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JasRonq

Torque Advanced vs. C4 Engine vs. Unity Engine

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Or is the free choice of Blender good? I just downloaded blender to start learning on as after looking at reviews and the websites of literally dozens of engines over the past few days, blender was the last one open in the browser that I didn't need to pull a credit card out for. But let me frame my question properly... I have a few requirements that need to be met and I was hoping you guys could help me choose and engine to start learning on. •The development environment needs to run on Mac OS X, Intel. •I want to compile, without code rewrites, to Mac and Windows, minimum. •I need graphics that wouldn't be embarrassing to be seen on a game cover in EB and won't be laughed at when I ask at least $30 for it. •It needs to have integrated Physics, sounds, input control, AI, etc. This is a game engine, not a rendering engine. (I do not need networking though.) •I am not a programmer but I am willing to learn Python, Lua, or a version of C. I am willing to program my AI, but I don't want to reprogram the engine to use it. •I am an individual and would be buying such a license when I am ready to start developing. Price tags that seem reasonable are in the $100-$450 range. All of those points said, the choices that seem good that require license fees are Torque Advanced, C4, and Unity. Does anyone know good reason why any of these are bad choices? Are there major limitations to any of them? I need help in picking a final choice. Also, is Blender good by comparison to these? P.S. If I missed any clarifying points, just ask. I do have a pretty good idea of what I need, I'm jsut not sure of what I need in an engine to support it.

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Blender is more of a content creation application than an engine, nevertheless, there is Yo Frankie, the game project the Blender Foundation made on top of the Blender engine, I suggest you download that and give it a test run, see if it fits the idea you have in mind or if it falls short.

Torque... well, I am just not very happy with the way Garage Games does things, I was suckered into getting TGEA Early Adopters because I had a 1.4 license under the promise of Linux support to come later, which I am not even sure if it even came about, then they discontinued both TGE and TGEA because of Torque 3D, which costs about 5 times as much as the previous engines (more depending on whether or not you own a previous license, to me "T3D Basic" is a joke, I got to have source, the restrictions missing features makes it a "paid demo" IMO).
Documentation is poor IMO as well, so be wary.

I hear great things about C4, but I have none to say myself, never used it.

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I personally find Torque 3D amazing. The basic version doesn't have a source code for a reason. It's for you to really test out the engine and start some basics to a game. The engine is well worth it's price for what's included. I'm very happy they kept the price down that much because I thought it should be worth much more. All the things included with it should not have a low price. That's like trying to buy a BMW for the price of a Honda. You can't expect it to be cheap when it comes with all that's included. Of course this is my own opinion.

Also the current documentation is a small beta form, as is the engine itself. That's not the real engine or documentation. Give it a month and it will be released and than you can rejudge it.

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Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
•I need graphics that wouldn't be embarrassing to be seen on a game cover in EB and won't be laughed at when I ask at least $30 for it.
Graphics are largely based on what content you give the engine. Any of the engines you've mentioned are quite capable of rendering nice looking games assuming the content you gave it to render was created well.

I like Unity. I've used it before and if I had extra money I'd invest in it. Scripting in C# is really nice, mainly because I'm a professional C# developer so it's what I already know. The UI/tool is really nice and it seems to be a pretty performant engine. My only complaint is a lack of dynamic shadowing in the indie version, but otherwise it seems like a very good deal for $200.

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Quote:
Original post by Avneet
I personally find Torque 3D amazing. The basic version doesn't have a source code for a reason. It's for you to really test out the engine and start some basics to a game.


Yeah, thats what I meant by "paid demo", I think they can do whatever they want with their product, I am just not interested in investing more of my money into it.

Quote:
Original post by Avneet
The engine is well worth it's price for what's included. I'm very happy they kept the price down that much because I thought it should be worth much more. All the things included with it should not have a low price. That's like trying to buy a BMW for the price of a Honda. You can't expect it to be cheap when it comes with all that's included. Of course this is my own opinion.


I respect your opinion, and I really have none myself regarding T3D, I lost all interest in it after finding out about its price, I have already invested $449 on TGE and TGEA, I ducked the bullet on the 1.4 to 1.5 upgrade, again, they do have a right deciding what to charge how and when, but their business model seems to be based more into re-factoring their product, repackage it and sell it to the same customers rather than create value in a single product and find new customers, understandable, I am sure the Game Engine Market is a Niche one.

Quote:
Original post by Avneet
Also the current documentation is a small beta form, as is the engine itself. That's not the real engine or documentation. Give it a month and it will be released and than you can rejudge it.


