We profile a series of development tools you may not have used before
We've put together profiles of a series of other game development tools, some of which you may not have heard of, that may be worth your time and be ideally suited for the creation of your next game.
We're also listing more game engines at the bottom of the article for you to check out. Let us know if you have any more recommendations.
Shoot ‘em up Kit
Company: Tall Studios
The Shoot ‘em up Kit is built by UK developer Tall Studios and is aimed at the hobbyist market. The engine has also attracted interest from educational establishments and indies looking for a quick prototyping tool, and is being used by Tall Studios itself to make titles for Steam and the Windows Store.
Features include a drag-and-drop interface to create 2D and 3D games without any scripting or programming, realistic and arcade-style physics, support for animation, customisable AI, lighting, a particle editor, video playback and also graphical and Lua scripting.
The engine is priced at a single cost of £29.95 and is available for use on PC, from Windows XP through to Windows 8. Users are then free to distribute the games they create royalty-free.
Version 2 of the game engine is set to be released publicly this month.
Company: The Game Creators
GameGuru is The Game Creators’ new engine that aims to make 3D games development more accessible than ever, and is available to purchase for a one-off cost of £14.99, no royalties.
The firm already has experience with development tools such as the App Game Kit and FPS Creator, and has been developing GameGuru for more than two years. The engine is targeted at both the hobbyist and smaller commercially-minded studios, and can be used to build 3D game worlds from within the game itself – without the need for any coding.
This doesn’t mean developers can’t delve further into the tech however, with additional options to go deeper into the tool’s features. The engine includes a terrain editor, an infinite vegetation system, AI systems and a rendering engine that supports level of detail, cascade shadow mapping, baked shadowing and ambient occlusion mapping.
Further features are planning in future, such as a character creator, building construction kit, improved AI, enhanced explosions and particle effects, under water swimming and effects, HUD systems, a compass tool, map and investory and extra characters and game assets.
Company: Chukong Technologies
The Cocos2d-x game engine is used by more than 400,000 developers and has traditionally been most popular in China, with numerous top-grossing games said to be built upon the tool, such as Badland (pictured).
The open source engine is run by Chukong Technologies and is designed to be used as both a rapid prototyping tool and for a polished, full release. It’s been written completely in C++ and has been optimised for numerous devices including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows and HTML5.
Features of the tool suite include a graphic renderer that supports skeletal animation, sprite sheet animation, coordinate systems, effects, multi-resolution devices, textures, transitions and more.
Adventure Game Studio
Creator: Chris Jones
It’s been around for years now, but Adventure Game Studio doesn’t often get the coverage or publicity it arguably deserves.
The tool is free and open source and, unsurprisingly, is ideally suited to the creation of adventure games. The AGS editor is a Windows-based IDE, and lets developers do anything from importing graphics and writing game scripts right through to game testing. Other features for the toolset include a script editor, script debugger and built-in support for translating your game text to different languages.
Supported platforms for the engine include Windows, Linux and Mac. Titles such as Resonance (pictured), Cart Life and Heroine’s Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok have all been developed with AGS, plus countless more from its still vibrant developer community.
As well as being useful for the development of commercial games, the tool is also suitable for the quick prototyping of games. A public repository for the engine’s development is available on GitHub.
Clickteam Fusion is another engine that, like many on this list, can be used to design games with little to no programming.
Perhaps one of the most high profile games to use the development environment is popular Steam title and YouTube hit Five Nights at Freddy’s (pictured), created by Scott Cawthon, though numerous other games have also taken advantage of the tool, including Freedom Planet.
Clickteam UK director Simon Pittock recently told Develop that both seasoned developers and newcomers alike will find themselves at home with its tools, which offer an extensive library of free add-on objects. The engine features a custom written native run-time for iOS, Android, HTML5, Flash and PC.
Fusion 2.5, its latest release, includes Box 2D physics, and the company has also just launched the Clickstore where developers can purchase and sell assets and extensions, much like is seen with Unity and Unreal Engine.
Built by UK outfit Scirra, Construct 2 has been downloaded more than two million times. The easy-to-use engine contains a drag and drop interface that allows aspiring creators with little to no development experience to make a game. It’s also a useful piece of kit for experienced developers looking to prototype new ideas quickly or for those who want a faster alternative to coding.
The HTML5 game creator is designed specifically for 2D games, and includes features such as an events system that lets users create events by selecting possible conditions and actions from a list, instant preview, 70 WebGL-based pixel shader effects, a particles plug-in and more.
