What is a game engine?
Once upon a time, every game had its engine, but nowadays, most people use universal solutions that are available to anyone. But what is a game engine, what does it do, and what are they? We will tell you about it in plain language in our material.
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Game engine definition
Simply put, a game engine is a set of software required to run computer games and is not strictly tied to any of them. That is from the game engine. It’s different from the fact that it can be used to make any other game.
However, this is only sometimes the case; in some cases, the engine created for the game was virtually inseparable from it. Moreover, it was often the case in the early years of the game industry when a different version was released for each game console, which could be drastically different from the original.
In this case, it often happens that what consists of a game engine and a set of smaller game engines is responsible for more specific functions.
Types of Game Engines
Game engines are similar in many ways, although you can still try to classify them among themselves.
First, two approaches define how developers work on a game:
- With a separate editor. Many game engines offer the user to create something not with programming skills but through a handy editor that remotely resembles Photoshop or video editing programs. Usually, such machines as much as possible self-sufficient and do not require the connection of additional modules, but because of this may be limited in their functionality. But these days, even the most advanced game engines can work through an editor.
- In the second case, the engine means that game developers write the program code directly. These solutions run through the familiar development environment for programmers. They are not so much a finished product for creating games and a set of previously written programs that can be adapted to something new.
Also, engines can differ by way of distribution because, as with any other software, the developers of this software most often want to receive compensation. However, this is not always the case:
- Open-source engines are not free versions of some technology but full-fledged development tools created by enthusiasts. Such solutions can be used in unlimited quantities, create commercial projects on them and do not have to pay the engine’s creator.
- Free engines may not provide the end user with the entire source code, but they are free to use. Most often, it is understood that the developers will have to pay some part of the profit from the game’s sales, provided that this profit will be at all. This scheme is now distributed by the most popular third-party game engines – Unreal Engine, Unity, and CryEngine.
- Completely paid engines are a thing of the past, and this category is now more likely to refer to software platforms that large development teams made specifically for their games. Because of the process’s high labour-intensiveness and high cost, only the most successful teams can afford this – for example, the Frostbite engine for the Battlefield series and RAGE for GTA and RDR.
However, it is only sometimes possible to talk about the game platform as a universal engine: it often happens that the technological stuffing of the game is made up of many technologies, each of which is not a complete engine but performs a vital function.
To create a quality image from computer graphics, you need all the elements on the screen to look impressive. The latest versions of the engines already offer entire stores of pre-created objects that can be used with your things. But some objects must be unique. For example, rocks, trees and other vegetation with a natural landscape. For such works, use different engines that integrate with the main.
One famous example is SpeedTree technology. This engine was initially developed to work with trees and vegetation, and since the mid-twenties, helps game developers in a variety of genres to create unique forests and fill empty spaces with flora. In addition, the modern version of the engine began to develop such a photorealistic image that it is now used not only for game development but also to create movies.
Another famous example is the Euphoria engine. It was a physics engine that calculated the behaviour of objects in games where the user could interact with the environment in some non-trivial way. One of these games was GTA 4 – many people still remember that the main character there fell as realistically as possible, as did pedestrians in accidents.
What is the engine of the games?
In short, the easiest way to say “for everything. The engine calculates not only the visual component of what is happening on the screen but also many of the processes occurring “under the hood.
Thanks to the work of the game engine on the screen, not only moving objects but also the calculation of lighting, the impact of actions on the game world, the processing of commands coming from the player’s controller, switching music, and many other actions.
The game engine works at such a deep level that it ensures the necessary character models appear on the screen, sets their animations and behaviour, and includes voiceovers, music and sound effects corresponding to the events.
It should also be remembered that the engine is responsible for the so-called in-game logic. For example, the trading system, where the player can buy and sell goods from in-game characters, is also implemented in the engine and works on its basis, as well as the ability to use previously acquired items. The different effects of these items and their use are also the engine’s responsibility, and the software solution ensures their work’s quality.
How do you create a game with a game engine?
So how do you use all these powerful game engines to create your own game? The answer for the average person and the professional developer sounds about the same: you need to run the software environment in one form or another and do something there.
As already mentioned, different engines provide developers with varying game creation approaches. In some cases, you can be limited to managing the process in the editor windows, dragging and dropping logic blocks – for example, this is how the system is built Blueprints in Unreal Engine 4. The user needs to learn how to work correctly with the editor interface of the engine and make the suitable chains there, and the code will be automatically generated.
At the same time, the same Unreal Engine 4 implies a basic knowledge of the user of the languages C++ or C#, in which you can program more complex circuits.