My assessment is from past experience with TGE and TGEA rather than current documentation for T3D, is it a trend? I guess you could tell in a month [smile].

[Edited by - Kwizatz on June 10, 2009 11:18:31 PM]

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Just a quick warning before reading my words. I'm bitter about the topic I'm about to mention, I hope it doesn't come through. Secondly, the point of view is more from the business owner and less from the designer.

Anytime you depend on third party as a critical piece of your design and/or development, you are placing your success of future grown in some one elses pocket. Two easy examples: IBM on Microsoft, government on Blackwater. Each started out reasonable and affordable. Then they slowly (or quickly) raised their rates until the goals/projects were dead. I've seen this happen to a company I worked for as well, but not a reference any one would know.

Do not depend on third party software to make you millions, in the end they will just eat your profits until you go under.

I apologize if I offended, but I feel it's a lesson people shouldn't learn first hand.

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Words to be headed indeed, but for those without the ability to roll one's own, middleware is the solution. If I could match even the worst of what I've been looking into myself, I might give it a go, but I have no experience. Hiring a programmer to write an engine for me is the next closest thing and honestly, middleware is still the cheaper and higher quality route.


Does anyone have experience of C4 or Unity?

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By the way, be sure to check out some of the videos at the bottom of this page :D
http://www.garagegames.com/products/torque-3d

And here are some blogs of people who are using the beta version of Torque 3D. This is what they have made with the beta :D
http://www.garagegames.com/community/blogs/view/17471
http://www.garagegames.com/community/blogs/view/17397

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I got 7 years experience with Torque, and I've got TGE and TGEA. T3D is not on my radar because of the way they handled TGEA. Basically, it was meant to be next-gen but never got anywhere until later releases. Until then, OpenGL support (among other things) was non-existant and if you asked why it wasn't there (it was on the milestone list when I bought it) you got the answer: "Do it yourself, you got the source!" - which isn't very friendly. That's pretty much what goes today in the community too, if you don't like something you should be quiet and not criticise.

The community also isn't what it used to be. C4 on the other hand seems to have a very good community, however the tech demos they had didn't impress me as much as Torque's. Unity looks rock solid, but doesn't provide source in any of its lower price categories, which is a big deal to me.

That's my few cents.

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My limited experiance with GG has been via 3rd party reports mostly and my own trying of the XNA based engine, the main thing I took away from it was 'docs? what docs? we don't need no docs!'.

Unity is pretty awesome, indeed I would go for this if I didn't need an engine which could do a headless linux server.

I currently have a license for and as mentioned the community is very active, the code is clean (and you get the code) the updates are free and there is a decent roadmap in place for future features.

imo, look at Unity and C4, see if they both do what you want now and then pick one.

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It certainly looks like a choice between unity and C4. Now as I said, I have no real programming experience. I'm familiar with many of the concepts and have dabbled in basic way back when and in PHP and CSS more recently and am interested in learning more, but with such a skill level I would likely do more harm than good with messing around in the source. I would much rather not need to.

SymLinked, what was lacking, in your eyes, in C4's tech demos? Can you elaborate on Unity and its "rock solidity"? :P

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I have a year's worth of experience with C4, and I must say, I love it.

The code structure of the engine is the cleanest I've seen, and most programmers you will come into who has used C4 will say the same.

Support is second to none. Eric (the author of C4) is probably the most active, AND helpful forum member. You think you've found a bug? Post on the boards and literally within the next few hours (often the hour, in my experience), Eric has tracked down the bug and fixed it for the next release. He has also implemented a few 'feature suggestions' that I personally made. Good luck finding that with GG.

It's a fast engine, with voxel terrain, powerful material editor. The last updates have been monumental and we are expecting 1.7 (Currently at 1.5.8) to include a complete foliage system.

Having the same code work for PS3, Xbox360, Mac and PC all in 1 shot is absolutely incredible.

I'm no salesman, and I do not try to be. This is only my experience but doing a quick search on their forums show similar experiences around. Only 'downside' is you need a pretty good grasp on C++ to get started. There is a full scripting engine built in, which you can expose to quite easily, though.

:)

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I've been a C4 user for a couple years now, and I also am very fond of it. The support offered by the community and Eric Lengyel is phenominal. In fact Eric is one of the reasons I bought it, if you look at his history, he is clearly an expert in the field, and I felt that I could trust him to continue working on and improving the engine without fear of it dieing. Another reason I like it is that I get free updates for life with my license, and I get all the features. Like 3shirtlessmen, Eric has also been kind enough to implement small features for me, many times without me asking directly (I asked if they were possible, and he implemented them for the next release when they weren't).

