GameSparks is designed to ease the development process by providing developers with one single-integrated solution to facilitate all of the server-side features of their games. To provide further assistance for the entirety of the development timeline, we have asked Developer and Hyper Spark Omar Albadry to give a rundown of several game engines that are currently available on the market. Here is what he had to say:
As a developer, I have spent a long time looking into the various game engines on the market, and I’m sure others have done the same. Trying to make a decision between the multiple contenders can be difficult, so to try and provide some assistance, I have written an analysis of a few popular choices that are currently available to use. Before carrying on I would just like to mention that all thoughts expressed are my own and are not respective of GameSparks Ltd.
“Unreal Engine 4 is a complete suite of game development tools made by game developers, for game developers. From 2D mobile games to console blockbusters and VR, Unreal Engine 4 gives you everything you need to start, ship, grow and stand out from the crowd.”
Unreal Engine 3 was a hugely influential engine capable of providing tools to suit the development of any game, and now its successor, Unreal Engine 4, has stepped things up a gear. Although UE4 is still in development, and still a little way off completion, it consists of a robust arsenal of tools and conveniences, being recognised as one of the most comprehensive tools for 3D and 2D development across multiple platforms such as Windows, Mac, Xbox, Playstation, Android and browser.
Blueprint visual programming language is one of multiple additions to the latest Unreal Engine and extends from Gameplay to Networking programming, allowing developers to quickly prototype anything that comes to mind. This functionality is both convenient and user friendly, enabling even the novice developer to achieve results.
UE4 also grants access to the engine’s source code, giving developers the ability to expand upon any previous limitations found in Blueprint. The developer is now able to create Blueprint libraries through C++ programming that are suited to their needs, opening doors for those who have found the language uncomfortable, but need the functionality that is enabled through it. To provide even flexibility, projects can be developed exclusively on Blueprint or C++ or using a combination of both.
The UE4 community is a highly useful resource that could possibly be considered just as beneficial to many main features within the engine itself. Any developer can take advantage of a Google play/Apple App Market-esque store, which has a whole host of projects, games, levels, Blueprints, art assets, music, audio, tools and plugins that are developed by the others and readily available.
It appears where the engine may be lacking, the UE4 community offers in spades. A quick post to the forum will almost always result in a handy plug and play tool that will increase the engines functionality. To provide further support to this is already active group, users can also connect and speak through the instant messaging service provided by Epic.
The Unreal Engine 4 offers Impressive lighting, ease of use and the ability to bring any design to life in little time. Having everything in one place makes UE4 a developing powerhouse, seeing users rapidly produce incredible looking worlds that are populated with particles, AI, mechanics and UI with little effort or headache. It is evident that Epic have done intensive work to make sure their Engine is easy to use, and with the addition of extensive tutorials, guides and demos, even those new to the developing world are able to create something credible in record timing.
Currently Unreal Engine 4 is free to use and develop with. However, if you earn more than $3000 from your project, you will have to pay 5% royalties to Epic. More details from Epic, are available here. For an in-depth explanation, you can also take a look at this forum post: https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/25yxl5/costs_of_unreal_4_versus_unity/.
- 2D and 3D support
- Blueprint Visual Programming
- C++ programming
- Instant game preview
- Artificial Intelligence with behavior trees
- Cascade particle system
- Full source code access
- New material pipeline
- UMG UI Designer
- Terrain and Foliage
- Comprehensive animation suite
- matinee cinematics
- Cross platform development and packaging
- Easy packaging
- Multiplayer integration
- Source control integration
“Unity is a flexible and powerful development platform for creating multiplatform 3D and 2D games and interactive experiences. It’s a complete ecosystem for anyone who aims to build a business on creating high-end content and connecting to their most loyal and enthusiastic players and customers.”
The Unity engine boasts an impressively large and loyal following of independent developers, with a steady rise of well-established studios now joining the fold.
