Unreal State of Custom and Commercial Engines as of 2017/2018

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Hey all, with the announcement of House Marque ditching their current game engine to use Unreal Engine , http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2017/12/05/housemarques-next-game-will-use-unreal-engine-4/, I wanted to ask how everyone feels of the current state of commercial and custom game engines in the AAA and Indie Space. It seems like more and more studios are starting to switch to commercial engines, either Unity or UE4. Square Enix is creating Kingdom Hearts , Dragon Quest, and FF Remake in Unreal Engine, Rare is using UE4 for Sea of Thieves, Bend is using Unreal Engine for Days Gone, Insomniac Games used Unity for their smaller titles, and the list continues.

As a graduate student that is about to graduate, I just wanted to see if the concept of fully creating a game from scratch is becoming a dying breed for engine developers, and I should focus more on creating my projects using these more popular engines, especially from a portfolio perspective. Thank you.

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Engines are great. The engine allows small teams power they wouldn't have and the developers of the engine is like having a dedicated team focused on only the engine.

It's much more cost effective to use a engine. You can focus on development with a engine. You don't need to learn so much with a engine.

 

But it isn't all rainbows and sunshine. A lot of developers who learn by starting with engines start too big because engines allow so much power.

There is also the huge redundancies that you get from these engines. They are build to be as flexible as possible and for this reason you get a lot of extra's that you don't need. Unity's 2D physics that is on by default or Unreal's graphics that is set too high and glossy are good examples.

3 hours ago, AxeGuywithanAxe said:

I just wanted to see if the concept of fully creating a game from scratch is becoming a dying breed for engine developers

It will die when games die and games will die when all intelligent life dies. There will always be a need and benefit for making games from scratch, just as there will always be a need and benefit for making games using already designed tools.

 

As for your portfolio think of what you want to do. If the companies you want to work for is known for using a engine then so should you, if you plan on being a developer known for being able to work on custom made engines, then you need to make games from scratch.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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1 hour ago, Scouting Ninja said:

It will die when games die and games will die when all intelligent life dies. There will always be a need and benefit for making games from scratch, just as there will always be a need and benefit for making games using already designed tools.

I guess I should have said, will it realistically come to the point where Unreal Engine 4 and Unity take up so much of the market share, that the concept of having a proprietary engine will only be for those running on a decade + of tech.

1 hour ago, Scouting Ninja said:

t's much more cost effective to use a engine. You can focus on development with a engine. You don't need to learn so much with a engine.

Yeah, and I'm definitely feeling that now. I feel like I'm never making "real" progress with starting from scratch. I'm currently integrating physics into my engine, and I just constantly think about how much time could be saved from using an engine with decades of testing and 100's of titles. Part of me likes designing an engine and knowing exactly how something works, and not having to "rely" on another person and a general purpose method.

 

1 hour ago, Scouting Ninja said:

As for your portfolio think of what you want to do. If the companies you want to work for is known for using a engine then so should you, if you plan on being a developer known for being able to work on custom made engines, then you need to make games from scratch.

I think that's the problem I have, it seems like more and more companies are ditching their engines for UE4. From a portfolio perspective, what I can show with a proprietary engine is a lot more visually interesting, but it also relies on others tech. If I start from scratch, I might not be able to have as much to show, but I can explain exactly why I designed my renderer , game layer , reflection layer, etc the way I chose to. I'm just trying to find a proper balance.

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At a AAA studio, if they're using a custom / in-house engine, it will likely be just as big and complex as Unreal... If you get a job at a place like that, you'll still be making games on top of a massive engine. Even if you get a job there as an engine developer, it will be much closer to fiddling with the UE4 code-base, than your student-home-made-engine codebase.

So, showing that you can actually work with a big, bloated, over-engineered game making toolset is kind of important.

