In today’s demanding world, it is fair to say that there is nothing better than coming home, plugging in your headphones, and losing yourself in video games for a while. But to develop your favorite game, huge teams of developers and designers have been at work for months. Nowadays, they mostly do so using Game Engines, which are simple software that allows them to create everything from the graphics to the game’s physical dynamics.
This article will look at existing Game Engines and what are the best possible options at the moment. But let’s first take a quick look at the basics:
Game development is simply the array of methods used to create games. But this is not an easy process – after getting funding from a publisher or a company, making a PC or console game can take anywhere between a month to multiple years, requiring both a lot of money and hard work. On the other hand, independent games usually require less time and lower financial investment.
But nowadays, there are also Game Engines (think Unreal and Unity) that can allow non-professionals to make a game by themselves and even to publish it on the internet for others to play.
Also known as game architecture or game frame, a game engine is a software development environment made to create video games. They can be used to make games aimed at computers, consoles, or even mobile phones. They provide an impressive list of assets: a physics engine for in-game mechanics, a rendering engine for creating 2D or 3D animations, networking features, artificial intelligence, and can even include support for cinematics.
You may ask yourself since there are now so many skilled developers, engineers, and designers, why do we even need a game engine? While games can still be made without it, it can be a daunting task. Without them, creating the physics of the gaming environment, 2D and 3D shapes, managing textures, lighting, and background effects would all involve a strenuous amount of coding, time, manpower, and money. They make the already challenging work of game developers that much easier.
Although the company advertises GDevelop’s capacity to create excellent games on any platform, this game engine is better suited to making 2D games while allowing users to export their creations onto platforms like iOS and Android. This is a great engine for those with an interest in creating games, for it emphasizes being handy for anyone, from absolute beginners to experts. If you’re not too interested in deep diving in game development, it contains a lot of tools and amenities that can help create a strong game and export it.
Also, a 2D focused engine, MelonJSYou gives you access to everything you need to make a game worth its money by including the library in your code. While the company’s lack of documentation and content can become a problem, there is a fair amount of user-created content that gives it a high potential for beginners.
Like game engines mentioned above, ImpactJS’s primary focus is 2D building, although additional tools can develop 3D-like games. What differentiates it is the array of features it proposes, such as debugging tools, the level editor, and the Ejecta framework, making it possible to publish the game to Apple’s App Store.
This one is not a game engine – it’s a rendering engine, yet you can create games with it, although you won’t get access to the plethora of tools you might expect. Its main advantage is that you can create the game engine which will help you make the particular game you had in mind, giving you full control over the creative process. Because it involves a lot of coding, we recommend this for advanced users or people with ample time on their hands.
This is a great Game Framework on which you can develop games on both mobile and computers and which has support for both WebGL and Canvas. It comes with all the features everything you might expect, and you can get extra features or improve old ones by adding more plugins. The only downside is that you’ll have to pay for those.
Rather than focusing on the animation and graphics part, PhysicsJS pays more attention to the game’s physics part. Its library, which can be used to develop games or any other type of simulation, proposes some exciting interactions and allows you to use different types of rendering devices. Although the library may be old, it hasn’t entirely done its time yet; and can still be your best friend if you’re trying to make a game engine of your own using different libraries.
This web-based environment allows you to write your code, test the setup, run the scenes, and even export it to other platforms. It can create VR supporting games, which is starting to be an essential player nowadays. The one problem might be that it isn’t free – although you can still use it for free, your projects will always remain public.
While it is overall similar to other engines mentioned above, the particularity of the A-frame is that it offers compatibility for AR, meaning you can easily create 3D games with it. If you’re trying to make AR or VR games, A-frame will be best suited to your objectives.
Backbone Game Engine
This elementary HTML5 Canvas game engine built on Backbone has better handling for 2D platforms and has great optimization for mobile. Because it was made to run inside of CocoonJS Canvas+, you can easily turn your HTML5 game into a native application on Android or iOS.
One of the most straightforward Open Source frameworks to use, this HTML5 Game Engine is both fun and friendly, allowing you to make games for desktop and mobile web browsers. Its primary focus is on providing super-fast rendering to produce high-quality games, allowing you to make games for old and new browsers as well as for Android and iOS.
Famous for its cross-platform game development ability, it is light, fast, and easy to use. Not only does it provide a tree data model to compose your application and manage the rendering cycles and drawing of your application internally, but it also processes and distributes mouse and touch events to targeted tree nodes.
This is another free HTML5 game engine that can be used for both mobile and desktop through Canvas and WebGL rendering. It also lets you track the events inside the game.
As another game library powered by HTML5, Jaws is mostly used for 2D. At first, it was only compatible with Canvas; but it now supports supporting ordinary DOM-based sprites through the same API. Interestingly, it also comes with basic rect-vs-rect/circle-vs-circle collision detection that works well (in most cases).
In short, gaming engines are the best option for those who want to create games quickly and without hassle.
Game engines come in many different forms, and the kind of game you want to create, combined with your skill level, will allow you to find the one most suitable for you. While you could create your own, it is only really interesting as a portfolio piece or a personal milestone. At least as an indie developer, your focus should be on making the game itself. Indeed, game engine development is a long, tedious process that requires you to learn OpenGL, C++, Python, Design Patterns, Algorithms, and Linear Algebra. The process can take up to several years. While it can be an exciting challenge, you should remember that the skills necessary to make a small functional engine are more complex than those needed to make a little game from an existing engine.