The engine simplifies the development process, catering for all types of build. Users are able to bring a number of designs to life at any one time, allowing them to evaluate and determine which draft will make the final cut. Unity also enables users to dip into both 2D and 3D development across multiple platforms without bending the pipeline for each one. Instead a completed game can be ported to differing platforms by simply determining the packaging process with no change to the games code.
Although Unity is not limited to C#, it certainly harnesses this high level language and the native functionality that it offers, stripping the possible time costs incurred from having to create your own. Scripting within Unity is relatively simple to learn, seeing developers progress through the engine at speed.
Multiplayer and Analytics features are readily available with Unity and can be integrated with your project in little to no time. A wealth of assets including code snippets, complete projects, audio, music, and editor extensions can also be acquired from the engine’s market.
Combine all the above with a UI designer, animations suite, advanced audio options, physics, out of the box AI, high quality graphics and shading and you have one of the best game development tools, capable of bringing any idea to life and allowing developers plenty of flexibility, ensuring they are able to craft masterpieces whether regardless of previous skill or experience.
Unity is free to use, develop and publish on. However, Unity Pro comes with extra features and costs $75 per month subscription or $1500 one off payment. If you wish to develop and publish using Unity Pro for iOS or Android, you have to pay another $1500 for each of them or subscribe, costing another $75 each. More details, here.
- 2D and 3D support
- Comprehensive Animation suite including retargeting, blend tress, state machines
- One click deployment/Multiplatform packaging
- Optimised graphics
- Comprehensive graphics features including PBR, particle system, full screen post processing effects, render to texture effects
- Comprehensive 2D suite including automatic sprite splicing, automatic sprite animation and 2D physics
- Canvas UI
- 3D physics including cloth component and accurate hit detection
- native audio plugins for audio editing
- Navmesh and pathfinding
- Terrain editor
- Multiplayer networking
- instant play testing
- Asset store
- Source control integration
“Corona’s extensive API library enables everything from animation to networking with just a few lines of code. Whether you’re building games or business apps, you see changes instantly in the Corona Simulator and can iterate extremely quickly.”
CoronaSDK is an engine exclusive to 2D development and aims to get the development process started in as little time as possible. CoronaSDK has an extensive Lua API library, allowing developers to access all of its native features quickly and easily. Using simple lines users can activate networking, physics and audio without having to move locations, ticking multiple boxes or declaring includes. Corona is also extremely user friendly when monetising a game as it provides native support for in-app purchases and ad networks. This engine also supports all major platforms on mobile, where its focus remains, however they are soon introducing support for Windows and Mac.
By using CoronaSk, developers can create incredible 2D games with brilliant UI, networking and monetisation in no time. The engine also allows games to be tested in an Emulator which simulates a handheld device complete with tools and debugging.
Corona is free to use, develop and publish games, with no royalties to pay. However, there is also Corona enterprise and small business. This is priced at $75 per month and comes with CoronaSDK plus, native libraries, offline builds and a revenue limit of $500k. Corona enterprise unlimited provides enterprise small business, hosted plugins, 1hour kickoff sessions and no revenue limit which is priced at $199 per month. More details, here.
- 2D engine
- Lua coding language
- Extensive API library
- Composer UI
- Multiplatform packaging for IOS, Android, Kindle and Windows Phone 8.
“Marmalade is the leading cross-platform solution for game developers. Our platform combines a powerful SDK and best-in-class services. Author once, deploy to iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and more then continuously manage your players so they get the most from your game.”
Marmalade makes developing a single project for multiple platforms easier by having the ability to deploy a single code base across them all. Users can develop with Marmalade Core which utilises C++ development, guaranteeing maximum flexibility and performance, or Marmalade Quick which harnesses Lua, speeding up development using a powerful API library that allows developers to execute a wide range of native methods that ideal for rapid prototyping.
Mixing and matching components is also straight forward with Marmalade, whether native, 3rd party or self-developed, this process is very powerful and flexible. These components can super charge a developing project by offering powerful API’s which can be called and used conveniently with no problems or headaches.
