Every video game has an engine. And every video game engine whether custom or a product has it's own unique pros and cons for use. About three years ago I wanted to achieve cross-platform development in a manner I thought will be best and most intuitive. At the time, engines like Unity, Game Maker and Construct 2 were still evolving and not as strong as the juggernauts they are to this date.
In late 2013 I came to the conclusion I just needed to build my own engine. If its good enough for me, I will also let others use it too.
One key thing I wanted to have was a way for people no matter what operating system they used will be able to use my game engine. So that meant making sure my IDE can run on Windows, Mac and Linux. The top dogs in the industry[godot and unreal aside] have yet to port their IDEs to Mac & Linux for whatever the reason may be. So I took it upon myself to take cross-platform love one step further and use a a stack of libraries that were "bullet-resistant". Those libraries were SDL and Tinydir. I knew what I got myself into, I would build a gui system from scratch to mimic all other gui systems. Many considered this a waste of time. But I felt it was more than just a learning experience. it was a future-proofing experience.
Fast-foward to 2015. I began getting closer to release of the engine. I had begun private alphas and betas. Along the way I used IRC and forums alot to connect with other gamers and developers. There was alot of excitement and I could feel people cheering me on. I even got the engine to be covered in a few popular gaming websites. After doing a year of endless work it was time to launch in Summer 2016.
About a couple of months before launch I started to feel a different response in the gaming industry. I saw an industry completely complacaent with the current stagnants I saw in the industry earlier. I would do live demostrations in my hometown and begin posting more and more screenshots. About 70% would be excited for what it could do, while the other 30% would begin chanting "Unity is better and it's free". This of course became disturbing. Sure unity is a great engine, there is no question about that. The diamonds and gems made in Unity is priceless. This created a sort of existiential crisis. Did I just waste three years of my life in order for Unity to just win over every game developer in the world?
I thought about this for a while...
Then I realized there is no logical reason to end this product. The gaming industry is a market like any other. There is always a top dog, but there are also competitors. Even though the gaming and tech world will like to always have a super-power it is not possible. From the "console wars" to the "smart phone wars" there always have to be more than just two options. Albiet the Game Developer IDE mini-industry is not as crazy as those industries. I believe the values I set in the design of the IDE, engines and exports will hopefully allow me to succeed in my endeavor to bring more competitive flavor to the game engine industry.
I launched the engine on Itch.io at the end of June. I was met with reasonable sales and now with a Steam Greenlight page up I hope to reach new audiences. This indeed has been an uphill battle. The battle will continue to rage on; but at the benefit of developers across the globe.
Only time will tell the result, but one thing is clear the Game Pencil Engine is here to stay.