Game developers require a platform that provides an expression of creativity and performance without additional plugins or extra purchases. While there are hundreds of cool game engines on the market, few are as popular with new developers as those that render cross-platform support, use artificial intelligence (AI) and create immersive augmented and virtual reality experiences.
The following list of indie game engines use the most powerful technologies, have the most vibrant online communities for support, and provide the most essential tools and workflows to take your final output to the next level.
1. Unreal Engine 4
Whether your game is to be played on a PS4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, or even the latest Oculus, Hololens 2, Samsung Gear or Google VR, Unreal Engine by Epic Games provides an unmatched experience. By far one of the most popular gaming software, Unreal Engine has been around since 1998 powering hundreds of popular games including Batman Arkham series, Dragon Ball Z, Fortnite Battle Royale, and Call of Cthulhu.
There is only one SDK to develop all the applications. Unreal Engine uses its own proprietary gaming language loosely based on Java. But you don’t have to “touch a line of code” as the software developers promise, because everything is taken care of using toolsets. The simulations and advanced APIs leave rich visuals and photosets that are the best in the gaming business.
Having been in the business for so long, they have learned a lot from their mistakes to create the closest thing you have to an error-free, bug-free experience.
Unreal Engine uses open platforms and a brilliant support system based on tickets as well as a vibrant community to help you out in any sticky situation. It is also cross-compatible with other gaming engines such as Unity or Amazon Lumberyard.
The gaming engine is absolutely free to use. Once you publish a game, you pay them 5% royalties after the first $3000 per game in a calendar. This is really good for someone who just started out as a game developer. You don’t have to worry about costs. There is only one catch: the access to Unreal’s own marketplace is not free.
Supporting more than 25 platforms, Unity is a highly ranked gaming engine which prides itself on being “the world’s best real-time development platform.” It provides the behind -the-scenes action for some of the most engrossing and imaginative role player games including Escape from Tarkov, Osiris: New Dawn, In the Valley of Gods, Harold Halibut and Sonder.
Unity uses high-definition rendering pipelines to help develop superb graphics that can run on any GPU. The scalability is at another level, as you can build for the most modern consoles and VR headsets at the same time you are optimizing the performance for lower-load devices. It also has post-processing features to remove blurs, improve color tones and fix chromatic aberrations.
The annual premium plan starts at only $35 and is divided monthly. But, there is a personal free plan if revenue or funding is less. You can also do a 30-day free online training using the Premium plan to learn the software. All the games you develop are royalty-free.
3. Amazon Lumberyard
A fairly new game engine (launched c.2016), Amazon Lumberyard is a continuation of CryEngine which used to power intensive games including Far Cry, Sniper: Ghost Warrior, and Enemy Front. Amazon has improvised the features to support integration with AWS and hundreds of game-ready assets that can import files from Adobe Photoshop to Autodesk Maya. It also uses its own proprietary animation editor to create compelling characters as well as a feature-rich sound engine.
You only have to create an AWS account, and the entire game development is free except with one catch: you need an AWS pricing plan which starts at $29 per month. However, Lumberyard is absolutely free to use, and you “don’t” have to share royalties with Amazon. In terms of features, compatibility and support, Lumberyard is second to none.
Are you an indie game developer with a small budget? AppGameKit is a no-frills development solution that supports the best games you can build on Visual Editor. For an all-inclusive deal at $80, you get one of the easiest tools in the market for developing games on iOS, Android, Windows PC, XBox, Linux, Raspberry Pi, HTML5 browsers and more.
While the interface is simple to use, AppGameKit supports advanced tools such as Vulcan Rendering, OpenGL rendering, AR & VR, and tons of other features. There are no hidden costs.
Game engines are at the heart of any game. While enterprises dominate the gaming market, as an individual, if you have the creative spark and a gaming PC with the right specs, you can use one of these game engines to create the game of your dreams.
Which other game engines have you used? Do let us know in the comments.