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Game engines—how do they work?

A game engine is the software that provides game creators with the necessary set of features to build games quickly and efficiently.

A game engine is a framework for game development that supports and brings together several core areas. You can import art and assets, 2D and 3D, from other software, such as Maya or 3s Max or Photoshop; assemble those assets into scenes and environments; add lighting, audio, special effects, physics and animation, interactivity, and gameplay logic; and edit, debug and optimize the content for your target platforms.

Graphics

Modern game engines can power stunning graphics and help facilitate the production, as well as the importing of assets from different platforms, so that you don’t have to wait a lot of time with every import.

For most games, game engines can provide you with an architecture with overall high performance rendering capabilities, and with access to fast graphics API, so you can enable the greatest visual fidelity for your games.

Read about the Unity rendering graphics

Audio

You can choose to design your own sound from scratch, starting with the musical composition, sound effects, voice acting and ending with post-production. You can choose to purchase sound assets from asset-focused platforms, such as the Unity Asset Store, that can be combined and mixed in various ways.

Game engines can help you integrate those sound natively, or through third-party apps, so you can focus on the composition of sounds and placing the sounds creatively in the context of game scenes, as well as assigning sounds to events in a way that suits your vision.

Read about audio and sound effects in Unity

Networking

A lot of players love connecting with their friends over games and apps, whether on PC, console, or mobile. For specific type of games, networking requires a lot server power which can result in a lot of complex workflows and processes. Luckily, a lot of the game engines have workflows, scriptable components, and APIs in place that you can optimize however you want to for online and multiplayer.

Read about Unity Multiplayer

Physics

The Physics system in a game engine provide you with the components that handle physical simulation for you. You don’t have to do all the hard coding by yourself, neither code every move created in the scene by the game elements, or collisions between your game components. Game engines enable you to create objects that can behave in a realistic way with just a few lines of code.

Read about physics in Unity

Graphical user interfaces (GUI)

Most games have their own GUI that fits the games theme, art direction, and narrative. That’s why a lot of game engines provide creators with tools to build their own graphics user interfaces, such as buttons and drop-down menus, sliders and means of combining different interactable elements.

Read about GUI in Unity

Scripting

A crucial part of game engines is represented by scripts which you can use to define the logic of your game components by adding behaviors. With pre-build scripts, a solution provided by some game engines, you can easily control the camera, the relationship between your game elements, and the animation system which can be used to control character animation.

Read about scripting in Unity

There are a lot of game engines out there that can cater to your needs but if you’re mostly interested in working on a specific genre, whether it’s 2D or 3D or VR/AR, for specific platforms or cross-platform, then you can choose one that’s tailored to your necessities. If you want to build your content once and deploy across multiple platforms, with the Unity game engine you can deploy to over 25 platforms.

If you want to create with Unity, you can be sure you’ll find tons of resources, videos or articles, tutorials and editor documentation, as well as a community of creators whom you can share your ideas with and contact other Unity developers if you want to expand your team.

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