My first 24 Hours with the Unreal Engine

In my quest to take a look behind the scenes of how game engines work, I’ve decided to take a closer look at the Unreal Engine, more specifically UE 4.22.3. I had installed it a few weeks ago but other than launch a template or two, I didn’t do anything else with it. After my recent deep dive into Unity, I thought this would make for a nice comparison writeup.

Here’s how I experienced the first 24 hours with Unreal. I’ve even added a video at the end to show you a level that I’ve built. For this review I’ve been following this tutorial series by Paul Kind. He’s a wonderful teacher!

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DAZ Studio Render Speeds – The Results are in!

A while ago I’ve asked you all to download a test scene and see how fast it renders. Everyone’s got a different graphics card/RAM/CPU setup, and I was interested to see how DAZ Studio would perform with those varying configurations. After all, most “review” websites only put hardware under scrutiny using video games, and for many of us, that’s just not how we use our systems.

I must admit that I’ve been trying to write out a nice looking and well formatted table many a time, but it just never got done. It had always been my intention to share the results with everyone, so rather than keep you waiting and go through all the graphical pain of making a lovely looking spreadsheet, I’ll just share the raw data with you. I’ll also let you know how I interpret it in simple words, with the intention of finding the most cost effective configuration for working with DAZ Studio. Here it is – the Google Sheet we’ve all been waiting for:

This is a view-only link (I think), and additional submissions will be added from the form on my other article at the bottom.

What does this data mean?

From the looks of it, using DAZ Studio 4.11 in 2019, the fastest render results for the lowest amount of money can be achieved using any variation of the NVIDIA RTX 2080 card.

The only one faster is the RTX 2080 Ti, which aside from more RAM (11GB vs 8GB for the 2080) is also clocked slightly faster, resulting in faster render speeds. However, the price jump is remarkable for the Ti (almost double when compared to the non-Ti version), and in my opinion for DAZ Studio it’s just not worth it.

Continue reading DAZ Studio Render Speeds – The Results are in!

How to update Unreal Engine

Sometimes I can’t work out the simples things. Either I’m too stupid, or something that’s super obvious to developers is not necessarily obvious to the humans using it. One such things is the question, “how do we update the Unreal Engine”. I’ve just found out, and thought I’d share this nugget of information with you.

A few weeks ago, I had installed Unreal Engine 4.22.3 on my system, and it worked flawlessly. This week I got a notification that 4.23 has been released. I thought I’ll take a look, open the EPIC Launcher and hunt for an update option. It wasn’t there. I went to the website, found the download button, followed it, and was told that if I had the EPIC Launcher installed, it could all be done from there. But how? Where’s the upgrade or update button?

Well folks – here’s the thing: you can’t update Unreal Engine. It’s just not done that way.

Instead, you can install other versions in parallel to the existing version you’ve got installed, and remove versions you no longer need. This philosophy is often employed to ensure that current project don’t break when a new version of the engine is released. Very good! I love it! It’s like how Blender lets you install as many versions side by side as you want.

So in order to install the latest version of Unreal Engine next to the current version, all we have to do is click the yellow plus icon next to Engine Versions. This will create an additional slot for the new version, complete with download and launch options.

At the top right corner we can now choose to launch any version we like, as an additional shortcut. Another mystery solved!

My first 24 hours with Unity3D

I’ve heard so much about the Unity Game Engine, I’ve seen what people can build with it. Some of my favourite games use it, and it has long been on my list of things to “check out” if ever I have a few spare hours.

Turns out that time has come this Friday afternoon, and I thought I’d best take some notes on how it all went. In case you’re in the same boat, i.e. a total N00B at Unity, perhaps I can save you some time. I’ve previously installed and very briefly tested the Unreal Engine, and I’m usually good at figuring out how to make something work on a computer, so let’s see how it’s going with Unity.

For posterity, I’m using Unity 2019.2 in September 2019 here.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t smooth. I’m not sure how much time I’d like to invest, no matter how awesome it might be after that long dark tunnel of awkwardness. In the end I did make a small project (linked below) and got the hang of the basics, but getting there wasn’t pleasant. Here’s how it all went for me.