Doing fancy tech stuff from scratch is also important, if you want to work in a very technical role... but making a custom renderer from scratch when you're applying for a gameplay role isn't the best use of your time. In that case, a gameplay system built on an existing engine would be a better portfolio piece.

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32 minutes ago, Hodgman said:

At a AAA studio, if they're using a custom / in-house engine, it will likely be just as big and complex as Unreal... If you get a job at a place like that, you'll still be making games on top of a massive engine. Even if you get a job there as an engine developer, it will be much closer to fiddling with the UE4 code-base, than your student-home-made-engine codebase.

That makes quite a lot of sense, and I guess I didn't think of it from that aspect. 

 

34 minutes ago, Hodgman said:

Doing fancy tech stuff from scratch is also important, if you want to work in a very technical role... but making a custom renderer from scratch when you're applying for a gameplay role isn't the best use of your time. In that case, a gameplay system built on an existing engine would be a better portfolio piece

I think my current problem is that I'm not quite sure what my focus is. I wanted to start out as a graphics programmer, but after a series of projects and outside influences, I've sort of burned out on the graphics end (at least when it comes to shaders). I think I'm more suited for either gameplay/general/tools because I have yet to burn out on them, and I like the challenge of designing the architecture , instead of implementing mathematical theories and etc to make things "look pretty".

I've always had the notion that the best way to show my work, and to create a game on the side, was to build everything from scratch, but I've started to find a diminishing returns when doing it, I think I constantly fall into the trap of looking how vast other engines are and forgetting that they have been worked on by 100s of people over a decade or more. But I also like the feeling I get when I accomplish something, and like knowing that all the code is my own.

That seems to have been a tangent, but from your perspective when looking at an applicant, would you rather see someone who created a full game , leveraging an existing engine, or someone who might have a partial game with a custom built one?

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8 hours ago, AxeGuywithanAxe said:

Hey all, with the announcement of House Marque ditching their current game engine to use Unreal Engine , http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2017/12/05/housemarques-next-game-will-use-unreal-engine-4/, I wanted to ask how everyone feels of the current state of commercial and custom game engines in the AAA and Indie Space. It seems like more and more studios are starting to switch to commercial engines, either Unity or UE4. Square Enix is creating Kingdom Hearts , Dragon Quest, and FF Remake in Unreal Engine, Rare is using UE4 for Sea of Thieves, Bend is using Unreal Engine for Days Gone, Insomniac Games used Unity for their smaller titles, and the list continues.

As a graduate student that is about to graduate, I just wanted to see if the concept of fully creating a game from scratch is becoming a dying breed for engine developers, and I should focus more on creating my projects using these more popular engines, especially from a portfolio perspective. Thank you.

If we go backwards in time, you'll find a lot of games were made in Unreal Engine 3. Nowadays there's more of UE4 games (specially indie) because the license price went down from >$50.000 to "free" until you sell enough then they get 5% cut out of gross sale.

There were also a lot of games using RenderWare.

The names have changed, but the practices haven't. Many games use canned engines, some games still use their own home-grown engine. It's just that games made with canned engines have a recognizable stamp on it, while home-made engines just won't mention it unless they're doing heavy marketing on that, or plan on selling the engine to others. You rarely hear that, for example, Divinity: Original Sin 1 & 2 were made with home-grown engines. The Witcher also uses in-house engine.

Also having powerful engines like UE4 & Unity become "free" (they're not really free, but still easily accessible) rather than costing tens of thousands of dollars made them more popular around users that would otherwise have been unable to make a game at all.

Edited by Matias Goldberg

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There are nowdays still studios like Deck13 that are going to make there own engines (in the Deck13 case they called it Fledge and wrote a serious of articles in a popular games magazine) so there will always be people making there own engines especially when fees play a role and you have the man-power to do so. Some studios as Guerrilla Games working on titles like Horizon (build on there Decima Engine or Naughty Dog roll there own ones too especially when going just for a single platform only.

