Which engine should I use?

I've been in the modding community before 2003, I built my first lovely map in 2004 and since then I've been designing various things. I'm a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. University arrived, and afterwards work 'n' stuff, so I didn't have much time, but now I found some spare time, compared to my daily routines and I've planned for a lengthy period for a certain project that I would like to work on. I'll be designing something of a Sandbox game, a small city with a surface of 20 squared miles and I was wondering which is the proper engine for such a thing? It will be intended for PC, since I've been gaming on the PC 90% of the time, and I would love to make this an open project, once I have something to show for it.

I started off with GoldSrc, continued on to Source and they have severe limitations to their maps, making my project difficult to accomplish, so is there a suggestion as to what should I decide to use? I am hesitant between Unity3D and UDK.

I'd love to hear your experiences and suggestions. Thank you.

You could try CryEngine or Unreal. I know CryEngine has a monthly subscription thing, and I heard something about Unreal being cheap.


Or use BuildBox \s

Between Unity3D and UDK, I would go with UDK.  Plus, there are no royalties with UDK, until $50,000 in sales.

CryEngine is good too.

Unity is a good engine, especially if you want to develop for consoles too (if you get a Wii U devkit, you get Unity for free, btw). Other than that, UE4 is cheap and very good, although I heard the monthly sub thing for CryEngine has problems.

I prefer a Honda 2.2 liter four cylinder engine 


Unreal 4 is 20 dollars a moth and you get access to the source code. Super cross platform and one of the most advanced engines out there

Seriously though I would suggest working with Unity to start. It has a friendly design, and is built to work with alot of useful external plugins. I believe Lightwave and Blender are some of them. It also comes with a filled out package of friendly to learn and use tools such as game performance optimization tools. I think It's going to be the best all around set up until you find you have a serious need for something else. 

Hey, that's a pretty good one, <clarkson>Poweeeeer!</clarkson>

From what I was told, I could just pay the 19$, grab the Unreal engine and work from there. The monthly thing is just for updates, and I can extend a subscription once something new/substantial/relevant is released.

BuildBox? Neva'!

People've said to me that the CryEngine is still not very friendly towards independent one-man-bands, as it is with entire studios...

I've had an entire day of only watching videos of Unite 2014, the keynote and certain individual stuff, which I watched with my utmost attention. I have to say that the upcoming Unity 5 is a piece of work, and all the other available tools for a proper price will be a great time saver for a lot of things, and by the time I finish the map, more shit for character development and stuff will be available.

The Unity3D engine is aimed at independent developers, small teams, groups (Sorry, but I hate using the term "indie", it's makes something so inspiring sound so weak) and that makes it a very attractive product. There are literally tools for everything, and it can simplify a lot of things. Of course, it's not going to be a solution for everything, or it's not going to be a good solution, but it will help with a lot of things.

I'll spend a couple of days doing research on the UDK, I am curious what it has to offer, in terms of tools for making it easy for a dude trying to make something.

Besides Unity, Unreal and CryEngine, I ran into some stuff, plus the engines I knew from before, but nobody's talking about them.

Your own engine.

That's probably true on some level.  I've personally never used it, but I've worked with several people that have tried working with it and they were really happy with it.  Their skill levels with that kind of stuff was in high wizard territory though.

After thinking about it, I would personally go with Unreal Engine.  I cut my teeth on Source and unreal engine.  I once had to use unity for a project, and I never could get myself as comfortable with it like source or UE.

UE makes good use of c++, and has source code; while Unity generally makes good use of C#.  So, which ever language you like might help make a decision.  Also which ever platform you want to make something for might dictate which you use. Your projects for pc platform, so both works in this case.  but from my experience, Unity has good broad support for lots of platforms, a jack of all trades if you will... while UE may not be as widespread, but I feel like it can be more focused.

I would also take into consideration what your help may prefer to use.  Say if you have some friends that may want to help you on this, they could always help show you the ropes and get started in a new engine.  I doubt you will have trouble finding people on either side of the camp to help out.

I don't think you can go wrong with either one.  At the end of the day, you're learning something and developing ideas.  If you don't like one, you can takes those ideas still and implement them in a different engine.  I would go with unreal engine, but that is just complete and total personal preference on my part.

OR new source engine is sent form the heavens to us.  then you can go with that.  (I feel like a new source engine would be amazing and the best for a sandbox game)

ORRRR go full on hard mode and make your own engine. Your call!

That's a pretty big world.  For reference, Skyrim is only around 15-16 sq miles.  To my knowledge, all three (unity, unreal and cryengine) support streaming, so all three should work.  Look into the work flow, coding languages and pricing/subscription structures of each and decide what suits your needs best.  

