In order to understand what a game engine is, it is necessary to first understand what video games are made of.
Video games are composed of two things: code and data. Code is what makes a game function, and data is what makes it fun.
Take Super Mario Bros. as an example. The game's code defines the rules of the game: that Mario can jump; that Mario can run; how fast he runs; that there are monsters, some of which can be stomped on; etc. The game's data defines what Mario looks like, how he animates, and the arrangement of the terrain and placement of objects and monsters, which form levels. Through Game Mods, you can change the data of Super Mario Bros. and create a Mario-like game that replaces how Mario looks, and how the terrain, objects and monster in levels are laid out. Unless you change the code, however, said game will have certain mechanics completely identical to Super Mario Bros., such as:
- "Fireballs" will always go down and forward, bouncing along the ground.
- Falling off the bottom of the screen will always result in death.
- Running out of time will always result in death.
- Collecting 100 "coins" will always result in an extra life.
In short, a game that has its data modified to become another game is still, at the very basic level, the source game.
A game engine is game code that is designed to be data-driven. Unlike the above example, a proper game engine would allow the behavior of in-world entities to be defined in almost every way through data. Virtually all games have some data component, but only relatively recently has this component become flexible enough that two games built from the same engine can be very different from each other. The game's data thus defines both the function and the fun, while the code is just there to make the data do its job.
One of the first cases of a true game engine was Quake. It was a first-person shooter, but the game engine was much more flexible. It did not even make the assumption that the game was first-person; a user of the engine could pull the camera away to a third-person perspective. And the main character would be rendered there in third person with all of the controls intact and functional. With some work, Quake could have run a game like Super Mario 64, all without directly changing the code of the engine.
Please note that this is a simplification of a complex topic, as the amount of data-driven code varies from engine to engine. More often than not, supplementary code must be written for a game engine to be customised as needed. For instance, the Source engine (which powers several Valve games, such as Half-Life 2) can be modified by loading additional DLL files, which are compiled C/C++ code. Even Quake mods, written in so-called "QuakeC" code, were compiled directly into virtual machine assembly code. The entire process can be made more complicated through the use of scripts, which are code that is loaded like data. In that case, a game engine is basically just a library or module that handles 80% of the grunt-work in making a game: collision detection, that things can move, rendering things, etc. It is then up to the user to add the 20% that makes the game unique, whether through data and code, or purely data.
Making all this even more complex is the selling of a license to use a game engine to a third party, with the transaction including the provision of the game engine's source code to said third party. This is how most commercially available game engines are sold—no developer worth their salt will build their game based solely on the engine-maker's assurance that the game engine is bug-free. The inclusion of the game engine's source code allows developers using the engine to actually change the engine code itself, not just layering new code on top of the existing engine, and developers frequently avail themselves of this opportunity. As such, a developer that claims to be using a certain game engine probably made some changes to it in the process of developing their game that runs on said engine.
The general rule of thumb is this: you know it's a game engine if you don't have to actually change the engine's source code to make a game that is substantially different from other games made with this engine.
As a bonus, games that run on a game engine that emphasises more on data-driven code can be modified very easily, and games using the same engine are easy to port if other games using the same engine have already been ported.
Engines can be internal, restricted to a particular development company, or external, which can be licensed for use by others. In-house "engines" are really just common codebases that multiple development teams in a company share. It is impossible to know whether these truly fit the definition of "game engine" because the different teams modify the source code for their own needs. Unless an engine is external, it is difficult to know what you can do with it without modifying the source code.
This may sound like a Game Maker, but there is a difference. A game maker is limited to a specific style within a genre. This limitation is what allows them to be easier to use. Nonetheless, a Game Maker is a superset of a Game Engine, as games created on a Game Maker will still need to run on something. Game engines cover a wide range of possible game types. Super Mario World level editing is effectively a Mario-style game maker—you can never make anything other than that kind of game.
External Game Engines:
- Panda3D, which was originally developed by Disney in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, for Disney's VR attractions and several discount casual games, but its main claim for fame is that it was used to power the client side of Toontown Online. Currently fully open source.
- SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) by LucasArts (while it's only possible to make adventure games with it, it's usually considered an engine due to its complexity and wide variety of games): Maniac Mansion (obviously), Monkey Island series (up to Curse), Sam & Max Hit the Road, The Dig, Loom, the Indiana Jones adventure games. Humongous Entertainment used it for every single game they made until 2002, such as the Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam, SPY Fox, and Backyard Sports series. Went through 11 versions, each one adding more features. Also popular for fanmade games, thanks to ScummVM.
- id Tech engines by id Software (developed by John Carmack), which they licensed to other companies until id Tech 4:
- Wolfenstein 3D engine: Wolfenstein 3-D, Rise of the Triad, Corridor 7: Alien Invasion, Operation Body Count. A slightly enhanced version was used in the Blake Stone games.
- id Tech 1 (a.k.a. the Doom Engine): Doom and Doom II, Doom 64 (albeit heavily modified), Heretic, Hexen, Strife, Chex Quest.
- Quake Engine: Quake, Hexen II
- id Tech 2 (a.k.a. the Quake II Engine): Quake II, Heretic II, Daikatana, Anachronox, Soldier of Fortune.
- id Tech 3 (a.k.a. the Quake III Arena Engine): Quake III: Arena (and by extension, Quake Live), Call of Duty, American McGee's Alice, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force (whose sequel uses a heavily modified version), Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, 007: Agent Under Fire, 007: Everything or Nothing, Resident Evil: Dead Aim.
- id Tech 4 (a.k.a. the Doom 3 Engine): Doom³, Quake IV, Prey (2006), Wolfenstein (2009).
- Unity 3D, while not a powerhouse of the likes of Unreal, has become quite popular with indie developers due to its low-to-zero price depending on the chosen version, liberal licensing and quick development time. Like most engines, it handles much of the grunt work required for games (rendering, collision, input, etc). However game entities are completely undefined outside of the concept of a game object, which is little more than a logical representation of a point in space. Everything else - including organizational structure, preservation of player data, and the like, is handled by the creator through a modular, component based system.
- An attempt to clean room reverse engineer the Unity engine in 2013 led to the creation of the Mutiny Engine. However the project was abandoned as soon as it was completed, as it was meant to be nothing more than an exercise to scratch an itch of the project owner.
- The Unreal Engine series by Epic Games (named for their Unreal series). Currently in its fifth version, it has seen a tremendous amount of use for a wide variety of games, particularly from The Seventh Generation of Console Video Games and on. It's well-known for its technical prowess and has even seen use in some movies and TV shows.
- Valve licensed the Quake engine from id Software and heavily modified it for their debut game, Half-Life. When some programmers wanted to continue modifying it while also preparing a release or "gold" build of the game, it was forked into the "GoldSrc" branch and the "Source" branch.
- Like the Ship of Theseus, the engine would be updated piece-by-piece and become the Source engine that powers Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Left 4 Dead, Portal, Portal 2, Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 (later upgraded to Source 2), Garry's Mod, Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, Postal III, The Stanley Parable, Titanfall, Titanfall 2 and Apex Legends (heavily modified for the last three games).
- Source was succeeded by Source 2, employed for Half-Life: Alyx, Artifact and Dota Underlords.
- The Torque Game Engine family by Dynamix (later, Garage Games), first developed for Tribes 2 and later licensed out. It was one of the first affordable engines available to indie developers at a mere $100 in 2002. Powers Blockland, Frozen Synapse, Marble Blast Gold, Penny Arcade Adventures, Space Pirates and Zombies, Think Tanks. A neat feature about maps is that the terrain continues to loop beyond the edge of the map itself, resulting in you finding an exact copy of the map in any cardinal direction sans any "interior" (structure) objects. This makes maps theoretically infinite but travelling far enough from the spawn point causes characters and objects to jitter graphically.
- Later engines included Torque 2D and Torque 3D, the latter allowing even more versatile and flexible in game modification with examples like BeamNG.drive. It still retains many of the admin/debug quirks such as the F11 edit mode and the F7/F8 Drop Player/Camera at Camera/Player.
