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Picking a Game Engine

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

One of the first things I spent a lot of time on was researching and testing what Game Engine to use. There are what seems like countless options, and each engine has its advantages and disadvantages. So what is the "best" one to pick? In all actuality, most of them are great for what they do and for what they cost (if anything at all), but the choice really comes down to the style of games you as a developer want to make.

The first engine I tried was Unreal. The reason I first picked it was because I had all these great ideas for large 3D games that I wanted to make and I picked the first one on the list. Then came needing to understand the interface and what programming language I needed to learn. Unreal uses a form of C++ for a language and when doing some digging I found out I didn't want to learn that language. The reason wasn't because I didn't think it would be a fit, but because I wanted to start learning a language that worked with the programs I used at work as well.

After some more research I downloaded Stencyl, a nice 2D engine that used Haxe as the programming language. Haxe looked as if it was an easy way of building code without having to learn the in-depth terminology. I also thought that by using Stencyl I would be able to start making mobile games for starters and then work my way up. The same thought was for Haxe, learn something easy and then move on to a more complex programming language after I understood what I was doing.

But once again, I decided to change directions with what engine to learn and use and what language to learn. My reason for changing was after doing more research (you will see that word a lot from me) I read lots of articles about learning the language you want to use and not just use another language as a starting point. This was also true with game engines, instead of bouncing around and learning each one, just pick one that works with what you want to make. I'm not saying you should only learn one programming language in your life, it is encouraged to learn multiple as most terminology caries through with modifications in syntax. Besides, each language has it's own pros and cons depending on what it's used for.

Anyways, my final platform that I decided to settle with was Unity and C#. C# was the main language used across most of the programs I already used and I was able to find a lot of online resources for learning it. My reason for Unity was because I still wanted to get into 3D games, but wanted to start using 2D to get used to the interface and language. Unity seemed to be well rounded for what I wanted and I also liked the Asset Store where I could download or upload assets to use for games.

All in all I am very satisfied with my choice, and although I haven't published any games yet (plenty started and not finished due to lack of planning) I have made a lot of progress in actually making elements of games unlike before. Before I had just followed along with the tutorials and was left to wonder how I did that or why did I do that.

So when it comes down to which engine to pick, you should ask yourself 2 questions.

What kind of games do you all want to make?

Which programming language are you willing to learn? (This shouldn't be your defining reason for picking a game engine, but you may be more comfortable learning one over another.)

Whether you want Unreal, Unity, Stencyl, GameMaker, Lumberyard, Blender, Godot, AppGameKit, CryEngine, RPG Maker, or anything else, all you need to do is look at what each one can do and match it with what you want to make. Maybe you want to make a top-down game like Pokemon, or maybe a 3D puzzle game? Each engine can cater to what you want, all you need to do is decide on what you want and go from there. You could even pick two engines to use if you really wanted, one for 2D and mobile, and another for 3D and consoles. (As an added bonus with Blender, it is not only a Game Engine, but a modeling and animation software as well, but we will get into that portion another time.)

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