Task 1 - Getting started: “My first level”

The minimum we need for our very first level is:
• Carve out an empty space
• Add some lighting so we can see
• Place down a start location for the player

I’m only going to provide you with basic instructions here – as there are some excellent tutorials available from the online wiki and in instructional video form (3D Buzz). (see Task 2 for details)

1. Start-up Version 3.0 of “UT2004 Editor”.

This can be found under Program Files / Game Development group.

Note: If the “UT2004 Play disc” is requested – these can be found at the front of the room. Outside of our GDT sessions these are available from the Technicians office.

2. Carve out an empty space

In Unreal we can think of the empty level as a block of solid rock (or cheese if you prefer). So any rooms, passages we wish to create will need to be ‘carved out’ of this solid cheese. You first level will be a 1024x1024x1024 space.
• Right click on the cube builder icon cube-builder.jpg
• Change the height, width and breadth to 1024
• Click Build


You will see a red square appear in your Top, Front and Side viewports (windows) and a red wireframe cube in the 3D Wireframe viewport. In order to carve it out we use subtraction.

• Click the subtract button subtract.jpg

This carries out the action and will change our red cube to yellow indicating that we have completed the action. However, at the moment you will not be able to see this yellow cube as the red cube is occupying the same space. By clicking in any of our four viewports you can drag the red cube using ctrl+left mouse.

Note: The other three viewports will not update to reflect this – so you will not see the red cube move around as expected. The viewport will only update when you click in it. If you wish to enable ‘realtime preview’ of the other viewports then click the small joystick icon joystick.jpg associated with each one.

In Unreal Editor we refer to these squares as brushes (this makes more sense when we use more complicated shapes). Brushes are the basic building block of Unreal levels. Our yellow brush is known as the construction (or builder) brush and illustrates where our operation could take place.

At the top of the Wireframe viewport are a number of icons that allow you to view the scene with textures and lighting. Experiment with these icons so that you can see the hideous default textures that have been applied.

Changing the textures of the walls, ceiling and floor is left as an exercise for you. Come back to this once we get a basic level running.

3. Add some lighting

• In the Wireframe viewport navigate around until you are looking at the ceiling. Right click anywhere on the ceiling and select “Add Light here”. See where these appear in the other viewports, you may wish to move them around (select the object, and then use ctrl+left mouse to drag).

• Repeat this process and add two more lights in your scene.

4. Place down a player start location

The final step is to add ourselves a start location. This indicates where our player will spawn when the level begins. We need to record this in the UnrealEditor by placing down an actor. An actor is the base class for all the in-game entities in the Unreal world.


• Open the “Actor Class Browser” and highlight the PlayerStart actor.

Actor Class Browser is found in the View menu.
The PlayerStart Actor is found in the Actor Class Browser at:

NavigationPoint —> SmallNavigationPoint —> PlayerStart.

• Place the PlayerStart actor in your level.

Using a similar process to adding the lights, place the PlayerStart actor on the floor in a suitable starting location.

5. Build and run the level

• Select “Build All” from the Build Menu
• Select “Play Level” from the Build Menu

If everything has gone well then you should be in an empty cube of a room that you can run around in. There isn’t much to do at this stage but you can shoot with the default weapon.

6. Save this level to your T: drive as MyFirstLevel.ut2

When you compile and run a level it is automatically saved in and executed from the maps directory.

N.B. While Unreal Editor is one of the more stable level editors out there – during my experiences it still crashed on a few occasions, so make sure you take regular saves and backups of your work. If you do lose some work – have a look at the most recent map files saved in the map directory – automatic backups are named auto#.ut2 Despite me mentioning this REPEATEDLY last year – it was a common excuse for students to say they had lost work due to UnrealEd crashes.
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