The benefits of using third-party engines is primarily a costing factor while I agree on that, I strictly disagree on the

5 hours ago, AxeGuywithanAxe said:

using an engine with decades of testing and 100's of titles

part because even those will have massively problems and cause huge troubleshooting and development time consumptions due to unfinished updates and features that do not work (I'm looking at you Unity 5 <.< ) so one could say it is primarily the pricing. I have worked at a lot and talked with a lot more of so called indie studios and they all calculated there budgets in a way that development of an own engine would be no point to them; instead all of them used Unity and some got to Unreal. Unity on its own has also the benefits of comming with C# that is, looking on Unreals code base, a lot more beginner friendly while those who have made a few games with Unity tend to go to Unreal because it has due to the C++ code base even more capabilities to customize what you need. It also feels like people tend to make too huge plans because those systems offer them to be easy as breathing. We have never had so much unfinished games on Steam and disappointed players/backers on Kickstarter as ever before so this is one of the downsides of this business.

On the other hand it seems like a big task to make an own game engine but after 5 years now from starting to get my first renderings with C# and a custom OpenGL.Net library and the old Nehe tutorials, several revisions and versions later and switching from C# to C++ completely 3 years up to build a huge code and tools base state of today, it was and will be a wonderfull and ongoing task doing this in my rare spare time while working with Unity and Unreal at business. The technology curve is high but you will benefit from that knowledge regardless of the position you might enter later. I have had my hands inside Unreals base code and build pipeline but also huge AI projects on Unity making that multitasking to solve logic tasks for massive AI and could always benefit from what I do after work. I have learned to live without the "convinience" stuff that we got from the STL in C++ 11/14/17 most of the time (and some people might now tend to jump to the keyboard and quote this to tell me how wrong my opinion is :| ) and ported some of the C# "convinience" into C++ while I mostly learned how good it feels to have the freedom to know your system regardless how huge it has grown. But at all this feeling of beeing home in my own system, I also have had situations where it was better to use one of the third-party ones Unity/Unreal in cases where mobile support was important for example.

So it seems to me less a question of making an own engine/games from scratch or not rather than could you pay for it while I think it is totally ok to use the ready ones at business but I also sit on the roll-your-own-whenever-possible train and will prefer to do things using my own code/tools base as hobby and partially in business.

(Pleaso note, this is as always my personal opinion and no! my opinion isnt wrong ;) )

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11 hours ago, Shaarigan said:

On the other hand it seems like a big task to make an own game engine but after 5 years now from starting to get my first renderings with C# and a custom OpenGL.Net library and the old Nehe tutorials, several revisions and versions later and switching from C# to C++ completely 3 years up to build a huge code and tools base state of today, it was and will be a wonderfull and ongoing task doing this in my rare spare time while working with Unity and Unreal at business. The technology curve is high but you will benefit from that knowledge regardless of the position you might enter later. I have had my hands inside Unreals base code and build pipeline but also huge AI projects on Unity making that multitasking to solve logic tasks for massive AI and could always benefit from what I do after work. I have learned to live without the "convinience" stuff that we got from the STL in C++ 11/14/17 most of the time (and some people might now tend to jump to the keyboard and quote this to tell me how wrong my opinion is ) and ported some of the C# "convinience" into C++ while I mostly learned how good it feels to have the freedom to know your system regardless how huge it has grown. But at all this feeling of beeing home in my own system, I also have had situations where it was better to use one of the third-party ones Unity/Unreal in cases where mobile support was important for example.

So it seems to me less a question of making an own engine/games from scratch or not rather than could you pay for it while I think it is totally ok to use the ready ones at business but I also sit on the roll-your-own-whenever-possible train and will prefer to do things using my own code/tools base as hobby and partially in business.

Thank you for your perspective! I think one of my main issues I'm having is forgetting just how long it takes to get the entire project done and might be rushing it to much. I like the idea of creating my code , but it seems like a lot of work, and I don't necessarily know if it outweighs the benefits. I've learned quite a lot building my own engine, but I still don't have a full finished project.

