UE4 Mech Game Update #1: Cockpit

TL:DR: I learned the basics of Blender, created a cockpit and imported into UE4. See video at the end of the article.

I’m setting daily mini-goals to get the skeleton of the game fleshed out, then I’ll gloss over it all over again to polish each part. Game development is no joke and quality takes time, so I’m not trying

Now that I had a camera flying around, the next step was to add a cockpit around it. I needed to create a mesh from scratch.

Unreal Engine is not a 3D modeling tool.

It really is just an “engine”, despite looking, smelling and feeling like a 3D modeling tool. It’s great for compositing existing assets together. But when it comes to creating meshes from scratch, I’d need to choose a specialized tool for that job.

The big boys in the 3D modeling scene seem to be Maya, 3DS Max, Cinema 4D and Blender. Long story short, I didn’t really want a huge bloated piece of software, so that ultimately ruled out all other alternatives except Blender. Additionally, free and open-source software tends to attract larger communities, which means you’ll find more tutorials and resources for it.

After looking at some cockpit reference photos, wrestling with the basics of creating a shape, applying transformations and editing vertexes/faces, I had something that at least vaguely resembled a cockpit.

Then the last step was to apply different materials to the same mesh. That was just a matter of assigning different faces to different materials. The materials would serve as placeholders to be replaced after importing into UE4.

Then once the cockpit was attached to the camera, I was ready for liftoff…

Yes, it looks horrible. But hey, it’s technically a cockpit. Not bad for my first model in Blender.

Currently, I’m able to fly the camera around but due to the simulation of gravity and the friction of the bottom of the cockpit against the ground, the result is pretty much a plane with no wheels dragging against the ground.

In the next update, I’ll implement a new state of locomotion: walking. I’ll animate the motion of the cockpit to emulate the feeling of riding a bipedal mech.