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A Question About Game Engines (Kinda)

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Hey "Dev"-ers! This question isn't about "how do i get started with making games??"" But I was reading an article posted by a noobishly noobish noob (NNN) like that, and a reply from a polished vetran said what you needed to get started was (software wise): 1) A 3D asset creator -- I have Maya COmplete and am Ok with it (But i can't figure out rigging at ALL) 2) A 2D Asset creator -- I have Photoshop and can put together UV texture maps and paint over them 3) A Text Editor -- I have UltraEdit Demo version but if anyone could offer advice on a free version that would be great 4) A game engine -- I have the Neula 2 SDK engine but dont know how the heck to use it Yeah so that's what is said i needed. But here's my real question .. What the heck does a game engine do, and if a program in the compiler/text editor, how does the engine use that to make your game and how can you program internal animations (character animations??) I know you can program a character model to move in the X,Y, and Z axis, but how can you program an engine to execute an animation you made in Maya?? It doesn't make sense ... .. Yeah and if someone could offer me advice on a free compiler/text editor and how i can use Nebula 2 after some preogramming experience i'd worship you (C++ and Direct X, i guess) ONE LAST QUESTION even though i have asked SO MUCH: Are there any good level design books that don't use the UnrealTools Level Editor???? THANKS SO MUCH IF ANYONE CAN JUST ANSWER ONE QUESTION THAD BE HELPFUL

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