This is an intermediate review of Tom Looman’s course called Professional Game Development in C++ and Unreal Engine. I write this review after having completed 19 out of the 29 lectures in the course. The reason why I felt like writing this review is because I plan to work on some of my own Unreal Engine projects to solidify my new skills that I’ve learned so far. So, there will be a break of a couple months in between my learning.
According to Tom Looman’s website he’s been working with Unreal Engine for 10+ years. During the course it felt like he was knowledgeable and in control at all times. Except for some hot-reload issue (which he recommended to turn off entirely later on) he was never struggling to explain something or solve a particular problem.
His presentation of the material feels natural and professional. Like, it seems he prepared well and is still talking freely and not just reading from a pre-written script.
There’s a QA section below every lecture that I actually also used one or two times so far. Both times I got an answer within 48h, which I think is great customer service. Seeing questions from other students also helps because it often already answers the most pressing questions.
There are a total of 29 lectures, with some bonus material as well. Each lecture consists of several sessions, which last for about 10-40 minutes.
He taught this course at Stanford for one semester, so from what he said during the course, I guess they took around 1 week to complete one lecture. So you can calculate that for the whole course you’d need around 7-8 months - that is if you are able to complete one lecture a week.
Honestly, I wasn’t able to keep up with the pace. However, this was not due to the course or instructor but more so because I still have a full-time job and also a family to take care of. So, there are weeks where I can work very little on the course. Nevertheless, the course is organized in a way that lets you pause and pick it up later easily, so it’s very well suited for folks like me.
Finally, one major plus point about this course are the assignments spread in between lectures. In total there are seven assignments. So far, I completed six assignments, the last one for multiplayer I haven’t progressed far enough yet to complete it.
In my opinion every course should have assignments. It’s usually where you learn the most and discover many holes in your understanding.
The course tries hard to teach you the basics of using Unreal Engine to create interactive applications and feel comfortable using the engine. It covers many very crucial topics such as the gameplay framework, AI, UMG, collision, blueprint (only very briefly), debugging and gameplay tags. Multiplayer would be another topic covered a lot but I can’t speak on it because I haven’t worked through it yet.
Another cool thing about the course is that we are actually building our own smaller version of Unreal Engine’s gameplay ability system. In the course Tom calls it the “Action System”. I think he made the right choice here of introducing a very useful system while not delving into the huge topic of gameplay ability sytem (GAS). Because GAS on it’s own could probably fill an entire course. Also, entirely skipping the “Action System” would be a pity because having it makes your code so much leaner and better organized. Finally, it will probably also help to understand GAS if this needs to be learned at a later stage.
I really really like the course, even though it’s sometimes tough to make time for it. The amount that I’ve learned about Unreal Engine C++ so far is immense and I can only image how much longer it would have taken without the course to reach a similar level.
The only point of critique I have is that Tom should consider creating a discord server at some point. I know it can feel like a lot of work needs to be done to manage the community. However, having a gated discord just for course participants and alumni worked very well for Unreal Sensei’s Unreal Masterclass (I bought that course as well). It’s just another place to talk about the course, ask questions and provide answers but also still connect long after people have completed the course. I also don’t think there would be any expectation that Tom would need to be in the discord 24/7 and answer questions on repeat. But popping in once in a while would be nice.