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Best Language or Game Engine for Beginners?

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Post February 28th, 2013, 3:33 am
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If I wanted to learn a language/engine specifically for game development, what would it be? Does anyone have suggestions on what language one should learn [for game programming]? It could be anything, ideally something that is free or on the cheap. This isn't a question for just me, but for anyone here that may want to design their own game (preferably code, rather than a game engine - but, I'll take either and appreciate any input).

I've started to learn ActionScript and C# for work (testing/QA for jpeg viewers/business apps), but not sure if they would lend themselves to game development other than possibly extending to C++.


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What about GML? (Game Maker Language)
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It really depends on what game you want to make. I think the engine is more important than the language. There are games made in everything from Flash to Java to C# and C++ and even Basic( I learnt I don't like programming with Basic many years ago) so its whatever language you know, and have access to.

The engine will decide most of that. If I was making a game, just to make it to learn, and was going for an FPS I would use UDK. Which is Unreal Development Kit, and it uses Unreal Engine 3. Thats because I come from more the art asset space than programming. It also has good tutorials and examples.

Now if I was making a game, and was looking to sell it down the line and graphics fidelity were a priority I would use Unity Same as UDK, its very easy to make and import art assests in. There is also good tutorials out there, even Digital Tutors(These guys are great at tutorials!!) have a set here http://www.digitaltutors.com/11/learnin ... hp?lpid=38

Unity uses 3 languages - Javascript, C# and Boo scripts and its got a lot of examples. Cognition that was sold here was built with it, as was Dungeonland, Endless Space. There is a free version to learn with and to mock up, and then the PRO version costs $1,500 with add ons for IOS and Andriod and Flash costing aswell. You can also buy assests to bolt into your game, that you can learn from or use to get that polished look for reasonable price.

If you want to make a story based RPG, and are handy enough at drawing, RPGmaker is your best bet. Its used in a lot of decent RPGs, but the style is very much set and you need to buy it for the full experience, but it only costs $69.99 so its not too much.

There is also Game Maker which is free, and very good at making casual games and quickly but you will need to buy it for $49.99 to get games that can be played from it. The free version only lets you export test versions. The problem with this is that it uses its only language and scripting, and while the practises will travel, not all the language will, so if you wanted to delve deeper into game programming you would need to learn again.

Then on the other side if code scares you, there is Blender which appartenyly has a game enginge part, its new to me. Blender is a great open source modelling suite which integrates with its own code base.

I think the big question is what game do YOU want to make? I would go with unity myself, because of the amount of training and examples, also the community is meant to be nice. I have no idea on the others for community. UDK will give you a glimpse of a big studio, but it can be hard to work in.

Post February 28th, 2013, 11:13 am

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One nice thing about GameMaker is you can get started with your game now and that way you only have to buy the 50 dollar licince if it's actually going somewhere.

There is also Construct. I had some luck putting together sidescrollers with that.


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Thanks everyone for your replies, I really appreciate it! Look for my game in the year 2025. I will probably put a crappy concept and some shopped screenies up on kickstarter with a goal of $500,000.

I'm going to research GameMaker to start with and then maybe look into flixel just a bit.


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I would start with Construct 2 personally, only because I really enjoy using it and they put out updates all the time. Constantly adding features, plus people make incredible plugins for it to extend it even further.

Nothing against the others listed, I just think Construct 2 is much easier to learn when first getting into game design.
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speaking of game development -
Does anyone know some utility/engine/sdk etc. that would make possible universally developing games for mobile platforms? so no, or not much, extra work is needed to make port for android, windows phone and iOS

As far as I know, android uses java, iOS objective-C and Window Phone .NET, particularly C# so developing application for each of them requires lot of extra work. and of course API is different everywhere so that means extra work again. I know that it is possible (to some extent) convert code between java and C#, but that all I know about.

Also I am not interested in using HTML5. I know that this would work, but i want something that makes actual app.

thanks in advance.
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There are many Engines that have cross platform capabilities. Your best bet is Unity, with tons of support and is very easy to learn and use, it is highly reccomended.
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I second both Game Maker and Unity. Game Maker is actually a lot more powerful than it sounds from the name, and its visual programming is extremely helpful if you have little to no experience with game or programming logic.

I've never used Unity, but I've heard excellent things about it from my friends.
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if you started learning C# then Unity is a great choice. It's very simple to make working and playable prototypes, and engine is pretty powerful. plus you can (fairly) easily port your game to mobile devices/web if you want to.

I'm currently helping a friend out with his first game in Unity and am well satisfied with what the engine/kit offers.


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The intro to video games class I took focused on using python with pygame to develop games. Everything you'd need to know is here.

Python, if you didn't know, is a very high-level language, which takes a bit of getting used to since it's very flexible compared to other programming languages, but after using it for a couple of projects that I worked on, it's easily my favorite language.

