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Help pick an engine for a 2D game

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I've read through the stickies here, but they're all fairly out of date (mostly last updated in 2011 or earlier). In the last 4 years obviously things have changed a bit, notably with Unreal Engine 4 recently becoming free to use, and Godot looking pretty good in the last year. So I thought I'd try to prompt some discussion since I'm not even sure if the pros/cons I list for these engines matter or are even true.


For my specific situation, my team is a team of 3: 2 coders and one artist. We're going to be making a 2d game that, in terms of what the engine needs to do, will be similar to The Legend of Zelda. We've decided to start work on the project this summer, so we've got a few months to play around with engines and tools and figure a few things out before we begin the "real" work. I've been reading through engine documentation and such for the last few weeks, but I'm not fully sure what I need to look for. Here's what I've come up with:


Our Needs:

1) Solid editor, since our artist has essentially 0 coding experience, but we want him to be able to load his assets into the game without too much technical difficulty.

2) Preferable for the coding to happen in a language that's used elsewhere, more for the experience benefits than anything

3) Preferable for the engine to handle as much 2d logic automatically as possible. Things like drawing 2d sprites, detecting collision.


Godot: http://www.godotengine.org/wp/

Pros: Feature-rich, nice editor

Cons: Have to learn custom scripting language (GDScript)



Duality: http://duality.adamslair.net/

Pros: Fully 2d engine, nice editor

Cons: Not as mature or widely-used



Cocos2d: http://www.cocos2d-x.org/

Pros: Widely-used, fast, scripting or C++

Cons: No full editor built in, more geared towards mobile



Unreal Engine 4: https://www.unrealengine.com/what-is-unreal-engine-4

Pros: Widely-used, feature-rich, powerful, great editor, don't need to write code (Blueprints)

Cons: Complicated to learn, doesn't do 2d super easily

Edited by Kovaz

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You could give the Atomic Game Engine a try, it is currently in Early Access: http://atomicgameengine.com
The engine has Windows and OSX Editors, 2D & 3D rendering and physics, Tiled and Spriter support, standards compliant Javascript scripting, full Editor and Player source code hosted on GitHub, and deploys to Windows/OSX/Android/iOS and WebGL.
- Josh
Welcome.png Edited by AtomicGameEngine

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If there is any budget(even if only in the future), I'd say the best tool overall for 2d games is Yoyogames' GameMaker Studio.  It has a propietary scripting language but it is not difficult, especially when compared to the likes of C/C++, and it is a "C-ish" language so it isn't like something totally alien either.  They have a free version, but you might want to get a paid version pretty quick to get the best features.  It is also very much dedicated to 2d, more so than many of the other engines, so the features it has that are relevant to 2d are beyond what other engines have, and don't require workarounds to make a 3d engine 2d.  Even Unity's newish 2d features can't get near what GMStudio does at the moment.


Now, if you are interested in something that may be better for the future, for example you mention you want a language used somewhere else, and maybe you would want to do something 3d later...well for that I would use Unity.  It runs on slower computers but still has pretty good power, especially with the 5.0 release.  Out of the box, the Unreal Engine(4) is more powerful, but it's 2d side is far behind, and it requires a beefier computer to use, and the same applies to the actual runtimes, though not as bad.  C++ for scripting(with UE4's macro systems) seems much harder to handle too, though it does have Blueprints for scripting, but that not only isn't useful anywhere else, but it can get pretty complicated pretty quickly too.  Unity on the other hand can use C# for scripting, which can be used in many other places as well.

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