Visual Scripting – Unreal Blueprint Tool

Programming/Coding is an undeniable and impossible-to-ignore aspect of game development.  

From all the interactive elements you see to jumping characters to run speed, everything is being programmed into a game in the form of lines of code. As a game developer, no one can escape the question of “how to code”? 

Though, there are some who simply don’t have the time or a right path to learn coding or utilising a game engine. The outcome of coding can still be achieved from a non-coding background.

Fortunately, the Devs at the Epic Games saw this gap and came up with the Unreal Engine’s solution; Blueprint visual scripting.  

Blueprint Visual Scripting can be a powerful tool, which aims to bypass the dry process of writing code for scripts. 

The scripting process is now done with a GUI, using drag-and-drop nodes and flows/filters etc, which makes the entire process easier to execute and tweak for game developers, and allows those without coding proficiency to get started with game development

Unreal Engine – An Overview 

For both experienced or novice game developers, Unreal Engine is an ideal game development engine. 

While creating any big or complex game, you are more likely to use Unreal C++ support for the deep-rooted control over the engine’s system. However, for a beginner programmer it can be a daunting task. Blueprint Visual Scripting saves the day, here. 

Visual Scripting 

Generally, visual scripting is touted as a programming language that aids in creating gameplay elements simply by tweaking programs graphically instead of creating them textually. 

In a more simplified term, visual scripting is scripting where you can create a logic for your games [likewise in programming] but in the visual form. 

The biggest perk of using visual scripting is ease of operation and low development time/duration. 

Node Based 

In a visual scripting system, a node-based interface is used. Blueprint uses nodes to connect with each other. These nodes can be in the form of:

  • Events [when you press a space bar]
  • Actions [to move the place]
  • Conditions [to set or see the limits]

Nodes can have both input and output. When you give some input values to a node, it will calculate the required value and return some output for use. 

Once you understand the concept of nodes, it would be easier to implement. The node-based system for the most part can be easier to grasp. Though, at the start, it can be a bit overwhelming for the programmers. 

Through Blueprint, you can modify or implement any gameplay element like game setup, game rules or other elements. 

Depending on how complex you can go with Blueprint, you can create both prototypes or complete games with varied systems. Therefore, it’s vital to understand both Blueprint (visual scripting) and the regular programming (traditional scripting) as they are intertwined with each other. 

One of the main advantages of using Blueprint is that you are able to easily and quickly prototype certain elements inside your game design. Since you are able to set up any basic game quickly, you can test levels and varied game elements faster than something like the C++. 

Types of Blueprint 

Unreal Engine has several different kinds of Blueprints, each having their own specific purpose.  However, there are some common Blueprints that are used in almost all types of games. 

First one being the level blueprint. If you have ever used the UDK, you will realize that the level blueprint will have somewhat similar qualities. Any level you will create in Unreal Engine will have its own level Blueprint. This Blueprint manages all the things including; cinematics, checkpoints or other related tasks. 

Another one would be the class blueprint which will help create the interactive assets inside your level. For example, a light switch that a character will turn on or an item that he will collect will all be related to the class blueprint. 

Is Blueprint Visual Scripting a replacement for Unrealscripts?

Well, the answer to this question would be a yes or no. Every gameplay programming that Unreal Engine used to handle in the past is still handled using the C++. However, at the same time, Blueprints are not a replacement for the Unrealscript, though, they can serve variety of purposes including; 

  • Extending the classes
  • Storing or modifying the default properties
  • Managing the subobjects

However, the expectation in this case would be that gameplay programmers would be able to set up the base class that can be exposed to a useful set of functions and properties that defines a Blueprint. 

Starting with the Blueprint 

When you work Blueprint, there are certain things you will use to find certain nodes that you want to use and certain nodes you are already creating:

  • Use the search button in your Blueprint Editor whether it is a variable or a function or a comment. It will search all the Blueprints including the unloaded ones. If you also uncheck the find in the current blueprint box, it will track down where you have implemented it. 
  • A context menu will show nodes which you connect to the specific pin you are dragging from
  • You can be in the context menu or palette, you need to take help from the presented search bar. It will help you find out what you are looking for. 

Winding Up

Visual scripting as an Unreal Blueprint tool is interesting, challenging yet rewarding to learn! 

If you are a budding developer who has just enrolled in a game development course or want to get your hands on this subject, the best time to learn is now or never. Take part in this much anticipated concept of the game development phase. 

You are never too late to get up and run for your game development goals!