Check out the link I provided and take a look at the tons of gaming projects that are listed on the site. It's open source, and free because of that, so you can take a look at the source code of various games to get an idea of what people are coding to accomplish what each game has to offer.


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Largely, I think the question of language is moot. I think most devs would agree with me when I say you have to be constantly willing to learn a new language. The engine, however, can greatly impede or assist in your progress if you choose the right engine. If you were making a Roguelike game, I would point you towards the T-engine, which uses Lua and is incredibly well-built. If you were going to focus specifically on 3D games, I would point you towards the Unreal Engine, which is absolutely incredible for turning out beautiful games with very little time and resource investment. In many specific game genres, there are engines that are streamlined towards making those types of games.

If you're looking for a more generic engine, I will echo the recommendations of Unity and GameMaker Studio. I use both, and this is what I see as the primary strengths and weaknesses of each:

Unity Strengths
- Free version is basically everything you need for a team of 1 or 2 devs.
- Pro version, while expensive for an individual, is great for larger teams and has many required team workflow functions included.
- Strong library of pre-built assets.
- More of the backend is exposed, feeling more like a traditional IDE.
- Exports to x86, console, web, and mobile platforms.

Unity Weaknesses
- Built-in AI pathfinding is pretty weak.
- Assumes 3D. You have to create very thin planes with a Z-axis separation in order to make 2D games. Not too hard, but not super easy, either.
- 3D assets take much longer to create. This isn't a weakness of Unity as much as a cost of doing 3D design.


GameMaker Strengths
- Speed. You can slap together a working design in a few hours, once you get used to working in the engine.
- Very easy to learn. In my first try, I threw together a little game with some sophisticated logic, and it all just worked. That's a rare experience.
- Pretty much everything you need for a 2D game is already wired up (including good pathfinding).
- Exports to x86, web, and mobile platforms.
- Supports both a visual editor and a code editor, so you can use whichever makes sense.

GameMaker Weaknesses
- The engine is tuned for expediting workflow, instead of optimizing the game. There are things that GameMaker simply cannot do, because of engine limitations.
- The free version is crap, since the real strength is in prototyping and sharing. Spring for the 50 USD standard license, or don't use it.
- The included tutorials are crap. Just ignore the tutorials and go find examples on the web. As a developer, I was more confused by the tutorials than helped.
- The engine is optimized for 2D, so 3D work is more effort (too much in my opinion).


If you want to start doing game development in general, I would recommend picking up a free copy of Unity3D (now includes mobile OS support for free) and also buying a copy of the standard version of GameMaker Studio. Even if you decide to use another engine for your release product, GameMaker is so fast you can use it for rapid prototyping. Prototyping will greatly increase your overall productivity, so the 50 USD investment is not a waste regardless of your final decision.

Hope that's helpful.


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I've primarily worked with Unity. It's quite powerful in relation to how user friendly it is, but it might be quite overwhelming if you aren't familiar with basic programming & one of its languages. Can't say if its better/worse than other engines, but if you understand basic programming, there are definitely worse places to start.

I've made a couple of tutorials for Unity & C# in case it's of use to anyone.
1) Pong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqeRxyf ... PeePvLSZQ9
2) Coroutines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqnQCxq ... CIoTjd6Ssr


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Okay, so i have seen this question being put up on forums thousands time and clearly, every other beginner in this field is not satisfied with the answer. As a beginner myself. I want to put forward my experience. So, i started developing mobile games like 3 months ago, literally. Let me tell you first that I am mechanical engineer and i have no relation to the computer programming. So, according to me , i am the best to answer this question as if i can do it then any other beginner can do it too. And my answer to the language for the beginners is the nothing at first. Wait what? Did i really said that? Well yes and kinda no too. At beginning you shouldn't focus learning language but at how things work. Let me tell you how i did that.

First you need to figure out that if you really want to do it. If you really have the passion than follow me what i say. So, with no coding experience, I started searching game engines that are literally drag and drop. With drag and drop I literally thought that the engine will figure out the game for me. All i have to do is just, well as the name suggest.. 'drag and drop'. But it wasn't like that. After all the searches , I stopped at gamesalad because it was cheaper. It was difficult at first figuring out the how to begin and end the game and with week I actually was able to make a decent game. I came to realize that coding is nothing but is just bunch of statements that need to be put down in order to carry out a work. From gamesalad , i came to realise what are these statements really do like - For, If, while, After. And we believe me these statements are the heart of every other game, it just that the internal code gets complexed with the freedom of functionality.

Aftermessing with gamesalad, I jumped to Unity because damn, it is great. It gives you almost all the functionality on the tips that you could see in these days game. Also I realise that , Because of my expeience with gamesalad, it was relatively easy for me to learn c# because again the whole code of game was connecting bunch of if and for loops . However, it waas more designated and disciplined. To answer this question ultimately, you need to stop at the unity C#. Thank you 8-)


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