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Alternative Game Engines

Do you want to make your game quickly, without the costs and complication of the big 3 engines? If your answer is yes, it's time to ditch Unreal, blow away Unity and Cryengine and embrace some of the other engine talent out there.

For years the big 3 engines have dominated game development. But that is now changing. These powerful engines, though still popular with triple A game developers, are costly, over complicated and over engineered for most indie developers' needs.

If all you want to do is develop a world class mobile game then ask yourself. Do you really need all the negatives Triple A engines bring. Learning unreal, never mind making game with it, will be huge time sink.

Time that your competitors will be putting to better use.

There are many engines out there, undiscovered by most, waiting to tease out your creativity. Desperate to act as the scaffolding in which you erect your gaming dream.

These simpler, more targeted engines, streamline development. Concentrating the tool set to exactly what you need. Removing what you don't.

Some even give the ability to script visually without learning to code. Placing the ultimate power in the developer's and artist's hand. No longer will you have to confusingly explain a gameplay idea to a coder, just to have the subtlety of it lost in translation. Now you can do it it yourself. Create, test, and iterate. And all in a few minutes.

The engines I have listed here are not only picked out for their ease of use, but for the speed in which a non coder can prototype a game idea. Rapidly iterating until it feels right. Until the design and game play sings to your mind and heart.

These are engines that you can buy this morning and have a prototype of your game running by this evening.

Time, as they say, is money. So save yourself the cash, the complication and the time, and step into a new world of rapid game design.

Construct 2

Construct 2 logo

Construct 2, made by Scirra Soft, is the first on are list and is designed first and foremost for 2D games.

Made with flexibility and ease of use in mind, Construct 2 will let you create any game you have in mind extremely quickly.

Using the a built in visual and plain English scripting and event system, Construct will have you prototyping games in hours rather than weeks. This Visual system is quick to learn but has the depth and complexity to make any game you wish to make come alive. Features include local and global variables plus an object oriented 'coding' design.

In addition, Construct comes packing a full suit of game development tools including, but not limited to, sound and sprite creation and management.

It really is a full development package.

But the standout feature is the ability to test your game at the touch of a button. Play testing can be done in any resolution and with simulated touch controls. Construct really does embrace the idea of rapid iteration.

Additionally, there is a plethora of plugins available for the engine on the construct 2 website that add a variety of advanced features. And once you are happy with your design, the Scirra made engine can render your game out to run on nearly any platform, be it mobile or otherwise, you can think of.

Build once, play anywhere in action.

So, if you're looking for something to rapidly create your game, Construct 2 is a great place to start.     


GDevelop logo

GDevelop is an open source game engine designed by industry veterans for ease of use and rapid creation of 2D games.

GDevelop offers a complete development environment that rivals, and in many cases overtakes some of the other engines on this list.

For example, you can handle sprites, graphics, sound, physics, particles, and level creation all within the engine's environment. A huge amount of utility packed into such a small package

And if that wasn't enough, GDevelop has its own proprietary visual scripting and coding system. This makes it very easy to use by non coders. It lets the designers and artists bring their ideas to life, try new ideas they may not normally try, and test them out.

But, Gdevlope's stand out feature has to be, due to the open source nature of the engine, the fact that it is currently absolutely free.

You can go to the GDevelope website now, download it, and make commercial games to sell with it. Which is one heck of deal considering how quickly Unity and Unreal development costs rise.

Additionally, due to the open source community built around GDevelop, there is a mass of tutorials and free plugins available to aid you on your quest to build your game. Speeding up learning, creation and, all importantly, time.

GDevelope is a pleasant surprise and should be checked out by any game dev' regardless of experience. This really is a rising star above the game engine world and demands your attention.  

ClickTeam Fusion 2.5

ClickTeam Fusion logo

Another game engine that was designed exclusively for 2D game development, ClickTeams Fusion 2.5 is a powerhouse that will unleash your creativity.

Fusion offers you a complete creation centre for you to grow your game from idea to commercial success. Everything you could need or expect is included in the package for your game making delight.

Tools include management and creation of sprites and animations. Sound creation and management. Physics implementation along with level creation and automatic tiling.

There are so many tools to help speed up your game building process. And all are intuitive and easy to use.

In addition to these powerful features, Fusion 2.5 comes with its own take on the visual scripting system used by so many a 2D game engine. Fusion 2.5's scripting system is slightly more complicated, and more plain English, than other scripting systems on this list. However this slight increase in complexity could be worth it for you as it does offer unparalleled complexity without having you resort to getting plug-ins.

Yet, the stand out feature that is going to make a difference for you is the ability to bake in monetisation from the off. 

If you want to create a game with advertising or digital goods, you can do with a click of a button. Fusion will create a system that works immediately for your game. Something that would usually take weeks of coding and implementing, achieved and working in a matter of minutes.

ClickTeam Fusion 2.5 is an impressive 2D game maker that can, due to its depth-full nature, be used for so much more than games. This is once piece of software that will really speed up your dev' process. Simply put. It lets you make games in weeks rather than months.  

YoYo Games: Game Maker Studio 2

Game Maker Studio logo

The grand daddy of 2D game making software, Yoyo Games Game Maker Studio 2 is the engine to get if you want the most professional 2D engine money can buy. With games like Spelunky and Hyper Light Drifter using Game Maker Studio, you know you are buying pedigree.

In the decade that game maker has been growing, the engine has slowly come to bristle with high quality time saving features.

It could easily be argued that Studio 2 offers the deepest and widest set of tools of any of the game engines on this list.

It hasn't created multiple million selling games for nothing!

A total game making suit, Game Maker offers you a complete and unmatched development environment that covers every dev' eventuality. It goes without saying that it includes tools for every area of development. Sprite management, physics, sounds, level creation, everything and more all handled inside the Game Maker package.

With all these tools at your disposal and with a little work, Studio 2 will have you pumping out games in no time at all. Especially with the inclusion of its own take on a visual scripting system.

Drag and Drop or 'DaD' is the system used by Studio 2 that lets any you, or any artist or designer code and script your own game play. Using a node based graphical interface, it is easy to understand the logical flow of the scripts. And constructing them is made all the more easier with visual cues offered to help you through the process.

But, without a doubt, the most impressive feature of Yoyo Games Game Maker is the massive community that surrounds it.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of recourses available for both the new and experienced game developer on the Yoyo Games resource portal.

Whether you are in need of texture and sound packs or a full and in depth game tutorial, there is something there for everybody. And easily enough material available to take any aspiring game developer from beginner to industry veteran.

The Oldest and still the best 2D game maker, if you are looking to bring your game ideas to the world, you owe it to yourself to check out Gamer Maker studio 2.

You will not regret it.   


Now that I have brought to light some alternative engines, you can see that you don't have to spend thousands of pounds to get a framework to create your game.

Though the big engines are good at what they do, for most indie developers, they are overkill.

The above engines are targeted, powerful, well supported and provide the optimal platform for you to bring your creativity, your dreams, to life.

So it's time to set aside the lumbering unreal giants.

It's time to step into a world of super fast creation, and limitless opportunity and make your game today.

NickSinclair 5th May 2017

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