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How to get unstuck in Subnautica

It happens to the best video games: no matter how much you test your environment, there will be times at which the game character may get stuck behind a rock, or intersects with an inanimate object. That’s super annoying during gameplay, especially when your last save was several hours ago.

Thankfully, there’s a tool we can employ to un-stick ourselves from such sticky situations. In Subnautica (and Below Zero for that matter) it’s the warpforward command. This utility moves your character forward by x amount of meters, no matter where in the game world you are. Here’s how to use it from the Console:

warpforward 1

This will move the player ahead by one meter, in the direction he/she is facing. You can warp yourself forward as far as you like, but keep in mind that this may teleport you outside the visible game world (do don’t get freaked out). A value of 1 should suffice to un-stick your character.

warpforward is somewhat related to the warp command, which will teleport the player to an absolute position in the game world, i.e. a x/y/z coordinate.

Enabling the Command Line Console in Subnautica

Video Games are like operating systems: you can issue commands that trigger events and observe internal states that are by default hidden from the player. As such, many games have a command line interface, akin to the Windows Power Shell or the Terminal app on macOS and Linux. Developers use this feature to debug and test the game.

In Subnautica, we can utilise it to get unstuck, switch game modes or do all kinds of other things. It’s not for the faint hearted, and it’s not necessary for general gameplay of course, but if you ever need it, here’s how you bring it up.

  • press F3 to bring up a secret settings box at the to left
  • press F8 to bring up the mouse cursor
  • disable the option “disable console” (thereby enabling it)
  • now press F3 again to close that settings window again
  • hit Enter to bring up a text input box at the bottom left

Now type your command and the game will obey. You can transfer to new locations, trigger or reset game events. and do all kinds of things. Remember: with great power comes great responsibility!

A related tool to the Info Pane on the right. You can press F1 to bring this pane up and examine internal values more closely.

Happy Game Hacking!

How to redeem ACX Promo Codes

With the audio release of FLICKER WORLD, Brian and I had the idea to give away a copy during one of the game streams. It was all great fun, and we may even do this again on occasion. Authors and narrators can grab these promo codes from the ACX Sales Dashboard, but neither of us was very clear on where and how users can redeem these codes.

We figured it out, and I thought I’d best make a note of it before I forget.

Promo Codes can be redeemed here:

https://audible.com/acx-promo

Once that 13 digit code has been hacked in, you’re being prompted to login to Audible and moments later the item will show up in your Library, just as if you had bought the book. You can also access it from the (slightly complicated) Amazon account, somewhere along the lines of Your Account – Audible Membership – Library.

Converting aniBlocks into regular keyframes (and back)

In this quick tip I’ll show you how to convert an aniBlock into regular keyframes to make a change to the animation, then turn it back into an aniBlock for use with aniMate. The process is simple, yet not exactly obvious.

Enjoy!

Adjusting multiple values at the same time in Blender

In this quick tip I’ll show you a neat trick to enter the same value into multiple text fields in Blender. Works for keyboard input as well as using the mouse to adjust multiple sliders.

Enjoy!

E07 Today – Numbers Station Transcript

I do crazy things sometimes. Today was such a day. With a ton of stuff to do, my brain was strangely drawn to the Priyom website, a large de-centralised shortwave organisation that have schedules for many Numbers Station. One of which, E7 or The English Man, was about to broadcast and I thought I’d tune in (while eating ice cream with green tea flavour… yeah, I certainly don’t do that very often).

Whether it was the matcha, boredom or just not being able to mentally turn to any of the 147+ items on my list of things to do, I decided to transcribe the transmission. I really don’t know why. But sitting there on that fresh list of 5-digit numbers, I thought I’d post them here – just in case you, Secret Agent among foreign shores, need to decipher them.

Perhaps you had other things to do and didn’t catch today’s super important spy transmission on 10679 kHz. Enjoy!

Continue reading E07 Today – Numbers Station Transcript