What is the best professional game engine

The games industry has grown considerably in recent years. What was long considered a “niche hobby”, which only penniless nerds pursue, has now developed into a mass phenomenon. The passion of competing with friends in competitive online games or discovering strange worlds on the couch has become part of everyday life for many people. This can also be seen in the numbers. In Germany alone, the games industry is now worth 6.2 billion euros. And the demand for the games is growing steadily, especially in the mobile games sector.

So it's no wonder that many development studios are desperately looking for programmers to work on new games in the various studios. But a large community of hobby developers has also formed outside of the professional world. But is it even possible to teach yourself to program games? In this article we want to give you an introduction to the most popular platforms for game development and explain which game engine is suitable for beginners.

Where do you start?

Before you can think about what you actually want to program, however, you should have created some prerequisites and made some thought. The central questions that arise for absolute beginners in the field of game development are: What hardware do I need to be able to program? In which gaming engine should I program? Do I have to be able to program at all? And above all: Where can I find suitable sources to quickly get started with game development?

So let's start with the hardware: In short, an i5 processor or higher is ideal for being able to program in peace. Most gaming engines need a lot of processor power to run smoothly. Accordingly, it makes sense to have at least 8 GB of RAM. 16 GB and everything above are actually better. We have already published an article in which you can find all the important specifications and some laptop models that we recommend if you want to develop games yourself.

Game Engine for Beginners: Which One is Right?

One of the biggest decisions you have to make when starting your new passion is choosing your game engine. Fortunately for all of us, there are now many good engines that are completely free for hobby programmers. The two main representatives are the Unreal Engine and Unity. From Deus Ex to Bioshock or Rainbow Six Siege to Fortnite or The Stanley Parable: Many AAA titles are developed with the Unreal or Unity Engine. More and more development studios swear by them. But apart from these two "giants" there are also good game engines for beginners.

Unreal Engine

What makes the engine so popular? First of all, it's completely free for beginners. You can simply download the engine from the website, start it and you're good to go! Unreal has the advantage that it is used by many developers. You can find a corresponding number of tutorials and assistance online. In addition, the engine is incredibly diverse and allows you to create a highly complex game from virtually nothing. However, this strength is more of a problem for many beginners.

Because if you are not very familiar with programming, the many functions in Unreal can quickly appear confusing and confusing. As a beginner, many of the features are nice-to-have, but ultimately not necessary to program a first game. As a beginner, you can benefit from the free online learning and find a large community that is at your side during your process. Should you one day want to publish a game of yours, Epic, the company behind the Unreal Engine, requires that you cede five percent of your sales to them if you earn more than 3,000 US dollars per quarter.

Unity engine

The Unity Engine is also one of the most important and most frequently used engines. Indie developers in particular swear by the software. What makes Unity so special is, on the one hand, the large community, which is at your side with help and advice, and, on the other, the easy introduction to the basic functions. This makes the game engine very attractive for beginners. Some extra functions can be bought for money and there are numerous online courses that you can attend for free. Regardless of whether you are just starting out or actually want to create a longer project: Unity is easy to understand and still has all the basic functions you will need.

As a private person you get the engine completely free of charge, as a pupil or student there are a few extra features such as dark mode or cloud diagnosis in real time. Either way, you have access to Learn Premium, Unity's learning platform. Here you get all the information you need and can take part in live sessions and register for various courses. This increases the long-term motivation and can help you to overcome hurdles. As soon as you have turned over more than 200,000 US dollars within twelve months, you have to get Unity Plus, which costs 37 euros per "seat", ie per person in your team, as a subscription.

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Manu

At the moment this game engine is still in alpha. Nevertheless, you can download them for free with a simple registration. But what can Manu do that Unreal and Unity can't? In short, Manu offers a programming area in which you do not have to use any coding. While you won't get very far with the Unreal Engine and Unity without at least understanding the basics of C ++, you can develop entire games in Manu without having to work with code just once. The platform tries to find the most playful approach to programming possible through interactive objects and minimally table settings. You don't need any previous knowledge and can jump right into the action. Thus, Manu is the perfect game engine for beginners who might want to "sniff" game development first.

On the website you will also find helpful tutorials for getting started with game development. However, you should be aware that the minimalist functions of course do not allow as much of your own creativity as is the case in other engines. In addition, there aren't that many tutorials at the moment and the community is a bit smaller. However, if you want to take a relaxed approach to the topic and try it out first, or have never looked at a code before, Manu is a clear platform on which you can simply let off steam.

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GameMaker Studio 2

The full-fledged engine GameMaker Studio 2 has been around for a while. The developer community is correspondingly large and diverse. With a 30-day trial subscription, you can try your hand at first before you decide on a subscription model. The cheapest subscription starts at $ 39 for one year of platform access. Within the application, you have both the option of choosing from ready-made settings and of coding completely freely. In general, the user interface of GameMaker Studio 2 is kept minimalistic. At the center of the programming are pictures and animations, the game logic and the ability to interact with objects, as well as the creation of different rooms and levels. Accordingly, GameMaker Studio 2 is particularly suitable if you plan to primarily create 2D games. Nevertheless, 3D games can also be developed.

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Godot

Godot came into its third version two years ago and is still widely used today. Here, special emphasis is placed on creating an appealing programming area in which the developers can quickly find their way around and have fun programming. The open source project is relatively flexible and gives you a lot of freedom in how you want to design your game. In addition, there are already many templates in the application that you can use for your projects. If you really want to dig deep into the subject of this engine, you can also create your own tools, which can then be used by the rest of the community.

