this is a post detailing my search for the most enjoyable way for a hobbyist game programmer to sweeten his free time with making a game.
My requirements: I looked at Flash first, I made a couple of small games but I'm doubtful of the performance. I would like to make a fairly large strategy game, with several hundred units fighting simultaneously, explosions and animations included. Also zoomable maps. I saw that Adobe has a new 3D API for Flash, but I don't know if that improves 2D performance aswell, I couldn't find anything related to that question on their MAX10 sessions. Would you say that Flash is a good technology for making large 2D games easily? I really like Actionscript, and I love how easy everything is in Flash. There are several engines available which make it even easier.
I just do this for fun, and it would be even better if there were proper animation/particle editors available and if the engine I were to use, would be available for multiple platforms. (so more people can play my game once finished). I'd like to have it available on many mobile platforms aswell. (because I love touch input for some reason)
I do know the XNA framework pretty well, but there are no good engines available for it, and it will only run on Windows, which is a huge turn off. Even bigger is, that you need to install the XNA redistributable each time you want to give the game to someone. If I use XNA, I would have to make all the tools myself, and I'd probably have to make them with WPF. (I'd love to make tools with Adobe AIR, but unfortunately the API's for image manipulation etc. are far worse in Flash, than they are in XNA/WPF.) Now, I'm aware that I could make my own engine that supports each of those platforms, but quite frankly, that would be too much work plowing through APIs. After all, I want to make a game, not an engine.
So the question becomes: Is there maybe a cross platform (free or free to develop?) engine available that I could use for 2D development? I prefer: C#, Actionscript. I don't mind using c++ if the toolset is above average, but I highly doubt that there is something out there like that. Please prove me wrong :) So summary: I'd like to use Flash, but I don't know if it scales well enough. I'm not a scripter, I want some real APIs that I can work with inside a proper IDE.
Just for information, I looked at several alternatives, I'm actually looking for a long time already. You'd help me a lot to make a decision finally.
Feature-wise the Flatredball engine would be ideal. But I tried their tools, and quite frankly, they are horrible. Absolutely unusable, I'd need to make my own for sure. I didn't look at their API, but if their tools are so bad, I'm not inclined to look further.
Unity3D. This one is quite nice, but I really don't need 3D, and it is quite ...a lot of work to learn. I also don't like that it is so expensive to use for different platforms and that I can only code for it through scripting. You have to buy each platform separately. The editor usability is average, the product overall is good enough for most purposes, but learning it myself would be overkill.
Shiva 3D. It looks good enough, but again: I don't really need 3D. The editor usability is a little worse than Unity3D in my opinion and it wasn't clear to me how to start programming. I think it requires C++ for coding, so that's a negative too. I want to have fun, and c# is fun ;)
SDL. Quite frankly, I'd still need to port to all those different SDL implementations. And I don't like OpenGL style programming, it's just plain ugly. And it needs c++, I know that there might be some wrappers available, but I don't like to use wrappers, because...
Irrlicht. A lot of features, but support seems to be low and it is aimed at enthusiasts. C# bindings get dropped repeatedly. I'm not an engine enthusiast, I just want to make a game. I don't see this happening with Irrlicht.
Ogre3D. Way too much work, it's just a graphics engine. Also no multiple platform support and c++.
Torque2D. Costs something to use, and I didn't hear a lot of good things about support and documentation. Also costs extra for each platform.