Accessible Game Engines for Independent Creators

Getting into game creation is surprisingly easy when you have a game engine that scales to your skill level and available resources. 

Here are five game engines to check out if you want to start making games. 

Unity

Unity is an open source game engine that relies on independent developers and a dedicated internal development team to help and grow the engine with new features and support. 

Games that use Unity include:

  • Genshin Impact
  • Subnatica
  • Rimworld
  • Hollow Knight
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon World
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Plus hundreds more…

The Unity engine is compatible with all major hardware platforms and has no royalties, so you keep all of the revenue from your releases. 

Unity also offers more than 750 hours of free content to help you begin using the game engine and advance your skills. 

To keep Unity running, the Unity team has an asset store to download free and paid assets and tools to help you with game development. Unity also offers add-ons to track analytics, features such as multiplayer, and the ability to include monetization features.

Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine is made by Epic, the company responsible for the Unreal Tournament series, Gears of War, and Fortnite. 

Unreal Engine is not just a game engine, however. The engine is also used in film and television for previsualization and for rendering scenes on virtual sets such as those seen in The Mandalorian and Westworld.

So learning Unreal Engine will not only benefit you as a developer, but could also allow you to find work in other industries.

Some of the many games made in Unreal Engine include:

  • Valorant
  • Little Nightmares
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Mass Effect 
  • DmC: Devil May Cry
  • And many more…

Unreal Engine is popular because of the support it has from Epic’s internal development team. They continue to pour resources into the toolset, including a recent acquisition of MegaScans, which is a library of thousands of models and textures captured from the real world.

While anyone can learn Unreal Engine, its features can be intimidating for a solo developer. Small and large developers alike use this engine. If you want to push boundaries and features, you may need to hire support staff. So if you consider this engine, know what you are getting into.

Also notable is that games made in Unreal Engine and released on the Epic Game Store will only take 12% royalties after making $1 million in sales. 

Construct

The Construct game engine is built to be incredibly accessible because it is built on HTML5, the current standard for web content. What is notable about HTML5 is that it allows for greater complexity, including dynamic elements, sound, and interactivity, all natively in the user’s browser without plugins or other tools such as Flash.

Construct gives users everything they need to get started quickly and publish to the web, smartphones, and consoles. 

The Construct editor runs in your browser and works offline. Native tools include image editing, collisions, physics, multiplayer, and 3D features, to name a few of its features. Construct is available for as low as $8 a month for individual users, but business and education licenses are available. Construct does not take any royalties from games.

Construct boasts that more than 200,000 projects are created with the engine every month.

RPG Maker

RPG Maker is ideal for creators fond of classic games built using tile-set-based maps, like classic Zelda and Final Fantasy games for the NES and SNES.

RPG Maker includes many assets for free and an easy scripting language for programmers who want to add more complexity to their games. RPG Maker includes a Map Editor, Event System for game world interactivity, graphics and audio resources, two battle modes, controller input options, and scalable graphics to make things even more accessible. If you want more customization, you can download a custom plugin.

RPG Maker cames standard with many features, but there is also a DLC store with many premade and ready to use assets availble.

If you want to start creating something today with almost no entry barriers, then RPG Maker will be perfect for you.

Before Getting Started

As with all things, remember to keep your expectations in check. These game engines are a means to an end. However, to build a competent and quality game, you will need a range of skills.

For example, Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone created all of the art, music, and design for Stardew Valley himself. Undertale, Thomas Was Alone, and Minecraft are other recent examples of successful games made without a large studio or big budget.

But the creators of these games came into these projects with a desire to learn. Come in with enthusiasm and the urge to make the game of your dreams. See if you can make it come true!