Unity 3D vs ShiVa vs Torque

(via whoisvince.com)
So there’s plenty of hype being pushed around the interwebs of which engine or framework is best to help build the next best app/game for the iPhone. Point blank, Unity 3D is the best! Now if your one of those l33t developers out there who belittles developers that are using frameworks & engines instead of getting dirty with Objective-C, I say screw you and get off your fake high horse. Although Objective-C isn’t all that complicated, it’s not nearly that easy either, especially when it comes to developing games for the iPhone. Also as a second note, plenty of gaming companies use gaming engines for one of the simple facts that it wouldn’t be cost efficient to reinvent the wheel when it’s staring right back at you. So as an Indie developer trying to compete with big companies, these gaming engines may be worth it. It’s an investment. So if your game is crappy, it doesn’t matter what engine you used, it’s still going to be crappy. However if you have a solid idea(s) and plan to invest the time needed, it’ll eventually pay itself off.

With all that said let me get back to my point, here are some of the top ‘Indie friendly’ game engines out there; Unity 3D vs Shiva vs Torque. Now my first initial thought will of course be that Unity 3D is the best, as previously stated, however this is a very biased statement. Not because I’m on the developmental team, but because I’m now invested into it { don’t forget to download Feed Meh!! }, so it better be the best for good while. Nevertheless, after actually reviewing the other competition out there I’m sure you’ll be agreeing alongside with me too.

Below are a few pro’s & con’s for each engine:

Unity 3D

http://unity3d.com/unity/features/iphone-publishing

Pros:

  • Feature Packed!
  • Full support for native Objective C (for whatever reason if you needed/wanted it)
  • 3 scripting language options: JavaScript, C#, and a dialect of Python called Boo
  • Scripts are compiled to native ARM assembler code during build
  • I already have a license

Cons:

  • Price! Indie+ iPhone: $600 | Pro + iPhone: $3,000
  • Forced splash screens for Indie licenses
  • No 2d platform

Thoughts: The price and the forced splash screen almost insticivly makes me want to say no, however when you dig deeper you’ll see a solid engine that’s only getting better & better. In addition, it’s more approachable, and has an easier learning curve because of the 3 separate language options they allow you to use.


Shiva

http://www.stonetrip.com/

Pros:

  • iPhone publishing for FREE!
  • Price; Indie: $250 | Pro: $720
  • No forced splash screens

Cons:

  • Works on Mac OS under parallels
  • Lua scripting language, which (most likely) wont be used anywhere else
  • Language is interpreted
  • small(er) userbase and still a bit rough around the edges

Thoughts: Shiva isn’t even available for the mac yet. So although its really enticing with its price, it’s not really meant for the iPhone. You’ll pay for it with the longer development time unless you buy or already own both a PC & mac, to switch back-and-forth.


Torque

http://www.garagegames.com/products/consoles

Pros:

  • Both 2D & 3D platform
  • Developer store; buy source code and/or game assets
  • Feature Packed!

Cons:

  • Price! Indie 3D: $900 Indie 2D: $1,000 | Pro 3D: $2,750/ $4,750 Pro 2D: $2,750/ $3,500
  • Individual prices for 3D & 2D engines
  • TorqueScript is a C++ like scripting language

Thoughts: 1st the price is just outrageous. It seems as it it just keeps on climbing. 2nd, although Torque does have plenty of features, it’s not really a ‘pro’ for me simply because it’s written using a language similar to C++ which doesn’t make for smooth learning curve.


Conclusion

So there you have it, the Top 3 iPhone gaming engines compared to each other. You can make up your own mind, and every situation is different, but I’d still have to say that Unity 3D is still above the rest. If your already knee deep with C++ & or Objective C, and you don’t mind loosing $900-$4,740 ( I say loosing because, as any investment is made there is always that chance of not breaking even, and loosing your investment ) then Torque may be for you. It has plenty of features, and a pretty solid community. However if your not familiar or fluent with an Object Oriented Language already, and maybe you know a few scripting languages and you want to develop something for the iPhone but Shiva‘s low price is calling to you, I say don’t do it yet. If your targeting the iPhone, why would you develop on a PC? And if your crazy enough to run it through an emulator, than you have every right to lose your investment. Nothing against them, the upgrades are looking great as I’ve been following them since I started researching for an engine to use before I bought into Unity 3D ; but it’s still a bit too rough. With all that said, go check out Unity’s demo & I’m sure you’ll love it. Oh, and did I mention that I made a game using Unity 3D, Feed Meh!! Ah, I did actually. Silly me.

Let me know what you think? Love Unity too? Hate it? Think Shiva is going to tear the market right open? Let me know and sound-off.

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  • bob

    lua -> wow useing it.

  • Samantha

    Neverminding the complete bias in this article, the following line discredits your entire article:

    “Lua scripting language, which (most likely) wont be used anywhere else”

    Lua is an immensely popular scripting language, and has seen a lot of use in a large number of systems, from a large number of independent software and games to commercial giants like Blizzard. The mere fact that you say it won't be used anywhere else is proof enough that you haven't done much research on the subject.

    Another issue is that you are basically posting this saying what the pros and cons are from your perspective. On the price for the Torque engines, you should have listed all of the available options, rather than going to the website and picking the most expensive licensing options. Not everybody will ever need or use the C++ source that accompanies certain versions of the licenses, and the licenses provided without source are significantly less expensive. That, in my eyes, trumps Unity simply because Unity doesn't provide access to the core engine source code, which is something that is immensely important if you need to modify the way the engine works to get your product running. For me, for example, the fact that TorqueScript has a syntax similar to C/C++ makes it that much more usable.

    If you can't provide an objective view of the engines you cover, don't write an article regarding them, trying to pass it as a definitive “engine vs engine” article. That is all.

  • http://CBMUmedia.com admin

    Hello Samantha… what you’ve said is pretty much true. This article was indeed extremely bias. I pulled this post from my personal site, and on that site via the comments I got help with my ignorance regarding Lua and the gaming industry: http://whoisvince.com/2009/09/unity-3d-killers/

    Nonetheless, thank you for helping clarify my past ignorance.

  • drayfus

    great review

  • Raymix

    nice small review. I too love Unity, its ease to work with and mono script is a god sent.
    However, price for licences are way to high for poor people trying to get into game design market and trying to make money out of it. I am trying to get into android market, but without paying 1.5k i stand no chance to even look at how the program looks like. Shiva on the other side lets you do these tests before buying, as far as i read so far (today) they have some kind of emulator for iphone and android? And devices can be used as controllers for PC also for test purpose? Still to check it out. The only downside i see in shiva is new learning curve for programming – LUA is something very new to me, it will be hard. Also pink and violet colors in editor are annoying and methinks a bit gay. Hopefully those can be changed. So far i am pushed to use Shiva because of platform, so i hope its as good as Unity.
    If money were no problem – i’d go for Unity, 4 thumbs up

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    Very interesting post I enjoy your website keep up the amazing posts.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lpjorg Lukas P. Jørgensen

    Torque 3D is atm sold for 179$ Indie

  • david.wan

    @
    Samantha: Agreed. You’re trying to define the difference between with a too biased view point. For shiva 3d, it’s low-price, and with great plugin-extension support. It pre-compiles lua to C++ code which gives me a lot of flexibility and extendablity.