Choosing a Game Engine

Last year, I posted in this blog last year that we would be building our game from scratch without using a game engine. For the situation I was in, it made sense. But sometimes life happens, and priorities change, and so part of the decision to refocus to Limbo also included the decision to use an existing game engine. Also, between then and now, there has been some big changes in the cost of the most popular game engines.

There are many options for game engines. When searching I found lists of 100 game engines. Based on googling around, there are 2 that seem to be the most discussed: Unity and Unreal Engine.

There have been some exciting things happening in the world of game engines over the past year. That’s very good for indie games in general, but it actually made it much more difficult to choose for me. When reading comparisons between the platforms, you have to be very careful about the date when it was written. Many things changed at different times last year and so statements could quickly become out of date.

I’m confident Quip Escape from Limbo could be built using either Unity or Unreal. The decision came down to some technical considerations similar to those that led me decide to build it from scratch earlier. We’re doing something different for the physics and control, so we’re still going to write all that directly in code. It made sense to me to do it in C++ rather than C#. Also, according to some people (it’s hard to judge for sure), Unreal would scale better than Unity. I have some very ambitious goals for future projects that will expand on what we’re doing now. Given these, I decided on going forward with Unreal.

The royalties model means more work handling the royalty payments. However, I am a very big fan of results-based rewards for any situation where it can make sense. If their software enables me to create a product that can have a lot more sales, they deserve more money. They have it set up that projects with little sales pay nothing at all. So, although a little nuisance, it’s quite in line with my principles.

When using a well known game engine, getting expert help with the development is more straightforward. That along with having detailed specs that are the result of a long year of thinking and rethinking, we’re more able to manage scope and timeline.