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Game Engines That Stood The Test of Time

Before the golden era of arcade games, during which game companies began to develop in-house game engines, games were written as unique entities. Each game had its own specific code, and few elements could be reused when making newer games. Game engines came about to serve as, in the most simplistic of terms, a template on which developers could build their games. The most successful of these game engines have gone on to change and adapt to the latest technology formats in an effort to increase their potential user base.

Wall Humping
“Wall Humping” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Drajiin

Rise to prominence

Although developers had begun to use game engines for the 2D graphics of arcade games in the late 1980s, the game engine’s rise to prominence occurred in the 90s as 3D computer games emerged. This is when the use of a game engine became particularly useful, as developers could use an existing game’s code and build upon it with their own designs and ideas.

First-person shooter games were the early pioneers of this method. Games like Doom and Quake didn’t have to work from scratch, as they both used the same model – the Unreal engine by Epic Games. The games that used the engine only really differed in the levels, difficulty, graphics, characters, and story-lines. The creators of successful game engines could rake in the money, as the number of licensees can reach several dozen companies. Early game engines were mainly used on desktop computers, but now, successful companies have developed engines that cross platforms.

Microgaming’s Dominance

Microgaming is a company that has shown that the ability to adapt to technological developments is key to prolonged success. The company was the first to develop online casino software in 1994, and it was also the first to produce games for wearable technology. In addition to this, its engineers have recently won an award for their developments in virtual reality with VR roulette.

Microgaming already have online roulette for Canadian players at 32Red, and there are six varieties including French, European, and American. These can all now be played on desktop, tablet, and wearable tech including smartwatches. The addition of their VR roulette option would likely put Microgaming, and sites that house the games like 32Red, ahead of the competition.

Moreover, Microgaming currently leads the way in the slot machine market, as it recently won the award for Best Digital Product of the year with its Jurassic Park slot. The game is the first to use Parallax Scrolling effects, and can be played at a number of online casinos including Roxy Palace, where there is a progressive jackpot available, and 32Red who have multiple bonuses including Dish of the Day where players get a random cash bonus.

Although Microgaming is currently on top in the slot machine sector, the company faces tough competition from their main rivals, Playtech. On a year-to-year basis, the developer that manages to get a stronger foothold on a particular sector of the market is the one that adapts its engine to technological developments fastest. Playtech won the Multi-channel supplier award and the Poker Network award at the EGR B2B awards this year. It also has a range of slot games that can be played at Vegas Slots Online, a site that allows players to sign up for a weekly email bonus.

Microgaming and Playtech have both shown how successful engines should be applicable to a number of different games, and used across multiple platforms so the user can instantly enjoy them.

"Call of Duty®_ Advanced Warfare_2014110" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by justinianlui
“Call of Duty®_ Advanced Warfare_2014110” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by justinianlui

Unreal Engine

The Unreal engine is another prime example of one that has stood the test of time, due to its initial number of users, its ability to adapt and evolve, and the fact that it can be used by an array of different platforms. The current release is Unreal 4, which is compatible with Microsoft’s DirectX 11 and 12, OpenGL, Metal, and JavaScript/WebGL. The Unreal engine has received the Best Game Engine Front Line award from Game Developer Magazine multiple times, and is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Game Engine of all time.

Perhaps the reason for its domination is down to the fact that first-person shooters have always been up there with the most popular games. According to data from Statista, shooters were the most played genre of videogame in 2015, played by 24.5% of gamers. It would not be surprising to see the engine that has adapted to suit rapidly advancing technology for more than twenty years produce software for future technology developments including virtual reality.

With VR about to hit the mainstream, online casinos offering wider varieties of games, and the shorter timeframe for the release of next-generation consoles, game engine developers have to adapt and evolve faster than ever, and this is how the big names continue to dominate the market.


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