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GDCE 2015: Blueprint Components to C++


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Introductory slides for our live coding demonstration at GDC Europe on August 4th, 2015. We are creating a hover component in Blueprint and converting it to a C++ plug-in. The corresponding Visual Studio project files are available at

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GDCE 2015: Blueprint Components to C++

  2. 2. Overview ● Key Terms and Concepts ○ UE4’s Framework (High Level) ■ Actors & Components ○ What is Blueprint? ● Prototyping a Custom Component using Blueprint ○ Where to begin ○ Building our first component (Hover Component) ● Converting to C++ ○ Deconstructing artist’s intent ○ Adding code to project ○ Replacing Blueprint asset with native version
  3. 3. UE4 Framework at a Glance ● Object ○ Engine’s highest-level base class ■ In C++, UObject is the base of all classes ○ Lots of “under-the-hood” functionality ■ Garbage collection ■ Metadata (UProperty) ■ Support for exposing variables to the Editor ■ Serialization ■ Loading and Saving ○ Just about everything in Unreal inherits from (or gets some functionality from) Object
  4. 4. UE4 Framework at a Glance ● Actor ○ Inherits from Object ■ C++ class is AActor ○ Used for anything that is placed in your game’s world ○ Supports 3D transformations ■ Position ■ Rotation ■ Scale ○ There are many Actor types included with the Engine ■ If it is actually in your game, it’s probably some kind of actor ■ Characters, meshes, lights, particle systems… just about everything.
  5. 5. UE4 Framework at a Glance ● Component ○ Inherits from Object ■ C++ class is UActorComponent ○ The “building blocks” of Actors ○ Self-contained piece of modular functionality ○ Can be added to or removed from any Actor And best of all… YOU CAN MAKE THEM IN BLUEPRINT!
  6. 6. What is Blueprint? ● Powerful visual scripting language ● Tailored to artists, visual people ● Solves communication problems between artists and programmers ● Allows you to create compiled script using nodes and wires instead of code ● Includes a variety of real-time debugging features
  7. 7. Blueprint vs. C++ ● Blueprint is great for fast iteration! ● Blueprint has lower performance than native C++ ○ Runs on its own VM layer ○ Approximately 8-10x slower than native code ○ For most simple event-based game tasks, you probably won’t notice ○ Many AAA games are using Blueprint in shipping titles (incl. Epic!) ○ Anything running on every frame (tick) should probably be native (physics calculations) ● Still, Blueprint is excellent for prototyping! ○ Often faster for a designer to create what they want in Blueprint, then let a programmer convert it to code ○ This is how we often use Blueprint at Epic
  8. 8. And now... a demonstration! Yay!
  9. 9. Conclusion ● Blueprint makes it easy for visual developers to implement ideas! ● The nature of the graph makes it easy for programmers to reproduce (and optimize!) ● Code can be added to any project right inside the Editor ● Faster collaboration, clearer communication
  10. 10. Questions?