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Mastering UDK Game Development

posted Apr 30, 2013, 11:31 PM by Mavrik Games   [ updated May 1, 2013, 10:54 PM ]
I recently read a book on UDK game development called "Mastering UDK Game Development" by John P. Doran. I've typically focused on Unrealscript given that I'm a programmer, but the examples in this book cover some of the other tools available in the UDK, such as Matinee, Cascade, and especially Kismet.

Overall, I thought the book wasn't that well written. Doran is inconsistent with his level of instruction, ranging from nearly patronizing to overly vague within only a few paragraphs. I was however impressed with how much was done without ever touching Unrealscript. I'm not saying that you could make a full game using nothing but Kismet, but Doran shows several examples of scripting together complex systems that I wouldn't have thought could be done in Kismet. Of course, this begs the question "should these things really be done in Kismet?" The answer is no. Kismet is a visual language for scripting in levels, not a gameplay design tool, but the examples do show the range of Kismet's capabilities and will probably open a designer's eyes to techniques and tricks that they may not have known about.

One thing to be aware of though, this book is not intended for beginners. Not that the examples delve deeply into the capabilities of the UDK or show advanced techniques for gameplay creation, but you really already have to know what you're doing in order to get anything out of them. There's a phrase in the beginning of the book that says that it should be possible for someone with no prior experience to complete the projects. While that may be true, I felt like there wasn't nearly enough instruction during each project to fully explain what all was going on. It seemed the projects were more like lists of steps to follow in order to recreate the cool things Doran did rather than teaching you how to create your own unique cool things, which is fine for more advanced users, but terrible for someone just starting out.

That being said, I think this book does a decent job of doing what it was meant to do: showing tips, tricks and cool ways of using the tools in the UDK that you might not have thought of. If you're an experienced UDK user and want to expand your knowledge of the capabilities of the UDK, I think this book is worth looking into, but don't expect to actually "Master" UDK game development.