Product Chat / So, why don't you use a better engine?

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Posted: 17th Mar 2023 00:10 Edited at: 17th Mar 2023 00:13

[Transcript has editorial differences from spoken word in the video]

Hey folks!

So, this will be something of a rant as I would like to explore something I keep seeing online when it comes to the
kind of hobbyist indie development that I do. By that I mean people who make video games as a hobby, just for fun, usually completely on their own or in very small groups of friends. If you are reading this, you likely fall into that category yourself.

Let me just preface this by saying that I doubt that this thread will change anyones mind, its still an interesting topic to explore.

So if you browse YT channels, steam pages, forum posts or articles of people who make stuff with lesser known engines, like say Leadwerks3D or maker software like RPG Maker, Game Guru, FPSCreator or if you enjoy modding source engine games or using the creation kit and so on... you will eventually come across a comment that goes something along the lines of:

"This shows promise, just think what you could do in Unreal engine." or "game guru is really holding
you back, why don't you make the jump to unity?"
... or you know... less friendly and constructive
versions like "RPG maker is awful, go make a real game in a real engine,kiddo!"

Now these kinds of comments always kinda amazed me... and don't get me wrong, I fully understand them
given how engines are promoted... the average gamer isn't necessarily aware how much work is involved
in making a decent enough, playable game so from their perspective say... unreal engine currently has the
most evolved graphics and produces some killer AAA titles, why not use that? Why are you sitting there
wasting your time with this stupid kids toy FPSCreator or Game Guru Max. Why make things so much harder for
yourself coding everything from scratch in Leadwerks or Godot when you could just jump start using a
unity template.

Now, as someone who has been in the indie game scene for more than 15 years I have seen a lot of very talented people who made really fun mods or smaller "maker" type games take the plunge into other engines and while some absolutely thrived most ended up showing some initial process and then quit altogether which I always thought was very unfortunate.

Well, I think these comments generally come from 2 different outside perspectives that I dubbed the "german" and the "american" perspective. Now these view points are neither, I just did this to name them something.

The quote on quote "german" perspective assumes that using the best tools yields the best results. Now, this is somewhat
accurate on a surface level kind of viewing but not necessarily true for every endeavor and every individual. Everyone can figure out a hand saw but not everyone knows how to operate a chainsaw to come up with a rather crude example. Using the best tools requires skills that hobbyists don't necessarily have and require a time ...and discipline... investment that isn't doable for everyone.

The american perspective is a variant of the "you can achieve anything you want in life if you just put your mind to it". Now, how this world view is still around and has this kind of longevity is a mystery to me because that is just so obviously false. Sure, most of us are capable of way more than we might think but we all have our own personal limits... be those physical or just simply intellectual. But to remain on
topic... just because someone can make a decent game in game guru does not mean that said person can also pull it off in unity just because they put their mind to it. There are so many factors to consider that I made a little list... now before I get into that, let me just point out that I personally like that there is still so much different tech being used, even if there are draw backs. It ends up in many games feeling very different and more diversity and variety in the stuff that is out there. An unreal engine game never feels quite like a source mod for example.

Soo... without further ado:

1. Skill Issue.

This one is rather obvious... and I touched on it just now already. Just because someone can make a captivating RPG game in RPG maker does not mean that the same person could write such a game in unity. Someone might be skilled enough to make atmospheric low res art, write gripping dialogue and weave a compelling plot but that does not mean that said person is also capable to learn the technical knowledge to also program the underlying code themselves. The whole point of maker software is to allow non-coders and hobbyists to make their own stuff and it just does not make sense to me that, once you get good at it, people assume that you can also use a far more technical and professional tool.
Also the somewhat prejudice perspective of the difference between artists and coders in game design is largely true. People skilled in one aspect are rarely skilled in the other and vice versa.
I, myself, am very comfortable with the art aspect of making games. So I feel confident that I can make compelling levels in cry engine, for example...but I will never program any gameplay in such an engine.
And no, templates, script packs and blueprint packages are only half as decent as you might think. Sure, some of them are pretty darn amazing but if you want to make a game in UE5... you will have to make your own blueprints eventually. Every "real" engine requires some form of code at some point. If we are being honest, this includes most maker software, BUT to a far lesser degree.
Now, most of the hobbyists I am referring to work on their own and while there are some talented people that hammer out a great game that even does decently enough on steam... most of us can not and that is evident if you ever just browse the absolutely MASSIVE graveyard of dead projects on indie and moddb.

FOR me, for example... at the end of the day. Its either FPSC or GG games with their flaws and rough edges... or no games at all.