Currently, physics is a little lacking, but the next release will feature full support for physics. Given Eric's high release rate, I'm expecting this sometime in the next couple of months. If you don't want to wait, there is an implemention of PhysX which is maintained by one of the community members, and is fairly simple to incorporate into a project, but if you use it, you might lose some portability to other platforms.

C4 doesn't assume anything about the type of game you are creating. The engine is designed to be a foundation for any type of game, and as such, there really isn't an AI implementation. However, given that AI is genre and game specific, I think you'd have a hard time finding any engine that does what you need in this regard.

In terms of programming, in order to do much with C4, you will have to use C++. However, only a basic understanding of oop is needed, and I know of other members who have used C4 while learning what they need to. C4 is very well designed, and has extremely clean and professional code.

As long as you don't use any platform specific external libraries, you will be able to compile your project for both Windows and Mac without modification. If you have an xbox360 or ps3 devkit and the c4 professional license, then you can also compile for the those two platforms.

I recommend you take a look at this site: Release notes
In particular, look at the frequency of releases and the amount of content in each release.

The demo includes all of the tools such as the world editor, so you can learn to use them before purchasing.

Another thing to look at: Road map
c4 is an innovative engine that not only takes advantage of current technologies, but also plans for the future.

Also, when you look at the demo, remember that much of it is programmer art, but look carefully. Shoot hanging lights to see the dynamic lighting, look at brick walls to see parallax+horizon mapping, etc.

You'll definately want to look here through the showcase forum: Showcase forum

A couple of interesting things being done with C4:
Quest of Persia (be sure to look at the gameplay trailor on that page also)
Ludicrous
Some Dexsoft Models in C4

A quick summary of some of the pros and cons:
Pro:
Free updates for life
Excellent support and community
Excellent performance/stability/features
All tools are included

Cons:
Physics not complete (soon though)
No built in AI
Must use C++ (depending on the person)


I can't say much about the other engines you've asked about because I haven't used them, so I'm not going to say anything regarding them.

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A couple follow up questions about C4:

First off, how would I implement AI? Would I be using a scripting language like Lua, or full C++, or is there some more high level interface for putting together AI scripts? I never expected a genre agnostic engine to have AI tailored to my needs built in. My AI requirement is that I be able to create the AI scripts I need, not that they be already available.


A bigger question though, I noticed rooting around on the C4 pages that while my main computer is well within the graphics card requirements, my secondary computer, a MacBook Air, has an Intel card which is not properly supported. In fact, C4 doesn't support an Intel cards. Will that end up being a problem? I hadn't heard much of Intel graphics cards, but I don't actually keep up with that. Are they common? Is the lack of support going to potentially cost me part of my audience?

Edit: P.S. Id still like to hear from anyone who has used Unity extensively!

Also, can some one explain what dynamic shadows are and what its lack would mean to me?

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You will have to do a fair amount of the AI in C++. C4 has a visual scripting system (which you can use in the demo, and I recommend you try it), and you can create new methods for it in C++ ( I believe there is an example for creating a new method for the visual script editor in the C4 wiki). If you made the right methods in C++ for the visual script editor, then you would be able to do AI with it. As it is, though, you won't be able to get away with just using the visual script editor. Also, there is no Lua or python integration in C4 (I suspect a couple members have done some work in this regard, but nothing useful is available for the rest of us).

In terms of Intel graphics: unfortunately they are very common, and they aren't very good for serious gaming. C4 does support the Intel GMA X3000 and later, but you won't be able to use the voxel terrain with it.

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That is something I was unclear on. It said partially supported and mentioned the terrain and shadows would be affected. I assume that it degrades as gracefully as it can, but for all i knew based on the few words on the screen, I might be looking at terrain and shadows simply not being there.

If I compile using all the bells and whistles for shadows and terrain, what happens when an Intel card tries to show it? better yet, having such a card here, can you point me to a C4 demo that shows off voxel terrain, etc so I can see the difference on my supported card and the Intel card?

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The demo from terathon has a couple of levels that feature voxel terrain. The cemetery level forms an arch over the path at one point. If you try to run it using intel graphics, then I believe that the terrain will simply look black. The reason this occurs is that the engine uses certain features of OpenGL when texturing the terrain that are not supported by Intel graphics. However, standard heightmap terrains, which is what almost every other engine supports, should work.

