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Solid 2D engines worth considering?


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#1 Marscaleb   Members   -  Reputation: 156

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:39 AM

So, I've been making some revisions to a project I've been toying with, and in particular, the changes I've made to the art style suggest to me that I might want to move to a real 2D game engine, whereas previously I was using UDK with 2D gameplay.

I was about to start using Torque Game Builder, but then I thought that I should look around a bit. There's more out there and perhaps I can find something better suited for my needs or style. It's not that I have any problems with TGB, but I just haven't looked at much else.

So I did a google search, but basically everything I found were engines targeted at prototyping a game, which suggests to me that the engine might not be the best option for creating a full-fledged adventure.

So I thought I'd come back here and ask from some folks for some good suggestions.

I'm looking to create an action-RPG, so I'd need an engine with the tools to create whole levels the player can explore, a variety of objects to interact with, etc. So, not just some simple one-screen thing that looks like an iPhone game. I'd like something with a fairly supportive community so I actually have a source I could turn to if I need help with something.

Like I've said, TGB already does everything I think I'll need, I'm just wondering what other options are out there.

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#2 kburkhart84   Members   -  Reputation: 1605

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:58 AM

You could look at Gamemaker Studio. For the most part, it has been known to be more for prototyping, but in reality it has much more power than that. For 2d games, I don't think it can be beat, unless you wanted to use something like UDK or Unity3d to get 3d effects along with the 2d game play. It has a scripting language that you would use, which allows you to code pretty much any game play you need, so you don't have to try to depend on the drag & drop thing. It also has that benefit of being pretty multi-platform. You also have access to "surfaces" which are basically blocks of video RAM which you can use for special effects, and even optimization if you were really sprite/object heavy.

As far as games that were made with it, there are quite a few, although it isn't always known. For example, several games on steam were made with a version of Game Maker, like Stealth Bastard, a Serious Sam Game, and Legend of Fae. You can also look on Youtube and see a videos of 100 game maker games in 10 minutes. There are 3 videos at the top of that link search that show many games, some crap, and some good.



#3 Marscaleb   Members   -  Reputation: 156

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 05:50 PM

unless you wanted to use something like UDK or Unity3d to get 3d effects along with the 2d game play.


That's what I was originally going to go for, but after I ran some test with the art style I was pursuing I decided it would be better to go with a full-on 2D look. I was prepared to make that in UDK, and make it look completely like it was a 2D engine, but it would be too much effort to pull off a few simple effects. Namely, proper layers. I had a camera that was super far away and zoomed in so that there was very little perspective, but it was still noticeable when objects were above the player. I'd need an ability to use an orthographic view like you have in the editor, but I can't get that active in the game.

#4 kburkhart84   Members   -  Reputation: 1605

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 06:01 PM

Well, Unity3d can get you using an ortho camera, and I would think that there is a way to get the UDK to use one as well...and for layers you can do some workarounds...

But like I said, Game Maker is going to be much better for what you want. It also has "layers" though in GM they are used by a depth value, which every object has, and determines the drawing order.



#5 6677   Members   -  Reputation: 1058

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 10:29 AM

It might well be advantageous to roll your own engine.

XNA/Monogame is a fairly simple option for C#/.net/mono. SDL and SFML pop up alot for C and C++ (also have bindings to just about every other language on the planet).

#6 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5311

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:32 AM

I would highly consider one of the Lua based engines, all 4 are remarkably capable and will make your life much easier. This tutorial illustrates how easy it is to create a 2D tile map in Moai for example.

#7 GGMich   Members   -  Reputation: 107

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 06:17 AM

@Marscaleb - I'm not sure what your timeframe is for development, but we made an announcement about the next version of our 2D engine yesterday: Torque 2D MIT. In addition to the massive amount of improvements we've made since you used it, the entire engine will be available under the MIT license. That means free, with no restrictions. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about it.
"I work for GarageGames, home of the award winning line of Torque engines and a community of more than 150,000 independent game developers. Learn more about us at garagegames.com"

#8 GnomeTank   Members   -  Reputation: 195

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:35 PM

I rarely, rarely ever recommend this...but in the 2D space, you should probably roll your own. There just isn't a lot of movement in the 2D engine space, and through my own research, most people will just point you to a 3D engine and tell you to use it with an orthographic projection. That's fine, I guess...but in many cases those engines will be saddled with tools and processes that are completely unhelpful for 2D development.

I was surprised to find that the actual tools to create 2D content were readily available (things like Mappy, Tiled, Paint.NET), but the engine to use them just weren't around, had terrible licensing terms, were too focused on one bit of technology, or weren't feature complete.

In the end, I ended up rolling my own using IrrlichtLime as a very simple wrapper around DirectX and OpenGL. I have access to the fully hardware accelerated pipeline if I actually need it, but I'm not saddled with a bunch of tools I can't use and hoops to jump through. I use IronRuby as my scripting environment, as it allows me to embed Ruby (my favorite scripting language) very easily in a .NET app, even allowing me to sub-class native side engine classes directly from the Ruby code. I've integrated Tiled in to my pipeline for creating maps and I use Paint.NET for all my art.

From engine start to "making a game" took me about four months. Mind you I'm an experienced programmer who has been writing code professionally for 12 years, so writing large complex software is not a daunting challenge for me. Your mileage may obviously vary.

Edited by GnomeTank, 14 December 2012 - 11:16 AM.


#9 Marscaleb   Members   -  Reputation: 156

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:24 AM

@Marscaleb - I'm not sure what your timeframe is for development, but we made an announcement about the next version of our 2D engine yesterday: Torque 2D MIT. In addition to the massive amount of improvements we've made since you used it, the entire engine will be available under the MIT license. That means free, with no restrictions. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about it.


Pardon me while I drool some rainbows.

Okay, here's an honest question: How is your company going to stay in business? Don't you have kids to feed?

As for "rolling my own 2D engine," while that is technically easier to do than I typically think it is, it's still a number of steps beyond me. Well, maybe not "beyond" but I foresee the process adding a lot of time to my development schedule with ultimately no real payoff.

#10 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5311

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:49 AM


@Marscaleb - I'm not sure what your timeframe is for development, but we made an announcement about the next version of our 2D engine yesterday: Torque 2D MIT. In addition to the massive amount of improvements we've made since you used it, the entire engine will be available under the MIT license. That means free, with no restrictions. I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have about it.


Pardon me while I drool some rainbows.

Okay, here's an honest question: How is your company going to stay in business? Don't you have kids to feed?

As for "rolling my own 2D engine," while that is technically easier to do than I typically think it is, it's still a number of steps beyond me. Well, maybe not "beyond" but I foresee the process adding a lot of time to my development schedule with ultimately no real payoff.


Dont forget they still sell content packs, supporting materials and I believe they have a professional services department.

So I think the basic idea is, releasing it for free increases the size of the community, which in turn increases the demand for training/content packs/services/etc...

Daz went the same route with their 3D content creation apps, and to a degree, Unity did the same thing. I was kinda shocked to see iTorque go free though.




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