So you have decided that you want to make a game, but now comes the daunting task of figuring out how to start. There are loads of different game engines available and tons of resources online but for someone new it can be hard to tell them all apart.

The truth is that when it comes to making your very first game it almost doesn't matter what you use to do it. As long as it lets you get some version of your game into a playable state, sometimes that is all that matters. Once you start learning more about the process you realize that some of the complex or tedious stuff can be handled for you by certain engines.

In this article I will compare three game engines that are among the biggest or most popular to use: RPG Maker, Unity Engine, and Unreal Engine.
There are loads of ways that we can compare these different engines but the main things we will evaluate are: Cost, 2D/3D Capability, Programming Language, Learning Resources, Supported Platforms

Table of Contents

Comparison

Here is a TL;DR breakdown of the comparison between these three platforms. Keep reading if you want a more detailed explanation!

Engine Cost 2D/3D Language Supported Platforms
RPG Maker Paid - varies 2D Javascript/Ruby Cross-platform
Unity Free & Paid 2D/3D C#/Javascript Cross-platform
Unreal Free* 2D/3D C++/Blueprints** Cross-platform

* - Once you ship your game or application, you pay Epic 5% of gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product per calendar quarter. For more info see Unreal's product release page
** - Blueprints is a visual scripting language used by the Unreal engine. To learn more visit this page

RPG Maker

RPG_Maker_Logo-1

RPG Maker has been around for years and has multiple different versions. Due to its age and popularity there are a ton of great resources for figuring out which RPG Maker product is right for you, and finding learning resources for that tool.

Cost
RPG Maker is a paid game engine and they do not have a permanently free version like some of the other popular engines. Here is a quick view of the various RPG Maker products and their prices, a more detailed feature comparison can be found in the link below.

RPG Maker Product Comparison - more info can be found here
rpg-maker-comparison-1

2D/3D
RPG Maker only supports 2D at this time. Though there are some experiments with 3D happening in the community.

Programming Language
Depending on the version of RPG Maker it supports either Javascript or Ruby

Supported Platforms
Again depending on the versioin of RPG Maker you choose you can release to various platforms, but for the most part many of them support: Windows/EXE, MacOSX/APP, Android/APK, iOS/IPA, HTML 5 for Web Browsers

Unity Engine

unity-logo-1

The Unity Engine is among the most popular and widely used game engines on the market. It has been around for over a decade and has only kept growing its userbase. It has a wide variety of learning resources available to help you get started and a

Cost
Unity is primarily free software and allows you to publish games for free up until you earn a certain amount of revenue on your product ($100,000 USD min) and then you are required to purchase a Unity license. Purchasing the Unity license provides many extra benefits, and depending on how heavily you use the tool it might be worth upgrading.

unity-pricing-1

2D/3D
Unity supported

Programming Language
Unity supported both C# or Javascript for programming languages. There are a ton of great visual scripting tools available on the Unity Asset Store

Supported Platforms
Unity supports just about every platform for release though some might require special licensing (Mobile and Console platforms often require specific developer licenses).

unity-platforms

Unreal Engine

unreal-logo

The Unreal Engine is another massively popular game engine which has been an industry standard for quite some time.
One neat thing is that you also get access to the full C++ source code for the engine so you can really understand how things work to make your game as optimized as possible.

Cost
The Unreal Engine is free to use and download, full-featured. However, once you publish your game you will need to pay Epic a 5% royalty after earning a certain amount of revenue.
"Once you ship your game or application, you pay Epic 5% of gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product per calendar quarter. For a more detailed explanation of how that works, see the EULA and our product release page."

2D/3D
The Unreal Engine supports both 2D & 3D game development. It was built around high performance and stunning graphics, so this is one of the best options for making a high quality 3D game. Their 2D toolset is feature-rich though still rather new. Compared to Unity their learning resources for 2D games are still a bit lacking whereas they have 3D games covered pretty well.

Programming Language
The Unreal Engine's primary programming language for complex tasks is C++. It also has a visual scripting system known as Blueprints which lets you accomplish a wide variety of tasks with just a visual aid, similar to creating a flowchart.

Supported Platforms
Unreal Engine 4 enables you to deploy projects to Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, AR, VR, Linux, SteamOS, and HTML5. You can run the Unreal Editor on Windows, OS X and Linux.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and NIntendo Switch console tools and code are available at no additional cost to developers who are registered developers for their respective platform(s).

Resources

RPG Maker
- RPG Maker
- RPG Maker Version Comparisons
- RPG Maker Features

Unity
- Unity Engine
- Unity Asset Store
- Unity Versions/Pricing
- Unity Multiplatform

Unreal
- Unreal Engine
- Unreal FAQ
- Unreal Product Release_
- Unreal Blueprints

Misc
- Game Engines - Wikipedia