The main Games Engines taught at college and university are Unity and Unreal, but there are several aimed specifically at mobile platforms, Web or a particular genre:
Unreal Engine 4 is the main rival to Unity, boasting Blueprints, a modular programming system with bundles of C++ code laid out visually a little like Scratch. Unreal is free until you make $3000, then 5% royalty on games and applications (no royalty for film projects, simulation, and visualization). Used for Final Fantasy VII Remake and Tekken 7. Free video tutorials at https://academy.unrealengine.com/
Godot is a free 2D and 3D game engine with some friendly, powerful features.
Completely free and open-source under the MIT license. No strings attached, no royalties.
Gamemaker has a well-established drag-and-drop interface.
It allows you export your game directly to Windows desktop, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, Android, iOS, fireTV, Android TV, Microsoft UWP, HTML5, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Construct from Scirra software.
Over 50% of HTML5 games submitted to Kongregate are made in Construct.
There are several versions of
2D Sprites and Animation
Piskel free online sprite, sprite sheet and animated gif maker.
Also available as a download for Mac, Windows and Linux so you can work anywhere, even without an internet connection.
In Spine you create animation by attaching images to bones, then animating the bones. ‘Skeletal’ or cutout animation has benefits over traditional, frame-by-frame animation. This includes Procedural animation – bones can be manipulated through code, for effects like shooting toward the mouse position, looking toward nearby enemies, or leaning forward when running up hill.
Visual Novel Games Engines
There are two main choices, Ren’Py and Twine. Ren’Py is Python-based and more graphical but you have to export for each target platform – Windows/Mac/iOS/Android. Twine outputs a single universal HTML-based file but is harder for beginners to add graphics. This is a good comparison of the two.
Tokegameart – marketplace for 2D games assets such as characters