May 7, 2014

Sharing the Unreal Engine 4 Roadmap

By Ray Davis

Today we’ve made our engine roadmap public for everyone to see. This guide represents where our team is spending energy on specific Unreal Engine 4 features to give you a better sense of what’s happening here at Epic.

Our hope with being more transparent in our development processes is that we’ll generate more value for developers working with UE4, both in understanding what’s likely to appear in upcoming releases and also in having more context around how the engine is being built (and a little bit of the why).

As a disclaimer, anything listed in the current version may not actually make it into the engine as planned today; we may run into complications that push out a feature, or we may have reason to stop working on it altogether. Items in our backlog may never see the light of day either, as they are simply ideas we’ve discussed but haven’t yet figured out if or how they would best fit into the engine. While we intend for most items on the roadmap to end up surfacing as estimated, we want to make it clear that there is no guarantee of a feature being added to the engine even if it’s currently listed.

That being said, there are many upgrades and fixes going into the engine which are not represented here. We shipped 100+ improvements in the 4.1 update a month after UE4’s launch, so the engine is rapidly and continually evolving. What we’re sharing is a high-level view of how we are extending UE4 at this very moment and what we plan to do next.

We’re taking a flexible and lightweight approach with the roadmap given that priorities often change and there are unpredictable opportunities that arise on a regular basis. The sweet spot for us seems to be around 3-4 months of planning at any given time, with a few longer term efforts that gently break that rule (our parallel rendering efforts are a good example of that today). As such you’ll see the most detail and confidence on the roadmap for tasks in the next 1-2 months. Entries further down the timeline become representations of our intent today and will likely shift as we finish each month.

We intentionally focus on defining the bigger feature work for our roadmap and leave the details of bug fixing and smaller tasks in our bug tracking software. The engine is quite large these days which means there’s always a tremendous amount being developed, and it can be challenging to meaningfully communicate that work to a broad audience. Our roadmap serves to share the mid-to-high level development efforts in a way that is easy to digest and provides context, especially for those not directly working on a particular area. Trello helps us with this approach given that it’s great for sharing the breadth of a project, and if you try to insert too much detail it quickly bogs down.

This is one step of many we plan to take to build full transparency around our development process. It’s important to us that we’re building what developers want and need to ship their own successful projects, and steps like these will facilitate a better ongoing conversation about what that ends up being.

This is an experiment for us and as such it’s important that we get your feedback on what we’re doing – vote on features you’re excited about, send us comments on things that seem confusing or unclear, and better yet let us know what you think should be on the roadmap that isn’t already.

Thank you for helping us build a better UE4!