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Basically, I'm looking for a good, 2D game engine to build a platformer/contra-like shooter on to bolster (and when I say bolster, I really mean start) my portfolio.

I use the words "right now" in the title because I've read through some questions, and I don't really want to use anything like Java's game API for mobile phones from 2003. (Also, XNA is out of the question as I'm already working on a larger scale project in it.)

I'm fairly competent in Java, and have a basic understanding of other languages like C# and Python, but I'm totally unopposed to learning a new language while learning the engine (within reason).

The engine doesn't have to be super powerful, just free and simple enough that someone of my skill level (3rd year CS major) can get a nice horizontal slice out without too many bumps along the way.

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    \$\begingroup\$ XNA is a framework, not an engine... If you are judging XNA because you think its an engine, I suggest you take another look at XNA based engines. \$\endgroup\$ – Nate Mar 24 '11 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I might have a misnomer in my question then. I'm looking for something similar to the set of tools that XNA offers, but just not XNA. I guess I don't know the difference between a framework and an engine? \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Quinn Mar 24 '11 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ "framework" and "engine" are pretty loosely defined, but generally an engine "does more" (often at a higher or broader scope) than a framework. In this case I don't think it much matters since your reason for not wanting to use XNA ("already using it") is valid regardless of what XNA actually is. \$\endgroup\$ – user1430 Mar 24 '11 at 17:08
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There's a ton of links if you ask Google about it, but most of them are things that seem relatively unheard of. I have used one of the top results, Love, for a little while and found it pretty quick to get up and running with. It uses Lua.

There's also Torque 2D, which I've heard decent things about (it is non-free, which I know you mentioned, but it is also relatively cheap, so...). cocos2d is quite popular for the iPhone.

You also have the option of using Unity or Ogre or Irrlicht or any of the other available 3D game/graphics engines to simulate a 2D space, but that may involve more extra work than you want.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ cocos2d/cocos2d for the iphone have greatly piqued my interest. Torque2D also seems really cool too. Your input is greatly appreciated! \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Quinn Mar 24 '11 at 17:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some friends used torque and said bad things about it. \$\endgroup\$ – vshade Mar 24 '11 at 19:48
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FlatRedBall www.flatredball.com would be an example of an 'engine' based on xna.

Hmm...wanted to add a comment to the OP but couldn't...maybe i don't have the rep yet.

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If you want to dabble in HTML5 games I suggest you look in to Crafty.js. It is a small but flexible game library that's easy to learn and handles the essentials like input, collisions, sprites, etc.

I think the biggest strength in Crafty is the component/entity architecture. It's a great way to structure your games and Crafty makes it very easy to create your own components.

The best documentation is probably the Crafty.js source on github.

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Slick2D http://slick.cokeandcode.com/ is great for Java with some great Toolings available. Have a look at the Feature List.

The tooling includes: FontEditor, Tiled Map Editor, Sprite/Animation Manager. Additionaly there is support for Phys2D a Java Based Physics Engine.

They are currently working on an easy way to port Slick based games to Android.

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I've used Torque products for years now I would defiantly recommend them. The company did go into administration but has come back to life recently with quite a few updates to the product lines. Definitely worth downloading the trial version and taking a look.

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