Epic Games released the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) in late 2009, as a Standalone Development Kit (SDK) for Unreal Engine 3 (UE3). To support their standalone release, Epic Games spawned an entire developer community comprising forums, technical documentation and video tutorials.
Mastering UDK Game Development Hotshot builds on the community foundations laid by Epic Games, aiming squarely at advanced UDK users. The author, John P. Doran, is a software engineer working for DigiPen Institute Singapore, with experience working in the games industry, as well as higher education. He co-authored UDK iOS Game Development Beginner’s Guide. The Hotshot series comprises two games development titles, and seven technical topics , including Adobe CS6 and jQuery.
The flexibility of UDK is greatly demonstrated throughout this book. It looks beyond the standard out-of-the-box first person shooter that UDK provides and focuses on how to use UDK as a game development tool for any genre. The project based nature of the book keeps the content fresh, and challenges readers onto further work. Mastering UDK Game Development Hotshot is aimed at designers and non-programmers who will use the editor based tools of UDK.
Each chapter is formatted to each cover a practical project, with sub-chapters tackling the more specific elements entailed within each project. The book steers away from touting the features of the engine and focuses on how to use the engine as a general development tool. This means covering useful topics such as creating a custom HUD for an RPG, creating loot and managing a loot system, as well as enriching environment and user interface. Strong emphasis is given to UI creation using Flash tool Scaleform. Advanced application of Kismet features heavily in this book, with code segments being well explained and reusable.
The UnrealScript primer at the end of the book is very blinkered in terms of application and scope, and does not add anything more than Epic Games have provided. It would have been nice to see a larger portion dedicated to UnrealScript, because used in combination with the level editor, Unreal Development Kit becomes a very flexible and usable development platform.
The book is available in both traditional printed version and as a PDF eBook via Packt’s website. The PDF version was reviewed, and features a fully linked Table of Contents and Index system. Each chapter spans approximately 30 pages and has lots of colour screen captures with clear and concise explanations. There is an online repository for resources used in the book.
Mastering UDK Game Development Hotshot is an excellent book if you have exhausted Epic’s tutorials and are looking to hone your skills using the UDK editor.