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Level Loading or Level Streaming?

Hi there, I'm new enough to UE4 to wonder what is best when creating an open world game. With things such as spawning Items and AI, is level streaming a good way to go about it or loading a new level? I like level loading because it's easier to manage and better on performance/realism. But level streaming looks better in the way that i wouldn't have to save game instance stuff for my characters variables. To someone as inexperienced as me, that looks intimidating. However, I've never seen a level streamed open world example. it seems that its mainly used for rooms that you cant see into. is there a way to show what the level looks like before entering the streaming volume so it actually looks like something is there? That way, i could divide my map up into sections and the player wouldn't notice anything different.

So which should I use for what I desire?

Product Version: UE 4.11
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asked Dec 29 '16 at 11:08 AM in Using UE4

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2 answers: sort voted first

You seem to have a grasp of how they differ.

It really boils down to whether or not you want to have distinct transition points between areas, or to be able to walk from one to the next while still interacting with everything.


Enemy AI - for example, cannot follow you from one map to the next. (of course you could create a copy of it in the new map to simulate that it had)

Better examples each way tend to have both. EverQuest "zoning" was a distinct Map Load method - but they also used streaming within each map because they were large enough to require it.

And games like World of Warcraft are clearly streaming - but have areas where Loading to another map is necessary. (instances for example)

If you are making maps large enough to ask - you may want to consider using both.

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answered Dec 29 '16 at 11:24 AM

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avatar image the_tubby1 Dec 29 '16 at 12:15 PM

So by using level streaming, am I able to still spawn things when I'm not in the area or does that contradict the actual reason for using a streaming volume?

avatar image Looniper Dec 29 '16 at 04:43 PM

You can, and sometimes it is rather useful.

The simple method is to create a 'blank' actor class within each sub-level that you can use to assign as "Owner" of the thins you spawn, so that they appear in the same level as that actor.

There are some comments here on the answer hub on how to make it work. (I haven't done much with streaming lately, they may have added a simpler method by now)

avatar image the_tubby1 Dec 29 '16 at 08:15 PM

Thanks, i did this method since its the only way I could really find. The problem with this is that it deletes the items once I leave the streaming volume. Is this expected behaviour or is there a setting I should change somewhere?

avatar image Looniper Dec 30 '16 at 05:14 PM

Do you mean the level unloading? That's how they work.

You need to plot out your streaming volumes so that the things you should be able to 'see' from any point are loaded in while you are in the volume that makes them show.

Remember, you can assign more than one volume to objects, so you can overlap them.

avatar image the_tubby1 Dec 30 '16 at 05:33 PM

sorry thats my mistake. I meant to say that it doesn't delete the items once i leave the streaming volume. I found out that its just because the item spawner I had was spawning into my persistent level. Otherwise its all good.

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I'm very new to this, but the only open world game that I recall to be an exception is Borderlands franchise, which runs on UE3, each location have a loading trasition, but there is no traces from the previous location on the new one.

However, games like Quake 2 and Half Life always carried a few parts of the previous map, and I think it also carried models and enemies if they were near you.

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answered Dec 29 '16 at 12:04 PM

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avatar image Axebeard Nov 23 '17 at 08:05 PM

Quake 2 definitely didn't carry anything over between maps, and I don't believe Half Life did either. Half Life had pretty small maps that were just made to give the illusion of a streaming level, but I don't recall NPCs or enemies being able to cross levels.

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