Technology has leaped in awesome bounds. It was 40 years ago when IBM rolled out the world’s first personal computer. It had internal RAM storage of a maximum of 64kB. Compared to today’s computers, 4GB RAM is over 60,000 times that. Here, let’s know about the Free Video Game Engines.
There are now high technology cellphones and laptops. The internet is there now. These new necessities have gestated, without knowing it, a new breed of homo sapiens.
These are the new breed of humans that do not know what time it is. They only use their vocal cords when something happens to the game they are playing. They stop and break only when they need to, like at the very last moment. They call for food when they are starving. All else is immaterial.
It’s a brave new world. And the source of this turmoil? Electronic games. It started with arcades and Mario was at the head of it. It is now a floodgate of choices. Fueled by a band of geniuses that keeps the fire burning ever brighter. They have with them they refer to as Game Engines.
Game engines are nothing more than computer programs. These are used by game makers to conk out a functional game. Before the year 2000, a handful of brainstorming young men took the uncharted path. They came out of the jungle with the golden prize.
At present, game engines are big business. Two formats exist, 2-dimension (2-D) and 3-dimension (3-D). We focus on 3-D and a short look at 2-D.
Best Free 2-D Game Engines
1. Corona GE. An engine built for mobile games for the platforms, iOS and Android. Limited to 2-D formats only, it will deliver fast outputs and fast execution of the game. There is a drawback here that it needs to have some programming. This is free but with a little constraint.
2. Cerberus X GE. This is also an excellent resource or a practice engine for beginners. It is not an advanced engine, but it will get the beginner’s hands dirty. This is a lightweight program and can work even if paired with other tools to assemble the game fast. This is free, but you can choose to donate.
3. Phaser GE. This game engine is in a way on the upper scale for learning. Among 2D engines, this will a little tougher to wiggle through. Unlike Construct and Cerberus X, this is not for beginners. If you want to move forward from basics, this could be the next step for you. This is also a free engine.
4. Monogame GE. This is one of those game engines that beginners should not touch. It is for coders, advanced developers, and language programmers. One thing about this engine is it is not an engine per se. It is a framework where all needed components for the game are in assembly. All these assemblies are then grounded to the framework when done. This is a free engine.
5. Construct GE. The best to have is if one is an “ultra” beginner, like students at school. It began its life with its eyes on those that do not know any programming. Two British brothers set up a company–Scirra–and created this engine in 2011. This is a free engine.
Best Free 3-D Software
A strange name, but it was more strange at the very start. The original name was Larvotor back in the early 2000s. It is the creation of two Argentinians who were both software developers. From the beginning, they had the hunch it was going to take them some time to finish what they had started. With that in view, they in time had a name which is about a play by Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.
This is a free and open-source game engine. The founders rely on their growing number of contributors. As well as members of their community worldwide. It is open to donation through their Patreon page. They used their own constructed programming language. But they have inserts to support two other languages. This is to come up with the full implementation that it is today.
Games made of Godot are deployable on mobile platforms, iOS, and Android. You can achieve the same on desktop models for mac-OS, Linux, UWP, Windows, and the new Haiku.
- It is a versatile engine. Limitation on a developer’s creativity is in enhancement further. The company launched the Godot 3.3.3, a newer version. This has set out the elimination of annoying bugs that popped in earlier versions.
- It is excellent in 2D games. The newer version of Godot has further strengthened the pixel ability of the engine.
- It has a dedicated language with support for other languages. This dedicated language came to be by the founders for one purpose. That is to reconcile the inefficiencies of established programming languages. GDScript was born as the language for the game engine. As the engine developed further, they had the GDScript integrate with C# and C++.
- Godot is open-source software. Being such, Godot can have alterations by any developer. This is when he encounters an instance that needs insertion into Godot. Like when a player throws a rock that falls into a lake but there is no splash effect on the lake.
- Godot has its own IDE. The Integrated Development Environment (or IDE) is an important tool. It is to develop and construct a game on a blackboard. It is also a text editor, syntax checker, and debugger. You may or may not use the IDE but it is there for you.
