Coding Blocks

With Game Ja-Ja-Ja-Jamuary coming up, we discuss what makes a game engine, while Michael’s impersonation is spot-on, Allen may really just be Michael, and Joe already has the title of his next podcast show at the ready.

The full show notes for this episode are available at


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Game Jam ’22 is coming up in Ja-Ja-Ja-Jamuary


  • Thanks for the reviews!
    • Podchaser: Jamie Introcaso
  • Game Ja-Ja-Ja-Jamuary is coming up, sign up is open now! (

What is a Game Engine?

  • What’s a…
    • Library,
    • Framework,
    • Toolkit,
    • … Engine?
  • Want to see terrible explanations of a thing? Google “framework vs engine”.
  • Other types of engines: storage engine, rendering engine, for example.

Q: Why do people use game engines? Well, they reduce costs, complexities, and time-to-market. Consistency!
Q: Why do so many AAA games create their own custom engines?

Common Features of Game Engines

  • 2D/3D rendering engine
    • Basic shapes (planes, spheres, lines),
    • Particles, Shaders,
    • Masking/Culling,
    • Progressive enhancement (either by distance or by some other means)
  • Physics engine
    • Collision detection,
    • Mass,
    • Gravity,
    • Torque,
    • Force,
    • Friction,
    • Springiness,
    • Fluid Dynamics,
    • Wind
  • Sound
    • Multiple sounds at once, looping, spatial settings, etc.
  • Scripting
  • AI
  • Networking
    • Ever thought about how this works? Peer to peer, dedicated servers?
  • Streaming
    • Streaming assets, as in, the player hasn’t installed your game.
  • Scene Management
  • Cinematics
  • UI
  • Often engines also include development tools to making working with these various systems easier … like an IDE.

Some Really Cool Things About Unity

  • Asset Store and Package Management,
  • ProBuilder (Unity),
  • Terrain,
  • Animation Manager,
  • Ad Systems and Analytics,
  • Target multiple platforms: Xbox, Windows, Linux, Android, MacOS, iOS, PSX, Switch, etc.

About the Industry

  • How big is the industry?
    • $150B in 2019, estimated $250B for 2025 (
    • How does it compare to other industries?
      • Movies are $41B,
      • Books are $25B,
      • Netflix is $7B … that’s about half of Nintendo,
      • HBO is $2B
  • How many companies and employees?
    • 2,457 companies and 220k jobs … in 2015! (Quora)
  • What’s the breakdown on sales?
  • How many games released in a year?
  • How long does it take? 1 – 10 years?
  • The 10 Best Games Made By Just One Person (

Commentary on Popular Game Engines


  • Publish for 20+ platforms
  • 50% of games are made with Unity (
  • List of Unity games (Wikpedia)
  • Pricing range: Free to $2,400. You can use the free plan if revenue or funding is less than $100k!
  • Program in C#
  • Great learning resources (


  • Many AAA games built with Unreal. Basically think of the top 10 biggest, most beautiful, AAA games; those are probably all Unreal or custom (RAGE, Frostbyte, Last of Us)
  • Pricing: from free to “call for pricing”, 5% royalty after $1mm
  • List of Unreal Engine games (Wikipedia)
  • Originally came out of the Unreal series of games, and a new one is coming out soon! (Epic Games)
  • Program in C++


  • Open Source
  • Growing in popularity
  • You can program in a variety of languages, officially C/C++ and GDScript but there are other bindings (Wikipedia)

Custom Game Engines:

  • GameMaker
  • RPG Maker
  • Specialized: Frostbyte, Cryo, etc.
  • Korge
  • libGDX

Final Question

Game Jam sign-up is live … what are you thinking for technology and mechanics?

  • Allen: VR / Escape Room
  • Michael: Something web based
  • Joe: Going 3D, wanting to focus on level design and physics this time

Resources We Like

Tip of the Week

  • ProBuilder is a free tool available in Unity that is great for making polygons and great for mocking out levels or building ramps. The coolest part is the way it works, giving you a bunch of tools that you do things like create vertices, edges, surfaces, extrude, intrude, mirror, etc. You have to add it via the package manager but it’s worth it for simple games and prototypes. (Unity)
  • Great blog on processing billions of events in real time at Twitter, thanks Mikerg! (
  • forEachIndexed is a nice Kotlin method for iterating through items in a collection, with an index for positional based computations (
  • How can you log out of Netflix on Samsung Smart TVs? Ever heard of the Konami code? Press Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right Up Up Up Up (
Direct download: coding-blocks-episode-173.mp3
Category:Software Development -- posted at: 9:32pm EDT