- The NetImmerse/Gamebryo engine: Bully, Catherine, The Elder Scrolls from Morrowind to Oblivion, Warhammer Online, Freedom Force, Fallout 3, Epic Mickey, Fallout: New Vegas, Prince of Persia 3D, Dark Age of Camelot, Simon the Sorcerer 3D, Star Trek: Bridge Commander. The Bethesda-published games have the engine significantly modified for their purposes.
- Infocom's decades old Z-machine, still in use for Interactive Fiction.
- The Freescape engine from Incentive (now Superscape), designed for the implementation of full-3D games even on 8-bit machines. On those it managed about one frame every two seconds, but hey, the fact that it worked at all was amazing back then. Versions of it were used in Driller, Dark Side, Total Eclipse and Teque Software's Castle Master.
- Crytek's CryEngine : Far Cry, Crysis, Ryse: Son of Rome, Aion, MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior Living Legends, Monster Hunter Online, Star Citizen, State of Decay, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, TimeSplitters Rewind
- GameMaker (1999-present): Started out as a 2D animation program named Animo written by Dutch computer scientist and teacher Mark Overmars, which then slowly but steadily evolved into a Game Maker simply called "Game Maker". In 2007, after several years and six major releases of asking for donations and slowly paywalling advanced features in order to help support development, Mark partnered with the British company YoYo Games which has developed and supported the engine ever since. In 2012, it was remade with cross-platform support and rebranded as "GameMaker Studio", and its name has been almost reverted in 2022 when it was rebranded as "GameMaker" (this time in CamelCase). It is now technically complex enough to be considered a full-fledged 2D game engine, not a Game Maker. If you know what you're doing, you can even make 3D games with it. Those are much less common, though, and with good reason: they are much harder to do than any 2D game. Examples of games made with this engine include An Untitled Story, Iji, Undertale, Deltarune, Hyper Light Drifter, Rivals of Aether, Pizza Tower, Imscared, 12 is Better Than 6, games by Locomalito (including Maldita Castilla and Hydorah), as well as earlier versions of Spelunky and Hotline Miami.
- Build engine (written by Ken Silverman), which was used in Witchaven (I and II), William Shatner's Tekwar, Duke Nukem 3D, the PC version of PowerSlave, Redneck Rampage, Blood, Shadow Warrior (1997), Ion Fury and a couple of lesser obscure games.
- Until their parent company Electronic Arts pushed them onto the Frostbite engine (see below), BioWare made a habit of making a new engine for each Next Big Thing they bring out (except Mass Effect and Star Wars: The Old Republic). The earlier ones have been licensed to other companies:
- Infinity Engine (1998-2002): Originally made for Baldur's Gate (and sequel), but licensed to Black Isle Studios for Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale (and sequel) and Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (which actually used the very similar Velocity Engine).
- Aurora Engine (2002-2007): Neverwinter Nights, The Witcher by CD Projekt RED.
- Electron Engine (2006-ongoing): An offshoot of Aurora, used by Obsidian Entertainment for Neverwinter Nights 2
- Odyssey Engine (2003-2005): Knights of the Old Republic and its sequel by Obsidian; also, they used a very similar engine for Jade Empire
- Eclipse Engine (2009-2011): Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. Dragon Age II uses a heavily upgraded version of EE codenamed "Lycium Engine".
- Build Your Own Net Dream (BYOND): A 2D tile-based multiplayer game engine. Used by several games with articles on this wiki, with the most famous probably being Mitadake High and Space Station 13.
- Serious Engine by Croteam (named for Serious Sam):
- Serious Engine 1: Serious Sam (Serious Sam: The First Encounter and Serious Sam: The Second Encounter), Carnivores: Cityscapes, Deer Hunter 2003, Bird Hunter 2003: Legendary Hunting, Nitro Family, Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol
- Serious Engine 2: Serious Sam II
- Serious Engine 3: The HD remakes of Serious Sam, Serious Sam 3: BFE
- Serious Engine 4: The Talos Principle, Serious Sam 4
- Roblox is a game platform itself, but has its own engine in which you can create any kind of game of your own dreams on the platform (which means there'll usually be blocky characters as players) with the software Roblox Studio. It's 3D, but can be used to create 2D games with enough GUI code. Roblox started off as a simple Game Maker where you could build simple games with blocks, but it grew powerful over time.