- Not ready in full for complex 3D. This feature is new to Godot as a whole. It is behind in performance as compared to the other engines available. It is, though, addressed, but not by leaps and bounds, by the new release, Godot 3.3.3.
- Only a small community (yet). Although it is now a 7-year-old program since its launch in 2014, it has yet a small gathering in its community. Followers, contributors, and members of Godot are far and few for the moment. But, with the growing notice given to it, the numbers will be higher than the present.
- Long time between updates. In January 2018, Godot 3.0 had its launch. It is now nearing its fourth year for the Godot 4.0 release.
2. Armory 3D
This game engine is unique. It may be a standalone engine like all the other 3D engines. It could also integrate and become an add-on for Blender. Blender is a full suite of software for computer graphics. It is set to develop animation, visual effects, and others. Blender is in the same category as Maya.
Back to Armory 3D. This game engine is open-sourced. It has the 3 languages in its inner structure: C language, Haxe, and an assembly language. Games made with Armory 3-D are suitable under the following platforms. iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, Mac OS, HTMLS, Switch, Xbox One, and PS4.
The company and the developer of the engine had their first launch in 2016. It took two years for the company to come up with a stable version. The latest one is 2021-8, where it is the latest of three updates in this year alone.
- Ease of coding. With three languages in the game engine, a developer can choose which of the languages he can use. Many would prefer Haxe since compiling with it is much faster than c.
- Easy set up for development. Right out of the box, this game engine needs only a few tweaks to set up for development for making your game. A developer may also improve the engine itself with relative ease.
- Wide flexibility. The developers do not constrict a game developer. With the absence of a bevy of rules that limits the preferences of a game maker.
- Not preferred for medium to large games. Armory 3D is still gathering steam to grow even bigger. The more this engine will be a deterrent when the target game is fast-paced and complex.
- Unpredictability and unstable. This game engine is still a work in progress, as many developers would agree. Non-programmers who can structure a game will fall into some type of debacle. This setback might need a deeper understanding of the workings of Armory 3D. Programming would not be far away.
This is the most popular of all game engines. The company Unity Technologies sprouted only along the road. The owners-developers set the company for the protection of the software. There was a trio of men who contrived to do something that they love. They share a common goal in one basement of Copenhagen.
A post of an inquiry by one of the three men at 1 AM of the 21st of May 2002 sparked the chain of events. This chain of events gave us this outstanding computer program today. And they had to work on it hard. Unity 1.0 came out in 2005. As they developed, they changed the sequence of the versions. That change is still in effect today.
The current version is 2020.1, which is a sixteen-year gap from version 1.0. A great emphasis is on order here, that before Unity 1.0 came out, there were stable versions before that. That is to say that there were not only 4 iterations and improvements of the program through the years.
The Unity game engine is not only multi-platform. Window, iOS, mac-OS X, etc., will work fine for Unity games. It is also a vehicle to use for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. This is not counting the other 20+ platforms the software supports.
- Easier to port. Portability is one characteristic of a program to meet a wider base of users. It is excellent when it can run on an android or a mac machine or a plain-jane Windows set up.
- It is helpful for beginners. Since its shift to free software, many academic institutions have used it. Foremost of which is for the student base to learn. Unity provides simplicity in its complexity with tools such as Bolt. It is helpful for students that know nothing of programming.
- Enormous Asset Store. This is the place a developer goes to find more tools to achieve what he wants. It has stocks of over 50,000 packages. A very wide choice, but developers must know that Unity does not do continuous clean-up. This will cause non-functioning tools to still be available in the store. A constant watch on what Unity cleans is best.
- Unity’s UI has much more to hurdle. Some developers noticed some marked deficiencies in Unity’s User Interface (or UI). This results from game engine to game engine comparison by those involved.
- Unsuitability for large projects. This is another developer’s feedback. Though there are drawbacks in any of the game engines. This fallibility of Unity is heavier than data overload in other engines.
4. Unreal Engine (or UE)
The company that built this game engine, Epic Games, had the release the first Unreal Engine in 1998. Since then, it gave us three more iterations and improvements of the previous version. UE came out in 2014 and this year is the year they intend to roll out Unreal Engine 5.
