In just a couple of decades, the gaming industry has experienced a significant revolution; whereby, the pendulum has shifted from independent (indie) games to Triple-A (AAA) games. Even with that, indie games have been on an exponential rise.
Having talked about an indie game, then what is it? This is a game where no big publisher is involved in the creation and publishing of the game. Meaning, if an individual or a team of game developers develop games without an extravagant budget, they will fall into the indie games category.
An indie game developer will basically need a game engine to develop a particular game effectively. As the gaming industry experiences a rise in indie game design, game engines and new tools also continue to grow.
What are Game Engines?
If you are a beginner and do not know what the term “game engine” refers to, then you will now know.
Simply, the architecture developers use to run a particular game that is being developed is what is known as a game engine.
With a game engine, a number of universal problems that may arise when a game is being developed are usually solved.
It is basically a software environment where various aspects of a game are examined; talk of pre-designs physics, rendering, user input, lighting collision detection, and more is done.
What is the importance of game engines’?
Game engines are crucial since they entail components developers that are reusable for building any game framework. With them, a developer remains with adequate time to deal with unique elements such as how objects interact, textures, character models, and much more.
In case a particular group decides to make some games from scratch without involving superb game engines, they would find the process to be difficult and, therefore, consume more time.
With so many game engines currently in the market, one might have to scratch the head to choose the best game engine, especially if you are a beginner.
But, not to worry at all! No “one engine can rule them all.”
Each of the engines available on the market has its own strengths and weaknesses.
1. Unity 3D
For beginners who are for a one-size-fits-all game engine, Unity is actually the best to consider. It is a multi-platform game engine that possesses a powerful set that allows individuals to create interactive 3D content easily.
Unity’s exceptional functionality, high-quality content, and ease of developing any kind of game have made it the most popular game engine available, especially amongst indie developers.
Due to that fact, notable game titles like Pokemon Go, Lara Croft Go, Kerbal Space Program, Hearthstone, Pillars of Eternity, Rimworld, and Her Story were developed using Unity.
In case you have time to spare to learn Unity, there is a massive community that offers a wonderful supply of valuable assets as well as learning resources plus new assets.
The engine has features that enable beginners to build games on merely every platform. Unity has basically pre-made assets and advanced rendering engine that a beginner can use to develop a beautiful prototype and test it within weeks or even days.
However, if a beginner wants to go overboard and use visual scripting, payment will be needed. There are excellent tools in the engine’s Professional Edition, but a monthly fee needs to be paid. With the edition, you can develop, publish, and earn some money from the game. But, if you are just building your own stuff for practice, the engine is absolutely free.
2. Unreal Engine
Due to its extensive use, Unreal Engine has found itself amongst the most popular games around.
In most cases, designing a real AAA game would require a massive team, but a small indie studio is also capable of carrying out such a task.
That’s where Unreal Engine comes in as it has everything you might require to come up with fabulous high-quality games.
Some of the notable AAA games titles made using Unreal Engine include Fortnite, Player Unknown Battlegrounds, GTA V, Deus Ex, BioShock, Gears of War series, Final Fantasy VII, and Mass Effect series.
Beginners have the advantage of accessing a variety of tutorials that Epic, the game developer, has provided. In addition, 2D and 3D game templates, together with cross-platform support, is also available.
It is certainly true that where there are big projects, a big team of developers will have to be on board. But, the advantage of Unreal is that it offers a beginner-friendly solution known as a Blueprint. With such, you will even get started without having any coding knowledge as you don’t even need to write a single line of code to create the game you desire.
Unreal also has its own asset marketplace, just like Unity, that facilitates users who are building their own projects with the tools and models on offer. But, the marketplace isn’t that robust as the asset store of Unity.
Evidently, Unreal’s spectacular, more polished and user-friendly graphics capabilities rival CryEngine, but doesn’t come anywhere near Unity’s capabilities.
All-in-all, you will never go wrong when out trying Unreal as its strength enables you to practically build any game just the way you would do on any other game engine around.