If you have other questions, I recommend you join the C4 forums. Eric is very helpful and willing to answer questions like these, and he can do it better and more completely than I can.

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If you go with C4, I would pay very close attention to the target specs. Aside from the aforementioned issues with integrated graphics cards, I have found the performance of the C4 demos to degrade very badly on older (but still above min-specs) hardware.

As far as Unity goes, the editor/UI is a dream to use, and the engine seems very well designed. Fallbacks on sub-par hardware are seamless, and performance overall seems good. However, there are three major drawbacks to the indie version, which may or may not affect your decision:
1) No access to source code (a non-issue if you aren't a programmer)
2) No direct access to OpenGL (a non-issue unless you need highly-specialised effects)
3) No dynamic shadows

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That's only natural. With newer graphics features older GPU will perform worse.

If you want to target casual consumers with your title, then C4 may not be the best solution since it will cut out a portion of your available crowd.

Though, if you use C4, maybe you'll get people to actually upgrade their computers. :)

Swiftcoder, I think your post is a bit misleading.
*NOTE* I've never looked at Unity very closely (though I have downloaded the trial). Keep that in mind as you read the following.

No access to the source code heavily your limit as to what you can actually do. You cannot extend any part of the engine, and anything you want to add will be nearly impossible apart to probably a basic framework that the devs provide you (or the demo functionality).

Here is a thread on the C4 forums about this topic.

http://www.terathon.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=7001

Now, you'll need to read the whole thread to not think C4 is full of fanibois'. It has a lot of good info between C4 vs Unity. In the end, decide what is best for your target audience. If Unity or Torque fill the need better than C4, then by all means do so. :)

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Quote:
No access to the source code heavily your limit as to what you can actually do. You cannot extend any part of the engine, and anything you want to add will be nearly impossible apart to probably a basic framework that the devs provide you (or the demo functionality).
Keep in mind that the OP has limited programming experience, so being able to 'extend the engine' might not be that big of a selling point for him. (I've spent some time playing around with Unity as well, and I didn't find it to be limited in the way you're describing.)

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With no access to the source code, I don't see how you can expand it in any way. You`re at the dev's mercy to fix any engine bug.
Right, but the OP has already stated that he has little to no programming experience. Do you see what I'm getting at? To be able to make use of the source code for an engine like Unity, you would have to already be a skilled programmer (or be working with someone who is).

I know what you're saying about being at the mercy of the developers, but choosing an engine is always about tradeoffs. For someone with little or no programming experience, an authoring tool such as Unity may be the best option overall (even then it'll be a challenge, since to do anything really interesting in Unity you pretty much have to get your hands dirty with some C# or javascript).

I'm not trying to advocate for any particular engine; it just seems that the points you're making aren't particularly relevant to the OP's situation. (Maybe I'm misunderstanding though...)

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I'm also interested in these engines. One worry I have is that generic engines might turn out not to be suitable for your needs in a way that won't be obvious until you've spent some time developing. For example, is the C4 engine designed for large scale top down strategy games? I notice most of their screen shots are indoor scenes or first/third person persective shots and they use voxels rather than height maps for terrain which I wouldn't need, I don't if that comes at a cost.

Some of the other tasks I'm keen to offload are writing the game GUI code and also pathfinding, navigation related stuff. I don't see these mentioned in the feature list for these engines, does anyone know if they offer any help there? Currently using CEGUI for gui elements which works well, I know I can integrate CEGUI with OGRE3D but I'm not sure about other engines.

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Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
Does anyone know good reason why any of these are bad choices? Are there major limitations to any of them? I need help in picking a final choice.

If you don't have programming experience don't touch Torque even with a ten-foot pole. ;) The source code is very cluttered and working with it is far from being pleasurable. Also it doesn't have integrated physics so you need to either integrate external engine or roll your own. Honestly in my experience developing with Torque was a real pain.

Unity on the other hand is very easy to start with. They have very good WYSIWYG editor and code-test cycle is very smooth. For bad parts you can see here - it's a list of things users would like to see included or improved, so it can tell you something about what is missing. Only major complaints I have is lack of debugger and very limited support for SVN. Other than that it was pleasure to use. They have a free 30-day trial version on their web page so I suggest you download it and see yourself whether it suits your needs.

I didn't try C4 so I can't tell anything about it. If I had to choose between Torque and Unity I would pick the latter without any hesitation.

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