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I plan to build a very basic 2D game in html5: it's purely a map divided in 2D equal square tiles. A player can click on a tile to see the message "behind" a tile. Once open, other players can't open it anymore.

So there are no teams, no physics, no complexe player moves just the need to be massively multiplayer and cross platform (it needs to be playable on computer but also mobile so touch is needed for example).

I have read this nice comparison between game engines http://buildnewgames.com/game-engine-comparison/ but I wonder: do I really need a game engine or can i make without a game engine, just using javascript and all the necessary technologies(canvas, node, socket.io...) ? In what does it make my work easier/faster ?

thanks for your help, Mathieu

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you dont even need canvas or socket.io for this, html elements and ajax would work too. –  Kikaimaru Feb 16 '13 at 19:09

2 Answers 2

You never need an engine. An engine is just the parts of a game that are not specific to any one game and can be reused for multiple games.

Note however that a game engine provides several pieces of game-related functionality that you will not get from generic application development libraries such as socket.io, node, etc. For this reason it's often wise to use an engine, or at least a game-specific library or two. (An engine is really just a very comprehensive library for game development.)

In your case your game is so simple that it's hard to see that you'll need much game specific code and a game engine may be overkill for your purposes. But for the general case of "2D multiplayer game" it is almost always wise to start with an engine or game libraries.

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If your goal is a finished product, rather than a learning exercise, don't reinvent the wheel.

If somebody's already written a library that does what you need (and is making it available under a license you can work with), use the library. Games, the better ones at least, are among the most sophisticated software there is. Moreover, if you don't use an engine, you often spend too much time writing your own "engine" and not enough time making the "game" part of your game.

HAVING SAID THAT, the exception would be when you're making something very simple. What you're describing, if I understand you correctly, sounds extremely simple. In fact, it sounds more like a website than a piece of software. (Have you considered making this as a simple website? Boom. Massively-multiplayer requirement solved.)

Game engines have a steep learning curve. Often the first couple of weeks with a new engine aren't really spent "programming," they're spent just figuring out how the engine organizes things. This can be frustrating. Sometimes you'll find yourself struggling to accomplish something with the game engine that would be easy if the engine weren't in your way. But still, for most games, the benefit of working with an engine outweighs the downside of spending a few weeks figuring it out.

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