November 14, 2019

What Is Unreal Engine 4?

Version Control
Game Development

Unreal Engine 4 is a popular game engine and industry-leading studios choose to use it with Perforce Helix Core version control.

Here, you'll learn how to use UE4 (and why the top 19/20 studios choose Helix Core to version everything).

➡️ essential game dev tools — Free

Back to top

What Is Unreal Engine 4?

Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) is a game engine developed by Epic Games and released in 2014. Unreal Engine has been powering games since 1998. Developers, designers, and artists all love to use UE4. (UE4 is not the latest version of Epic’s game engine — Unreal released UE5 in April 2022.)

Is Unreal Engine 4 Easy to Learn?

Unreal Engine 4 is an easy to learn game engine that is known to be good for beginners. Unreal Engine developers have created extensive documentation and resources, making it accessible to hobbyists with limited programming language experience.

What Can You Do in Unreal Engine 4?

You can create a game — or other visual assets.

UE4 4 is primarily used in game development, from indie studios to AAA game companies. But apart from the gaming indsutry, UE4 is also used by AR/VR shops, motion picture studios and animation companies, architecture firms, and more.

Back to top

How to Use Unreal Engine 4

Here's a quick overview of how to use UE4:

But there's more to the game engine than just getting started with it. There's also the tools you use with UE4 — like version control.

Free Source Control Tools for Game Dev

Looking to get the best game dev tools? You can get them for free! 

Try Helix Core for up to 5 users.

➡️ essential game dev tools — FREE

Back to top

Unreal Engine 4 Source Control: Why Unreal Engine Needs SCM

UE4 is popular among game development and AR/VR teams. That’s because it's a great engine for creating immersive experiences. But UE4 needs source control.

Epic Games develops the Unreal Engine. They also use Helix Core as their version control. And Epic Games encourages third party developers using Unreal to also use Helix Core.

📘 Related Resource:Check Out Version Control Fundamentals From Unreal Engine HQ

So, it should come as no surprise that many game development teams using Unreal also use Perforce version control — Helix Core. The two tools are tightly integrated, which helps your team work together more efficiently on projects. This integration is through the Unreal Editor.

Back to top

Why Use Helix Core For Unreal Engine 4 Version Control

Helix Core Helps Unreal Teams…

16 of the top 22 games of 2018 were built on Helix Core. Here are some of the reasons why.

Gain a Single Source of Truth

There are large binary files, many files, many contributors, and many changes involved in building a game today. And it’s important to maintain a single source of truth.

Helix Core delivers just that. This version control software makes it easier to collaborate. It makes it easier to find the assets you need to work on. And it lets you see if someone else is working on a particular file.

The Unreal integration is a key part of this.

Branch and Merge Better

If you are a game developer, you know how tough merging code across a team can be. And the large number of branches associated with the game development process can be overwhelming.

Branching in Helix Core — called Perforce Streams — helps you:

  • Manage these branches easily.
  • Visualize how code flows.
  • Encourage best practices for merging code between branches.

“Dealing with so many branches can be overwhelming...” 

“We use the streams feature in Helix Core to facilitate and help manage the complexity of our branching setup,” says Nick Penwarden, UE4 Development Manager, Epic Games. 

Hear more from Epic Games and other top game development teams. Get the Version Control Best Practices in Game Development eBook.

➡️ get the eBook

For Unreal teams, using Streams is key for controlling updates.

Let’s say that UE4 has an update. You need to bring that update into your project — without breaking anything. Streams helps you do it.

In a recent webinar, Sumo Digital shared best practices for game development using Streams. One of these practices is having three streams — main development, integration, and engine.

The engine stream is where Unreal updates enter the project. The update then goes into the integration stream. This allows the integration team to test changes before merging them into the main development stream. As a result, the main development team gets to stay focused on the project — and still get the latest version of Unreal.

Back to top

Tutorial: How to Use UE4 with Version Control From Perforce

Watch the tutorial video to learn how to use Unreal Engine 4 with Perforce Helix Core — or keep reading for a recap. 


1. Install Unreal Engine

First, you’ll need to install Unreal Engine. The latest version, UE5, is available as of April 2022. Stay tuned for information on how to use UE5 with Perforce Helix Core. If you already have UE4 installed, skip to the next step.

2. Download Helix Core From Perforce

Next, you’ll download Perforce Helix Core.

If you’re not using Helix Core yet, get started for free for up to 5 users.

If you’re already a Helix Core user, download the latest version of the:

The video below walks through this process.

Unreal also provides guidance for getting started with Helix Core in Unreal.

3. Set Up P4 Typemap

Before adding files to the server, you’ll need to set up the P4 Typemap, so Helix Core knows how to handle Unreal files.

This is an important step. For instance, if you want to edit a binary, it will be exclusively locked if you have the typemap setup.

4. Set Up the Environment

Next, you'll need to set a couple of environment variables, so UE can find your workspace.

Open a command window and type:

  • p4 set P4USER=your.username
  • p4 set P4PORT=localhost:1666

5. Go Back to UE4

Now it’s time to return to UE4 (or launch it if it isn’t already open).

Once you open Unreal:

  • Click the source control button.
  • Select change source control settings.
  • Drop down the provider menu and choose Perforce.
  • Click accept settings.

Watch the video above for an in-depth tutorial of how to download Helix Core and get started with the Unreal Editor.

6. Use the Unreal Editor (If You’re a Designer or Technical Artist)

The Unreal Editor has built-in integration for Helix Core, maintained by Epic Games. Designers primarily use the Unreal Editor with Helix Core for version control.

Asset files (with the extensions .uasset and .umap) are binary files modified in the Unreal Editor. They cannot be opened as text or merged in a text-based merge tool.

When you want to work on an asset, you just click on it in a UE content browser. You’ll see a “check out” choice. The file is locked automatically when you make that choice.

When you’re done editing files you have locked, check in or submit those files. This uploads the changes to the server and releases the lock on the files.

You can even see the history of changes to the files — and visually compare one version to another — without leaving UE.

7. Use Microsoft Visual Studio (If You’re a Coder)

Unreal and Helix Core both integrate with Microsoft Visual Studio. Many game developers love Visual Studio.

Here’s that single source of truth again. All the changes that anyone on the team makes, whether to artwork assets, blueprints, code, or other work items, are seamlessly managed in Helix Core.

Back to top

Get Started: Unreal Engine 4 Version Control

Get started on Unreal engine game development with Helix Core today. You can get started for free for up to 5 users and 20 workspaces.

➡️ try Helix Core — free

Back to top