When we find something we enjoy, we usually get interested in how it’s created. Who hasn’t dreamt of writing a book just as good as their favorite series? It’s only natural: if it brings us joy, we wish to recreate it and share the emotion with others. It shouldn’t come as a surprise a lot of avid gamers are looking into game making software, too.
The motivation to make your own games doesn’t end with the personal fascination, either: statistics show that professional game makers are rather well paid. Of course, becoming a professional is no easy feat. If you feel driven to give it a try, the first step you should take is choosing game making software that matches your needs best.
Is great design your absolute priority, or are you more into developing storylines? Are you wondering how to make an RPG, or maybe a simple shooter would do for now? Whatever your dream is, there is game development software to match it. Now, let’s talk the game maker language.
Table of Contents
- 1 Unreal Engine vs Unity: The Colossal Battle
- 2 Other Game Making Software Options
- 3 Some Thoughts Before Game Over
Unreal Engine vs Unity: The Colossal Battle
There are two game making software companies you could call the giants of the industry. You don’t need even to step into the developing arena to know their names. Unreal Engine and Unity are behind the biggest games of the era, such as Batman: Arkham Origins or Pokemon Go.
The Unreal Engine vs Unity fight seems endless, as developers on each side are passionate to defend their ground. The good thing is, both of them are free to try and use personally. The payments start with professional use: Unity has paid monthly plans, and Unreal takes quarterly revenue on your projects. This means you can try using both without risk and make your choice. This course, for example, is great for your first steps in understanding how to make a game in Unity.
Two Decades of Unreal Engine
Unreal Engine has been officially chosen as the Most Successful Videogame Engine in 2014. It’s an actual Guinness World Record they hold – with a ton of other notable awards, too. It has been around since 1998, which means it had tons of time to perfect their team and grow a substantial fanbase. This game making software is now used to make a variety of games from simple shooters to MMORPGs. However, while it is a strong leader among desktop and console games, other software makers take the crown in mobile and virtual reality games.
The coding language Unreal Engine uses is C++. It also uses Blueprint visual scripting, which makes the development process much more flexible. Basically, it blurs the line between what programmers and designers can use, making more means available to both. It also makes the game development software more manageable for a beginner.
Graphics is perhaps the strongest point of Unreal Engine. It ranks extremely strong in both 2D and 3D games. Most game developers praise their advanced lighting and realistic shadows, as well as particle simulation. A million particles in a single scene is a whopping number, isn’t it? The material editor is well made as well, and using the node graph gives the developer a lot of power. The system has great tools for post-processing as well.
You must note though that all those powerful tools require adequate resources. To make the most of Unreal Engine, you should have a computer of truly impressive specifications. A ton of possibilities also take time to understand and master, so the learning curve is much steeper than, say, in Unity.
Unity: the Young and Light
Being released in 2005, Unity is a bit younger than Unreal Engine but still well-established by now. At first, it was created to be used on Mac OS X. However, it is currently supported in almost thirty platforms. It is also now compatible with retina displays, making it great for the newest mobile gadgets.
Cross-platform integration is actually where Unity stands way above other game making software companies. It is also believed to be the most popular mobile and virtual reality game development software. For example, around ninety percent of Samsung Gear VR games were made using Unity.
Another advantage Unity has over Unreal Engine is their asset store. It is a kind of library of animations, materials, 3D models and other useful props that help game developers in creating breathtaking games. In Unity, the total number of free and paid assets surpasses fifteen thousand. As a beginner, you will find them extremely handy as you make your own game. There are both visual and sound props available.
Unlike Unreal Engine, Unity is rather lightweight for a game making software. That is also important for amateur developers who can’t yet afford extremely powerful computers for their personal use. However, this also means it’s not quite as powerful as Unreal Engine.
Other Game Making Software Options
When looking at how to create a game, you should get to know as many options as possible. While Unreal Engine and Unity are the biggest names in the industry, there are smaller alternatives you should consider as well.
Join the Godot Engine Community
Godot Engine is open-source and community-developed. It is also cross-platform compatible and even has a Raspberry Pi version. Using Godot Engine is completely free: there are neither monthly plans nor royalties. However, you are free to support it on the Patreon platform voluntarily. Godot Engine is actually said to be the first free and open-source game making software offering possibilities that might be compared to those of the field leaders.
