One Tiny Thing To Remember When Picking Your Game Dev Engine


Going year back, I knew I would take a somewhat a risk by using Leadwerks engine (that was – and still is – in development). My main reason for usin LE boiled down to being able to get more done in shorter timeframe – the learning curve for me was minimal.

I knew a compatibility was an issue, and about 6 months ago (or so) I was re-checking if I should abandon the engine for good, as there was a major change that greatly impacted in my development.

I recently got a community version out, which can be called to be a “release candidate” (although it was missing some content). While testing the version, it was spotted that there was a driver bug. The game graphics wouldn’t work on new gfx drivers.

I wrote about this in the Leadwerks forums and it was revealed to me that in 2.25 this was fixed (I was using 2.24), and that I’d need to do another upgrade. The last upgrade I did took quite a bit of time (since for example physics system had changed, and supported graphics file format had changed). Now, I started doing the upgrade and the next step is to get the graphics to show (meshes are not shown anymore). This upgrade is again an essential one, since if nobody can play the game with new drivers… nobody probably will be interested in buying it (I wouldn’t buy those flickering shadows).


I’m working on this to get the upgrade done, and then I’m much closer to doing the actual release and getting people to buy the thing.

The lesson from all this goes:

Whatever engine you plan to use, make sure you don’t rely on getting “engine patches” later. Make sure the engine is so stable that you can rely on using the one version (the version of today, not version of the future) to release your game.

The costs of relying that “engine will be patched” are risky. It may be suitable for you, but I would be very careful on this matter. It’s better to pick a stable and perhaps older engine over a new, fancy – but in development – engine.

At least in my bloody humble opinion.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. @Kin: man that’s awesome. I’ve got tears streaming down my cheeks from laughing so hard. Never thought I’d see “Next-Gen” and “GameMaker” in the same sentence….like EVER.

    as for your points about the engine developer melting down on the forums, I think some people tend to develop a very strange internet-success-barometer. The more vile they become, the harsher criticisms they receive, which convinces them the better they are….

    I do actually understand the logic, but it only really works in moderation. If you surround yourself with “Yes” men, then you never reach your potential, but if you also only surround yourself with “No” men, then you don’t even get close. I think to be successful you have to have the ability to listen to both camps.

    As for 3D, I hate it. I think it’s been the giant sinkhole in every single project that attempts it. Why? The minute you mention “3D”, people develop an expectation of photo-realism. You’re already dead before you render your first black triangle.

    When you say “2D”, then there’s lots of wiggle room to either create abstract tilesets all the way up to realistic tiles. And guess what? 2D still sells like hotcakes.

  2. @Juuso: oops yeah I meant doesn’t. That’s what happens when you type whilst under the influence of influenza.

  3. I have a Unity Indie license (luckily, I payed for it 2.2 months before they made it free, I feel special) and am just waiting for them to make it to 3.0 with all the important updates (like… tutorials..) in the package before I even consider using it for a commercial app.

    Meanwhile, my game (which I actually managed to recreate on Unity) in its 2D glory is doing just fine on the next-gen engine called GameMaker (totally next-gen).

    Anyways, I have always viewed Leadwerks engine updates with great fascination. The visuals in the images with their news posts all over the place look just too damn good for the price. I also enjoy how the developer of that engine manages to be hostile to everyone criticizing his engine (on sites like Gamedev). :D

  4. Hi there:

    Exist two different kind of trouble with a engine.
    The first one, previously mentioned, is the end-product. For windows, directx9c is more than enough, if a game uses as mandatory directx10 or higher then you can bet that this will hurts your sales.

    And the second problem is the ide. I use Unity3d and the ide is sometimes pretty tricky. Luckily, part of the job can be done using visual studio ;-) But some other jobs are tied to a non-efficient ide and it can increase the developed time, hence increasing the value.

  5. @Ville: let me know if you find one… ;)

    @Lumooja: Dunno about LE 2.3 new version, but I kind of feel that it’s not stable to “use and never upgrade”. All I’ve done is upgraded :)

    @Jake: whadda heck are you talking about the “realtime global illumination”? I presume you forgot to add “not” there, right?

  6. Yeah, it would be probably easier to make money with Facebook apps, but game making is not always about money, for me it’s also about making something which doesn’t exist yet and I always wanted to play.

  7. Farmville does have “Realtime global illumination” or use the latest tech (unless you call the Facebook API the latest tech) and it has 60 million players and is on track to make $200,000,000 this year. Just a thought…

  8. Well, I can only recommend Leadwerks Engine 2.3, it’s cheap: 134€, easy to use, completely realtime (even editing scenes and coding is realtime), fast, and can produce AAA titles similar to Crysis.

  9. I’ve been developing my own engine for over five years, I use middleware. It drives me mad every time a new version of each middleware is released. They say it fixed this and that important bug, and obviously the interface has changed. And no- it won’t work with your old DirectX version anymore, you have to ask your customers to update that as well.

    I’d want a good, cheap engine, and never have to update it. Who has one?

  10. I see game making more like movie making. You don’t ask users how they want the movie to be, but you create the movie and then users like it or don’t like it.

    It doesn’t really make any difference to asking the users, since there are always users who like it and who don’t, but using the movie producing direction, you get at least a game which you wanted to make, and I’m quite sure you get also better quality and consistency, since you decide about all content, visuals and storyline.

  11. @Iain: yeh, that was my supposed plan until I heard about ATI+nvidia driver problems which basically forced me to upgrade. I don’t need any more features, I want less features ;)

    @Lumooja: yeh, it’s true that sticking to newest version is definitely good when it brings benefits and helps you create unique experience (like those effects you mention).

    Of course gamers are different: some people want huge forests with thousands of trees… while others couldn’t care less about graphics.

  12. I would use the latest version of the engine, if it brings some benefit what I will use in my game.

    I wouldn’t want to publish a game which is based on obsolete technology, like not having shadows for each moving object, or not having huge forests with thousands of trees.

    Realtime global illumination is also very important to make your game stand out of the masses, and just give it the look I always wanted, but I think that will come also before I finish my game. Realistic 3D ocean water will probably alse be ready by then.

    Those are essential for a game which has airplanes, as I want to bring back the WOW effect which I had when I first saw Flight Unlimited. It was the most realistic looking and feeling game at that time.

  13. Sometimes I find it’s best to just pick your engine and stick with that version through to release, as hard as that is with all the nice shininess that new features bring ;-)

    It’s not always easy to spot the missing features until you’re well into the code though :-(


  14. It all sounds obvious but again and again we use engines that aren’t “quite” ready yet. For my latest game I’m using an engine that has save/load errors for the end-user. The bugs are supposed to be fixed in the next update but when will it arrive?

    Hopefully soon :)

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