If you’re new to game development or just feeling inspired by all the wonderful indie games being made by the community, you’ve probably thought about making your own game.
One of the first things you’ll need to do to start making games is to consider the different game engines available to you, which would work best for the kind of game you want to make, and which will work best with the skills you have.
There are more engines out there than just Unity and Unreal Engine including Amazon Lumberyard, Godot Engine, CryEngine, and a bunch of others, but to keep things simple, we’ll just look at these first two.
Since Unity and Unreal are the two most common engines used in independent game development, we’ll quickly look at the reasons for choosing each one over the other.
Unreal Engine, which is often simply referred to as Unreal, uses the C++ programming language, which is more advanced and tends to be more complicated than the C# language that Unity uses.
That said, Unreal Engine uses Blueprints, a visual programming language that’s great for those who aren’t particularly programming savvy. These Blueprints can be incredibly powerful when used effectively, but they’re still quite limited in comparison to coding directly in C++.
The visual quality of games made in Unreal is usually greater than those made in Unity as Unreal was made to support high-end games. You can make 2D games in Unreal, but as this isn’t really the focus of the engine, you might want to consider Unity instead for 2D projects.
With Unreal, you can browse the marketplace for an incredible selection of user-created assets to use in your games and Unreal 5 introduced MetaHuman, a powerful tool for making lifelike humans to use in games.
Unity can be used for both 2D and 3D games, but it’s often the preferred engine for a lot of 2D games because developers find its tools more useful.
While Unity doesn’t have tools like Blueprints, the C# programming language used by Unity is generally more welcoming to developers who are new to writing code.
Unity can also use Visual Scripting (which was previously known as Bolt), but this has been known to have a few issues.
The tools available to developers mightn’t be as comprehensive as some of those offered by Unreal, but this does make Unity more accessible in some ways.
In addition to being preferred for 2D games, Unity is also an excellent choice for games designed to be used on lower-end machines and devices such as mobile.
Unity’s market share also means that as a more popular engine, there are more resources, assets, and help out there for new developers.
Should I Use Unity or Unreal to Develop My Indie Game?
There’ll never be a perfect answer to this as it depends on your background and the kind of game that you want to make.
Unreal is generally considered to be more artist-friendly while Unity is more programmer-friendly, but the good thing is that they can both be downloaded for free.
There is a premium paid version of Unity called Unity Pro that comes with more tools but at $1,500 a year, this isn’t something that most new solo indie devs will want to consider. With Unreal Engine, it’s free to use and is royalty-free until a game makes $1 million.