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Game Engine Comparison: T3D Vs Unity 3D

by on Dec.27, 2015, under On Game Development, Software and Games, Software Engines

After coming up against a number of severe problems with the Spherical Terrain Implementation that I have been working on (P152) I have given serious thought to changing to a different engine. I have been a loyal Torque follower for about 12 years now, and I have never used any other engine, however, the Unity engine has exploded in popularity, and has many features that make it very attractive to developers and hobbyists alike. The main thing that drew me to it was that there are several add-ons (or assets) to Unity that have some support for Spherical Terrain, and I have found quite a few examples of projects that have used Unity to create Spherical Terrain.

Unity has a lot to offer. There is an active community, a great asset store, and the engine itself is supposedly easy to learn and allows for rapid deployment and supports multiple platforms, including mobile and web.

However, I feel that Unity is aimed primarily at artists and designers. It does not offer source code access in the free version, or, as far as I am aware, in the pro version. In order to get source access you must first buy the pro version, and then pay extra to get the source. Since the pro version is $1500 by itself, this gets very expensive.

Unity does feature a very advanced scripting system, allowing users to script in C#, JavaScript, or Boo. This scripting language is much more powerful than T3D’s torquescript, but then, it needs to be, since it must stand on it’s own. T3D’s scripting system is designed to work in conjunction with engine access.
Programming, as opposed to scripting, is, however, much more difficult to learn, and is more time consuming to use that script.

The two engines are fundamentally very different, and a direct comparison is really not possible.

Being a programmer, I am still strongly leaning towards sticking with T3D. I like the complete control that I get over every aspect of the engine and the game that I am creating. I don’t like to feel like I am restricted in any way, or using a “game maker” program. Unity is going to be easier to learn, and would likely be better for games that don’t require advanced or niche features that don’t exist in the asset library and can’t be created optimally in script.

However, I do a lot of research and conceptual work, in addition to computational physics, and other similar work. These fields involve a lot of programming, and I think I would very quickly find myself getting intro trouble if I was restricted to just a scripting solution. C++ is also faster than script, and more prevalent in the fields that I work in, so it would be preferable to be able to use that.

Another thing that I like about T3D is that you own the engine. You can modify it as much or at little as you want, and create a completely customised, optimised game or project which does exactly what you want it to do. If a feature doesn’t exist, fire up your compiler (or, switch to it, since my compiler is always running) and add it. The unity forums have quite a number of posts with “REQUEST” in the title, and users asking for this feature or that feature, presumably because script is insufficient for them to add that feature themselves

Unity seems to have better editors, a more active community, many great features and addons, and I feel a generally more polished, finished look. T3D is a little rough around the edges (it is essentially in a state of constant improvement, particularly now that is it under the MIT licence), it has a steep learning curve, exacerbated by a lack of documentation in some cases, and it can take a long time to finish a game with the engine, but I feel it is a better fit for the kind of work that I do.

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