The engine is free and can be used for 32 and 64 bit systems. The Godot project is financed only through Patreon. On the website you will find written instructions that introduce you to the basics of the program. Like other competitors, the functions at Godot are partially limited compared to Unity or Unreal. Nevertheless, the engine offers many functions and can be very individually adapted due to the open source aspect. So the game engine may be a bit overwhelming for beginners, but you will always get help from other developers. Cooperation with and within the community is important.

Which engine suits whom?

Think about it: do you want to create video games in 2D or 3D? Above all, do you need great graphics and many different functions, or do you prefer to be taken a little by the hand at the beginning? Maybe you're not a fan of coding at all. Then we recommend Manu, as you can let off steam here without any prior knowledge. This engine proves that getting started with game development doesn't always have to be difficult. Complete games can also be programmed with this application. If you want to go a little more in the direction of classic programming, GameMaker Studio 2 is suitable, because here you can switch between classic coding and the default settings.

Godot, on the other hand, offers you a great environment if you want to rotate completely freely. The basic features are easy to understand, but if you really want to delve into the depths of programming, you can even develop your own tools and share them with the community. Ultimately, however, the "industry standard" remains with Unreal Engine and Unity. If you want to work professionally, it is a must to master these two engines. At the same time, Unity can be easier to understand and clearer, especially for beginners, whereas the Unreal Engine then has a wider range of features to offer.

How do you start programming?

As soon as you have decided on an engine and downloaded it, you are faced with the question: where do I start? As already mentioned, every engine presented has a large forum with many community members and a separate learning area, which should make it easier for you to get started. However, not all learning platforms are equally good.

At Unity for example, the focus is clearly on certain subject areas that are specifically explained. There are few courses that would seem helpful as a complete beginner. Anyone who has just started and maybe doesn't even know what kind of project they want to start with will be overwhelmed here. What is very successful about this learning platform from Unity, however, is the possibility of taking part in live courses. You simply register for free and can then see the lecturer via live chat and livestream, communicate with him and do the tasks he or she gives you. In addition, you can quickly make contact with other programmers and motivate each other.

In the Unreal Engine a similar problem arises. Even if the online courses are very elaborately produced and, above all, offer a great deal of detail, the many possibilities of the game engine seem a bit "overwhelming" for beginners. Because the engine is often used for 3D animations outside of games, such as for advertising or television productions. Thus, the area of ​​application is much larger and there are many tutorials that are specially intended for visual artists or marketing experts. If you don't know exactly where you want to go with programming games, other platforms are better ways to learn how to use the Unreal Engine.

Godotand Manucurrently have the problem that their tutorials for the engine are very sparse. Basics are explained, but there is little in-depth. The GameMaker Studio 2 at least manages to pick you up even as a beginner. The tutorials offer a good overview of the possibilities of the engine, although the instructions are not very numerous either.

Tutorials on YouTube

Given the high tech affinity of most developers, it's no wonder that some of the best tutorials for all the engines featured can be found on YouTube. From extensive introductions for beginners, to working on entire projects together, to step-by-step tutorials for extremely specific applications within the engines, everything can be found on YouTube. Here is a small list with the best channels for getting started in game development.

Unreal Engine:

Unity engine

Manu

Since the engine is still in alpha at the moment, this is the only YT channel with the basics.

GameMaker: Studio 2

Godot

Games Engines for Beginners: Learn on Other Online Platforms

While the tutorials on YouTube are all available free of charge, there is also the option of learning to program video games on a learning platform. We've talked about skillshare and other online learning tools in the past. Most of them also offer courses in game development. At Udemy, for example, you will find numerous Unity courses that cost around twelve euros. Courses for the Unreal Engine and other products can also be found here. You will also find practical instructions here on how to get by as a freelance game developer and get jobs or even a permanent position.

At Skillshare, too, most of the courses deal with Unity, but you can also acquire other important skills in the sessions, such as how a successful video game should be structured. Aside from the most popular courses, you will also find some units on Godot or the Unreal Engine, as well as some beginner courses for coding.

Apart from the two largest platforms for self-sufficient online learning, there are numerous paid courses from other providers, some of which can even be completed with a certificate. However, caution is required here. Not all courses offered online are of high quality.

Before you pay any money for a certificate, you should research beforehand what experiences there are with the course offered. How good the lecturer is and what the certificate actually brings you should of course be clarified in advance. IGN has created an overview of the 39 best online courses to get you started in game development in an article that should get you off to a good start. Ultimately, one advantage of certificate courses is that the course takes place live. In all likelihood, you will be given tasks that have to be completed by a certain deadline. This increases the chance that you will actually stick with it and mostly you have the chance to get to know other people with the same interests.

Game development requires patience and dedication

As is well known, no master has yet fallen from the sky. And when it comes to video game development, this saying is especially true. Especially at the beginning you will often encounter some difficulties that cannot be resolved directly. Game development is time consuming and requires a high tolerance for frustration. But you can also create something that no one else has developed and implement your own ideas uncompromisingly. Game development can also be a very fulfilling hobby, and a great job. The focus should always be on having fun with your project and if you exchange ideas with other developers, you will learn a lot faster than if you fight the inevitable error messages on your own.

 

This text is part of the Netzpiloten Creative Tech Season. In this, from October to December, we dedicate ourselves to the creative possibilities that technologies offer us and give you inspiration, instructions, tips and tricks for your own projects! Here you can find more information about the Creative Tech Season as well as all the articles it contains.


Image by Gorodenkoff via adobestock

Leonie Werner

is interested in everything that has to do with media. She is particularly open to topics in the digital sector and is always up to date when it comes to gaming.


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Tags: coding, game development, gaming, programming, Unity, Unreal Engine, video games