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Member Since 15 Jul 2010
Offline Last Active Jun 21 2013 09:10 AM

#5021850 Game engine slection for a game programming course

Posted by on 15 January 2013 - 11:23 AM

Let me clear things a bit up:

The course should be more of a "Introduction to Game Development" course. But without asset creation as time restrictions won't allow it. Aka. game engine components will be explained, but source code is not required (as long as information about the engine is available).

My university is a small university and they have no courses about game development whatsoever. My professor wants to change that and he has some experience with game development, but that was several years back. I should find a suitable engine for his course. The course setup itself is not completely planned yet. It contains game design and

game programming (basically students should get a first impression on how to create games from a computer science perspective).

With my thesis I should find a suitable engine for his course. And I have only 2 month time to complete it. Costs should be below $10,000 for 20 seats. (Yes and the cheaper, the better.....).


The benchmark is somewhat up to my choosing.


As for the initial requirements, i checked the mentioned engines from the Game Engine Survey 2011 (GDMag) to get a starting point (+ I added Panda 3D as full open source extension). The 2 second scoring above should not be renamed as a preferred feature list with weight and not as requirement:


Prelimary findings about licensing:


Unreal: possible (UDK) (unrealscript editor commercial/open source editors exist (quality?)) / waiting on e-mail about Unreal Engine 3
Trinigy Vision Engine: nondisclosure agreement (excluded)
Unity: 75$ / seat and year (with android + ios 225$) 
CryEngine: possible (free for academic use) / nda for commercial use
Gamebryo: unclear (waiting on e-mail)
ShiVa: 670$/seat
Torque: Open source (MIT License) / Script Editor (~40$/seat, open source editor (quality?))
C4: 2500$ / site (licenses for students in the course are included)/ check if demo version is enough to evaluate (otherwise $750 for a standard copy (probably too much))
Panda3D: Open Source (Modified BSD License)

#5021609 Game engine slection for a game programming course

Posted by on 14 January 2013 - 05:31 PM

    I would suggest that you attempt to contact various instructors and small or indie game teams (that have actually released a title).  You will find that the concept of "choosing a engine" involves quite a large set of conditional decisions.  For example, the first and most important thing you want to do in my mind when deciding an engine for a game would be to first determine what platforms and markets you wish to release the game on.  In the case of an independent team with no prior experience that wishes to release on XBox, this will limit them immediately to something based on XNA and C# (due to license restrictions and the likelihood that the team will not get a publisher to pick up the game).


    When deciding on an engine to use as part of a programming course the decisions probably aren't quite as critical as the underlying idea is to teach the proper technique's and general theory of game programming more so than to focus on a particular engine.  However (and this is sheer opinion) I believe the main deciding factor for instructors who select an engine is the cost of the engine for educational purposes.  That is to say an engine that does not have an extremely cheap license that allows for hundreds of users for educational purposes will more likely be immediately disregarded as the budget simply can not afford hundreds of thousands of dollars to appropriate the proper license.


    Anyway long story short there really is no rule book that would dictate how one would go about choosing an engine.  Many deciding factors can play a role in the decision (and should all be weighed carefully).  There will be a lack of readily available documentation stating what you want to do to select an engine because everyone's circumstances are different.  I believe it would lead for a more effective thesis if you focused a bit more on how to ask proper questions of yourself and make educated decisions about the engine including portability, support, documentation, performance, marketing potential, license fee's and royalties's and so on.  Please excuse me if I am out of line on suggesting you alter your paper a bit to focus more on how to get to the decision than actually making the decision, it's just my experience that it's more of a case by case bases related to what the purpose of the decision is.



    Bit of a side note if you want I can give you some of my personal opinions that go into engine selection for teams that I work with.  These may not be quite as credible as say an instructor's official published article but might give you some idea's on where to go from here and what you might be looking to research.  My profile here on Game Dev should have contact information as well as my Gravatar profile that will contain more instant contact details (such as instant messengers and such).



thanks for the input, but the thesis topic cannot be changed. The professor wants to start a game programming class and wants to use an engine. Basically, he wants that I choose a suitable engine. The main point here is that other universities/schools would have had to choose an engine for their courses as well, aka. they had to make the decision as well. But every paper I read about creating a game programming class does not state on how the selected the engine. Only that they selected it (it sounds more like the instructor knew the engine and because of that they used it).


My current requirements (not finished) lists as follows.

KO-Criterias (Engines will be discarded immediately if they fit one of the following criterias to get down to a decent amount of engines):


• No Windows 7 platform support
• No free student license for homeworks
• Project is not active
• No recent AAA game title
• Requires additional commercial software (except for 3D Studio Max/Visual Studio)
• Non disclosure agreement
• No assets
• Has to support at least the following game engine features:
– 3D graphics engine
– Physics engine
– Audio system
– Content management/Pipeline
– Scene Manager
– Animation system
– Networking
– Collision Detection
Then, the remaining engines would be scored according to a weighted scoring system (even less finished):
General features
low licensing costs 100%
documentation/tutorials 100%
accompanying art assets 100%
high distribution among game studios 80%
active/helping community 60%
used in an existing game programming course 20%
Technical Features
reusable programming language & concepts 100%
game type flexibility 100%
usability (ie. editors/IDE/debugger) 80%
supported platforms (source and target) 60%
appearance (ie. graphics) 40%
AI engine 20%


Then prototype games with the best fitting 2 engines will created. And one engine shall remain for the course.

My problem is that every requirement is very general, since the game types (even genres) are unknown.

But still, other universities should have had the same problem.