The name of the game engine is something that makes you wonder. That made it the most appealing game engine for developers. Photorealism, and the small technological innovations that comprise it, is the technology. The technology that made UE one of the top game engines currently.
Unreal Engine 1 to 3 were all set for a price. The company then turned around. They made an innovative move to their source of income. A developer can have the fourth version for free on a certain condition.
When the developer earns $3000 within a quarter of a year, Epic Games takes 5% of it. The games, of course, were the products under the UE software. Upon Unreal Engine 5’s launch, Epic Games will ease up on this rule. It is advisable to contact Epic Games about the ways the company will collect from a developer.
One interesting facet of the owners of UE: Google was aiming for them once.
- Shooters are the best for UE. The tool-set for making shooters are excellent in UE. This is because UE 4.0 has upgraded from the last version. That is to accommodate as many types of games that can roll out from this game engine.
- Game type variety is wider than before. Action-adventure, episodic narrative games, role-playing games. These are among the few game genres UE 4.0 can handle. Developers can not wait for UE 5.0.
- Unreal Engine is free and open-source software. The program is free and developers would not mind giving Epic Games a share of their earning. After that, the source code is open. Any developer can alter the code to his liking for his personal use. Or developers can fuse to create something more stunning than what they have right now.
- Technical knowledge may still be in need. Epic Games has done the effort to make UE 4.0 as accommodating as it could. But there are still instances when technical know-how will be in need. At the start, UE had at its center the shooter, going farther away from that will make things hard for the developer.
- Data overload. In its fourth version since the start, UE has an excuse for this slight misstep; early stages. But this misstep may cost the success or failure of the game. Somehow, there must be a recourse for this deficiency since UE is for the bigger games. UE 5.0 might handle that.
CryEngine by Crytek had its launching in 2004 with Far Cry. Far Cry was a game intended to show the technological capacity of an Nvidia video card. Crytek saw the potential of the software and made it into what it is today.
The company made some partnerships with other game software developers. Popular games came out from those fusions like Sniper Ghost Warrior. These alliances enabled CryEngine to survive despite also the agreement with Amazon.
It is one of the best, if not the best, in games with photorealistic shooters. But in no certain way is the game engine limited only to a game of shooters. It is usable in making games of genres of games with its variety of toolsets.
Its assembly was in three languages, C++, Lua, and C#. The engine is also multi-platform: Windows, Play Station 3 and 4, Linux, Xbox One, and 360. This is a free game engine under the royalty system for the creator.
There are two ways for Crytek to collect from a game engine user. First, the first $5,000 revenue is royalty-free. After that will be 5% for Crytek. Second, buy a customized license that has greater support and further training.
After the Far Cry project, Crytek has done improvements to the engine and the current stable version is 5.6.7.
- Feature-filled right after download. This is one of the very few game engines that comes with a crateful of tools. And trinkets, as well, to start a project right on the first day. Characters, animation, game modes, interface, weapons, etc.
- First-person game specialty. Like the other game engines, CryEngine has its field of specialty. That specialty reflects its original purpose. Far Cry, the project that this game engine came about to be, was a first-person shooting game.
- The game engine is easy to learn more than others. A 2D game engine is only for 2D. But a 3D engine that can equal the ease of a 2D engine is worth mentioning. Up against other 3D engines, this could be the easiest.
- Fast-paced shooters and complex role-playing games are not the forte. The two areas of deficiency of this game engine result from its physics tool. Built not for that purpose that which affects the agileness of the game character.
- Recruitment of developers is difficult. Game software developers have a hard time looking for candidates for recruitment. A team of developers needs other developers to finish a big project. The reason for this is the shallow user base for the moment.
6. Amazon Lumberyard
One can not ignore the name. It is what you think it is. The same giant company that sells your shoe and everything else. They have also put their hand into game engines. It started in 2008 and has flourished since.
This game engine built its foundation with the logic and algorithm of CryEngine. Amazon had stepped in and licensed the older engine in 2015. The year after, Amazon put Lumberyard on the market. Its movement away from CryEngine began in gradual steps. This action led to self-identity and made a following of its own. Lumberyard refurbished most of its lines of code to be distinct from CryEngine.
