Review: Beginning Unreal Game Development: Foundation for Simple to Complex Games Using Unreal Engine 4 by David Nixon

Author David Nixon has done an admirable job of introducing the features of Unreal in an approachable package. Unlike similar books, this one focuses more on exposing what is possible with UE4, basically showing what most of the key buttons and objects are and what they do. While there were a couple tutorials at the end, they only take up a small portion of the book, and were not as strong as the bulk of the material.

In the text, Nixon starts with how to download Unreal and installation. Basic concepts like working with projects, levels, and actors. Exploring the level editor, navigation, and interacting with actors. Next we have a more thorough explanation of the different actor types, meshes, brushes, materials, lights, and components. A very complete and insightful look at Blueprints and how to use them (including variables, arrays, functions, and how to debug). Then the author moves to players and input, collisions, user interfaces, and audio. The book completes with a couple tutorials of basic functionality, like blocking out a level, making an interactive door, and working with pause screens.

Overall I would say Beginning Unreal Game Development was an excellent book, and I feel I got a better grasp of some of the concepts, even though I have read several other beginner Unreal books previously. David Nixon made the right choice in exploring the functions of the engine in depth, rather than confusing the reader with complex tutorials right out the gate.

My main issue was that I was reading on the Kindle app on my Android tablet, and many of the pictures in the book were missing. Especially by the end, there were almost no pictures (but I could see where they were supposed to be, and the text referred to them). This made following along extremely difficult, as there could be 10 or 20 steps in text that were supposed to be shown in the image, and without the visual aid this was not a great experience. I am not sure if that was an issue with just the Kindle version of the book, maybe the print version is okay, but it’s a fairly substantial mistake. That said, I would say at least 50% of the images there did display, and were in full color and high resolution, so that was alright. All things considered, I still think the book is worth picking up, and hopefully the author can release an update to fix this problem on the e-book. Overall still great.