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Ive made the experience that rolling your own is less coding rather than getting all the informations together you need for the systems and (in my case) for code refactoring.

I'm just at revision 6 restructuring the project for the third time as it growed a lot in the past 3 years from new knowledge and experiences made with it working 10 to 15 hours a week in avarage in parallel to my business job is a complete development time of arround 1 1/2 to 2 years in full time on a 40 hours per week base doing anything from scratch (I've started with nothing than an empty Visual Studio project and up for today use nothing except zlib, tinyEcc and the OS APIs). Sounds much but in the end it competes to development time of a game :D

 

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I think another thing that studios consider is simply whether the engines that are available can handle the game they want to make(this applies to indies too).  For example, GTA5 wouldn't likely have been doable with UE4/Unity, not without a lot of bolting on and changing things anyway...and the engine they already had was more able to that specific task(though I'm sure changes were needed there too).  Any game that has some sort of "extreme" thing may be better done in a custom engine...where by extreme, I mean things like 1000s of units in a RTS, a huge world, something MMO-like, and similar situations.  Generic engines often can't handle these things, due to the way they have to be performant yet flexible enough to be useful.  The above-mentioned 2d physics in Unity is an example of this, where it is in the build even if it isn't used, but then if it IS used it doesn't cost more.

 

For a single person(or small team), unless your game is really simple, or you REALLY want the experience of making an engine, I'd highly recommend using a pre-built engine.  Typically, the use-cases of custom engines(the "extreme" I mention above) isn't the kind of game these smaller teams make anyway...and a pre-built engine will allow them to "punch above weight" as far as to what they can actually do with a game.  Unity/UE4 has enabled small teams with good artists to get near AAA(if not AAA, it's just a word anyway) graphics.  The amount of content may be lower due to only having 1 3d modeller etc... but the actual quality can be really high, which may not be the case if the engine wasn't already there.

 

About a portfolio...unless you are really gunning for a job making custom engines specifically, I would use an engine for the portfolio.  If you are doing graphics stuff(modelling, etc...) you want to show your graphics in a good light, and making your own engine would likely not render that real-time that well, on top of taking up time that could have been used just implementing a model viewer in UE4(I know this isn't exactly the thing for poretfolios but you get my point).

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i dont think gaming and game development have a future in its current form. the current AAA game engines definietly dont have. for example, the revenues of my game engines ( http://Maker3D.tk ) and game related tools are a magnitude lower than in previous years. of course, as time elapses, they are becoming obsolote, and people are moving into different solutions.

 

but the statistics are also showing the end of the gaming era everywhere. almost every game genre have a steady -10% per year, including the popularity, the downloads, the interest, the search, and the revenues too. in such economic condition, what a game engine in 2018 should offer? good question. but its clear that its not something the unreal engine, the unity, crysis, or anything else can offer.

10 years ago, it was sugoi to play fps games with friends. nowdays people just buy some airsoft, and shot at each other in a forest. people feel that the virtual things are worthless, and they going back to real games, real sports. game engines of todays cant adapt to this, such type of things are coming in that they cant react. the era of computer games is ending, of course a different type of gaming and entertainment replaces it. not necessary on computers. i carried out serious changes in my businesses, in fact almost 90% of my money was directly/indirectly from gaming in ~2013, now its barely reaches 5%.

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5 hours ago, Geri said:

but the statistics are also showing the end of the gaming era everywhere. almost every game genre have a steady -10%

Well this isn't the full story. AAA games market is in decline, every other game market is growing. We have seen the indie market double in size from 2015 - 2017.

Professional in the game industry is now earning more from indie games than from there AAA contracts.

We could be witnessing the fall of AAA games and the rise of a new giants.

 

5 hours ago, Geri said:

and they going back to real games, real sports.

Interest in sport has declined a lot over the world, with most of the new generations not watching TV and having much better entertainment.

