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What is a Subsystem? What should it be used for?

Unreal 4.22 introduced the new "subsystem" class, but there's not much documentation as to what it exactly is or how to use it. The release notes simply say:

Subsystems are automatically instanced classes with managed lifetimes which provide easy to use extension points without the complexity of modifying or overriding engine classes, while simultaneously getting Blueprint and Python exposure out of the box.

But that doesn't really answer my question too much. Say I want to replicate ShooterGameInstance from the ShooterGame example using subsystems. Is it as easy as just migrating all the ShooterGameInstance code into a class inheriting from UGameInstanceSubsystem? How do I "tell" the GameInstance that it's using a certain subsystem without "modifying or overriding" an engine class?

I understand how to access the subsystem from C++/Blueprints, but I don't understand when you'd want to use one or how to "point" a GameInstance/LocalPlayer/etc. at a certain subsystem, or what a subsystem is supposed to "do."

Product Version: UE 4.22
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asked Apr 03 '19 at 05:27 AM in C++ Programming

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Okay, poking through engine code has led to a couple discoveries:

  • Each object which can have a subsystem has a FSubsystemCollection associated with it. This FSubsystemCollection takes a template, so to use my GameInstance example, UGameInstance contains FSubsystemCollection<UGameInstanceSubsystem>.

  • When the GameInstance Init function gets called, the FSubsystemCollection looks at everything which inherits from UGameInstanceSubsystem (or whatever subsystem it's using at the time). If USubsystem->ShouldCreateSubsystem returns true, then it'll create the associated subsystem as a new object, parented to whatever the FSubsystemCollection says its parent should be ( UGameInstance, in our case). So in reality, all our subsystems get created as children of our main system.

  • The end result is that you can call UGameInstance->GetSubsystem with any valid child class of UGameInstanceSubsystem and it'll return an instance of that class. It's similar to having a component on an actor.

  • By itself, a subsystem doesn't actually do anything. Nothing gets called on it, and it doesn't override any functions. You have Initialize and Deinitialize to start and stop the subsystem, but otherwise it's an open book as to what you do with it. It just makes code clearer for non-actor objects which could benefit from a component-like interface.

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answered Apr 03 '19 at 06:20 AM

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avatar image 哇哈哈咩 Apr 12 '19 at 07:09 PM

Excuse me, could you describe it in more detail, or give me another example? I still don't quite understand the usage and convenience of subsystems.

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