Marmalade also comes with added conveniences which ease the development process further. For example, the simulator mirrors handheld devices, and push button packaging which carry out all of the hard work.
Marmalade also host their own asset store, selling animations, 2D and 3D assets, audio, services and projects. Marmalade projects can also be managed within one comfortable hub allowing developers to follow tutorials, watch demos and create packages.
Marmalade is free to use and develop on but users must adhere to the mandatory ad and attribution splash screens. The extra upgraded SDKs cost between $499 and $3500 per year. Support for each differs but all share the same extended API. More details, here.
- 2D and 3D engine
- Multiplatform development
- Single click deployment
- Middleware API for Audio, networking and graphics
- C++ and Lua coding
- Easy component management
- Develop for iOS on Windows
- Marmalade Asset Store
“FlashDevelop offers first class support for ActionScript (2 & 3) and Haxedevelopment. Great completion & code generation, projects compilation & debugging, plenty of project templates. FlashDevelop is also a great web development IDE with source-control support, tasks, snippets, XML/HTML completion and zen-coding for HTML.”
FlashDevelop unites Flash development under one IDE that is comfortable and customisable. Adobe Flash Professional, Flex SDK, AIR SDK, Mtasc/Haxe+Swfmill are all seamlessly integrated giving developers the ability to work with any flash workflow, thanks to the organised project panel which helps create classes from templates and embed assets.
FlashDevelop comes with a debugger that helps users to visualise their projects, also allowing them to play their games before release. Developers can also publish and package projects directly from FlashDevelop. This engine allows easy plugin integration through SWF files which enables projects to lend API’s from other 3rd Party components.
FlashDevelop is open source and completely free, meaning any project can be created and published with it without spending a penny. However, if the engine is used in combination with other Adobe products for animations and art costs would be incurred.
- Easy to use editor with syntax highlighting, bookmarks and tasks
- Project system with configurable compiling
- Intuitive and very flexible panel based interface.
- Plugin system with each feature developed in a separate plugin
- Advanced snippet completion
- Supports three languages: ActionScript 2, ActionScript 3 & MXML and HaXe
- Easy integration with Flash and command line compilers
- Integrated Project Manager to handle all the project assets, properties and files.
- Smart project templates to quickly get started
- Easy to use Context API search
“GameMaker: Studio caters to entry-level novices and seasoned game development professionals equally, allowing them to create cross-platform games in record time and at a fraction of the cost of conventional tools”
GameMaker is a 2D and 3D engine which can be used without any prior programming knowledge. GameMaker uses a visual coding approach, allowing developers to execute a long list of instructions with incredible simplicity. However proficient coders can also use GameMaker’s scripting language GML (Game Maker Language) which is both intuitive and powerful, allowing users to control every last detail of their projects. GameMaker also allows developers to import images, animations, audio and fonts whilst combining these to create easily produced levels thanks to the editor and its interface.
GameMaker also allows games to be packaged for a huge array of platforms from the same code base enabling you to tap into the console, mobile, desktop and web market from one project alone. Games can be fitted with shaders, physics, audio and cross-platform networking to ensure that they’re of the highest quality.
It is free to develop with Game Maker, however extra features, the ‘modules’ needed to develop and export to certain platforms do come at an additional cost. The Professional package of Game Maker is priced at $149.99. This comes with texture management, multiple configurations, team features, developer services portal, mobile testing, windows export, windows app export, Mac OS export and Ubuntu export. Extra modules and exports cost $199.99-$299.99 (depending on platform) and this includes the YoYo compiler. The master collection can also be bought, including all modules for the price of $799.99. More details, here.
- 2D and 3D support
- Dedicated, game focused IDE
- Powerful scripting language
- Visual scripting
- Animation and sprite services
- Multiformat export
- Monetisation and analytics support
- Source control integration