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2D Free Game Engines for Beginners 2021

Game Engines are definitely always a hot topic for people wanting to get into game development. While the market is more into 3D, we feel like knowing 2D give you in a better position to fully understand 3D. So, we tried to do a little of the research for you to give you a list of 2D Game Engines that are totally free! And just because they are free doesn’t mean that they don’t compete with paid engines like Game Maker, RPG Maker, UnReal Engine, and the like!

OpenBOR – C side scrolling game engine – https://www.chronocrash.com

MUGEN – C and Allegro and SDL libraries 2D fighting game engine – https://www.mugenarchive.com

Corona/Solar 2D – lua based game engine – https://coronalabs.com/ https://solar2d.com/

Defold – game engine for web and mobile, cross platform – https://defold.com

Godot – node based, built on python and C++ game engine – https://godotengine.org

Ct.js – javascript based game engine – https://ctjs.rocks

Gdevelop – HTML5 game engine – https://gdevelop-app.com

pixelbox.js – javascript/HTML5 based game engine – https://pixwlk.itch.io/pixelbox

Welcome to Digital Brilliance Hour, responsible for building character, confidence, and brilliance in the minds of our youth through STEAM. While our program is focused on teaching teens and young adults, this channel can benefit any age. We focus on game development and music production.

In this video, we are going to discuss 2D game engines for beginners in 2021.

I’m going to give two types of beginner 2D engines. We first have our truly beginner engines that really do a lot of the work for you, with the option for you to do more advanced coding and development underneath. These engines really get your feet wet in understanding all the different factions of game development and all the fundamentals that even triple A companies use.

The second type is the beginner/intermediate type. These engines are still considered beginner, but you have to put a little bit more work into getting a product created.

Both types have beginner to advanced level development that can be done, and all of these are capable of creating a game that can be sold on many platforms.

This is intented to be a quick informational video, and I will point to videos that go into greater details of these engines in the description. All of these are free and open source(which basically means completely free).

I’m actually going to start with the second type first.

Let’s start with Solar 2D. Newly named in apr 2020, it was originally called Corona(hence the name change), which was released in 2012. Solar 2D is a game engine based on an open source scripting language called lua, which is used in games like Warcraft, Angry Birds, and Civilization to name a few. You can build games for many platforms, such as mobile, tablet, desktops, and web browsers.

Next we have Defold, which is another game engine based on Lua. You do, however, have access to the use of C++ languaged extensions. Defold was first released in 2016. As well as tablet, desktops, and web browsers, Defold also allows you to publish your games to Nintendo Switch, Steam, and even Facebook. Defold is known for its ease of use and is praised for its technical documentation and friendly community of developers.

Next up is Godot, which supports both 2D and 3D. But to be honest, it seems more suited for 3D with a layer for 2D outputs. First released in 2014, This engine is very comparable to Unity. It is written in GDScript, which is a high-level, dynamically typed programming language with a syntax very similar to Python that was built specifically to support Godot. Godot also supports C#, C++, and Visual Scripting programming languages for coding and development.

Next is Ct.js, which is a javascript based game engine that launched in 2018, aimed specifically for the creation of 2D games. Because of it being built on javascript, this means that it supports any platform that supports HTML5 or web based games.

Next up is Gdevelop, which is much like Ct.js, but has been on the market for longer and definitely a respected engine. Started back in 2010. It is a javascript object oriented based game engine aimed at 2D development. A lot of pointing, clicking, and setting parameters during the typical development in this engine. It supports mobile and HTML5.

Last on this type of engine is pixelbox.js. This game engine was build on javascript for HTML5 development. It started back in 2016, And Is said to be very good for prototyping concepts and ideas as well. Can be deployed to many different factions that support HTML5 games.

Ok now with the first type I mentioned, which is true beginner, wanting to get feet wet. Although, tbh, Gdevelop could possibly fit in this category as well….maybe..

First let’s start with MUGEN, which is a very heavily respected 2D fighting game engine that was first released in 1999, and still going strong today. It’s written in C and orignally used the Allegro game library, but the latest release uses SDL. The community is VERY large and vast where you can find just about any asset you would like to create your own 2D fighter with. Probably the easiest out of all the engines when it comes to game development. Especially when using already created gaming assets. But this engine also has the ability for more advanced development with tools such as Fighter Factory.

Now if you want the best of both worlds of pick up, build, and play, along with the option to really develop some advanced 2D beat ’em up games, look no further than OpenBOR. Written in C, OpenBOR is a game engine specialized in side scrolling gameplay. It was inspired and developed from the engine that was built for Beats of Rage, which is a beat ’em up game that was released in 2003 as a possible spiritual successor to the Streets of Rage franchise. Openbor was released in 2006 and has been in constant development ever since. I beleive the developers are planning to release a totally new revamped engine in the future, but don’t know when. This is an engine that I personally use a lot and most of the tutorials on this channel will be based around this engine. So if you want to learn more about how to build 2D beat ’em ups and get your feet wet on the fundamentals of game development, definitely subscribe to this channel and stay tuned for tutorials that will come out at least once every month, but probably more. Or if you’re watching this later in 2021, then there will probably already be some tutorials to help get you started.

I have included links in the description to some channels that give more in depth technical infromation about these engines if you’re into that.

I hope this video has given you some ideas on how to proceed with scratching your itch for game development. If so, please make sure to comment and like this video and consider subscribing to this channel. There will be more to come, and I hope to see you soon. You all be well and be brilliant. Peace.

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