Prior to 2012 I worked on several mods and total conversions, I was even credited on a commercial release for weapon texture work I performed back in 2007. The game was ‘released’ but I don’t think many people checked it out. I didn’t even know about its release until several years later.
Since jumping ‘all in’ into the indie scene in 2012, I decided to focus on one game engine to use.
Some people choose to learn as many software and development tools as they can, which is an admiral decision. For me personally I would rather focus on less tools and become a highly skilled user in a smaller number of software packages than know a little bit about as many tools as possible. This is just my personal preference.
Initially being strictly an artist with limited (zero) programming ability, the engine choices were limited. The final decision boiled down to two solid packages, Construct2 and Unity.
I know many might ask – why didn’t I choose Unreal because it has blueprints and anyone can use blueprints to develop a game – even if they cannot program. I have three main reasons for not considering Unreal in the final selection.
- I do not play many online shooters and having had experience using UDK – I felt Unreal would be a real challenge for a solo developer to create anything that isn’t a first person shooter. Props to those teams who’ve been able to create something other than a fps or 3rd person shooter in Unreal.
- I was planning to start out developing smaller titles that may not be 3D – and I felt trying to wrangle Unreal (at that time) into working to create a small metroidvania type game might be too much for a solo developer to attempt.
- I dislike royalty agreements, so Unreal was ultimately dropped from final selection.
That left two engines to choose from Unity or Construct2.
A side note here – for some reason I can’t remember why I dropped gamemaker from the list of engine choices. I may have excluded it because it looked like it was only good for creating first gen Final Fantasy like RPG’s or it may have been because it didn’t have a demo version available that I could find, which was important to me. Ultimately there was something I didn’t find attractive about gamemaker and it was dropped from consideration.
For the final two engines – I had experience using Unity about 3 years prior, but during that time I was teamed up with programmers who took care of the ‘other’ parts of game creation while I focused on design and asset development, so I never had to get too deep into the inner workings of the engine. This might have been a blessing in disguise – because at that time Unity was still set in the old ways of controlling animations in engine with the legacy system. I would not have been successful, or enjoyed the experience of setting up a character control system using the old legacy animation system.
Choosing an engine for my own solo, indie game development was an important decision – I needed to choose a engine that I could potentially develop all the systems I needed to, without the need to hire or barter for programmer work.
I was leaning towards Construct2 because the research I’d performed had convinced me that I could create the games I wanted to start creating without a required knowledge base in programming.
With Unity – it was questionable if I could get very far along – without programmer assistance.
However there were a couple elements that Unity was far superior at compared to Construct2. The main elements were deploy-ability and 3D support.
Now – I will admit – the 3D thing really wasn’t an issue – I am a 3D animator but I am traditionally trained and I wanted to start off with creating 2D games anyway to ease myself into developing games on my own. But deploy-ability was a real important factor for me, and compared to Construct2, Unity was (and still is) by far the best engine on the market to deploy to multiple platforms with little effort, compared to all other engines.
Construct2 did have a pretty robust publishing workflow, but the Unity player, iOS and Android were ideal publishing platforms for me. Additionally Unity’s information in this area was unambiguous and clear which was not the case for the publishing information for Construct2.
Another factor that was causing me to second guess my choice was mecanim. Unity had just released mecanim – and it was a very attractive system which seemed to speak directly to my core knowledge base. It was a system created by animators to use in engine by animators and it superseded the legacy animation system in nearly every way.
To choose Unity meant at some point I would still need programmer assistance to develop a game. So the choice was clear, I needed to select Construct as my engine of choice.
During the selection process I was working on some small animation content for a client, getting ready to choose Construct as my engine – Unity dropped their first generation 2D in-engine support tools.
I think I spent about 8-10 hours researching the new tools and that is all it took. That update sold me on the engine I was going to choose. It was going to be Unity.
Now that I’d made my choice – I was set – I just needed to find a way in which I could develop games without a dedicated programmer for help. Low and behold – there were some visual scripting tools in the asset store (I didn’t even know about the asset store!) that would assist me in creating games without having to learn programming or hire a programmer, or barter my creative work in exchange for programming services.
At that time there were 3-4 solid visual scripting tools, but by far the most supported tool was called Playmaker. I jumped at the opportunity. I bought Playmaker full price!
Over the past 3-4 years, in my spare time between full-time work and contract jobs I’ve been learning the fundamentals of Playmaker. I’m certainly not even an intermediate user, but I know the basics and developing my first game will allow me to learn a ton more about it, and I am excited to get that process underway.
If you are an artist that does not know how to program, a artist like me that has a logic block that prevents you from learning how to program, or even a programmer/designer who wants to set up simple logic systems faster – consider giving Playmaker a try. Check it out on the asset store and all the learning material available on the Playmaker forums.
First though – I will be completing at least 3 animation packages for the asset store. I want to contribute to the Unity community as much as I can with my animation knowledge and skills, and I have some quality animation packages underway that will assist other developers to create there games, just as Playmaker and other assets I’ve purchased will assist me in the creation process of my own titles.
And here is a sneak peak of the current animation set I’m working on. I have to update the textures for PBR and lots of animations still left to do – but it is coming along and will be submitted to the asset store soon!
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