From traditional board games to present-day video games, game development has always been closely linked with technological advancements of the era. Presently, we live in an age where video games are not only easily accessible, but also easily made. This is no longer a decade ago, when only large enterprises could afford to develop games. With the right tools and a burning passion, you can make your own games too.
Game engines are software that provide the basic framework for game development, typically offering tools and assets that aid game developers to quickly develop their game without having to build one from scratch. Depending on your skill level and the type of game made, you may have to carefully consider which game engine you’ll be building your game on. Here are a few popular picks for starters:
Godot is a completely free, open source game engine that specializes in 2D game-making, with decent support for 3D games. The game engine is relatively easy to learn, has enough tools to create a fleshed-out game, and supports game releases on several platforms. If you are an indie developer with a limited budget, or an amateur game developer with little experience, Godot may be the best choice for your needs.
Unity is one of the most widely-used game engines in the industry, by indie developers and AAA companies alike. It is suitable for crafting both 2D and 3D games, and supports multiple platform releases. Unity requires a certain level of experience and C# coding skills, hence it is not suitable for complete beginners. Unlike Godot, Unity is only free for personal use, while advanced plans require subscription fees. You also have to pay a royalty for some plans once your annual revenue exceeds a certain amount.
Unreal is a major, professional game engine popular with AAA game studios. It is famous for the stunning graphics it provides for making 3D games, and again allows game exports to multiple platforms. Among the three engines described in this article, Unreal is the most difficult to learn for beginners and is best suited for experienced gamemakers. Fortunately, there are plenty of tutorials that beginners can benefit from and the engine itself comes with a Blueprint system to help you construct games even without coding knowledge. Unreal is free-to-use until your revenue hits $1 million USD, after which a 5% royalty has to be paid for all sales.
Game engines usually have their own asset shops for users to download/purchase items for game-making use.
While some assets are free for all users, most are locked behind a paywall—at rather expensive prices too. If you’re reluctant to purchase assets or aren’t a fan of making assets using your current game engine, you can choose to import files from other 3D modeling software.
3D modeling software
There are various 3D modeling software available that game developers can use to create quality 3D models, animations, backgrounds etc. that can be imported into game engines. The following are three popular 3D modeling software that you can use with the game engines above:
Blender, like Godot, is free and open source. It is an excellent choice for small developers/hobbyists thanks to its various functions and tools for asset-making processes such as modeling, shading, animation etc. Although it doesn’t perform as well as some software designed for a certain niche, it offers all the essential tools that make it possible for users to create assets on par with those made on more expensive software.
2. 3ds Max
3ds Max is a professional 3D modeling software that specializes in modeling, texturing, and meshing. If you have to model architectural assets, 3ds Max is the go-to software. It provides some small tools that give you more flexibility and freedom with details on top of essential tools. If you are not experienced with creating animations, 3ds Max’s rigging process is rather simple and easy to pick up. The only downside to 3ds Max is that it only works on Windows.
Maya is another 3D modeling software that is best used for making animations. It has a multitude of animation tools for making fluid game animations and complex rigs. Both created by Autodesk, Maya and 3ds Max have many functional similarities. Maya, however, is designed to carry more complicated tool sets for bigger projects, which may take time for beginners to get used to. Unlike 3ds Max, Maya operates on multiple platforms, which is a great advantage.
Now that we’ve reached the end of this article, you probably have a better understanding of some of the best game development software in the market (if you’re not already using them!). If you’re new to game-making and would like guided practice on some of these software, check out these courses about Blender, 3ds Max and Maya!
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