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2D Game Engines - Advice Please

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Hey everyone, I'm new to the site and am looking for some advice regarding 2D engines. I'll give a little background first, to cover what I've tried so far, and how it went.

I first started Game Development in high school with a friend, working with RPG Maker to create our own fantasy games, always looking suspiciously similar to whichever Final Fantasy game we were playing at the time. As time went on I started work on my own RPG and I created a pretty thorough demo, but never went further than that.

After completing university I decided to dive into game development for real and begun working on the biggest, hugest, most awesomest RPG my mind could fathom. It was a top-down, artistic, open world game to be built with Scirra Construct. I even had dynamic wind and animated all my trees - even all my grasses. Standing in a field of barley you could see the wind creating a wave across its surface. It was gorgeous. And after an entire year of painting I had one large map complete with wilderness and village, no NPCs, yet still so many detailed textures and flora animations that the engine took 10 minutes to save and load, and crashed to desktop when I tried play-testing...

So there we are. One more passionate Indie who's learned the hard way, despite the advice from his seniors to start small. So now I'm ready to listen and start small! I've got an idea for a game, and I want to keep it simple. I want to exercise my raw talents in the hope that this game (and perhaps as many as the next half dozen) will improve my artistic abilities so that when I can afford to hire a team and tackle that super huge mega RPG I've always dreamed of, I can make it look truly beautiful.

The game I have in mind is a platformer. To keep it short: You play as a wolf with the power of the elements, tasked with saving his pack from a world being destroyed by a virus-like corruption. The world is literally falling apart, and its inhabitants being driven to madness. I want a handful of levels each with two stages - one at daytime, one at night. You travel from one location to the next, to the next, searching for a way to save your pack and the planet. I want the game to support controllers on PC, and preferably be playable on the 360 (Y for wind, B for fire, A for earth, X for water). Each element has a different focus, allowing you to find your own way through each level.

Here's some concept art of two of the levels:



So, if you've managed to endure that essay, I'd love some advice! I'm useless at programming. I tried it once. Ruby scripting for RPG Maker XP. I was learning about menus and text boxes and... it bored me to tears, and confused me to no end. Eventually I'll look to partner up with someone who has a passion for programming/coding, but for now I'd rather find a simple to use engine such as RPG Maker and Construct, preferably that can be ported to the 360 (if that's possible at all?). I'm going to stop typing now, for fear of blowing your minds at how much I ramble.

Many thanks for reading happy.png

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Hey there!

Based on what you've said and given my own background, I would almost always advocate rolling your own engine in 2D - or getting somebody to help you out with one. I had heard of RPG maker before but never really used it. When I was in school (and I mean primary / elementary school), I used to make little games using a program called games factory. At the time it was a great tool, but even back then and for simple games, it's limitations could be frustrating. Nowhere near as limited as the "Spider-man cartoon maker" I used to play with at the time, but that isn't saying much! :)

See, I'm sure there're cool engines out there which you could totally use for your purposes right now. But as I've found through experience, coding your own is the ultimately the most rewarding path as well as the one which gives you the most control. Thing is, you seem to want to go big with RPGs and such, and well, games just really *need* speed. I recently wrote a simple ray caster (or Wolfenstein 3D clone) in Python, and even on my fancy new PC, it runs terribly before optimisation. Game development demands a lot of involvement from the technical side, though of course this varies over platforms, languages, and purposes.

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy coding when you tried it, but remember that there's a lot to try out - I've only just had a peek but pygame in Python is pleasantly straightforward and you can develop demos rapidly. At least, it was much simpler than writing engines in C++! The great thing about it is that if you need to, you can also dig under the hood a bit to speed your game up. Besides, I think if you can churn out some small games quickly and see your code in action, you might just change your mind about coding!

So I guess I'm pushing for you to giving coding another go, albeit in a different direction - but use good libraries to help you out. After all, even if you do eventually get your own coder, understanding the technology will only ever help you. Also, concept art looks great! :)

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Hmmm. So the only way to get this working on Xbox is to use XNA with C#? In that case, I think I might stick to an engine like Construct to make this game, keep it small, for PC only, and use it as a portfolio piece. With that under my belt as proof that I'm capable as an artist and developer, I should find it much easier to find a programming partner or two who can build a dedicated engine, or use XNA.

J-Dog - you make some great points. Understanding C# for those reasons makes it a sensible choice. I always hated Maths and Science back at school though in favour of Art and English, and unless someone creates a method of coding where I can literally type "If player presses B, then breathe awesome fire in current direction of facing", then I'm just not going to get along well with it. Not for the purposes of working with it every single day for months on end.

But certainly, investing some of my time into coding in order to learn the ropes and to understand something about what it involves seems very important. I'll be looking into this.

Many thanks for your replies ^_^

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