After you have chosen your game platform and updated your design documents, it is time to look at game engines and other tools to help make the game a virtual reality. :)
Each platform has different toolsets each with their own design strengths and limitations.
For the true independent developer, there are several free or very cheap ways to make games, the easiest being to mod an existing game, the other being to use free engines which is really the same thing when you think about it, except mods have content to utilize like pre-existing character models, objects and tools, while most free engines require you to search out other free alternatives to supplement your own creation. Both are cheap alternatives to big studio games.
Unity – For cross-platform compatibility, Unity is a good albeit, advanced option. Using this engine, porting a base codeset to several different devices is simplified.
Unreal Engine – For awesome graphics, lots of support and did I mention great graphics? The Unreal 3 engine is a popular format for lots of today’s top games. It supports cross-platform execution and has great community and fan support. But you’ll have to license any releases through Epic.
Flash – Using vector graphics and animation timelines for multiple scenes and scenes-within-scenes, Adobe’s Flash plays on most mobile devices apart from iOS. It is quick to learn and easy to use because most of the animation can be done in the development environment, or using Adobe’s other line of products. This method will require specific development software from Adobe.
Browser – Games played in a web browser are often quick and easy. They can be deployed in the unlikeliest of places and are relatively simple to create using scripts and markups. With advancing HTML protocols and an inherent multiplayer aspect, browser games will continue to be relevant for years to come, however marketing and profit have typically been problematic for these games.
Source – The Source engine has been used to make several games and mods across several genres. Source has great physics and solid tools and tutorials. Best of all, if you have games using the engine, getting the SDK is easy through the Steam service.
Ogre – This is an open-source project and has been growing steadily in popularity and usage. Ogre is often patched through community support and provides a great free alternative to some of the more commercial options available. Feel free to distribute your creations at will, but there is little support for alternative platforms.
Torque – Depending on your game, there are a variety of cost effective engines using Torque. It supports iOS, as well as consoles and has good looking graphics. Getting started is cheap at only $99 for a license. This is a competitive solution for the independent designer.
Your favorite game – That’s right. Chances are good that some of your favorite games may have editors or other ways to make changes to them. For some game designs, all that’s required is some additions or changes to an existing game. Feel free to add, change or experiment with these tools while exploring your game ideas.
Of course, you could always just build your own.
Next we’ll cover some more tools to help create assets. Keep your design documents updated with the platforms and tools you will be using to create your game.
Go to Part 4.