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Engines of Creation: An Overview of Game Engines

October 28, 2008 Article Start Page 1 of 12 Next

[So you need a game engine? Gamasutra surveys the state of the market in this comprehensive overview of solutions, priced from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars, in an article originally published in Game Developer magazine this summer.]

Perhaps what's most remarkable about talking to the people behind the range of game engines listed in this article is their attitude toward each other.

Despite there being clear competition between some of the technologies -- try Unreal Engine 3, idTech 5, CryENGINE 2, and possibly Source -- the main threat is still viewed as being the internal engine.

Yet, it's the industry's growing acceptance of not-invented-here solutions that underpins the variety of middleware companies and wares now available to developers and publishers.

The success of such middleware has been aided by several different trends. Rising game budgets, the need to mitigate risk factors where possible and the robustness of most of these engines means that even at the top-end, paying a few hundred thousand dollars to be able to get something up and running in weeks not months (or years) has become what could be described as the lesser of two evils.

Of course, some bastions of homegrown technology remain, certain in the knowledge they can come up with something more specific and suited to their actual project.

Issues such as vendors being bought -- need we remind people of the disaster that was EA's acquisition of Criterion (disastrous in terms of RenderWare licensees at least) -- still linger.

But more generally, the rise of middleware should be seen as a good thing. Less focus on technology and more time spent on gameplay was always the sales pitch, and maybe games such as BioShock and Mass Effect are proving it finally works.

Here we look at commercial game engines (listed alphabetically by company name) and give developers an overview of the off-the-shelf solutions available.

Each company's approach to engine design is different and developers who are looking to build their next game on outside technology will find a wide variety from which to choose.

Article Start Page 1 of 12 Next

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Wyatt Epp
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For reference, does "PC" refer to Windows, Linux, and Mac or just Windows (yes, I could search for it, but I rather feel that it should be clear by the article already).

On a related note, I'm pleased to find that there's more support for Linux than I previously thought. I'll have to look at a couple of them closer.

Simon Carless
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PC will mean Windows in this context, I believe - apologies for confusion.

ken sato
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Prod groups have to pay particular attention when selecting a middleware solution for a project. It's relatively easy to lose any benefits from a lack a engine familiarity on all parts of the dev group from assets to code. The critical point always seems to be time rather than complexity or quality. Interesting article.

Jason Maskell
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This article is essentially a list of a few middleware engines with their prices and features, with no relevant info that we couldn't find in a press release. There's not even a feature grid, as is usual in fluffy, value-judgement free pieces like this. How is this article at all useful?

Tristan de Ines Rodriguez
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Wow. It blows me away that Oblivion and CivIV are running on the same engine.

Marque Sondergaard
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Where is the Unity engine?

Simon Carless
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Marque: this round-up was written for Game Developer magazine originally, and we couldn't include some other engines, including, Unity, for space reasons. The next version will include Unity, though, since we can see that they're increasingly important (see our coverage of the Unity 08 conference last week).

Abdu Kho
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Like this Article it looks helpful. Also will PS2 work for these engine's if it says PS3?

Andrew Heywood
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This is nit-picking, but:

> It's safe to say Epic's Unreal Engine 3 is the current,

> de facto industry standard middleware

It's safe to say that it's currently the most popular 3rd party engine for AAA current-gen titles. That's not really the same thing as being a de facto industry standard. You wouldn't say the Ford Focus is the de facto standard for UK cars, just because it has the largest market share. By definition a de facto standard has to be so completely ubiquitous that anything other than it seems odd - that's not Unreal 3's status.

Andrew Heywood
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I mean, does it even have a majority market share when considering only games which use primarily 3rd party engine tech?

Robert Zamber
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I was really surprised not to see unity mentioned.

Robert Zamber
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Duuurrrr I didn't read Carless's post. So ignore previous :)

Isidro Angel
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A lot of goods Game Engine not appear in this list.

Like: Unity, Unigine, StemCell, NeoAxis, Quest3D.

And much more, there are Game Engines very good and the prices is more low.

Raj Android
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CryEngine 2 :)) I'm really surprised that they are featured everywhere as a commercial engine but till now, there hasn't been any single game (other than their own) published using this engine and just one game in making (AION). Their response time and attitude is absolutely different from other engines like Unreal, Gamebryo, Trinigy Vision etc. Totally unprofessional if we consider them as a commercial engine provider.

Steven 'lazalong' Gay
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Open-source? Free?

Shouldn't this article be called "List of expensive commercial engines" ?

Why not the Nebula engine?

Or ... well.... the list is long:

Christopher McLaren
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Theres a whole list of engines that should be listed (C4, NeoAxis, Unigine, Quest3d, etc).

Game engines have come a long way in the last few years and the commercial engines that had the market to themselves need to realise that they face competition and need to restructure thier licensing. the engine with the best tools and licensing will make a lot of money.