Built-in node sets and visual editor make it easier to create beautiful game designs. Being extremely lightweight (under thirty megabytes!), it performs beautifully even on older and weaker computers. Users seem to be especially impressed by the animation editor, as it allows you to animate any property included in the scene. Additionally, a lot of effects are offered for mid- and post-processing. The new tone mapper supports screen-space reflections, auto exposure, depth of field, multiple standard curves, and even high dynamic range.
Godot Engine allows creating games in both 2D and 3D, using C++, C#, or GDScript. This last language is their own, but there’s no need to fear. GDScript uses syntax that is very similar to Python. If you’re familiar with the basics of programming, learning it will not take a lot of time. You can see it for yourself in Godot Docs. If you are interested in how to make an RPG game, make sure you check out RPG in a Box. This toolset simplifies creating 3D RPGs and adventure games. It is developed with Godot Engine game making software as well.
Being an open-source project, Godot Engine allows every user to contribute to the source code too. This presents a unique opportunity for the coder. Not only you can make your own games, but you can also contribute to developing the engine itself.
GameMaker Studio: Easy yet Pricey
While GameMaker Studio is also a cross-platform engine, it is not supported by as many platforms as it used to. It is also not a good choice if you’re into creating 3D games. However, 2D game creators use it quite a lot. GameMaker Studio is often referred to as the indie favorite. It was used to make Paper Knight, Forager, Undertale, and a bunch of other impressive indie games.
The drag-and-drop feature is what makes GameMaker Studio attractive to development newbies. It requires minimal coding skills to use visual programming. Even more: you could be learning to code as you make your own games, as you can see the code in the boxes you drag and drop.
If you are more experienced, you can also use their own language to script. It’s called GML (Game Maker Language) and gives you more control than just using drag-and-drop.
Unlike other game making software we reviewed in this article, GameMaker Studio is paid. A free trial is available, but you’ll need to open up your wallet after it ends in thirty days. There are three price categories (Creator, Developer, and Console) for personal use and a more affordable Education plan for teaching institutions. If you’re not a class of six-graders, you will need to splash out a sum between 39 and 1 500 dollars. For someone who’s just getting their feet wet in game development, this might seem too steep of a fee.
For the Fans of Visuals: CryEngine
Released in 2002, CryEngine is a game making software designed by Crytek, a German game developer company. To most avid gamers, the name immediately corresponds to Far Cry – a game developed to premiere the software. What about more recent years, you ask? Well, you have probably heard of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Collision Course, or Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. If not, you should really check these games out.
Just like Unreal Engine, CryEngine uses C++ and comes with the full source code. It is also heavy in load and requires adequate resources. With a ton of possibilities provided, it might be harder to grasp how to create a game, too.
On the other hand, a powerful engine also means breathtaking graphics. Game developers praise CryEngine’s cloud, fog, and weather effects. The Physically Based Rendering model and the Volumetric Fog system lets you work with various fog densities and opacities, use ambient and natural light, and create incredibly realistic scenes. Skeletal animation and advanced rendering possibilities make characters look more lifelike than your roommate on some days, too!
CryEngine used a pay-what-you-want pricing model before. However, they switched to a royalty-based payment model in 2018. Five percent of your revenue goes to the game making software. However, if your project earns less than 5 000 dollars in a year, you pay nothing. Some additional assets are also paid.
The CryEngine of Amazon: Lumberyard
Those who have been looking into the highly promoted Star Citizen game might recognize the name Amazon Lumberyard. Even though they started with books, Amazon now seems to have its hands in every bowl. Yes, they have presented their own game making software as well. It is based on CryEngine, though. Amazon bought the license in 2015 and released Lumberyard in 2018. It is also used to make Amazon Game Studios games.
There’s not much to say about Lumberyard specifically. It has the same breathtaking graphics CryEngine offers, plus a few additional features that come from Amazon-owned projects. Users seem to be extremely happy about Twitch integration that allows live streaming.
If you need servers, you need to use Amazon Web Services (AWS), but you may use the software without using them too. AWS is also the only service you need to pay for, as Lumberyard itself is free to download and use. It is supported by desktop and mobile devices, as well as VR systems.
Some Thoughts Before Game Over
Choosing the right game making software for you is not easy. The choice is rather big, and there’s a ton of aspects to consider. As you might have noticed already, there are no good or bad options per se. Some just suit your needs better than others.
Make up your mind about what type of games you dream of creating, and go from there. Remember all the games you played. Which ones stayed in your memory the brightest? Which gave you the strongest emotions? Think of the games that excited you and filled you up with adrenaline. Find what they had in common, and set out to make your own game.