Game engines – The powerhouse of modern games development

The powerhouse of modern games development. Game engines are an enigmatic term to most people who haven’t explored the elements that sit behind the scenes of most games. Originally, games were coded from scratch, a slow and difficult process that if left unchanged, would’ve held up the evolution of the overall industry. The issue got worse when developing a game for multiple platforms, something common in the modern era, with games having to be coded from scratch for each release platform. 

Fortunately, most modern games now use some form of ‘engine’, a complex system of code that speeds up development and allows developers to push the boundaries of what’s possible. A game engine includes tools to build a 3D space, manage physics, lighting, cutscenes and a huge range of other elements that make up games. These tools can be moulded to fit the needs of the developer, to create truly unique experiences that don’t have to be rebuilt from scratch for each platform. 

Engines also speed up development by allowing assets to be recycled from previous games, with said assets often being refined to fit within the new project. 

The market for game engines is a particularly interesting one. In a business sense, you’d expect access to such a crucial tool to be sat behind a steep paywall or exclusively in-house, but some engines are available for public use for a small licence fee, or a percentage of revenues once a game has sold a set amount of copies. Some examples of engines that work in this manner include CryEngine (Crysis, Far Cry), Unreal Engine (Borderlands Series, Gears of War, Bioshock, Days Gone) and Unity (Cuphead, Pokemon Go, Monument Valley).

Some developers choose to create their own, custom engines in-house and these often aren’t open to use outside of their companies. Companies that exclusively keep their own engines in-house include Rockstar, Naughty Dog, From Software and EA. Creating this type of engine can be quicker than making one that is open for public use, and also requires less documentation than what would be required to help public users interact with the software. 

This month, Epic Games have released the latest iteration of their public engine Unreal Engine 5, teased with a tech demo – The Matrix Awakens back in December last year. The engine comes with advanced particle effects, ray tracing and improved lighting and increased draw distance. With a new engine comes more boundaries to push and more opportunities to explore, and each new iteration proves more and more why game engines are the powerhouse of modern games development.  

Now, in a new era of consoles and graphics cards, is the best time to get stuck into this new tool – building your understanding of coding, engines and the wider industry. New horizons means more experimentation, bigger developer teams and a search for knowledgable, trained staff to take full advantage of these advancements. We can help. 

With games courses running at 7 centres nationally, studying with us allows you to have guided, hands-on learning with the latest engines including Unreal, Unity and Construct 3, as part of a unique look behind the scenes of the games industry. 

On our Games Art, Games Development or Games Technology courses, you’ll come out the other side with strong professional knowledge of all areas of the gaming sector, as well as knowledge that is tailored to your specialist interests. And to be sure that you leave ready to create the next, best gaming experiences, we’ve brought in a team of tutors that have decades of combined first-hand industry experience to share with you. 

Want to know more? Check out our School of Gaming now, currently accepting applications for September 2022!