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Devs debate Unity 5 vs Unreal Engine 4 and Source 2

The Indie Mavens talk engines

Devs debate Unity 5 vs Unreal Engine 4 and Source 2

The week of GDC 2015 came and went, and perhaps the biggest news outside of new developments on the virtual reality front, was related to game engines.

Epic Games, Unity, and Valve released a triple hit of good news. That is, free versions of Unity 4 and Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4, and Source 2 were all announced.

They're free to download and use, not entirely free, of course - there are still royalties to pay in some cases. But, it's huge news for the continued democratization of game development nonetheless.

Presumably the main targets for the free versions of these top game engines are indie game developers. People who don't have the ability or the time to develope their own game engine can pick one of these up and get right into prototyping.

With this in mind, we turned to our Indie Mavens to see what they made of each of the engines. The question we asked them was this: 

"With Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4, and Source 2 all making themselves more accessible to indies, which one is the most attractive to you, and why?"


Vadim Starygin Founder Elite Games

For me - it is CoronaSDK. And yes, it also became free the day before Unreal.

Why - it's still best for 2D games. 3D development in general is still expensive.

And, on top, I would doubt that anyone would go for half-free Unity, when Unreal is full free, and offers support and grants for indie devs.

Andy Wallace Developer Andy Wallace

I'm likely to simply continue to use Unity.
Andy Wallace

I'm likely to simply continue to use Unity. It has been working fine for me, and I now have a solid flow for using it since it's been my goto for the past two years.

Unreal and Source would have to do a lot to convince me to break routine at this point.

The new-ish Unity 2D tools also did a lot to make me want to stick with the platform as it streamlined a lot of what I had been doing myself for the past few years.

openFrameworks remains my favorite environment to work in, but that is mostly for personal projects as it does not have the portability of something like Unity.

Richard Perrin Owner Locked Door Puzzle

I've shipped multiple games on various platforms with Unity at this point so I'm not planning on ditching that experience any time soon.

That said, the prices of Unreal and Unity were never really big factors in which I chose to use. Even before the price drop neither of them were unreasonable for a full time developer. Though, I will admit, I always preferred Unity's royalty-free approach over Unreal's continuing royalty payments.

Animation in Unity 5

I would hope most developers are choosing the engine that plays to their strengths and suits how they want to release.

For me, what the news really means is lowering the barriers of entry even more and hopefully encouraging more people to get into game development. Bickering over platforms aside the news is win-win all around.

Avetis Zakharyan CEO UnderwaterApps

I don't like the current trend - Level Editor being bundled with IDE.
Avetis Zakharyan

Honestly, my way of looking at this is probably very different from others. I think all three engines really suck when it comes to being "2d specialised" + "indie oriented" + "free". Especially when we talk Java on Android.

The other thing that I don't like about the current trend is Level Editor being bundled with IDE, and forcing people into language.

I think that's a problem that these engines are not addressing at all, and many developers starting to forget. I am trying to fix that problem with Overlap.

I am sorry if this does not answer the question though, I mean, I can't really choose...

Richard Perrin Owner Locked Door Puzzle

Not sure it's fair to say those engines "really suck" for the reasons you've specified. Most developers seem to have slightly different preferences and needs when it comes to their working environment.

That's one of the reasons I don't think any single engine will ever "win" as such, because people like to work in different ways.

So I'm always glad when there's new tools, especially when they're affordable or free for beginners.

Avetis Zakharyan CEO UnderwaterApps

I agree, of course: obviously, saying "they suck" is a big overstatement. They are, of course, very powerful tools with titanic work done on them by many people.

But it communicates my point, I guess.

Shawn Allen Founder Nuchallenger

Allowing low budget games to ship for free is a huge win.
Shawn Allen

I got in with Unity, and I honestly think that most people who started with one will stick with that one.

The more important thing to think about is people who are just starting. There are no more boundaries, which is great.

Before Unreal had this pricing structure it was still very unfriendly, and I would advise against using it, but now, that is no more.

Allowing low budget games to ship for free is a huge win, something I'm sure none of these companies will be hurting from.

Pavel Ahafonau Co-founder Happymagenta

To survive being an indie means to be fast and to release fast. Thus, my guess is that most will be sticking to the tools they have been using for a long time. Yet, of course, all the engines look at least worth having a look at.

This is another example of how games are getting easier to make, which we should all be applauding.

Dan Menard CEO Double Stallion

We used to work with Marmalade, but made the switch to Unity and haven't regretted it. I think it is a very solid tool that allows you to build more specialized tools for your game on top of it.

It's Unity for Dan Menard

I'm also a fan of Unity's royalty-free model. I would much rather pay cash than have to deal with the accounting nightmare of royalty payments. Especially if you get a hit and you start sending huge cheques to Epic for their technology.

Unity remains a solid choice.
Dan Menard

Unity remains a solid choice, and I hope they will resist the temptation of the race to the bottom.

I was familiar with Source a long time ago, so I am curious about Source 2.

Valve has some of the best networking code in the business, so for multiplayer games it could be a really solid choice. Aside from Unity, none of the engines make much effort to support 2D, which is our main focus.

Kepa Auwae Business / Design RocketCat Games

We're going with Unity for our next few games or more, and after that I have no idea.

I want to start attempting huge, open-world randomly generated 3D games, and am at a loss as to what engine to go for with that goal in mind.

If anyone has any ideas, lemme know.

With an affinity for eccentricity, as well as anything macabre or just plain weird, Chris searches for the games that fly under the radar. If you ask him, anything can be a game. Oh, and a game can be about anything, if you put enough thought into it. So, there.