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One line Unreal Engine 4 (mac os) Review:
Doing Ue4 development on a Mac is not a great experience.

Update:
https://issues.unrealengine.com/issue/UE-23624 Just ran into this one... cleaning your project in XCode nukes the actual editor. Case in point.

RenderDoc

Probably familiar to any TA or Engineer who deals with their graphics pipeline, RenderDoc is a tool I have found incredibly useful for debugging graphics in Unreal.

Formerly a Crytek internal graphics debugging tool, it was released to the public in 2014. The tool is developed by Baldur Karlsson, and it boggles my mind that a tool this gosh-darn useful has been given to the public for free. Kudos to Baldur and to Crytek.

Previously I was using NVIDIA Nsight to view and debug runtime atlased textures, and it was quite slow and somewhat unintuitive to sift through the outputs to find what I was after.

RenderDoc on the other hand is not only fairly straight forward to get running, the turn around time to get meaningful output for frame-debugging is extremely rapid.

For Ue4 integration I'm using Temaran's RenderDoc Ue4 plugin, which makes frame captures in game as simple as entering a command on the command line- RenderDoc.CaptureFrame

Check it out if you need to know more about your graphics pipeline.

Substance Designer foray

I'm pretty late to the whole substance craze, having spent three years in a mobile development environment where textures larger than 512x512 caused eyebrows to raise within the engineering team.

But I kept hearing things about it being amazing, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Here is my attempt at a "hand painted" look, based off of similar processes I'd use in Photoshop.

The texture is generated using an exported sbsar material and... well, thats it. I saw a nice example online of using a switch to swap out gradient maps in a material which allowed me to create a bunch of looks in the one material.

This tool makes me happy.


A Quick Checkin- Clion, Unreal and Mac

Super quick check-in. Hello world! For the last year or so, I've been working with Echtra Inc. on a great project as a Tools Engineer/Technical Artist guy.

The project is using the Unreal Engine, which I like more and more every day. On Windows, C++ plus Visual Studio Pro and Visual Assist is a great combo, and I happily churn through my daily tasks without fighting the tools too much.

Not so on my Mac at home. Programming in Unity on a Mac is great! Mono Develop isn't amazing, but it isn't terrible. But Unreal on a Mac. I want it to be fun, I want it to be possible, but I just can't get myself to like, let alone enjoy, XCode.

On that, for anyone thinking "well, you could just use blueprints..." etc, I feel it's too much of a shackle to not be able to just dive into the guts of it. C++ or bust.

So anyway, I recently adopted PyCharm at work and really enjoyed using it for my Python tools. I noticed that JetBrains also made an IDE called CLion, and they also had recently got it running with Unreal, so I thought, what the hell, why not.

Turns out their documentation is missing a couple of important notes, that maybe they take for granted, but after a couple of forum dives I managed to actually get it compiling, and running, my little test project.

So what was missing?

Something isn't set...

Once I run through their setup scripts, these were the things I needed to double check.

  • Make sure Mono is installed and up to date, and that the mono command is available in the terminal.
  • Once you generate your CLion project via the editor (make sure to follow the instructions here) you need to update the generated configs with paths to the editor executable. 
  • eg: /Users/Shared/Epic Games/UE_4.15/Engine/Binaries/Mac/UE4Editor.app/Contents/MacOS/UE4Editor
  • Finally, now that it's pointing to the editor correctly, add an absolute path to your project's .uproject file in the project arguments. 
If everything went well, you should now be able to build and run your project from within CLion. Bye bye XCode. I'll probably post some time in the future about how I'm finding CLion. Well, it compiles, and thats a start...

GDC 2016- San Francisco Coffee places

Wait, what? 2016 already? I have not been as pro-active in this whole blogging thing as I could have been, so for now let me make it up to you all by letting you know where to find the good stuff while you are perusing the talks at GDC 2016.

Near the Moscone Center:

Special Xtra



One of my favorite places. Great coffee to get your energy back after a long talk about rigging (try the New Orleans iced coffee for a real kick). If you get there in the morning, grab one of the croissants fresh out of the oven. The staff are great, and could probably give you a bunch of pointers on good places to check out in the area.

Elite Audio and Coffee Bar


Because what goes better together than coffee and high end audio systems? Sure. Anyway, this one is very close to the Moscone, but will probably be packed full of people, so keep that in mind. Cappuccinos here are great, and once again staffed by a good crew of people. They serve Neighbor Bakehouse pastries most days, and those alone are worth checking out.

Sightglass Coffee



Great coffee, and also a good opportunity to take home a San Francisco local roast. A little bit of a walk from the Moscone, and there will probably be a line either way, but well worth the walk. Once again, Neighbor Bakehouse pastries. Eat them!


Chrome Industries



Continuing the trend of a store that sells something (in this case high end cycling gear) but also serves a decent roast, Chrome Industries is a short walk from the Moscone down 4th st. It's also near the Hotel Utah, which serves a different type of brew (worth checking out for beers!).


Not so near the Moscone Center:

Contraband Coffee bar

If you find yourself for some reason near the Polk street area, Contraband Coffee is nearby on Larkin and California. It's got good coffee and hot chocolate. The snacks are good too, but it's worth checking out Flower and Co. nearby or MyMy for a real meal. I have seen Neighbor Bakehouse pastries here too. See a trend?

The Interval


If you find yourself near Fort Mason, the interval is a good place to stop by. Good coffee, provided there aren't too many people around. The crowd can occasionally be a bit of a downer.


Four Barrel Coffee 

If you find yourself in the mission, check out the four barrel coffee place down there. I've heard mixed opinions about the Four Barrel coffee, but I'm a fan. Delicious! Being on Valencia St, its also surrounded by a bunch of excellent places to go grab lunch or dinner.

The Mill



The Mill serves four barrel coffee, as well as that whole thick toast thing. The toast is good I guess, but I really go there for the coffee- that's really good. They sell bread too which is pretty damn good bread, although carrying that around the conference floor might not work out so well.


So that's some places to get you started- have you found any that you think should be on this list? Also, hit me up you you want to meet up for coffee and talk game dev stuff. As you can tell, I like coffee.

Scratch Pad Unity Utility.

One of my friends has made his Unity Asset Store debut with "Scratch Pad"- a handy little utility that lets you bookmark scenes, animations, scripts etc.


It always kinda bugged me that you can't put files into your favorites area of the Project panel, which is something this Utility does pretty well- being able to make 'working sets' of files is pretty useful, especially when debugging all the different components that might make up a single asset in game.

Check it out here. 

Do you want to play a game?

My Chrome browser split in half last night and asked me if I wanted to play a game. Saying yes turned my browser into a pseudo python console. Apparently Google has been tracking my search history and seen that, yeah, I like Python. Ok, having the browser window suddenly split open because someone is watching your search history is vaguely creepy, but what the hey, I do like Python!

Why do they want to play a game with me? I don't know, its Google. Why did they make Google maps into Pac Man? Its Google. They do stuff like that.

The first challenge was to take an equation as a string and parse it into reverse polish notation. After thinking about it today I was able to write a passable parser that will probably make any real mathematician twitch- but it works and the code doesn't make me twitch.

The challenge was, well, challenging, but fun! It reminds me a bit of the Project Euler challenges, except this one gives you a hopping bunny when you succeed. An animated ASCII hopping bunny.

Why?

Pac Man

Hop little bunny. Hop for joy!