What is a game engine and how does it work?

What is a game engine

If you like video games and you thought about what is behind a video game creation you should have discovered there are lots of things to know and many areas to be covered.

But Is there anything to help you in the chaos of video games creation?

The answer is pretty simple: Yes there is. A game engine.

Like for writing a text you need a text editor software like Word, Pages or Writer, when you want to create video games you need a game engine.

What kind of sorcery is this?

Game engine definition

A game engine is a software that provides you all that you need to create a video game quickly and in the best way.

With a friendly user interface, it provides you with the set of necessary features. You can easily import 2D and 3D objects with a drag and drop gesture for example or change their color, rotation, size directly in the software or still add lights, audio, physics, commands and many more features.

Imagine it as a kit of tools you need to make a video game, a framework that covers all the basic modules for the video games creation.

How does it work?

A game engine brings together and supports several modules. It helps you to go through the main core areas of video games creation efficiently and quickly.

But which are the core areas and modules of video games creation? What does a game engine do for each area to help you?

Graphics

You need to put together all the assets for your video game such as Sprites, 3D models and you need to render them in some way.

A game engine powers the graphics and allows you to easily import, render and manage your assets from the most common software like Photoshop, 3s Max or Maya. It allows you also to configure the options of your assets directly! Amazing right?

Audio

Sound effects, soundtracks, are the basis of a great video game. As in the case of the graphics you need to add it to your game.

A game engine allows you to easily import the most important format like WAV, MP3 and also to modify the settings of each audio with many options.

Scripting

The algorithms, the science behind the logic in video games. Did you ever think about how is it possible to link graphics, sounds, commands, events all together?

Writing scripts or choosing them from a list of pre-built provided by the game engine is the answer to add the logic to your game and define the behaviours of your characters and objects.

Physics

This module is a must to have right now and a good game engine should integrate this module, it helps you to create and emulate  all the physics in your game. For instance if you want to let a ball bounce, you will be able to easily add gravity, a mass to the ball and a bounce effect in most of the cases without any lines of code written!

Networking

Many video games are based on the online multiplayer experience and the most important game engines integrate an easy way to add this feature and easily manage it too. No more hard math behind networking, all the hard stuff is pre-built in the game engine, just pick up the right script, workflow and API.

Artificial intelligence

How do the enemies or the allies of a player take their own decisions? With artificial intelligence, or rather very long scripts based on complex algorithms, but luckily a good game engine integrates this module with a series of pre built scripts and tutorials to help you to understand and let your characters become more clever 😉

Multiplatform (Extra)

Many games can be played in different platforms and nowadays with PC, consoles and mobile wars the variety of devices has increased a lot. A game engine supports a list of the main platforms or even all the platforms and allows you to create one game and build it with only a few changes for each one. In this way you can distribute your game either in a smartphone or a playstation. What a wonderful world!

Asset Store and Community (Extra)

This is not a module linked directly to making games, but it’s important to keep in mind because the most important game engines are followed by a community of people who support, answer lots of questions and write tutorials about the right usage of them.

Another advantage is they provide  markets with free and paid assets including music, sound effects, 3D models, 2D models, videos, scripts, tutorial. All you need to start without the contributions of a graphic designer for instance, at least in the beginning.

Best Game Engines

Best game engine

There is a variety of game engines, so how can you choose the best one? First of all you should have a look at the main points and areas of video game creation previously described.

Picking up the points you need to create your amazing new game, it will help you to choose the right Engine.

If you can’t decide don’t worry. I will tell you a secret, luckily there are a couple of really interesting ones which  cover all those points. And for personal usage they’re free.

Right now there are two big game engines to start your adventure:

  • Unity Engine
  • Unreal Engine

They’re used by either indie developers or triple A games companies to make and distribute their games.

I strongly suggest to try them out and take a tour of their websites. 

Unity Engine: https://unity.com/

Unreal Engine:https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/

Hey! Don’t forget with a great game engine come great requirements.

Game engine requirements

I’m pretty sure it was something like that. By the way a good hardware is important to play with a game engine. Have a look here Best Laptops For Game Development In 2020.

Still Doubts about the best game engine?

If you still have doubts about which is the best for you I would recommend Unity Engine ( especially if you are at the start) because it provides many tutorials and covers all the basis to become a game creator and developer from scratch. 

Conclusion

While in the past it was a really hard job making a video game, right now thanks to the game engines the life of a game creator is so much easier.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to start making a video game, think about what points you need to create your own video game and check if the game engine you are going to use already provides it.

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