Engines for beginners


#1

So this is a cleaned up and hopefully expanded version of what I posted previously in the discord previously and I thought I’d add it here (and people can add to it with their knowledge and experience).

Basically this is a list of Engines with Pros and Cons for absolute beginners because plenty of people might want to make a game but like me you can barely code if at all. Also people who like me suck at drawing and art.

So this is based on my experiences with the Engines listed, if it’s not listed I don’t feel I have the experience to talk about it having not messed with it much or not felt I got to grips with it

RAGS - I think it’s Rapid Adventure Game System,

  • it’s one the easiest and most complete game creation tools for interactive fiction and stuff.
  • Paid for
    – Not just paid for but subscription not lifetime license or pay once.
  • The interface looks awful and it’s hard to change it if at all

Quest -

  • Online hosting for anything you make to easily share it
  • Online has a save function for players
  • Free
  • can be somewhat fiddly to learn and more complex to do certain things than other engines here
  • Requires coding knowledge for more complex stuff

Twine

  • Free
  • You can make a choose your own adventure style system without coding knowledge
  • Can fairly easily be exported to be hosted on web pages etc
  • Requires coding to do anything really complex
  • Some of the very complex stuff made in it suffers from slowdown issues even on machines that aren’t potatoes.

SUDS Single User Dungeon System
+Free

  • No programming knowledge required basically at all to make something half decent
  • Interface can be easily customized without needing to know CSS
  • Has features close to that of RAGs
  • Buttons on the UI so most of the default commands are also macros, this means it’s easier for players to play the game one handed… you know why
  • has context menu options like Quest allows.
  • Officially abandoned due to the likes of Inform7 and TADS
  • Hard to acquire (you have to go through archives to find it as the site is gone)
  • The creator can be a bit unstable on modern systems and a little slow, though the player is fine. It seems most stable in compatibility XP 3 mode
  • Is limited to 9 map levels (28 rooms / areas per level so 252 areas total)
  • Limited to 30 global variable stats, so anything that requires updated a lot so health weight time of day etc and needs referencing is limited to 30, you can use other stuff like states which don’t use global variable slots for say locking and unlocking doors etc.
    -Limited to 10 different descriptions per NPC.
  • Requires you to export and players to download the file to play the game

Adrift

  • Free
  • Still being developed
  • Allows a huge amount of descriptions and states etc
  • No map or global variable limits
  • Allows version updates for games so you can put out a new version of a title and in theory have the saves carry over from older versions
  • collection of already built easy to import libraries of functions E.G. a system for having time and date progression in game. This means if someone ever did build a weight gain system in it they could in theory share just that system with other people without having to open up their entire game.
  • Can cause a false positive with some virus scanner software due to the wrapper used (this is being worked on and is meant to be getting solved in the next update)
  • conversation system is a bit iffy
  • almost all text based input no button macros (slightly less pleasant user experience to play)

Articy: Draft

  • Very simple to use and set stuff up including story flow and branching dialogue paths.
  • Paid for (though you can get it pretty cheap if you keep your eyes open for deals on it)
  • NOT an engine in it’s own right however (and I’ve not done this myself) it allows you to export your work into a format that Unity can import and in it’s almost default state said export put into unity can create a basic playable text based game.

Other engines that I know of but can’t say much about.

RPG Maker
Tyrano Builder
RenPy
Game Maker studio
Illusion Software Creator
Scratch

My advice.

For people literally starting out try and get a copy of SUDS (I’ll link to where to get it if people want). Suds will let you make something basic to get going then either try and put that into Quest to put online.

Or

Progress to building something bigger in Adrift


#2

do you have a link for a SUDS download? I’m having trouble finding a source; seems like the project was abandoned a while ago :neutral_face:


#3

Ok here it is (assuming it doesn’t get flagged by the site)

https://web.archive.org/web/20160531114019/http://sudslore.org:80/sudsdownload.php

Just click the download link there and through the power of the internet being weird it somehow will let you download a copy of SUDS


#4

thanks! and thank you, internet archives


#5

Oh! I can help with a couple of these.

Ren’py:
This goes by tabbed coding, and as the name suggests, any knowledge in Python will help out a lot in getting started. The Engine comes with an interactive tutorial, which after going through, anyone can make a basic name just knowing some of the Ren’py specific syntax. One of the things that you NEED to do if you utilize Ren’py is very extensive comments and notations to keep track of changing variables. It doesn’t support OOP, as in, you have to code your ENTIRE game inside of your first file. This can lead to a lot of sifting through code if you make anything very complicated. Example: “there’s this one branch that breaks another branch and I can’t figure out which one it is because there’s just too much to test!!!”. Which means that Ren’py might work more effectively in an “episode” format, so as not to bog down your game with TONS of scripting which will make QA a nightmare. As long as you know that, it’s a delightful engine to work in that’s very easy and straightforward, even without any prior scripting experience!

RPG Maker:
This one can have a learning curb if you have no programming experience. Even though it advertises being friendly to such newcomers, the entire power of the engine (making cutscenes, puzzles, progression flags) relies on having what I like to refer to as “programming logic”. You don’t have to write a line of code to make a fun experience, but understanding how programming works helps you overcome the curb here. No need to remember syntax, but knowing what a conditional statement is and being able to search through notation for it as such will help you figure out what you want to do and how to do it (example: If (item is true) [unlock chest/gain item] else [chest is locked]). The big plus side for RPG maker is the huge community with it, and TONS of video resources on youtube, for just about any game mechanic you could hope to introduce, or at least something similar that you can recolor.

I can also speak kindly of Twine/Twine2. Very easy to work with, very easy to get started, though I wouldn’t say “a lot” of coding is required to do anything complicated. So far everything has been pretty straight forward and about as simple as it is with Ren’py.


#6

I’ll mention Construct 2 as an engine for beginners. The engine is based on wiring up actions to events so it’s understandable for people who don’t want to learn a whole programming language.


#7

There’s also Stencyl. I never spent long enough with it to figure out its limitations, and like basically everything else that’s purportedly “code-free,” you will need to be able to wrap your head around game logic.

If nothing else, it’s another thing to add to the list.