Tinkering in Game Development

5 Oct
2009

I’ve recently spent a little spare time into game development. A hobby of sorts..

I haven’t really spent time making games since I was in Grade 10 – tha’t was 10 years ago…scary. Back then the project was a fps (first-person shooter) Paintball game with (what I thought was) some epic AI. That was using some straight-up C++ and openGL. If I’m completely honest it was probably more a tweaked combination of a whole bunch of tutorials than a true reflection of my programming abilities.

Anyway, games have always been a passion of mine and I always like keeping up to date with what’s happening in the industry.

Unity 3d

unity

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across the Unity 3D engine (http://www.unity3d.com). Previously a mac-only dev environment, they’ve now extended their solution to provide a 1 click deployment to browsers, Windows desktop, Macs and the iPhone. Thats pretty darn impressive.

Besides the multi-platform deployment, the coolest feature is that you have a choice in what language you script in, one of them being Javascript. The engine dev GUI is very visually oriented and you basically add GameObjects to your world (anything from projectiles, to enemies, to crates etc) which can consist of combinations of 3d meshes, scripts, particle emitters, physics controllers, other gameobjects, etc. Its very simple to get up and running and they provide some great example projects.

You can grab a free 2 week trial and an indie licence for $199.00 which as far as professional engines go is very cheap. I was very impressed by the tool and the community and if I ever find some free time again I probably wouldn’t look anywhere else.

UT SDK

udk

November 2009 saw Epic Games release a free, standalone version of their Unreal Engine 3 engine (http://www.udk.com/. The idea is to give aspiring developers and professionals alike the chance to use Epic’s 3D engine technology for free.

I thought this was quite odd as I recalled the Silicon Knights lawsuit issue where Epic games were sued for not delivering on promises with the engine in question (See: http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=468). Anyway, I thought it would be worth a look and downloaded the SDK, got it up and running, opened up the editor, tinkered with some example projects and promptly closed it again. Probably never to open it again.

Perhaps I’m just lazy or scared by the large number of buttons and panes shouting at me but it didn’t scream user-friendly to me.
Unity’s interface just feels a lot more comfortable and understandable. I’ve no doubt that the technology behind the Unreal engine outweighs Unity hands down, its not enough to convince a Game tinkerer from myself to switch over. The lack of a price tag is also a big pull but it feels like it might not be quite enough to sway the Unity community to drop and run.

I definitely haven’t given it enough of a chance for a fair comparison (I don’t even know what language scripts or entity actions are in. I couldn’t find any kind of code editor.) and maybe If I get a bit of time I’ll take a deeper look.

If anyone is reading this with some experience with either engine or any other, feel free enlighten me with said engines awesomeness.

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