A game engine is a framework that facilitates game development, using a range of tools designed for game development. Some game engines may call these tool nodes, others may call them APIs, but they all work together to enhance your game development experience.
The last decade has seen a massive increase in the number of video gamers and the time spent playing video games. So there is undoubtedly a vibrant market for new and exciting video games. If you have a background in development, a small budget, and a great game idea, but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.
According Technology Unit, 71% of all mobile games use its engine, creating a total of five billion downloads per month of apps built with Unity. This game engine is perfect for beginners as it has a learning resource center equipped with tutorials, projects, courses and live training workshops to take you from beginner to pro in no time. of time.
Unity provides real-time 3D game development. Several subscription options are available, but Unity Personal is the only free one. This type of subscription gives access to all the features of the engine, as well as those of the cloud-based services. The main downside of Unity Personal is that you can’t remove the Unity splash logo from your game until you upgrade to one of the paid versions.
As of Q1 2022, Unity supports installation for Windows and macOS, with preview support for Linux. However, to install and use Unity on any of these operating systems, a set of requirements must be in place.
For example, to run Unity on Windows, you must have operating system version 7 (SP1+), 10, or 11. For macOS, the operating system must be High Sierra 10.13+; for Linux, the operating system must be Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu 18.04 or CentOS 7. Click here for full system requirements for the latest stable release of Unity (version 2021.2).
Once you have met the system requirements, you can access Unity download page, where you can complete the three steps required to get the game engine up and running. These three steps include:
- Unity hub download.
- Selecting your Unity version.
- Starting your project.
Unreal Engine is a development engine that prides itself on being one of the most advanced real-time 3D creation tools. Still, it’s great for beginners, and you’ll even find a learning resources section on its website.
Apart from being a game engine, Unreal Engine also creates other real-time applications such as architectural visualization, automotive visualization, and linear movies, among others. Unreal Engine has three specific license agreements that depend on how you plan to use the tool. These license agreements include:
- Creator License
- Publishing License
- Custom License
The creator license is completely free and has no royalties attached. The publishing license is free, but it requires a 5% royalty when your game “becomes a hit”. Custom Licensing is the ability to work with Unreal Engine to create a license agreement just for you.
Each license agreement provides unlimited access to all Unreal Engine features. Unreal provides full access to its C++ source code, giving game developers unrestricted access to customize or even extend Unreal Engine code.
It has an Unreal Editor tool, which is a development environment that allows collaboration of all members of a game development team. It does this through the multi-user edition. Like all the best game engines, Unreal Engine provides high-quality world-building, animation, rendering, and gameplay features.
Godot is a free open source game engine. The main selling point of Godot is that it uses common tools, which makes it ideal for beginners. This engine has a visual editor that allows you to create 3D and 2D user interfaces and allows game developers to make changes live.
Godot has hundreds of nodes developed to meet your game development needs. However, if the available ones do not sufficiently meet your needs, you have the option of creating custom nodes. Godot works well on multiple platforms, such as Windows, macOS, and Linux. The engine also allows for cross-platform deployment.
Aside from its flat learning curve, Godot’s main selling point is that it gives game developers more scripting options than its competitors. Some of these options include:
- GDScript (which looks a lot like python)
- Visual scenario
Defold is not only a completely free game engine; it’s also open source. Thus, game developers have the ability to customize the code of this game engine to their preferences, and even the ability to tap into a diverse collection of features created by other members of the community.
The Defold Foundation promises to always keep the engine free and relies on donations from community members. This engine creates 2D and 3D games with a particular focus on performance. It has a visual editor and a code editor that allow game developers to write their game logic in the Lua scripting language.
Defold has an easy learning curve, and it also has a learning resources section on its main website, which has tutorials and manuals to get you started. Most of the Defold documentation is available in the form of manuals, which makes it much easier for beginners to work.
Solar2D (formerly known as Corona) is an open source game engine. As the name suggests, Solar2D creates amazing 2D games using the Lua scripting language. This game engine is completely free and has a great resource of guides and tutorials perfect for beginners.
Solar2D has hundreds of APIs for developing your games, but it also makes it easy to use third-party features through plugins. Solar2D creates cross-platform games for systems such as:
- the Windows
Other Free Game Engines You Can Use
These free game engines are ideal for beginners due to their popularity, the features they offer, and their flat learning curve. However, depending on the game you intend to build or even what you intend to do with that game after construction, one game engine may be more appropriate than another. For example, if you want to make a 2D game, Solar2D or Godot might be a better option than Unity.
This is a solid list of some of the best free game engines in the world, but it’s by no means exhaustive.