First Steps

Andrea Alicino
5 min readJan 22, 2024

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We begin by literally taking our first steps in Unreal Engine. Our goal for the day is to exploit the essential components of Unreal Engine by moving a character to the third person.

Slight spoiler: I will principally use blueprints and wait to use animations, so the character’s movement will be stiff since it will always stay in A-pose.

For simplicity and convenience, I started with the Third Person example project to optimize time and already have the assets I need, specifically the Skeletal Mesh and animations.

Create a Blueprint for the player

I select the blueprint(BP) item from the right-click menu or click Add in my Content Browser to create a blueprint. A window will open where I choose the type of BP I want to make.

In my case, I want to create a character so that I will select Character. I’ll assign it a name, then open it immediately by clicking on it.

Although this project is small, I recommend keeping the folders organized.

Once opened, you should have a screen similar to the figure’s. To create a third-person character, we must add a Skeletal Mesh and two other elements, SpringArm and Camera.

Highlighted is the Components and Details panel

To add the skeletal mesh, once we select the mesh item from the “Components” panel, we will go into its details to add the correct skeletal mesh.

As soon as added, the model will not be inside the capsule and will be oriented toward the arrow already present. To fix this problem, edit the Transform as in the figure below.

Finally, let’s go back to the component panel and add the SpringArm using the Add button and searching for it in the search bar and the chamber. The chamber must be a child of the SpringArm to function correctly.

Let’s move the SpringArm higher. In my design, I will place it above my right shoulder.

Adding inputs

This step creates the events we will use in the blueprint.
I open the Project Settings by going to Edit>Project Settings.

Here, I must go to the Input section, enter the inputs to move with the keyboard and rotate the view using the mouse.

Without going into details because I will go into more detail on this topic, we need to create 4 Axis Mapping as shown in the figure.

Going back to BP and creating and linking movements

It’s time to go and associate the created events with the character’s movement.
I go back to the blueprint and select Event Graph. The three events already present will not serve us; we can either ignore them or delete them.

By right-clicking, we can open a drop-down menu that represents a series of instructions that we can call. Using the search bar, we can search for the event we called MoveForward. The same goes for MoveRight, Turn, and LookUp.

MoveFoward and MoveRight

The behavior is the same for both events. We will search again by right-clicking “Get Actor Forward Vector “ to get our character’s forward vector.

This is the second parameter we need for the “Add Movement Input” function. We connect Axis Value => Scale Value and Return Value => Word Direction.

We repeat the same process for MoveRight, replacing “Get Actor Forward Vector” with “Get Actor Right Vector.”

LookUp and Turn
Similar to what we did for movement, let’s look up the related functions and connect them.

LookUp Event
Turn Event

The final BP should look something like this.

Final steps

Before we play and see the result, we need to go and fix just a few parameters.

After selecting the root of your Blueprint, look in the Details pane for Auto Possess Player and check “Player 0. “

Now we select the Spring Arm, and in the Details panel, look for and check the box “Use Pawn Controller Rotation.”

Finally, we transport our BP onto the map and press Play.

I started with character movement. In the following articles, I will introduce concepts related to character animation.
Everything is also achievable directly with code; I will discuss it later in the following articles.

This article was helpful to you.
See you in the next article🚀.

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Andrea Alicino

Game Developer Unreal Engine/Unity. Computer science graduate. Seeking new opportunities.