2. Time constraints

A comment I've gotten a lot myself in the past when I was dabbling with bigger engines was "If you just keep at it, in a year or so, you will have a much better game than if you stick with game guru". And while that may have been true if I stuck with UE5 on a somewhat regular basis, the time investment is still too great for me personally. Now this issue AND the
skill issue can be resolved by working in teams but that is A ) not an option for all of us due to conflicting schedules B ) not something all of us want to do and C ) WAY harder than you might think. Especially when you are dealing with adults who have families, jobs and other responsibilities. I have been on a couple dev teams in the past and they all fell apart eventually. Now, sometimes these things work out but there is usually a financial incentive involved OR people are able to meet in real life and work together that way. Usually students or otherwise younger people. You may be able to make a cool mod in creation kit with a full story and voice acted characters, some custom media and everything in half a year or a creepy, atmospheric horror shooter in FPSC in a month or 2... you will have to invest WAY more time if you start to use a pro level engine. And that's just not realistic for many of us.

3. The challenge

A talented coder might feel way more engaged getting stuff to work in Leadwerks engine or script something complex in a simpler tool like game guru. I know someone who made a functional chess game in game guru, an engine designed to make simpler FPS games at its core. I enjoy the challenge of making something visually striking in notoriously ugly, low tech engines...
Some of that is just lost if you lose a big engine where all these things have been done before and are well documented to be replicated by everyone.

4. Personal Preference... or simply fun:

A friend of mine finds working in hammer editor therapeutic and relaxing. Another one likes to kick back, listen to music and make a few levels in game guru... I myself like to keep my hands busy while I listen to podcasts or lectures. You might enjoy doing 3d art and rely on pre-coded gameplay elements do make your game. You might flat out have more fun using simple but limited than something complex where the sky is the limit.
I've been talking to quite a few other devs who have projects in Unreal or Unity that also use underdog engines and a common sentiment is that using UE5 just feels like work.
And that is the last thing I want to feel in my spare time. And lets also add to that, that not everyone of us aims for a commercial release on steam.

5. Community:

You may have noticed that I keep bringing up the word hobbyists, that is because some people that stumble onto our work use a tone as if we are studios and they are the customers and entitled to things having a certain quality or play a certain way and...nah, that is just not the case.
BUT also... niche engines and tools often have a strong sense of community. You know, you get to know the other users... and that is somewhat lacking when you use a huge engine like UE or unity. Now I have been using Unity and unreal engine and met very helpful
and nice people in the respective forums and discords but in the end, most interactions are goal oriented and the overall experience is very anonymous.

My personal reason for not using UE5 after all is a blend of all of the above... but here are the specifics:
1. As I started to understand the blueprint system more and more I kind of envisioned in my mind what needed to be done and how long it would take and I kept adding years to my project and I just know that I don't have the determination or discipline to see such a task through.

2. I am very particular about the weapons in my shooters... I expect decent gunsway, feedback, different reload animations and that just beyond my skillset in unity or UE.

3. I had no more fun, booting up the engine and seeing what I was currently working on felt the same way like seeing the entrance to the store I used to work in when I was in retail... I never want to feel that again.

4. If I where 18, I'd probably be able to make something small in Unity or Unreal engine but these days I just don't have that kind of spare time. I get a good session of working on my stuff in every 2 weeks currently and to make a whole UE game on my own, I'd have to bump up those numbers to something like an hour every day or so and that is currently just not realistic for me either.

So... Figured I'd get this off my chest, if you stuck around until now, thank you for reading and have a good one! Feel free to let me know in the comment section why you are sticking around
wizard of id
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Posted: 17th Mar 2023 05:12
I have some "issues" too

I am on the art side of things I don't care much for making a game, but occasionally I would make a demo level, like the recent snowy mountain stroll. From the art side there is some glaring issues that I have found, when viewed from the other side of the mirror than gives the impression that it is nothing more than a toy.

The biggest problem how TGC products are viewed relate to the media used with the software, with the lack of primitive creation, users are forced to use stock assets, DLCs or create their own assets to use with TGC software. Content created for TGC isn't linear as you would get in unreal or unity and while it has modular environment kits on their asset stores as well, media created for TGC products, has some guidelines that artists need to comply with, like easy to use, and you should be able to use assets in every way possible, should be a sealed mesh too for example, if you have a interior and exterior, with unreal or unity, if it isn't needed extra faces is removed from the assets.