Construct 2 supports numerous platforms including browser, PC, Mac, Linux, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.
The engine comes in two licences, Personal, which costs £79.99, and Business, which is available for £259.99. A free edition is also available to try.
ChilliSource is a new free, open source engine from Scottish studio Tag Games, which we covered extensively in the previous issue of Develop.
The tool, which comes under the wider development package ChilliWorks, was initially created to power its in-house projects, but the firm is now sharing it with other developers, as well as a raft of metrics tools and a collection of back-end services, including for IAPs and leaderboards.
The game engine features 2D and 3D support, networking, shader support, a GUI for different resolutions, C++ 11, modular and extensible lighting and shadows, skinned animation and more.
ChilliWorks has been used in titles such as Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters Village, Ubisoft’s Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes and Tag Games’ own Funpark Friends (pictured).
Tag is currently calling for developers to help it work on the project.
Creator: Chris Klimas
Its name is known by many throughout games development, but few have actually dabbled with Twine, a tool used for creating interactive fiction.
This genre of gaming has been making a comeback in recent times and now comes under its own interactive fiction section on Steam, and Twine is one of the top tools for making these types of titles, while it also works well as a useful and quick prototyping tool.
The tool publishes directly to HTML, meaning creators can post there work in numerous places.
Twine 2 was released last year, making it browser-based and also offering Linux support in what was regarded as a significant update for the tool.
Founded in 2011 and built by a London firm of the same name, PlayCanvas sets itself apart from many other engines by enabling developers to build their games completely in the cloud.
The Develop Award-nominated HTML5 engine houses numerous features and tools to build 3D games for browser and mobile devices, such as real-time editing that allows collaboration with remote team members at the same time.
The tool comes in a number of different packages including a free option for commercial games with storage space of up to 200MB. For this however, projects will be in the public eye and is for teams up to two.
Other indie licensing packages use subscription models from $15 to $60 a month depending on the size of the team, number of projects and storage space required.
Further for organisations making more than $100k a year are also available up to $400 a month, as are expanded support packages.
Company: MonoGame company
MonoGame is a free open source implementation of the Microsoft XNA 4 Framework and has gathered a large community since Microsoft’s own abandonment of the XNA development framework.
Last month, the developers behind the tool reached a major milestone following the release of update 3.3 – the XNA framework is no longer required to use MonoGame. This means MonoGame developers can now fully develop their games on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, MacOS (using MonoDevelop) and Linux.
MonoGame has been used to develop games over 100 games, such as Matt Makes Games’ Towerfall: Ascension, Tribute Games’ Mercenary Kings and Supergiant Games’ Transistor.
The tool can be used for both 2D and 3D games, and leverages C# and other .NET languages. The recently released update also added a number of enhancements and functions, and all the tools and content pipeline are now built for 64-bit.
Torque 2D and 3D
Company: Garage Games
Both Garage Games’ Torque 2D and Torque 3D tools have been made available as open source software and used by a wide variety of developers.
Torque 2D supports platforms including Mac, PC and iOS, and includes the complete C++ source code to the engine, as well as scripting language TorqueScript, which allows developers to write gameplay logic on Windows or OS X and have it work on other platforms. Also included are the usual rendering tools, the Box2D physics system and the OpenAL sound library.
Torque 3D meanwhile features a suite of tools including shape, terrain, decal and particle editors, lighting tools, Nvidia PhsyX integration for destructible objects and cloth and rigid body dynamics. The toolset also houses a renderer that includes shader features such as per-pixel dynamic lighting, normal and parallax occlusion mapping, screen space ambient occlusion and more.
Last year Ambiera released the fifth version of its game engine and editor CopperCube.
The development platform can be used to create 3D games, apps and even websites, without the need for programming, though a scripting API is available for advanced users.
Latest additions and improvements to the engine include terrain support with its own terrain editor, a physics engine for the native targets, video playback in 2D and 3D, network communication, iOS 8 WebGL support, shader programming, animation blending, directional light and more.
Basic and Professional versions of the engine are available for purchase. The Basic edition, which costs £76.98, includes many of the tool’s features but does not contain video playback or Oculus Rift support, and developers have 10 maximum amount of scenes per document. The Professional edition is available for £295.47.
More game engines
There is a plethora of game engines and development frameworks out there for all different kinds of developers. We’ve added a selection of more tools for you to check out should you still be looking for something to fit your needs. Don't forget you can check out more profiles from last year's list of the top 16 game engines for 2014 here.
Skyline Game Engine