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homer_3

Q about game engines

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I just finished writing my first, very small, 3D game using DirectX. It's pretty simple but it doesn't have any physics in it. Now I want to start on a much more complex game. One involving more physics, better collision detection, and more interaction with the level. Now I'm curious as to what, exactly, is a game engine and would it be a good idea to use one? I've been doing some googling and as far as I can determine, a full blown game engine is something like DX Studio. By that I mean a wizzywig editor that lets you create levels by drag and drop and attach scripts to objects or scenes (although I haven't found a way to attach scripts to objects in DX Studio yet). But after trying out DX Studio, it almost seems simpler to continue to code instead. Is that a good idea, or is better to get used to using an engine to create game? I'm trying to create a portfolio and get experience in game programming so I can stand a chance when applying to a game development company.

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Original post by homer_3
I just finished writing my first, very small, 3D game using DirectX. It's pretty simple but it doesn't have any physics in it. Now I want to start on a much more complex game. One involving more physics, better collision detection, and more interaction with the level.

Now I'm curious as to what, exactly, is a game engine and would it be a good idea to use one? I've been doing some googling and as far as I can determine, a full blown game engine is something like DX Studio. By that I mean a wizzywig editor that lets you create levels by drag and drop and attach scripts to objects or scenes (although I haven't found a way to attach scripts to objects in DX Studio yet). But after trying out DX Studio, it almost seems simpler to continue to code instead. Is that a good idea, or is better to get used to using an engine to create game? I'm trying to create a portfolio and get experience in game programming so I can stand a chance when applying to a game development company.


Using an engine (in the broadest sense of the word) can be a good idea as long as it does what you want and need. But there is definitely a learning curve.
There are also great differences between engines and their features. Some only do rendering, some also do physics by may not have networking, some may only be suitable for FPS games...
There can even be differences between engines' subsystems. For example, one engine may only support bounding boxes for collision detection, whilst another may even have collision detection on triangle-meshes.
So you have to invest some to chose the right engine for the right job.

There are alternatives too. You can try to write your own physics (or whatever feature you want to implement) or you can have a look around for libraries that do the job for you. For physics for example there quite a few free libraries which are considered stable: ODE, Bullet, PhysX, Newton for example. And these are just the ones I can think of from the top of my head.
There is always a learning curve when using these libraries the first time, which may be steeper or less steep depending on how fancy you want to make things.

In general, Gamedev's specialized subforums have sticky threads that can point you in the right direction for libraries that may suit your needs.

I don't think there is a black and white answer to your question whether to use an engine or not. It depends a lot on what you want, what you need, and how much experience you have in programming.

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