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Citrus Lord

Need a little game engine advice

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I'm currently planning for a 2D action RPG, along the lines of Vanillaware's work (Muramasa, Dragon's Crown), and Castlevania. At the moment I want to have a PC with interchangeable and upgradable equipment, including weapons and armor, There would some platforming, but I want the focus to be on the combat, and as such the main thing I want is variable enemy AI and some rather in depth mechanics to the actual fighting. I'm also playing around with the idea of having the PC customizable, although that seems to be a decision that would be based on the needs of the story.


I've been doing some research into game engines, and have found a few that seem to be potentially what I need. Unity, GameMaker, and Construct. I'm particularly interested in Unity for it's new 2D toolset, while GameMaker and Construct seem to be relatively proven as well. And while I am no stranger to coding, it's not quite a focus of mine. I've done a bit of work in Java and ActionScript, but finding a pre-built engine to suits my needs seems to be the way to go. Unity seems like the best fit, especially since I have a professor that is already experienced in it's use, but I'd be worried about it's licensing terms. (It is quite expensive to buy but this doesn't seem to apply to most people?)


So I'm looking for something that

-can handle a fairly large amount of animation and art assets compared to many 2D games (if this is even a variable)

-has good AI control and possibly access to the code for it in case I need something that isn't there

-has good possibilities for Character and skill leveling systems and inventory management, a well as the potential for beginning game customization.


Out of what I've found (or something else perhaps), what do you think is the most available in terms of license and learning curve, while still being able to do what I need it to?

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Here are my opinions:


1. The Unity 2D toolset is fairly new. I gave it a quick try and I found it a little bit confusing. I wasn't exactly sure how to create something to fit a specific resolution. It seems more geared towards creating a 2D view in a 3d environment, but I am not sure how necessary this is in your case. I am not sure if I would go with Unity 2D just yet because it is very much not proven.


2. Lots of games have a high quanity of art assets and animation. If you think that your game requires significantly more, then I would take a close look at your game design because it is likely that you are not designing it correctly (trying to create a game that is simply not practical to create).


3. None of the solutions will have much in the way of AI. You may find that one of them offers some form of pathfinding but I bet that is probably it. You will have to code this...


4. You will have to code your character and skill leveling systems and game customization no matter what you select.


You are going to be doing a significant amount of programming in any one that you pick. I personally would probably go with Game Maker but that is just because I know it the best.

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