If you follow games, then you hear about game engines all the time, especially with different game trailers trying to hype up their tech and with different beautiful graphic visuals floating around the internet. We hear a lot about advanced engines creating hyper-realistic triple-A games, but what do they really do? Does a better engine make a better game?
Putting all this together, a game engine presents a set environment for game development. It is a platform on top of which games, simulations, 3-D models, and movies are developed. Sometimes, only one or a combination of multiple game engines are used by game developers, which has the ability to bring a virtual vision to virtual reality.
So, a game engine is a framework for game development. This framework helps game developers with several core areas that all games possess. For now, we will simplify it to just three: graphics, audio, and logic.
Whether you are making a triple-A shooter, Tetris, or just a calculator application, modern game engines like Unity 3-D and Unreal Engine have become more specialized. These game platforms include frameworks for physics, AI, networking, optimization, and much more.
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With all the customizations, options and capabilities it becomes hard for a game developer to choose the best platform. So here is a comparison of the two most popular game engines at work right now.
Unity for All?
Whether you are an industry veteran or new to the app dev scene, there is a good chance you have heard about Unity before. Specifically, it is a cross-platform development engine created by Unity Technologies that allows users to program and assemble games with a mix of drag-and-drop features and C# scripting.
Today Unity is dubbed as one of the most versatile engines on the market, expanding its operations on Windows and giving users the power to publish projects on a verity of platforms from Android and iOS to the PS4 and Nintendo Switch.
The engine is considered easy to pick up even for novice coders and supports the production of prototypes thanks to the sizeable install base and the propagation throughout the developmental world. Due to this, there is no shortage of documentation and tutorials to help users with just about everything.
While it is often recognized as a tool for 3-D titles, it can also handle sprites and 2-D pipelines too. Games like Cuphead, Bendy, the Ink Machine, and Animal Crossing Pocket Camp were all developed using Unity.
How Does Unreal Pack a Punch?
Unreal is an incredibly robust professional-level tool that recently became free to use. UE3 has been behind hits like Arkham City and BioShock Infinite. Though still in its early stages, the new Unreal Engine 4 also shows a lot of promise and potential.
The interface that Unreal presents to the user is a little bit more complicated when compared to tools like GameMaker and Unity. That being said there is no other development tool near to the complex environment Unreal Engine can generate.
From a developer’s point of view, Unreal Engine, even though it is a bit more challenging for new beginners, has gained so much popularity because of its “blueprint system.” Learning to make games using this system, the user can get some pretty cool games up and running quickly without ever writing code.
The other thing that the users like about it is that if the user really might want to optimize down to the last byte the tools gives complete control to the developer. This makes Unreal the most customizable game engine amongst other similar game engines.
Unreal has hybrid accessibility where both triple-A studios and game dev hobbyists can reap benefit from.
What Should We Choose?
Unity Engine and Unreal, when it comes to aspects like working for mobile devices, allow free build types that spread over a verity of devices. But, the key difference between the two is how well they handle compatibility; Unreal is able to deliver high-end games to mobile, claiming that you can make something with similar quality to PC games, and the performance is still stable.
2d vs 3d Development
Unity, on the other hand, does not handle this very well. However, it does excel at 2d games for mobile. It is observed that when testing 3d games in Unity, there are performance issues and when physics is enabled, it drains the battery of the device more. But, when it comes to 2d games developed in Unity, it gives a good battery life even if physics is enabled.
Unreal, on the other hand, does not offer flexible 2d features, but it is still possible to make a 2d game with a toll called “Paper 2d.”
In comparison to Unreal’s Marketplace the Unity Asset Store is mountains above Unreal. The asset store contains user-made plug-ins and add-ons, 3d models and 2d sprites, pre-made scripts, etc. All of this is available at a usually cheap price. Unreal, on the other hand, offers similar content, but at a higher price, and the selection has always been very low as compared to Unity.
When it comes to the learning curve of the engine it can be easily given to Unity, but if the developer learns through documentation then both engines are equal. The quality of tutorials given in both the engines are the same. Unity has gained mass popularity, therefore more user input for the developer to Google. Unity answers will by far have every answer to a problem whereas troubleshooting an Unreal project might be more difficult.
When stripping down both the Engines for their Core-Capability, we can clearly see that both the engines take the edge over each other in different significant aspects. So game app developers, before investing on game engines, are better off assessing their own requirements to be able to have the best development power by their side.