day or two of being away from the course.
Below is my final result. Obviously, it's a bit basic, but for a month of work I'm rather proud of how it turned out. I am walking away from this with more understanding of how blueprints work and that was my goal.