Hi Elliott, This is a great breakdown and very generous in sharing your process and insights, you came a long way from the vending machine days!
Are you planning on releasing the UE4 project to the public? Or only builds? I'd love to play around with it in the editor if possible!
This little video shows, how you can use InstaLOD to quickly optimize your high-poly assets for 3d games.
In case you haven’t heard, InstaLOD is sort of an alternative to Simplygon, which was recently bought by Microsoft. It’s a software, which helps to optimize 3d content: optimization of polygon data and the reduction of draw calls. The process is entirely automatic, which greatly eases and improves the whole process. The tool could be easily integrated into your pipeline and you can easily play with the settings, looking for the perfect way to adapt the content.
It does work with Unreal Engine 4 and costs just $79. Sadly, it’s still not really finished, but you can give it a try.