How to Choose a Game Engine for Adventure Games

So I was gradually developing some animation and 3D modelling skills, and the time had come to start looking into how I could actually develop a game, given my almost complete lack of coding skills.

I had heard of one or two game engines built specifically for adventure games, so I started researching them to come up with a list of contenders.

Adventure Game Studio

https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/

This was one of the ones I had already heard of. Despite the somewhat outdated appearance of the website, I knew some very successful games had been made using AGS, including:

  • Kathy Rain
  • Several Wadjet Eye games, including the Blackwell series
  • Whispers of a Machine
  • Primordia

It’s free, which is a big plus. However, I ruled it out immediately because it’s Windows only and I needed something that runs on Mac.

Adventure Creator

https://adventurecreator.org/

This was another one with a bunch of great games to its name:

  • Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure
  • Encodya
  • Kathy Rain: Director’s Cut
  • Harold Halibut

Adventure Creator is a toolkit for Unity, one of the world’s most popular game engines. It’s cross-platform, so it works on Mac, and it has a thriving community, which made it a very tempting option, despite the €80 price tag and lack of a free trial option.

Visionaire Studio

https://www.visionaire-studio.net/

Another engine boasting a list of great games:

  • Many Daedalic titles, including all 4 Deponia games
  • Stasis
  • Lucy Dreaming
  • Dude, Where Is My Beer?

Visionaire is a standalone package, and it has a Mac version. It’s not free, but it does have a free trial version that lets you create up to 10 scenes. Another solid contender.

Other Options

Aside from the three above, I also looked into a few other options that I had seen suggested in various places, including:

  • Escoria
  • Ren’Py
  • GameMaker

But none of these seemed as full-featured or well-supported as the others, so in the end it came down to a choice between Visionaire Studio and Adventure Creator.

While Adventure Creator looked super-versatile, the price and the prospect of learning how to use Unity in addition to Adventure Creator itself were putting me off, so initially I leaned toward Visionaire.

I mentioned previously that I was getting into 3D modelling, and contemplating using 3D for my game. Visionaire is primarily a 2D tool, although it does have some support for 3D characters. However, I figured I could still create my characters as 3D models in Blender, making use of the Grease Pencil tool I was coming to love, and then just animate them as 2D sprites, so I’d still get a 3D feel even in a 2D game.

I watched some great tutorials to learn the basics, downloaded the trial version, and got as far as putting together a very basic test scene:

However, at this stage, I decided I was looking for more of an actual 3D experience, so even though I knew that Grease Pencil objects wouldn’t work in Unity, I bit the bullet, and purchased Adventure Creator instead.

I watched a couple of beginner Unity tutorials to learn my way around the interface, and a few of the official AC tutorial videos, and pretty soon I had a very simple test scene set up:

From there, I never looked back, and a couple of months later, I released my first finished game. In case you missed it, you can download it for free from https://mostlydecent.itch.io/solitude-a-flicker-of-hope

In the end, I have no regrets about choosing Adventure Creator, and I’m looking forward to getting started on my next game!

What game engine are you using to make your game, and why?


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