So it is pretty rare to have a single use level model or asset as you would find in unreal/unity or a triple AAA game for that matter. The end result is that you end up with "blocky" 4 x 4 room type assets, which makes it seem that TGC products is "dated", but it simply isn't true. It is just the way TGC wants their products to be, Easy to use and for mass consumption.

From the outside it may appear, "dated" but it is because of necessity. Creating custom artwork for a game where you lack primitive creation takes ages, as all your media needs to created, textured and imported even before you start making a level. TGC products is also designed somewhat around mass use of assets too, it gives the impression that it is a paint by numbers software, for anyone looking in from the outside.

Creating custom art work is hard work, and those complaining about it, there is a simple solution. Just reply, okay then create your own media and see if you can create the same standard as you would find in a unity or unreal game.
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Posted: 17th Mar 2023 07:34
Unreal and Unity et al are very difficult to use. Free media these days is amazing with Unreal, you could easily fill a decent sized HDD with it if you got all the free stuff available. The quality is variable, but often amazing. Making a game is very difficult though. When it comes down to the crunch you are being thrown into a professional tool and most people will not be able to use it. I've made some basic demos (mostly tweaked from examples) and one Marble Madness type level from scratch. Even after that, I still felt like I had hardly scratched the surface. There is a reason people use simpler game making tools.

I see a lot of people with GG and Max trying to learn how to use it. At the same time they expect to sell their finished game. To me that makes no sense. I wouldn't want to buy a house that was made by people who were learning how to build said house. Too many people who use GG or Max or (to a far lesser extent) AGK, think their first game should be sellable. It may happen for a fortunate talented few, but for 99% of users not going to work.

I use TGC products mainly as they are comparatively easy to use. Not, because they are the latest and greatest tech. I don't really want to set up Visual Studio or similar with different templates. I want to load up some software and make a game, or at least try. Game Guru, Max and AGK are pretty good for that. I'm happy to leave the VS configuration stuff to the pros.

TGC cater for gamers wanting to make games. Even then, most gamers can't manage it, as it is difficult to make games. The problem with FPSC/GG/Max is how to make a good game with them and their unavoidably limiting nature. Don't get me wrong, GG and Max have great coding options overall which allow all sorts of features, but the general built in AI is awful, especially for melee combat. The shooter element is better but not by much.

Max is the latest and greatest TGC product. The general built in AI overall and the serious lack of melee options in general for me will be Max's Achilles heel. Who wants to play an RPG where the combat is literally pressing left mouse as fast as you can? Maybe a shooter RPG could work ok, but a fantasy one? Not even close at the moment. I think most new users will be disappointed with that side more so than any other.

But for the majority of people we have what we have. AI is the BIGGEST issue for me with GG and Max. Also the reason I have both of them. I hate trying to code AI bar simple stuff in general. Hell, I'd for sure prefer to try to add inventory stuff than AI stuff every time! But an RPG without decent fight mechanics is a bad RPG regardless

We will never stop the arguments over different engines or curtail the people who list them without even using them. We know the difficulties and why we use the engines we use. The rest will learn one way or the other eventually
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Posted: 17th Mar 2023 11:30
GG and GGMax are the answer to a need; there are many people who enjoy designing games but don't have enough time to dedicate to them, which poses a problem, and GG/GGMax offers a solution to that problem.
Being able to recreate a basic level in a matter of minutes, something for which in a so-called AAA game engine, you have to invest a lot of time.

The mistake is to believe that GG or GGMax is an "Unreal/Unity easy game maker" because they are not, nor will they ever be.

The so-called AAA games require extra work, and will not be within our reach if we cannot or do not want to accept such a workload, and so many hours of time invested.

GG/GGMax is the solution to the problem if you know and accept their limitations, that is to say, that they are not Unreal and never will be; and you learn to work with the tools you have, instead of thinking about the ones you don't.

GG/GGMax compared to Unreal is like growing up in a rich neighborhood or a poor neighborhood; growing up in the rich neighborhood, well without comment, while in the poor neighborhood, you will lack many things, even the most basic, but friend, you are the king of survival, and you learn to live with what you have.

In GG and GGMax you won't have many features, but you are the king of workaround lol.
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Posted: 17th Mar 2023 12:02
This is really all a hobby for me. A hobby should never equal work period
I like TGC stuff because it is fun to use - sure they have things to sort, and some stuff I would like just may not get added, but it is FUN to use.

I won't use store or bundled media in MAX for two main reasons:
1) everything being closed mesh (as wizard mentioned) which to me makes zero sense for game design - although MAX can handle lots of polys - unseen faces are still a waist of system resources.
2) I want my game to be unique, and in a style I want - which only comes with making it yourself.

