For anyone interested in making their own games, one of the first questions is which tool will best suit the task. There are many options available, but each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.There are lots of choices, and in today’s article we will cover two important categories: AAA game engines and mobile game creation tools. AAA game engines are awesome software that allow users and teams to make high-end games with great graphics and features. Mobile game creation tools, such as Sceneri, are apps to make and share games from a phone without coding or development experience. In this article we asked Alex Klinger, one of Sceneri’s Senior Software Engineers, to help us compare these two kinds of tools and see where they might suit different types of game makers.
For the past six or so years, I have been working in the AAA games industry, mostly developing internal engines or tools, while supporting the respective game teams to make their job as smooth as possible. I have always been fascinated by the process of making games and seeing what can be done to make game development more approachable. That’s why I was very happy to join Sceneri.
From a user’s perspective, what would be some key differences in terms of technical challenges between working on AAA engines and mobile game creation tools?
Most AAA engines are huge, complicated monsters that have grown over years and years of development and shaped by the kind of game the studio was developing at the time. This usually results in an incohesive user experience and it is quite common that the onboarding process for newcomers to these engines can take months until they can work efficiently. This learning process is what makes mobile game creation tools like Sceneri so different from conventional engines. Instead of spending months learning the basics, you can start to create your own games immediately with simple, easy-to-understand tools.
How does the development process differ when working on AAA engines versus mobile game creation tools? Are there any notable variations in terms of workflow, team collaboration, or project management?
Based on my experience, I would say that the user experience is the most important priority while developing mobile game creation tools. I’m not saying that AAA engines ignore that completely, but I think there is a different mindset. AAA engines (usually) prioritize cutting edge features and trends, such as photoreal visuals or extensive terrain tools, but they neglect the ease of use aspect and have very steep learning curves. Some of today’s great games such as Horizon Forbidden West or Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom are developed with these incredible features. However, development in such complex systems can be time consuming and costly.
What would you say are the skills and expertise are required to create games effectively on AAA engines compared to mobile game creation tools?
AAA engines are designed for professional game developers who already know how to use various tools and concepts, such as Navmesh, Behavior Trees, shaders and so on. To create a game in an AAA engine, you have to learn all of these things first. On the other hand, with game creation tools like Sceneri, virtually anyone can make and share a playable game in a few minutes without much prior knowledge.
In your experience, what are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of working on AAA engines as opposed to mobile game creation tools?
I think it depends on your personal skill level and your goals. AAA engines let you use the latest and best features to create from the next great RPG with huge landscapes to the most photoreal shooter. But it will take years to reach that level. With no-code tools like Sceneri, you can start simple by using what the tool already offers and gradually learn more complex things while having fun and making cool games. However, you will probably not be able to make a huge open world multiplayer game with tons of cutscenes on your mobile phone. Or at least not yet!
How does performance optimization and resource management differ between AAA engines and mobile game creation tools? Are there any unique considerations or techniques for each?
AAA engines aim to be as performant and optimized as possible to deliver the best-looking games on the market. Performance is a crucial factor in modern AAA development and it often influences the design of the engine and tools, sometimes at the expense of the user’s convenience. The user also has to take care of making the game performant, such as optimizing the meshes that they import into the engine or the gameplay code that they write. Mobile game creation tools usually have a different approach. They hide the performance aspect from the user and handle it behind the scenes. That doesn’t mean that they are not performant. We have put a lot of effort into making Sceneri as fast as possible to run smoothly on your phone.
What are some of the typical development challenges that arise when working on mobile game creation tools? How do they differ from the challenges faced when working on AAA engines?
One of the main challenges is the development platform itself. Almost all AAA engines run only on PC and require a powerful one. On PC, you can use a mouse and a keyboard to interact with the tool, but on mobile, you only have touch input. This limits a lot of features that you are used to when developing tools on PC, such as hover effects or tooltips. Another challenge is the screen space. While AAA engines usually fill up the entire space with buttons, menus and so on, on phones you have to be very careful with what is on the screen at any given time.
Can you think of a problem which would be solved by having a complete toolset for mobile development that hasn’t been addressed by AAA engines?
In my experience the biggest problem with AAA engines is the setup and onboarding. Anyone who wants to get into the games or just try out a few things faces a number of obstacles. Firstly, users need hardware capable of running the engine which can be expensive. Additionally, the software install can be long as it occupies several gigabytes, and start the slow process of learning how all the systems work. And lastly, users need to figure out how to package and publish to get their game to an audience. That’s where game creation tools on mobile phones have a huge advantage. Everyone has a phone and can just download the app, get started right away and share their progress with others.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what kind of tools to choose when making games. It depends on skill level, goals, preferences and even budget. AAA game engines and mobile game creation tools both have their pros and cons, and you should weigh them carefully before deciding which one to use.AAA engines offer the latest features and capabilities for creating visually stunning and complex games, but require significant time, expertise, and hardware to master. On the other hand, mobile game creation tools like Sceneri provide a more accessible and user-friendly approach, allowing virtually anyone to quickly unleash their creativity.