 

5 hours ago, Geri said:

game engines of todays cant adapt to this, such type of things are coming in that they cant react.

AR is leaping forward. Soon we could mark game zones in parks and create clear visual content in the real world. I have been able to track way-points with my mobile. Planing to steer a virtual tank soon. (I Used Unreal 4)

 

6 hours ago, Geri said:

the era of computer games is ending, of course a different type of gaming and entertainment replaces it.

That is progress. Good thing development skills work on all formats. :) 

I am hoping for AR to rise as the new gaming platform. It's sad that with the decline in AAA games, board games didn't make a comeback.

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Scouting Ninja: imagine if there is a gokart fan. one and a half decade this gokart fan required a software, namely gokart games to fulfill all of his gokart fanatism. now there is the age of informations where we living in. you can search gokart videos. you can google gokart designs. you can register to 200 gokart communities to speak about gokarts. you can design your own gokart from 10$ garbages from ebay and other sites. can buy a crappy gokart for 500 usd from some secondhand only shop. you can write and sell a book from gokarts online. you can organize gokart race for others and reach all the possible people to be part of it. you can manufacture gokarts for other gokart fans. you can chat with the best gokart drivers.

in the 2000s you were not able of doing this. your factor of entertainment were limited to watch a gokart race once per year, maybe attend 1-2 in your life as a driver, and of course to play gokart games on your computer. but now here is the age of information, where playing a gokart game just lost almost all value. maybe someone will play it, however in very small quantities, as the experience is just not comparable with the whole of the benefits of the new era information exchange, where you can make something to be part of your reality, of your own life.

now 99% (i just slapped my belly and this is the number it generated) of the game dev industry are unaware of this, as techie people are usually tend to strictly focus on developing on a practicular field, and they are usually unable to see the things as a whole, and they dont recognize if they field just disappearing, only after its gone, and then they go nuts on forums after they lost their jobs/profits/projects, and start attack everybody with envious hatered. autisming around a practicular topic is extremely profitable in the first 1 or 2 year, who doing it, likes to think that he is usually some extremely smart snowflake,  but then suddenly the whole thing disappears, and the person in it must restart his life. i have witnessed this in gamedev probably almost in the case of every developer i even met, they didnt even bothered watching or creating a statistics or even investigating user behaviors or trying to understand how a market works, they were just I AM THE SHADERGOD or BLENDERKING everybody is dumber than me whyiamloosingmyjob.

of course we in this topic are aware of this, thats why we discussing it, but we are probably in the final moments to carry out a survival strategy to have protection against this transition, but as there are just this topic with 4-5 people in it, of course this will just be another cretaceous paleogene extinction event that usually happens in every computer-related industry once in every 10-15 years, and hey, the dinos are just dinoing.

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3 hours ago, Geri said:

imagine if there is a gokart fan. one and a half decade this gokart fan required a software...

Yes true building go-karts and  other hobby interest has risen. Peoples access to them has also improved. All this means is that people have more options of entertainment.

It is also true that the new generation consist of kids who had complex games from the moment they could hold a device. For this reason they accept games as part of there lives instead of building communities around the games they play.

However none of this is going to be the end of digital games.

 

Games will change, we all know that. It has done so many times before. Digital games has adapted and now while you wait for a reply on the go-kart forum you can play some mobile games.

As long as digital games remain more accessible and affordable people will keep playing them.

3 hours ago, Geri said:

the game dev industry are unaware of this, as techie people are usually tend to strictly focus on developing on a practicular field,

The industry isn't blind. AAA developers stopped making realistic go-kart games a long time ago, now they only make kart games that have power-ups and stuff you don't get in real live. These days it's only hobby developers who make realistic go-kart games.

 

I hope that AR will allow us to merge digital games with real ones. It would be great to race real go-karts while collecting coins and power ups in real live.

Edited by Scouting Ninja

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