Whats a game engine? Lets cut the technical jargon and go straight to " Its the empty world containing the information to fill that world. " Or this his how it feels when you open up a Softwear development kit (SDK), something like Unreal or the Elder Scrolls construction set.
Either way, the engine controls all sorts of sweet bits to put into your world. It controls everything from frame rate (to an extent) to particular systems. The game engine once started out as a simple couple lines of code, back in the golden day of pacman and asteroids, it was all that was needed. However games have evolved since than and with every engine, comes a more complex and elaborate code to run it. Many modern engines include 3D real time rendering as is expected with 3D being the front runner for games in this area. The game engine is the program that witll sort all your meshes, lighting, redering, and whatever else will effect the game so the game can be created around it.
I could continue, however Ill explain my own take on the game engine.
The Elder Scrolls construction set was my very first engine I came into contact with Back in 2004, when I got my first copy of The Elder Scrolls, Morrowind (2002), by Bethesda. Now, I was only 13 at the time and had no idea what the hell was going on, but I was heavily interested, the idea of being able to edit the game. However lack of 3d knowledge and softwere knowledge was too much for me, I would always try to work it out, but with no luck.
However last chrismas I tried using The Elder Scrolls Oblivion construction set and found out it needed 3DsMax 8 models to run, which was a pain.
My second engine which I had come to learn of was the Unity engine.
The unity engine was somethign we were goign to use in the Game art / Game programming. We were going to make a game for this big gaming compition where we would earn some nice money if we had achualy went through with the idea. But thats another story.
The Unity engine was a flash engine capable of web browser based games (something I thought was amazing) and mobile gaming, including playstation 3. Its definatly something to check out, its capable of breakable objects, full 3D rendering, ambient lighting and distance fade. The lot. A very powerful piece of kit.
A little video there showing some capabilities. Whats cool is that it isnt nintendo 3Ds Graphics, more going towards PSP and PS2. But suports normal bump mapping and various other maps.
Unreal engine, or UDK (Unreal Development kit) is one of the most widley used game engines out there. Its free and constantly updated. ( A bit too much for my liking, its not backward compatable after all)
I want to come back to this post after the queens project, simply because, I dont feel I fully understand UDK and the engine. After I gain a better understanding of the game engine, from practical use I will be able to write my thoughts upon it. Untill than its just regurgitated mess from others accounts.
Unity Engine : http://unity3d.com/
CryEngine 3 : http://mycryengine.com/
Whats a game engine? : http://www.gamecareerguide.com/features/529/what_is_a_game.php
Top 10 game engines of our time: http://uk.pc.ign.com/articles/100/1003725p1.html
Elements of a game Engine: