Getting Started With Game Engines

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In this post I will be giving my thoughts on Game Engines, which ones you should should learn and how you should learn them. Even supported with years of higher education, developing games can still be tough. There is so much information available and almost all of the information can be conflicting. Some people will say one engine is better than another, others will say a certain way of learning is better than another. So which is best?

I personally believe game development is a very personal task. What works for one person may not work for another, so it is all about finding what works for you.

 

Which Game Engine should you learn?

The best answer to this question is to use whatever you’re comfortable using. Once you’re using an engine or software that you’re comfortable with, the natural development of becoming better at developing games will kick in and you will become better over time.

If you have done some game development already, then you possibly already know which software you’d like to use. I know a fair few people that do a lot of reading into the different engines and software available. The problem here is that I feel this helps them be knowledgeable about making games, but developing games is completely different to the theory. This is the exact same reason doctors do internships as you can’t learn everything from a book.

For this reason I prefer the more practical approach. Try everything.

I don’t usually write captions, but this isn’t creepy at all.

Most engines are free to use until you’re earning over a certain amount. For this reason anyone who wants to get into game development should really consider giving each of these a chance and decide how you feel once you’ve tried them for yourself.

There are so official and unofficial tutorials available that teach creating games with each engine. By following these you will be able to decide what you like from each and what you dislike from each. Within no time at all you will know which engines you don’t enjoy using and more importantly which one is best for you.

 

The Game Engines

There are so many ways of developing games, but these – for me – are some of the best available for various reasons.

Unity

Unity is without a doubt my favourite engine to use. It is really well maintained and allows for a variety of complex games to be created. I don’t think it gets as much praise as other engines simply because not as many high profile games come from Unity. The key part of that sentence is ‘not as many’.

Heres just a few that have been created in Unity.

Rust
Hearthstone
Lucky’s Tale
Kerbal Space Program
Pillars of Eternity
Subnautica
And many more… 

As you can see it’s possible to create a large variety of games with Unity but this isn’t the reason I like it so much. For as long as I have used unity there has always been so much information and support available. They provide a large amount of tutorials and support for beginners and the community is always providing assistance with their own tutorials as well as providing solutions to problems. In the time that I have been using Unity I have mostly been able to overcome any obstacles I have had relatively easily and this is down to the support that Unity provides as well as receives from its community.

 

Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine is just as popular if not more popular than Unity. Unreal Engine tends to be known for more high profile games than Unity as well as having more aesthetic games. My opinion on this is that with an artist you can easily make a game look great in any engine, but for quickness Unreal Engine would be the way to go.

Unreal Engine also has great support for those who are new or not so interested in programming. BluePrint is basically scripting without the code and allows anyone to create complex scripts by simply dragging and dropping between modules. This is great for anyone who either don’t want or don’t need to know how to code well as they are given an even playing field with programmers. But the biggest downside for me is that you’d still need to learn how to use BluePrint and I feel that time could be spent learning to code in the first place.

 

Game Maker

Game Maker by Yo Yo Games is another great tool to get yourself into game developer with. Game Maker is very simple to use and has a very good source of tutorials on their website which makes creating your first game a piece of cake.

The biggest downside for me is that the free version of Game Maker doesn’t allow you to export your games so you will need to fork out around £75/$100 before you can build your game – and that’s only for Windows / Linux / Mac. If you want to make an android game or an iOS game you its a further £350 / $400 and the price just keeps increasing. Fortunately I have seen Game Maker on Humble Bundle a few times so if you can keep an eye out for that it’s a great buy.

 

Other Options

There are a ton of other game engines each with their pros and cons depending on what you’re making and your personal needs.

 

I would love to know what you think about certain engines and hear your tips for helping people get into game development. In the next post I will look at picking and making your first game and what type of idea you should be aiming for.

If you have any questions feel free to comment or get in touch with me on twitter.

Rhys

Experiences of a Self-Employed Game Developer

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Over the next few weeks I will be writing a variety of blog posts covering my experiences as a self employed game developer. Each post – I hope – will act as a guide for anyone planning on diving into the game development industry.

In this post I will be covering some of the subjects that I will be writing about as well as giving you an opportunity to tell me what topics you may want to hear about.

Before you read the rest of the post I think it’s important to backup my thoughts and opinions with a bit of credibility. Over the past three years I have been developing a variety of games for a range of different clients.

It is true that I haven’t made a game that was featured on the Steam home page, but over the past three years I have managed to pay my bills and live comfortably by doing what I enjoy most – developing games.

In July of this year I was accepted onto a full scholarship researching and developing games. Currently I am developing games to help in the career decisions of teenagers. I have also taken part in teaching at the university which I attended and am now doing my PhD.

The future for Monocool Interactive is to continue taking on contract work and driving towards releasing more and more games. The future for me personally is to complete my PhD in game development and hopefully go on to teach Games Design and Development at university level.

I am very proud to be where I am and i’m excited for the position that I find myself and Monocool Interactive in. I truly believe that anyone can be where I am. I am not a prodigy nor am I technologically gifted. I am nothing more than hardworking and lucky. I have received a lot of good advice over the years and my hope is to pass that advice on through the means of these posts.

I already know a few topics that I will be covering, but if there is anything in specific you’d like me to cover then please let me know and I will see what I can do.

 

Getting started as a game developer

In this post I will cover the basics of getting started as a game developer. Even if you’ve got a degree in game development, getting started is still somewhat tough. There is so much information available that it’s often difficult to filter out the irrelevant stuff. I will talk about the various available game engines and what you can best spend your time learning and doing.

 

Picking your first project

Similar to the getting started post, this will be more orientated to getting things done instead of making decisions about how you’re going to do it. I will cover what makes a good or a bad project, how you should decide on your first project and the importance of settings and achieving your goals.

 

Game Prototyping

This post will be a continuation from the project deciding post. I hope to give you guidance to prototyping your project. I will also explain why prototyping is important, how to prototype and a few hints and tips to make prototyping go quicker and easier.

 

Making Money

In this post I will do my best to give advice on making money throughout your game development cycle. I will cover the pros and cons of contract work, how to get it and how to protect yourself. I will also give my thoughts on dealing with your clients and what work to accept and more importantly what work to avoid!

What do you want to know?

As I have already mentioned, in addition to the above I would also be happy to write posts if there is anything in specific you want to know about. If you have questions that don’t really require a blog post or you’d just like a quick answer you can get in touch via DM on twitter. Otherwise if it makes a great topic then we can discuss it here.

Rhys
Follow me on twitter – @rhyswilly