A beginner who wants to experience a truly open source cross-platform solution in game development should consider Godot engine.
Its scene and node system is one of its outstanding features as it enables developers to easily organize games, thereby improving scalability as well as speeding up the development of the projects.
Due to its huge common tools set, it is considered as the engine of choice for many when it comes to making 2D games, but it also does well with 3D. The recent major Godot 3.0 update release as far as 3D features are concerned brought it at par with other modern game engines.
As an open-source engine, it’s free to use when you need to develop games since you will not need to pay subscription fees and royalties.
Even more encouraging is that there is an active community on the standby to develop new features, fixing bugs, and answers any Godot-related questions.
If you’re a serious beginner who is concern about high-level game design, definitely CryEngine is worth picking.
The engine is acknowledged for making visually stunning popular games such as Sniper Ghost Warrior, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, the Crysis series, and the Far Cry series.
Owing to its state of the art graphics, it is currently poised as one of the dominant and most powerful 3D game engines around. Therefore, developers who are searching for a place to build next-gen games or photorealistic games can bank on CryEngine as it provides advanced visual effects as well as solid VR support.
Like Unreal 4 and Unity, CryEngine also has a suite of tools that facilitate the easy building of popular, graphics-intensive games. But, the engine can’t match the two, which have a better “AAA game engine” experience, are more user-friendly, and provide more learning resources.
It is noteworthy to say that CryEngine has graphical abilities that equal those of Unreal and outshine the Unity’s capabilities. Even with a semi-novice skillset, efficient level editing is possible with CryEngine’s design tools and a level editor.
Despite being heavy and sturdy, the game engine has gained a negative reputation of being difficult and time-consuming to use. Meaning, the beginners who lack the prior experience of other game engines might find it a bit harder to grasp compared to other engines around.
Not to forget that the game engine is absolutely free to use unless if you intend to publish a commercial game, in which case a royalty payment will be necessary.
GameMaker is an excellent engine that more often is utilized when handling 2D projects, but that is not to say that it can’t produce AAA content. Both 2D and 3D game video projects can be made using this powerful simplified code engine.
For that reason, GameMaker Studio has become one of the most popular game engines responsible for well-known games such as Hotline Miami, Undertale, Orphan, Spelunky, and Hyper Light Drifter.
Beginners would find its design easy and faster to use compared to coding with native languages as one can “point-and-click” to create games. Even the advanced game developers can quickly develop prototype games through importing things needed using the drag and drop interface.
So hobbyists and professionals alike can benefit from the custom scripting language and dynamic physics of the engine.
Alongside its dedicated 2D physics engine, there is hassle-free access to stunning visual effects, network play, and cross-platform deployment.
A free version is available for those just starting, but you can also purchase either the Master Collection or Professional versions if you want to get the most out of it. Therefore, GameMaker is a fabulous choice for those looking for a simple to use 2D engine that’s not limited.
6. Amazon Lumberyard
Amazon is not restricted to the eCommerce market; it has surprisingly also put its toes in the gaming space. It offers Amazon Lumberyard, a Twitch-integrated free game engine.
With Lumberyard, developers can build games that have stellar performance and outstanding visuals, which are not only fun to play but also fun to watch.
Its feature-rich experience is a big statement to those who are familiar with game design since it includes mod-friendly support, cloud integration, and built-in multiplayer deployment tools.
Full control over the games is given to developers through accessibility to the C++ source code. In addition, one can choose to focus on constructing games that have engaging storylines with the cloud and Amazon handing bandwidth. So, it gets everything under one roof for either lone game designers or smaller indie studios.
Physically-based shaders, volumetric fog, particle effects, dynamic global illumination that the engine’s suite of tools provide proves advantageous also to Technical artists.
Lumberyard’s tools are effective, especially when it comes to building multiplayer games. All-in-all, Lumberyard is a fully customizable, free, and powerful engine for building games with online play.