Building a 2D game in Unreal is easy. I haven’t even looked up how to do it yet, but I know there are some good 2D Frameworks, and I’m pretty sure you can do a lot of it natively.
Can Unreal Engine make 2D games?
Yes, Unreal Engine has Paper2D, a 2D game making system built into the engine. You can expand it with asset packs designed for it, or you can design games with just Paper2D.
Oh here, I also have an intro to game design for you to read. Enjoy it.
So let’s get right into it.
Is Unity or Unreal better for 2D games?
Unity. The 2D asset packs for Unreal Engine are rudimentary, there’s no comparison, Unity has the edge in the creation of 2D games, even if Unreal is a more stable, professional platform.
PIXEL 2D PLATFORMER ENGINE
Here we have a nice framework. I want this. I didn’t even watch the trailer, I didn’t even read the feature list. I looked at the price and it’s acceptable, it’s a discount for what it does.
Now let’s see what it does.
Ok so what does this thing do? Well it’s pretty easy, this thing lets you make Castlevania Symphony of the Night with Mario Vibes in Unreal Engine. It has cool features, it has a good quality controller, seems to move a little too sprightly for my liking, he seems fast and twitchy, I like a little more weight to my MC. It looks like, I would guess, I can replace the main character with my own sprites, would be crazy if you couldn’t, which is important, because I am good at making 2D animated sprites. Just ask my most recent Steam game. It has wall jumping, teleporters with motion preservation that you can throw grenades through and jump on through to the other side, like that terrible song. It has complex spawnable placeable AI with different attack modes and stuff, good AI, really decent AI. I would like designing my own enemies in this thing. It has spline based platforms, elevators, and bridges. It has destroyable tiles, so you can make your nightmarishly stupid minecraft/terraria clone. Oh yeah by the way the graphics look kinda like terraria had a baby with castlevania symphony of the night. It has a loot system, an XP system, an rpg system, and an inventory system.
2D Platformer Toolkit
I should also mention this, it is no longer being supported, because the developer has shifted their focus to the above system, but the benefit of this is twofold, first of all I like the artstyle better, but also this is only about 40 dollars, while the other one is closer to 120. This looks like a pretty well featured game framework, maybe a bit primitive, but still effective. I kind of want this thing….
You can build a 2D Game with this, no problem. And it costs next to nothing.
RETRO STARTER KIT
Not exactly my style, but this looks like a pretty decent maker, it reminds me of Bill the Demon, it gives you what you need to make a game, costs not too much, maybe it’s ok.
You could build a game with this, and I think putting my own sprites into this would be great.
2.5D STARTER KIT
This thing looks interesting, it has an inventory system, 4 way movement, it looks like pokemon, not sure what to say there. If you want a very basic framework to make your own pokemon, you could start here, but it’s not fully featured.
Anyway, whatever…. ok that was super underwhelming, I’m missing something here, I gotta ask boss tomorrow if how knows any better frameworks for 2D games, I only like the first two. I can’t for the life of me find anything else, I think I’m searching for the wrong words. But for now let’s get into PAPER2D.
So enough of these frameworks, here is paper 2D. It’s the 2D system for Unreal Engine. I don’t know the details that well, honestly, why make a 2D game in Unreal? It’s Unreal….. It can make a 3D shooter like most people can put on their socks in the morning. Unreal is perfect for 3D games, it can do everything, but if you want to make your game in 2D, specifically because you like the the art style and NOT because it’s easier, because it’s harder. Well, Paper2D is the diplomat you will be negotiating with.
Check out our subscription service, Gamedev.gg
While we’re here, you should take a look at our subscription service, Gamedev.gg. It can teach you everything from Maya, Blender and 3DSMax, to Unity and Unreal Engine 5. It’s good for a beginner, or a pro to hone their skills with. We can take you step by step through how to make your own first game, as well as teach you 3D Modelling, and other more advanced skills. Give it a look if you have time, you might be surprised.
