Houdini Assets as First Class Objects in UE4 Editor?

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Do you think it will ever be possible to somehow implement HDAs as first class objects? And what I mean by that is that the HDAs could be used directly without having to explicitly bake down to a static mesh asset. I feel like some of the power of Houdini is lost with having to bake the objects out. It would be really powerful to have the magic of Houdini available in a proper real-time workflow!

What would be awesome is if the Houdini node library (or at least a sizable portion of it) could somehow be available as nodes in the Blueprint editor. So when you import the .HDA file, you also get a Blueprint version of the node graph. I don't think this is beyond the realm of possibility given that Blueprint nodes can be implemented with C++ code.
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I think it was mentioned elsewhere. It would be awesome, but there would have to be a version of Houdini/Engine running in the compiled game for that to work. (Even if it's just a dll/dso that you link to). That brings up all sorts of other issues like licensing and performance. Houdini isn't primarily meant for realtime, so there would likely be performance issues trying to calculate a lot of same things on the fly in-game. I hope they do explore it though, as it could make for some really interesting assets.
Ian Farnsworth
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Hello!

We are in the process of splitting Editor and Runtime. This work should be in soon. This would ideally let you use Houdini actor and component as first class objects, even inside packaged game, not just for baking. We still won't support runtime solution at this time however. There are a lot of challenges which we need to address before such thing can happen (both inside UE and Houdini as well).
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That's great news. I've seen on the github that a lot of work has been put in over the last week or so. Being able to work more directly with the HDAs should definitely speed up workflow. Great work!!
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Hello! This is an update regarding some things mentioned in this thread. We've finished separation of Editor and Game, so it should be possible to use Houdini actors/components as first class objects (and be able to package a game). Please note, we do not support runtime cooking / instantiation at this time though.
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Have assets that can be altered runtime would be a wet dream coming true.

Is there any idea on when this is to be expected?
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We don't know yet but it will be a while. At this point in time, each of your players would need a license of Houdini Engine. So…we're not in the realm of practical yet.
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Good to see that modeling tools and interfaces are getting some updates in H15. I like the attitude about covering more of the pipeline. Gives me confidence that SideFX is taking game development workflow seriously. As much as I want to go solely with Houdini, at this point the interactive modeling tools just aren't nearly as good as they are in pretty much any other 3d modeling package. But it looks like H15 is starting to address that, very excited!!
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damian
We don't know yet but it will be a while. At this point in time, each of your players would need a license of Houdini Engine. So…we're not in the realm of practical yet.

Hi Damian, so is this more a licensing issue rather than a technical issue?
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It's both actually at this time. Unreal static mesh generation does not work in Game mode - only in Editor, that code lives in the engine itself, not the plugin. But I believe this is solvable. As for licensing and distribution, yes, it is definitely a bigger issue. There's also an issue of making this work at runtime and at reasonable speeds.
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Unreal static mesh generation does not work in Game mode - only in Editor, that code lives in the engine itself, not the plugin. But I believe this is solvable.

I'm not sure how robust or complete it is, but I believe Epic added support for procedural mesh creation in 4.8 and probably will continue to improve it with 4.9 and future releases. Maybe you guys could collaborate on ways to improve compatibility between Houdini and their procedural mesh systems?

https://docs.unrealengine.com/latest/INT/BlueprintAPI/Components/ProceduralMesh/index.html [docs.unrealengine.com]
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It's a promising option. We'll definitely look into it after the UE4 plugin release.
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It looks fairly limited from the first glance, but I agree, there's some potential for us in it.
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To solve the licensing, you would have to black-box the houdini engine, black-box the HDAs and tie everything together so that it cannot be used separately any more.
Alternatively, I guess you could “bake out” the HDAs and the parts of Houdini Engine that they use so that they become stand-alone code for UE4 (or blueprint) blocks.
The latter version would also solve your implementation issues.
I am probably oversimplifying this - a lot. But I wonder, whether that's what you want to/try to do.
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DASD
I am probably oversimplifying this - a lot. But I wonder, whether that's what you want to/try to do.

It is what I would like to have.
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