What is Game Engine Design?

 Game Engine DesignGame engine design is the technology that provides the functional framework for designing games. Game engine design is not the same as game design, which are the tools and techniques designers use to create game concepts and content. Game engine design is the foundational technology behind the game itself.

Game Engine Design 101

When people say that certain games are powered by a certain program, they are referring to the game engine design technology. Game engine design refers to using standard software frameworks to create and develop video games for different platforms, including PCs, consoles and mobile devices. These programs enable game designers to develop the core AI, animation, sound, graphics, memory, networking and localization functions. Almost all popular game engine development platforms are based on previous programs. Thus, game engine designers will reuse existing platforms in order to create new games.

Game Types vs. Game Engine Design Platforms

Different types of games have different game engine design difficulties and requirements. Because first-person shooter (FPS) game are typically based indoors, there is a high emphasis placed on animations and visual details. This creates more textures and polygons that destabilize the game’s performance and frame rates. This is managed through using culling techniques to consistently remove polygons from the scenes. Real-time strategy games traditionally have been 2D games with fixed viewpoints and innovative sprites that give the appearance of 3D graphics. Newer games engine design platforms are creating 3D environments that are loaded with objects and complex terrains by using lower resolutions and aerial views. There are many popular game engine design platforms that are GPL (General Public License) and free for anyone to use.

Which Technical Tools Do Game Engine Designer Use?

Game engine designers must have strong software development skills. They use basic 2D and advanced 3D scripting, data structures and game coding. They also use 2D and 3D input, AI programming, internal tool development and sound and graphic assets. Game designers use their technical art skills to produce 3D game art modeling, texturing and unwrapping. Experienced game designers may become involved with art and scripting, which is used to design game levels through scripting languages and technical asset integration. Some work on art pipelines and produce game assets through 2D texturing and 3D modeling software. Some specialize in level design, which may involve 2D game, genre, audience and game-play analyses.

How to Become a Game Designer?

Degree programs that teach students about game engine design are referred to by different names, such as game engineering, development and simulation programming. These degrees allow students to explore entertainment technologies while also learning generic programming and software development skills. Some students alternatively get a bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering and then pursue graduate course work in game design. Game designers are employed in the professional games industry and work in specific sub-fields such as visualization, edutainment and simulation. There are also different career levels for game designers. Graduates will most likely be content designers that work with 2D and 3D modeling programs while experienced game designers will become lead designers who manage projects.

Related Resource: Concept Artist in Video Game Design

Note that game design companies expect their employees to have hands-on experience with a wide range of games and different platforms.