UE4 has the cheapest startup cost for actually monetizing your game (on pc, linux, mac, console and mobile) @ $20 (it's a subscription, but can be canceled at any time and all you lose is access to updates), but they take 5% of sales revenue after the first $3,000 I believe.  

CryEngine has a cheap entry as well, @ $10/month, but I don't believe you can cancel your subscription and continue developing with their engine.  You also only have access to PC for development currently (unless something has changed).  There is, however, no royalty fees...  so if a lot of people buy your game, it may end up being the cheapest in the long run.

Unity has the most expensive startup costs to release games of the three.  For the full unlocked engine, it's $1,500 (though, you can create and release games using the free version I believe, but it's somewhat gimped in terms of features).  It does give you access to PC, Mac, Linux, consoles and windows phone etc, but if you want android or IOS, it's another $1,500 a piece for access to those.  If you sell a good number of games, then this will end up being cheaper than UE4, but likely not as cheap as CryEngine.

As lovely as that sounds, I don't have the energy, time or people for that. I did mention that I'll be a one-man-band.

I've gotten quite a lot of comments on that topic, saying that it'll be a very big world, but compared to most things, like San Andreas, Oblivion, Skyrim and others, it's really not. Things in GTA are scaled down and in other games, I just don't plan on doing things to-scale.

I can grab the Unreal Engine for 20 bucks and give it a test run, and I can also grab the free Unity program and once something is done I can run the trial, to see the full effects, but the deal with the CryEngine is although it looks lovely, I haven't gotten a good comment about it. It's still not fully developed, not a lot of stuff for it, not lots of platforms for it...

I remain hesitant between Unity and Unreal, and even though the price is steep, I am still more drawn towards Unity, but I'll be researching on UDK these days and I'll see what's what.

Well, yeah.  Things in Skyrim/GTA are scaled down and have their view distance altered in order to make the world appear larger than it is.  It's a trick to keep the resources to a minimum, which can be a problem unless you are doing proceduraly generated landscape.  The point was that your world will be larger than those already large worlds, and may suffer issues not just with the resources involved, but the game play aspects as well.  

Just keep in mind, that while traveling 4 or 5 miles in game doesn't sound that bad, think about how tedious it is to travel from one side of Skyrim to the other in real time.  Fast travel would be one way around that, or some kind of rapid moving transportation (fast car, fast train whatever).  The point being that no one wants to spend 20 minutes getting from one place to another in a video game (well, almost no one).  It's just an issue you need to be aware of when attempting to create a game world that large.  There's a reason most games, even large open world games, limit their scales.

Also, UDK is actually based around Unreal Engine 3.  Unreal Engine 4 is a separate thing.  Just to avoid any confusion.

Well, to be more precise, ~18km² / ~7mi² so that's not a big deal. I've been designing environments for 12 years, I know how to properly optimize meshes and textures, due to the facts that I've been running shitty rigs in the past, so in order to be satisfied with my product and have it running @ at least 60fps, I had to tone shit down.

I've already had stuff figured out about the speed travel 'n' things like that.

Unreal 4 is only improving as I see, and Unity 5 isn't out yet, and I'm looking forward of seeing how things will roll on GTA 5 on PC with the modding community, and if that stuff's going to be available for modders to do something, but for now, I'll just start designing the place, since that will take a while, and I don't really need anything engine-wise until that's done.

Thanks for your input guys!


I suggest unity free because it has a great asset store and a massive, helpful community to aid you in development. You also aren't missing out on many things compared to the pro version ( http://unity3d.com/unity/licenses ) 

From my experience cryengine is 1200 a month as a single developer myself... For source code access. Unity is more lenient and more reasonably priced for source code access. Unreal 4 without its costly add on packages is honestly a bit of a joke.. And the vast majority of the add ons cost big money. So there kinda a scam. I've tossed around the idea of creating my own game engine, however I don't have a team big enough to pull this off (yet). So for now, where just heavily modifying the unity engine to support stuff like real time battles, massive multi-player support, realistic graphics with physx and sweet 3d rendering effects like what cryengine has and unreal. Not to mention multi-open world planets to explore like destiny and star ocean 4. Forgot to mention item creation, harvesting feature, action figure like character, ridable things, and more.. Of course this is about a 5 to 7 years of development due to the sheer amount of content...

Valve's source 2.0 engine sounds promising, however i've never used source engine before, but I've heard a lot about it.. Supposedly the 2.0 source is going to be capable of competing with cryengine/unreal graphics and physx features. But I don't know if that's true or not..

Not to mention source engine already has a dedicated server side engine to go alongside the game engine so as far as multiplayer goes you're pretty much set up for that feature or function of the game.