That of course means time already limited by real life as Wolf mentioned, is an obvious reason why I don't want to spend years learning a more complicated dev tool that feels like work anyway!

Another thing is challenges that come with health.
For example, hearing aids - well that kinda makes the audio side of things more difficult. I had a very short demo vid for some media I was making over on Discord, and someone mentioned the hi pitch noise in it, turns out it was the same pitch as the tinnitus in my head, so I could not hear it or distinguish it, or whatever! That obviously presents a real challenge for me lol.

Wolf also mentioned community :
I found GGc when it was still dubbed Reloaded (GameGuru - that name still makes me giggle).
I had zero skills at anything 3D, everything I have learned has been made possible with the help of the talented people in the TGC community.


Love it or hate it, the Game Guru engine has simplicity at it's heart, but allows scope to do much more f you want to dabble in Lua.

So, in the end it is community help, simplicity of use, and it is FUN!

Along the way my skills may increase in some areas (plenty scope for that), and I may even learn more along the way, but even if I never finish the game the whole process will have been fun!
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aka Reliquia
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Posted: 17th Mar 2023 18:53
I started programming because I wanted to run my own Ultima Online server and had to learn C# to do it. That was hard but within my range of abilities. I didn't have to code the whole thing from scratch and I didn't have to worry about the art at all. When I started to branch out I looked to Gamemaker Studio, Unity, and RPG maker as options and I arrived at a number of limitations with each of them but the bottom line was I didn't think I'd ever really be able to make something truly unique and fun with any of them, let alone commercially viable. I had all but given up on game making entirely until GGM.

Now I still don't know if anything I ever make will be commercially viable but I'm certain I can make a fully featured, complete and fun game with this software when the time comes and I'm really excited for that. I'm also excited to see what some of the amazing and talented people in this community will create with it. So all of this to say that regardless of people might do to try and make a quick buck with it, I'm thankful to TGC for empowering people like me to accomplish something that might otherwise be just out of reach.
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Posted: 21st Mar 2023 02:53

Hi all,

I could list all the difficulties that Wolf and others who posted in this thread described very well in their posts, but in my case, the main one is the programming difficulty or the pipeline to import objects, especially animated ones, presented by renowned game engines such like Unity, Cry Engine and Unreal 5 is what keeps me away from those at the moment.

Unreal 5's programming is, in my opinion, the most complex of all, as it uses C++ programming and Kismet Visual Scripting, a rather confusing and difficult system to understand for someone wanting to learn the first steps of how to use the engine, which requires a minimum 10-foot (approx. 3-meter) monitor to fit all the Kismet Visual Scripting lines mess of a video game project in Unreal 5.

Another difficulty I felt was the need to buy several books to learn Unity, CryEngine and Unreal 5, which are not cheap for most people, including me too.

Another problem I faced is that after several months or even years, trying to learn other game engines, such as Torque 3D, Blitz3D, Dx Studio, GameStudio, among others, the software was simply discontinued overnight by the authors or companies, without prior notice, without the slightest consideration for its users.

Torque 3D, was an excellent game engine with great potential to become a great 3D game engine, but it was discontinued and thrown into the ditch of open source programs.

In the beginning I was just a person who liked to play video games, especially flight simulators and first or third person shooter. So I asked myself: Wow! How people manage to make these works of art, because I was curious to learn how to do computer graphics, because even today, I consider any video game as works of pure art, whether with a good or bad plot.

At first I saw the comment on the Internet of someone who wrote: “Making a video game alone is like trying to build the Eiffel Tower alone!”

Others on the Internet commented totally idiotic things, such as: “You better make your game engine yourself…” How could someone who is trying to learn the first steps about video games do this?

It's as if someone who is starting their medical studies, someone says: Instead of looking at books in medical school, it's better to do a liver transplant yourself in a patient.

Today I say, it is difficult, but not impossible, for those who have the necessary resources, in particular, time and money.

It most likely won't be the greatest game ever made on Earth, but you made it. Even big famous video game creation studios certainly had several failures before the big sales successes happened.

The video game is the art that the major HollyWood studios incorporated 3D game sequences into their movies, and many successful 3D games became successful movies as well.

Finally, at the time I was looking for knowledge to learn about video games, after many failed attempts, I finally found the tool I was looking for to learn the first steps of this art. The FPS Creator Classic, which brought together almost everything a young person curious to learn about how to make video games was looking for.

Thanks for reading.
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Posted: 22nd Mar 2023 00:39

Well, I should have made this thread before I made the video because there are a few additional good points I did not touch on.
My main one still being, that its either a somewhat flawed GG or FPSC game ...or no game at all. But I can now see that there are more ways to approach this than the ones I listed.

