Best Game Development Tools and Game Engines in 2020
The video game industry grew by 10% in 2018 with a revenue of approx $138.7 billion and was expected to show a growth of 9.6% in 2019. The unprecedented growth of this industry has led to new players entering the game development market with newer games which are immersive and entertaining.
Despite so many fresh games being released (9,050 games in 2018), the number of games that reach the chartbuster spots are few. While the parameters that make a game popular are diverse and many, one key aspect is the way in which the game is developed.
The Process of Game Development
While being creative is almost mandatory, not just in development but in all perspectives including marketing, the process of developing a game is well defined. In fact, if your game development company can’t explain it in the steps below, maybe it’s time to rethink your association!
Also known as the Concept Stage, this is when the general idea of the game is formulated in a few sentences. The objective of the game is then defined keeping in mind the story and the required demographics are structured later at this stage.
All the actuals tied to the gameplay including the prototypical documentation is performed at this stage. Any changes required can be easily maneuvered at this stage and it is crucial to get the approval from the client since the next stage, modeling is based on the design document.
A game with sharp graphics and visuals is what glues the player to the game and makes it more interesting. The designers and VFX artists work to create photo real effects and accurate simulations in the virtual environment where the players escape and the games have their own world.
- Animation: Now that since the game environment is ready, next comes the animation, where based on the inputs from the player, the characters’ response is recorded. Only the response is animated at this stage and no scenario based response is captured.
- Programming: This is the lengthiest part of the game development. Also known as Production, the developers amalgamate the characters to the environment based on the story and the game is actually developed which is then sent to the game testers for testing.
- Testing: The components that are developed by the developers are tested for various scenarios and different user inputs. Any glitches or bugs detected are noted and are passed back to the development team to rectify and make the alterations. Upon successfully passing the testing of the Quality Assurance phase the game is made live in the market for the gamers.
- Support and Maintenance: Now that since the game is live and is being played by real users, the gamers might encounter bugs which were not caught during the testing phase or the game might require some new release to cater to the needs of the market. The support and maintenance team is responsible for smooth functioning of the game and is crucial for an uninterrupted gaming experience including game patching and game balancing.
How to efficiently develop a game?
Since the technique of mobile game development has evolved over the years, it’s no longer needed to develop a game from scratch like it was a decade or two ago. There are various tools and game engines that are available today which allows quicker development and deployment. Game engines are designed to develop video games by helping the developers perform repetitive tasks like rendering graphics, physics, animation, collision detection and response, memory management etc. They also help the developers make these games available on multiple platforms using a simple porting feature. Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2, are few of the popular games developed using game engines.
Popular tools for Game Development
Let us go through some of the most popular and the best tools used for game development.
1. Game Engine
Unlike other tools used in game development, Game Engines are specific to this industry and helps the developer reduce time and effort in performing repetitive tasks. Some of the best game engines are:
- Unity 3D: With a market share of 45% in the Global Game Engine Market and preferred by 47% game developers, Unity is well known when it comes to game engines. It is popular among developers and designers for its cross-platform game engine which is widely used in the development of 2D and 3D games. Featuring powerful tools like Cinemachine and Timeline, Unity3D enables the artist to create content and gameplay sequences without any engineering or technological know-how. Some of the well known features of this game engine are: Multiple Platform Support, Easy Scripting languages, Cost effective, Extensively collected Asset Store, Easy access to Online Tutorials
- Unreal Engine: A product of Epic Games, Unreal Engine is an award winning complete suite of creation tools for photoreal visuals and real-time immersive experiences. Having a vast community of peer developers and forums, developers working on Unreal get access to quick assistance while debugging. Having a built in data import and optimization feature helps in repurposing data from a host of DCC, CAD, and BIM formats. Packed with real-time ray tracing and film-quality post-process effects, it is easy for the game developers to get the look they desire. Unreal and unity3d game engine are two tough competitors dominating major of the gaming industry.
- HTML5: A stack of software solution that defines the behavior of web page content by carrying out a markup-based pattern to it including a detailed processing model that encourages better interoperable implementations. It rationalizes, improves and then modifies the content available for documents, and structures elements and APIs for performing diverse Attributes of form, Graphics and Multimedia. HTML5 can handle content and formats better than its predecessors.
Along with game engine game developers need to have some design tools. To develop the game, there will be an experienced team of game designers who would be proficient in the software below.
- Adobe Photoshop: An industry standard in raster graphics editing and digital art, Adobe Photoshop can edit and compose raster images in multiple layers. Supporting masks along with several color models and alpha compositing is one of the special features of this design tool.
- Adobe Illustrator: Contrary to Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor. This software provides results in the logo graphic areas of design and typesetting. The basic tools in Illustrator are tools such as selection, pen, paintbrush and pencil for editing/creating images.
- Maya: A product of AutoDesk, Maya is a 3D computer animation software that models, simulates and renders for game development and visual effects. Creating realistic effects to bringing believable characters to life including creating serious effects procedurally with Bifrost is possible with Maya. Another addition to Maya is Arnold, a built in integration to see high-quality previews and enable quick iterations to complex characters, scenery and lighting challenges.
- 3ds Max: Yet another product of AutoDesk, that is a phenomenal pick for game developers. It allows them to create the multiverse in games, unreal environments that is a major segment of design visualization and engaging virtual reality experiences. WIth inbuilt automation processes, 3ds Max allows easy scaling up of content production.
- Blender: Know to be a free and open-source 3D modeling suite that supports the backbone of the 3D pipeline. It contributes to most of the Modeling, rigging, animation, rendering, simulation, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and also maintains the 2D animation pipeline. An added advantage is the support for a variety of geometric primitives, including polygon meshes.
3. 2D Animation
- Spine: Spine is a software dedicated to 2D skeletal animation that attaches images to bones rather than animating the bones. The software provides an efficient workflow both for creating amazing animation and for easy integration into games which are small in size and smooth.
The tools available are numerous, but it takes a great deal of engineering knowledge along with spending a lot of time to learn each of the tools to be able to create the game of your dreams. Another practical alternative is to outsource the content to professional game development companies like Juego Studios who has a vast and dynamic experience in creating games for various genres.