Unreal Engine Artificial Intelligence Tools
December 5, 2023

Leveraging Unreal Engine Artificial Intelligence

Game Development
Version Control

Artificial Intelligence is changing the gaming industry as we know it – empowering AAA studios, indie developers, and hobbyists alike with the tools to create projects that would have previously required a massive amount of time and resources. In particular, Unreal Engine artificial intelligence tools have made noteworthy advancements.

With tools dedicated to procedural generation in games, MetaHumans, and smart objects – Unreal Engine artificial intelligence has the potential to change the way developers and creators work across industries.

In this blog, we’ll dive into Unreal Engine artificial intelligence tools like the Procedural Content Generation Framework and MetaHuman animator, how these tools will impact indie game developers, the challenges of working with Unreal Engine AI, and how your team can realize its full benefits.

Read along or jump to the section that interests you most:

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What is Procedural Generation in Games?

Procedural generation is defined as the creation of content and data by computers. By using procedural generation in games, developers can use algorithms to build visual assets such as landscapes, 3D objects, buildings, characters, and even worlds. 

Procedural generation in games has potential to decrease the manual processes that once went into designing game environments. This technology also enables game developers to recycle game assets to create new and innovative assets

In a world that demands new content faster than teams can execute, procedural content generation provides a way for developers to meet these demands without sacrificing quality.

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The Procedural Content Generation Framework (PCG) in Unreal Engine

Within Unreal Engine, the  Procedural Content Generation Framework (PCG) is a toolset with the capabilities of creating procedural content and tools.

To use the PCG artists first set rules and parameters. The tool then quickly generates content, creating detailed environments such as forests and cities. The Procedural Content Generation Framework can also generate blueprints, lights, sounds, particles, and more.

📘 Related Resource:What is Unreal Engine 5

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How Procedural Generation in Games Will Empower Indie Developers

Procedural generation in games has significant potential to impact indie game developers. These teams typically have less funding, people, and resources than a AAA studio. 

For instance, indie studio Hello Games released No Man’s Sky in 2016. This award winning, massive space exploration game has 18 quintillion worlds which were procedurally generated. To visit every planet in the game would take a user five billion years. As indie teams continue to integrate procedural generation into their workflows, they will be enabled to create games that can compete with the quality and depth of a AAA studio developed game. 

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What is the MetaHuman Animator in Unreal Engine?

The MetaHuman Animator is another Unreal Engine Artificial Intelligence tool that enables game developers and creators to build and animate realistic human characters. Previously, only skilled animators could create digital characters, and this process could take months.

With the MetaHuman animator, creators simply need an iPhone or a stereo helmet-mounted camera to capture actor footage. From there, the animator accurately intakes the expressions and nuances of your actor and makes the final animation of a MetaHuman character available in a matter of minutes. In addition to being used by game developers and animators, MetaHumans are already being adopted across other industries, like real estate and architecture

2023 State of Game Development & Design Report

In our recent survey of game developers, 31% say “lengthy build times” are the biggest challenge, and 18% say “not enough time to iterate” is their biggest challenge. Learn more insights about the gaming industry:



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Other Tools for Creating Unreal Engine Artificial Intelligence

In addition to the Procedural Content Generation Framework and MetaHuman animator, Unreal Engine also created the following AI tools and features:

  • Behavior Tree Assets: These assets are able to create artificial intelligence for non-player characters, enabling AI characters to react and make decisions based on predetermined logic. 
  • Navigation System: The Navigation System enables AI agents to determine and use the optimal path when navigating to their destination.
  • Smart Objects: A smart object is designed for AI developed agents and players to interact with, containing the data needed for those interactions.
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What Are the Challenges of Working With Unreal Engine Artificial Intelligence?

Though working with artificial intelligence makes asset creation more efficient, it also has its downsides and costs. Below, we break down the top three challenges of working with Unreal Engine AI:

Working with Assets of Greater Size and Complexity

Along with the rise of Unreal Artificial Intelligence tools, we’ve begun to see a term called the 10x environment emerge in the gaming industry. Consider games with 10 times the characters, levels, accessories, or rendered worlds comprised of textures and materials with 10 times the sophistication. As we head into this shift, teams will need to be equipped with the computing capabilities and storage needs to handle the complexity of these assets.

Additionally, creators often generate multiple versions of these very large files, at numerous stages of design and production workflows. As these projects scale, the risks for work to be overwritten or lost entirely increases.

Higher Volume of Assets

Similarly, using a tool like procedural generation in games will drastically increase the volume of assets people are working with. This means there will be more assets to store, version, and keep track of. As industries from gaming to VFX become increasingly fast-paced, competitive, and globally distributed, it is more important than ever to protect and centralize assets, to collaborate seamlessly, and to free up time.

New Tools that Are Still in Development

Lastly, tools like the Procedural Content Generation framework and MetaHuman Animator were just released with Unreal Engine 5.2, in summer of 2023. Working with such new technology comes with its disadvantages, as there are fewer use cases and resources available to troubleshoot issues. 

Many creators have needed to transfer their UE project into more advanced 3D animation software with greater capabilities, like Maya and Blender. This practice only further distributes their already complex and high-volume projects.  

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How to Realize the Benefits of Working with Unreal Engine AI

To combat all these challenges, your team will need tools that keep track of and house all your digital assets in one central location.

Start with a Version Control System

Many teams using Unreal Engine also use a version control system – an essential tool for storing and managing changes to files over time. Perforce Helix Core is the game development industry standard version control system. 

Enabling global teams to collaborate securely and efficiently, Helix Core creates a single source of truth and platform that helps teams move faster. Helix Core tracks and manages changes to your source code, digital assets, large binary files, and more.

As the only versioning and collaboration system that scales endlessly as your projects grow, your team can rely on Helix Core without sacrificing performance. With the ability to check out or automatically lock files, Helix Core also enables teams to develop complex projects without worrying about overwriting each other’s work.

Unreal Engine also has a longstanding built-in integration with Helix Core. The two tools are tightly integrated, which helps your team work together more efficiently on projects. 

📘 Related Resource: Version Control in Game Development Best Practices

 Store Everything in a Digital Asset Management Tool

Considering the number and file size of assets developed by Unreal Engine AI, it is more important than ever to have a limitless and integrated visual library. Locating files, reusing them, sharing them securely, and reviewing them is nearly impossible without a robust DAM (digital asset manager).

Built on top of Helix Core, Helix DAM is the most efficient way to store, find, preview, review, and track the progress of all art assets — including 2D, 3D, video, and audio files. Helix DAM also works with your existing project pipeline and integrates with tools like Blender and Maya.

Having all your assets in one place also helps you visualize which ones could be used as a framework for procedural generation in games. 

Helix DAM Digital Asset Management by Perforce

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Get Started with Helix Core for Free

Start realizing the full benefits of Unreal AI by getting version control software free for your team. Perforce Helix Core is free for up to 5 users — with no limits on functionality.

Access the same features that have earned Helix Core the trust of 19/20 top AAA game development studios and top virtual production teams across the globe. Start small and scale, or use it free for your small team, forever. 


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