I think a core issue/misunderstanding that people with an outside perspective, especially younger folk who either don't know how hard it is to make an actual game or are just used to a modern standard that is insanely hard to impossible to live up to, seem to think that actually creating a video game is a tad easier than they think. Its similar with making movies where someone who isn't into film making might think that X hollywood movie is the worst thing they ever saw without realizing all of the low budget, direct to dvd/video/bluray rabbitholes.

So I am very aware that I will never make the next elden ring, I am very aware that I don't make games with a mass market appeal but at least me personally, I am still having fun
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Posted: 22nd Mar 2023 11:04
Quote: "I am still having fun"

And that is all that matters in the end - I just like the idea of having a go at it.

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Posted: 13th Apr 2023 13:25


There are to many unfinished Things in classic And I believe the same thing will happen in Max, what is the difference? They did it to classic and will do it to Max.

What is wrong with this software is it promises more than it can do and excited people with limited game building abilities.

I think The Game creators are only for one thing and that is First person shooting. This is what they code for. And First person shooters are old and out of date.

As for better Game engines, There all the same and even harder but they allow for a broader range then just shooting. Even in max it is all geared for first person shooting. I download the demo and saw all the demos and most all of them where first person shooters.

If classic had more options for events as for hud interaction and tasks not put just for scripting then it would be a good engine. Or better one at least.

I think the first person shooters are done to death and even this community is sick of it.

Because of this i am forced to build my levels in classic and import them into AppGameKit just to code my game as i need.

I do not look at Game Guru as a game engine, I look at it as a great level designer.

But as far as other engines? I will not use trash.

From a simple girl who loves to code.
Nishi Garg
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Posted: 26th Apr 2023 13:24
Really a useful content, Thank you sharing.
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Posted: 10th May 2023 11:13

I use GG because I like it the way it is.
Yes GG is not perfect but what is perfect in life?
Yes GG has limits but who doesn't?

For me GG is perfect, I bought all the packs and I enjoy using them.

At TGC I am satisfied with all products except GGmax, I bought it last year but it never worked.
I reported it and hope for a solution.
Anyway as long as I'm down I don't buy more packs.

Good day to all
I am not english so xcuse my syntax, grammary or anything else wich could occure some ununderstanding
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Posted: 26th May 2023 21:47
I agree with Wolf and others here. I have been experimenting and learning with FPSC for some time. I learned a bit about using its scripting, and did not want to spend the time to learn Lua and the GGC functions.

I have built many small technical studies over the past few years.

I finally learned - to my delight - how to display text onscreen in FPSC, to create the illusion of the NPC's talking to the player. Worked great. So I set out to finally make a (very small) complete game. I'm tired of shoot-everything games, so I was delighted to find among a set of weapons "Stones" for hand throwing.

I chose a medieval theme, starting in a town, and having the player escort a young woman through a forest to protect her from goblins by throwing stones.

My initial test levels work more or less well. I kept finding strange glitches. Script instructions that would not do what they were supposed to do. Eventually I was able work around the glitches sufficiently to have workable levels. I even learned how to get one NPC to signal another via a global variable. I was getting excited. This little gem could really work.

my forest level started going berserk. I moved a bush near the end of the level. Suddenly the goblin at the beginning stopped reacting. I finally got it working again by replacing the goblin model and re-assigning my script to it. Then my "woman" stopped reacting to the global variable. Her script performed every instruction - except that one. Somehow, she never got the signal anymore.
I found the entity debug information. That helped some. Then, the test runs just crashed as soon as I moved. I turned the debug info off. Still crashes.

There has been so much of this chaos, I have finally, (very) reluctantly concluded that FPSC is just too fragile and unreliable to warrant any more of my time.

I know others have made some impressive games with it. I have played some, and I congratulate them.

But I want my time and efforts to yield more than "Yay! I finally got that instruction to work... most of the time!"

So now I'm exploring other options. I have GG Classic, so that's the next thing to try. As Wolf and others point out so well, for casual hobbyists with little time, knowledge and skill, it help tremendously to have a generous inventory of (mostly) working models to drop in and go with, and an engine and editor that need minimal programming.

I have been keen on Panda3D for years. It works on multiple platforms, and it works well. But it is all coding and supply your own models. No editor. No ready-supplied models. No ready-made scripts.

So, I haven't gotten beyond looking at it all these years.

Thanks for your thoughts, folks. Nice to know I'm not alone.

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