Once you get started in gamedev, you can quickly learn to become self employed, and get so many work offers coming in you have to turn them down on a regular basis. Once you’ve got your first job, you can build up your resume, slowly displace your 9-5 food service/security/retail/desk job and you can work from home instead. Be your own boss, make your own hours, decide for yourself when to work and when to take a break. You can spend more time with your family, all of it in fact, though you must work or it doesn’t work. Then when you have a year or two’s experience on the matter, you can fully transition to gamedev as your bread and butter, you can get a good paying job, and start advancing up the ladder, which exists in game dev, unlike your food service job. So in ten years you might have a high paying gamedev job, instead of being assistant manager at Mcdonalds. You can do something you love with your life, worked for me.
By the way if you want to check out our discussion on how to craft a good story in a JRPG, it might give you some ideas for your game.
THE THEORY OF 2D GAMES
So forget how you make it, what are you going to make? 2D Games like Zelda are good. Seems easy to make, not a lot of complex moving parts, The Legend of Zelda, a Link to the Past, I have no taste for the others.
Break that down a bit, what is it? What do you see?
You’ve got a really good quality character controller, you’ve got some enemies with AI controllers, you’ve got some basic ballistics, you’ve got some cute 2D sprites. You have some decent quality music you could buy anywhere. An inventory system, lots of different weapons and puzzle items with lots of different animations. Lots of moving parts.
When you walk into the level you wander around in a room full of tiles, the tiles are painted on the grid. You can have different patterns and appearances for the tiles. You fight monsters until you’re done, then you exit the map and go to the next one.
Keep walking through map after map after map after map after map after map after map, and eventually you get to a map with the boss chararcter. You either survive or you die and respawn at the start.
There’s not a lot of romance and betrayal in this, if you catch my drift, it is just build on basic mechanics, honed to perfection. There’s some prefunctory story stuff there, a guy in his house with his family, dad walks away to try to fight the monsters, son wakes up looking for his dad, goes wandering through the dungeon, meets ganon. Game starts. Kill Ganon at the end, that’s about all the story is.
I was going to make this game myself, in a roguelike form, it’s built on really simple premises. The Binding of Issac is kind of what I was going for, but the art style is just junk compared to Zelda. What I wanted was a 2D Zelda Roguelike, with randomly generated levels. I thought that would actually be pretty easy to make.
You can also, yeah it’s got those fairies, that was a good mechanic, you catch the fairy with your net and put her in a jar, then you get an extra life if you die.
Very nice mechanic, or did it heal poison, I forget?
Maybe they had different kinds of fairies, I don’t know.
They’re easy to find but super hard to catch. Ridiculous.
I’d rather play a game like that than some modern 3D catastrophe like We Happy Few. We Happy Few is terrible. It’s so unbalanced, the combat is shameful. Those 3D games are all the same, all flash, no substance.
Zelda was perfectly built and perfectly balanced. They sat and built those mechanics for like a year before they started developing, I’m almost certain of it. When that game was done designing mechanics, and systems, it was so stupid good they barely remembered to include a story. What was the story, I don’t remember? I remember the boomerang.
Seriously do you remember the boomerang? Cause I do.
The boomerang was so perfectly designed, it beggars belief that it was possible. it moved so perfectly, bounced off rocks and stuff when it got stuck, you hit the enemies with that, and they got stunned. Very nice work. Hit them enough and you can kill them.
A very nicely designed ecosystem of mechanics…. That should be the goal, the model of your game, try to emulate Zelda.
First thing you need to do is learn Paper2D get a feel for the basic systems involved in making 2D games in the Unreal Engine, then when you know the mechanics of it, you shift focus to building systems, get a good controller, get some weapons, get some interactions, get some enemy AI, get some enemies, get all the things you need for a game together, then when you have it all lined up in the right place….
Build your game.
Your game is weak now. If you run into problems, build your game, just wait. Games aren’t a math problem, they’re a painting, everything you add to your game is part of a larger whole. Once you assemble a piece of your game, it’s not like it just disappears, it stays in place along side all the others working like clockwork in tandem. Does your game crash, boohoo, fix it, then get back to work.
Don’t just build one game forever, build lots of games over the years, as they pass by, but when you’re building a game, please remember that you are building a large working machine, and each piece you build makes the machine more powerful and run better than it did before. You may be very happy with your game right now, but if you develop it for about 2 years, you’ll be shocked with the difference. What was once a good game will be a jawdroppingly good game. From space. It’s not even gone when done.
You can use all those systems and transfer them to the next game.