There are yet a few games in the market that have Amazon Lumberyard in its system. With Amazon and its web services, the mother company expects a few more developers to use the engine.
- Flexibility with 2D and 3D formats. Lumberyard has excellent 3D essentials like high fidelity. More so if 2D is the format for a game. With its modular Gems system, it makes the engine as flexible as the developer wants.
- Tools for beginners exist in Lumberyard. The skill of the developer is in the eyes of the game engine. The complete suite of the Lumberyard engine is at the developer’s disposal. It covers from the green novice to the ripe-red expert.
- The game engine is free but with constraints. Lumberyard is at its best when integrated with Amazon Web Services (or AWS). If the game you plan to market is an offline play, the game engine is free. Online games share a bigger slice of the cake.
- Fewer online resources. Because of its smaller size in usage, Lumberyard does not have a lot of fall-back sources. The sources are good to have for help and documentation. If there is any, it could already be obsolete.
- A hefty engine for a hefty project. This is not a first suggestion engine for minor projects. The entire package of Lumberyard is huge for a small project to lag around. Big players and experienced developers currently use this game engine.
- Lumberyard has not come of age yet. Some developers say some parts of the game engine are still in the stage of development. This matters most if the stage is close to the starting line. It is still something worked upon, as its sub-title suggests: beta release.
There are many other game engines for the 3-D format in the market. Likewise, other game engines perform well enough to take notice. But the list that we came up with has the most popular and high-performing software for 3-D games.
There are differing views of which engine is at the top of the pile. There are already conflicting choices for the top three even. If you are a neophyte to game making using game engines, it would be best to read other reviews that you can find.
On the shortlist of 2-D game engines, one has to take the simple steps first. Another simple step is where one does not realize that he can now run. A greenhorn using 2D software to make a game will know the essentials in construction. After accomplishing a complete and running game, he is now ready for the intricacies of the 3-D world.
Questions Asked Frequently
1. Does learning 3D game engines require one to enroll in a school or something?
It is no secret that the one with higher educational attainment will have a slight advantage over one with a lower level. That is not the only measure employers look for.
The candidate must have the desired aptitude for computing and drawing. One must also have the flair for creativity and artistry. The adeptness of new technology will also be very handy. With these, one can even teach oneself with the available manuals and guides and examples available online.
2. What is the minimum PC requirement for 3-D?
There are many ways to approach this due mainly to the many factors involved. Breaking the components down, the essential elements are below.
2-1. Motherboard. Some developers with extra resources give themselves the Core i7 10th generation which is overkill. The minimum, as many would agree, is a Core i5 6th generation which can perform adequately in a development environment.
2-2. Random Access Memory. The development of games in 3D uses a lot of computations. A RAM of only 4GB will not be an advisable setup. 8GB RAM is set at the minimum and one can increase it by increments of 4GB. A 16GB RAM is way above the norm but if accessible, why not?
2-3. Graphics Card. This is the vital cog in the machine. A machine with 8GB RAM coupled with a minimum of 2GB graphics card will be capable to give a seamless performance. The graphics card must be dedicated and compatible with DirectX 11 or higher.
2-4. Big Monitor or Dual Monitor. Clarity of the video and design considerations require a monitor of a larger size or a dual monitor set-up. Game development is not a one-sweep flow. Repeated alterations of the assets and scenes and larger monitors ease the eyes of the developer.
2-5. SSD for OS. This is optional but for an optimum machine that can open everything up in a jiffy is desirable. From the power-on button to the complete OS display must be fast.
3. What are the best 3D games?
We choose the versions of 3D games that are simply impressive visually for most of the players.
3-1. World of Warcraft. (Free) An MMORPG (massive multi-player online role-playing game). Released in 2004 by Blizzard Entertainment. In 2014, it had over 100 million registered accounts.
3-2. Dungeons and Dragons. (Free) Released in 1974 by its two original makers, the MMORPG game became the property of TSR which became a subsidiary of the Wizards of the Coast.
3-3. League of Legends. (Free) A multiplayer online battle arena video game released in 2009 by Riot Games. It has experienced a downtrend in its active accounts for the last four years.