Join Craig Barr for an in-depth discussion in this video Exporting blocked levels, part of Unreal Essential Training (2016).
- Utilizing the toolsets within Unreal Engine 4 for blocking out our level is very powerful. It's very quick, and it's very important, as well. We've been able to create rapidly a nice landscape to build our base formation for our island here, and we've also been able to place some simple BSP, or as they're referred to, as geometry brush objects in our scene to formulate or to block out our overall level. Now that we have these objects in place, let's export them out so that we have a good, solid template or reference for building our final game assets, our static meshes elsewhere.
In this case, what I want to do is export these out using the FBX file format, and I'm going to work specifically in Maya. Now, by no means is it locked to a specific product. What I'm going to do here is the same principle you would use if you were a Blender user or a 3ds Max user or a Cinema 4D or whatever package you prefer to use for your modeling, this will work just the same way. Now, some notes here before we begin. If you have access to the content, you'll notice that I'm using Ch4_04_Begin, and this will give us our base format for our island and for our base structure, our hero objects that we want to export out.
Now, when we get over here to the Outliner, you'll notice that we have several objects in here. And just something important to keep in mind, it's always a good practice to keep organized and to keep everything nice and efficient and kind of managed within your Outliner. Now, using things like geometry brushes is a really good way for things to get out-of-control really quickly by a number of objects. And as you can see, just for these four simple objects that we've created here, we actually have several pieces in place because we have an object for everything that we've used for that subtractive method, that kind of Boolean approach, to cut away at some of our objects.
So let's look at how we can quickly organize these geometry brushes before we get into exporting. So we'll just right-click in our World Outliner area, and we'll click Create Folder. I'm going to call this folder Proxy_objects. Now, this is simply for keeping everything clean and organized. By no means do you have to do it in the exact same way that I'm doing it. Or if you prefer, you could leave all the objects in your Outliner. It is kind of good practice just to have something nice and neat and efficient like this, though. And you also get the added benefit of being able to rapidly turn on and off the entire grouping just with the eyeball visibility icon here in the Outliner, as well.
Okay, so now that's out of the way, let's look at how we can move these objects or export these objects into a usable format outside of Unreal Engine 4. Now, the first thing we want to do is I'm going to open up our folder that we've created here. I'm going to grab all of these objects, and I'm going to use Shift, left-click all the way down to grab all of those objects. And I'm just going to drag up the perimeter of that window so that we have our Details window maybe a little more visible on screen here. Now, I'm going to just turn this off here because I'm going to show how this works here.
Now, in any Detail panel for any object or any operation, you're going to see your base groupings of parameters or attributes. And at the bottom of some, you'll see this little arrow icon pointing down. This is where you can reveal advanced parameters or attributes for that specific setting within the Details panel. In this case, we have a bunch of advanced selections here for these geometry brushes that we've used, and I want to expose those so that I can do something for export. Just of note, if you want to have them exposed for everything as default, you can go into the eyeball icon in the top-right corner here and go Show All Advanced Details, and that'll simply reveal everything for you here.
Now, I have my objects selected, my reference objects of our hero buildings, and I want to export them. First thing I need to do is go to this Create Static Mesh. So I'll just simply left-click on that, and it's going to ask me to define a path as to where I want this new object to go. Well, if you have access to the content for this course, your directory structure should look something like this here as mine. This is the Project Directory. Engine Content, remember, is down here in the View Options, where we have selected Show Engine Content, and that is the default Unreal Engine 4 content there.
I want to save it in our Content Directory underneath Models, and of course, I don't want to leave it as this name that it's giving us here as Box_Brush2. I want to rename this to something that I can use or I'll remember, for that matter. So in this case, I'm going to name this LH_reference, and I'll hit Create Static Mesh. Now, what has happened here? A couple things have happened. We've actually converted this out of a BSP or a geometry brush format into now what is referred to as a Static Mesh in Unreal Engine 4, and this is noted here by this little house icon within the World Outliner.
And you can see it's one object. Now, I've converted this to one object simply because that will work for what we need, and it's more effective and efficient for translating this into other packages. Now, I could have created four separate objects, one for the lighthouse, one for the shed, one for the car, and one for the rowboat, but I don't need to. This works fine for what we need because we need two main, important aspects out of this. We want our scale reference, and we want our positional reference of those objects in relation to each other. So now what I can do is export this object out.
Before we do that, I should point out that here it is in the Content Browser. You can see that little star icon here, LH_reference. Now, if I created a new file, if I want to create a new level, this is now always available. So I could reuse this now and just drag and drop it into a scene if I wanted to use it for reference somewhere else, for example. But what I want to do now is export this out. Now, here's something important. If I right-click on this object in the Content Browser, I can go to Asset Actions, Move, Export, and I can actually export that from there.
I have access to the same file formats. But what you're going to want to do so that we preserve the exact position of this object is have it selected either in the Viewport or in your World Outliner. As long as it's highlighted in the orange outline, you know you're fine, you've selected it. And then, I want you to go to File and all the way down underneath Actors here to Export Selected. Here, we want to define exactly where we want to export that. I'm going to put it in the Content folder, and I'm going to actually call this one here LH_reference, the same name as we have.
And then, I'm going to click Save. Now, I know that that's exported, and what Unreal is going to do is actually bring up this Import Options here, so don't get confused with what's happening there. This is now asking me if I wanted to, for example, reimport that object in, I could set my import settings in here. I don't want to do that. I know that it's exported out. I know that it's gone to the file, and we're fine there. What I also want to do is export out this landscape. So if I just simply click that landscape, I don't need to go through any conversion process here.
The landscape modes within Unreal actually operate based on something very similar to a Static Mesh. So if I simply grab that object and just go to File, Export Selected, I can actually bring this subject out, and let's call it Landscape_reference.fbx, and I'm using that FBX file format. Now, I can click Save, export it out. It's going to bring up that Import Option window for me here again, which I don't need. And now, I know that I have my island exported, and I have my hero assets in the form of, or geometry brushes that we use to block out that level.
That's all exported, and now we can take this and work with this elsewhere. So let's take a look at how we can work with those objects to begin to be able to assemble our scene.
- Customizing the Unreal UI
- Creating a new project
- Creating landscapes
- Blocking out levels
- Assembling a scene
- Working with materials and lights
- Adding post-processing effects
- Defining bodies of water
- Adding atmospherics, foliage, and wind
- Working with the Blueprint editor
- Creating cinematics
- Monitoring performance
- Packaging a game for distribution