4 min read

In this blog we will cover 5 game engines you can use to create 2D games. 2D games are very appealing for a wide range of reasons. They’re great for the indie game scene, they’re great to learn the fundamentals of game development, and it’s a great place to start coding and you have fun doing it. I’ve thrown in some odd ones that you might not have considered before and remember, this isn’t a definitive list—just my thoughts!

Construct 2

Construct 2

Construct 2 start page

Construct 2 is fantastically simple to get into, thanks to its primary focus on people with no programming experience and its drag-and-drop editor that allows the quick creation of games. It is an HTML5-based game editor and is fast and easy to learn for novices, with the ability to create certain games such as platformers and shooters very quickly. Added to this, the behavior system is very simple and rapid to use, so Construct 2 is an easy choice for new people to get to grips with their first game. Furthermore, with the announcement that Construct 2 is now supported on the Wii U, along with a booming indie game market, Construct 2 has become an appealing engine to use, particularly to the non-programmer user base. However, one potential downside for aspiring game developers is the cost of Construct 2, coming in at a pricey £79.99.



A basic game in Pygame

I mention this game library simply because Python is just so goddamned awesome, and, with the amount of people using Python currently, it deserves a mention. With an increasing amount of games being created using Pygame, it’s possibly an area of interest to those that haven’t considered it in the past. It’s really easy to get started, it’s cross-platform and, have I said it’s made in Python? As far as negatives go, performance-wise, Python isn’t the greatest when it comes to large games, but this shouldn’t affect 2D development. It’s also free and open source. You just need to learn Python…


Hotline Miami in GameMaker

‘Hotline Miami’ screenshot made in GameMaker

Similar to Construct 2, GameMaker uses a simple drag-and-drop system. It primarily uses 2D graphics, but also allows limited use of 3D graphics. It has its own scripting language, Game Maker Language (GML for short), and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Tizen. A wealth of titles has been created via GameMaker including the bestsellers, Hotline Miami and Spelunky. Gamemaker is very simple for creating animations and sounds and allows you to create these within minutes, allowing you to focus on other things, such as possibly making it multiplayer. Also, as mentioned above, the ease of exporting to multiple platforms is a great plus for developers wanting to expand their audience quickly. Again a potential downside is the cost of Gamemaker, which comes in at $49.99.



Cocos2D-X game

Cocos2d is an open source framework, with Cocos2d-x being a branch within this. It allows developers to exploit their existing C++, Lua, and JavaScript knowledge, and its ability to deploy cross-platform on Android, Windows Phone, Mac, and Windows saves significant cost and time for many developers. Many of the top grossing mobile games are made by Cocos2d-x and many of the leading game studios create games using Cocos2d-X. With its breadth of languages, usability, and functions, Cocos2D-x really is a no brainer.  A potential downside for users is it is entirely library-based, so it is entirely in code. This means in order to set up scenes, everything has to be done by the developer. However, it is free, which is always a bonus.



A basic 2D game using Unity

A curveball to end this list. Everyone has heard of Unity and the great 3D games you can create. However, with 4.3, it introduced a huge opportunity to develop 2D games on Unity’s game engine. Having used it, the ability to quickly set up a 2D environment and the ease of quickly creating a basic game using professional tools is very appealing. Coupled with the performance of Unity, it ensures that your games will be polished and developers will be able to learn a bit of C# should they wish. It comes with a cost, either at $1,500 or at $75 a month (that’s if you want to go professional, but it’s free to dabble with), which for some is a stretch and is easily the most expensive on this list.

This list provides a personal view on what I consider great 2D frameworks to get to grips with. It is not a definitive list; there are others out there that also do the job that these do, however I hope I have provided a balance and produced some alternatives that people might not have considered before.

Read ‘Tappy Defender – Building the home screen‘ to start developing your own game in Android Studio.


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