- The Robot Odyssey engine was also used in Think Quick!, Gertrude's Secrets and Rocky's Boots.
- PhyreEngine, engine provided by Sony Computer Entertainment for developing PS3, PSP, PS Vita, and (assumedly) PS4 games. Version 3.70 was leaked to the internet so you too can learn what makes your favorite console games tick. Games built on this engine include: Hyperdimension Neptunia, Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, the Atelier Series from Rorona to Ayesha, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, and Journey (2012). Support for targetting Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch and even Windows was later added to the game engine, allowing games written on the engine to be easily ported to and from Sony's platform.
- For fans of MUDs and MUCKs, there are a plethora of different engines upon which one can build - and with enough work in scripting, one can even turn a MUCK into a MUD.
- Clickteam Fusion, formerly known as Multimedia Fusion, formerly known as The Games Factory, formerly known as Klik & Play, developed by a French studio Clickteam. The bulk of the "programming" is done in the Event Screen for each level, which puts individual conditions into rows, and applies them to gameplay aspects and objects which have columns. The later iterations' functionality can be enhanced with various downloadable plug-ins. Games created with it include I Wanna Be the Guy, Freedom Planet, The Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, Wings of Vi and the Five Nights at Freddy's series.
- Godot Engine, originally an internal engine created and used by the Argentinian developer Okam Studio, released under the MIT license in early 2014. Notable games created with it include the iOS version of Deponia, Tanks of Freedom, Cruelty Squad, Kingdoms of the Dump, EX Zodiac, Your Only Move Is Hustle, Brotato, and Sonic Colors Ultimate, as well as Okam Studio's entire game library.
- The Retro Engine by Christian "The Taxman" Whitehead is a game engine he developed while creating his own Sonic the Hedgehog fangame, Retro Sonic, which was based on the original Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games and was notable for its accuracy towards those games instead of being a mod or ROM hack of an existing Sonic game. It was later used in a few other fan projects, Sonic XG and Sonic Nexus, which would then be formed into Retro Sonic Nexus. During 2009, Sega asked fans for suggestions of a game to be ported to the iOS devices, which Christian proposed with a proof-of-concept of a Sonic CD port using the Retro Engine running on an iPhone. Impressed by Christian's efforts, Sega hired him to develop an official remaster of Sonic CD and released it on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC via Steam, and iOS and Android devices. The Retro Engine would later be used in collaboration with other Sonic community members such as Simon "Stealth" Thomleynote and PagodaWest Gamesnote in later projects with Sega. The engine has since led to the development of the Star Engine, a stylized HD 3D game engine named after the studio name Evening Star, which was founded during the development of Sonic Mania.
- The Moai Engine, originally by Zipline Games. It's released under a Common Public Attribution License, meaning it's not fully Open Source, but nonetheless is Freeware. Some notable titles created using the engine include Crimson: Steam Pirates by Bungie and Broken Age and Spacebase DF-9 by Double Fine.
Internally Developed Game Engines:
- Nintendo has had several proprietary engines over the years, and tend to be pretty secretive about them as well. However, details have been gleaned over time:
- Many of their older engines have no known names, and thus are usually referred to by whichever game was the first identified to use them. For example, the Game Boy The Legend of Zelda games (Link's Awakening and Oracle of Ages/Seasons makes use of the For the Frog the Bell Tolls engine; the Game Boy Advance Metroid games (Fusion and Zero Mission) use the Wario Land 4 engine; and Star Fox 64 and Animal Crossing use the Ocarina of Time engine (which itself is a heavily modified version of the Super Mario 64 engine.
- Nintendo Land, the first two games in the Splatoon series, both Super Mario Maker games, ARMS, Ring Fit Adventure, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons all use an engine that internal files refer to as LunchPack.
- Nintendo Switch Sports, Splatoon 3, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Super Mario Bros. Wonder use an engine known through datamining as ModuleSystem.
- The 3D Mario games, produced at Nintendo EPD Tokyo, have used some variation of a game engine known as ActionLibrary ever since Super Mario Galaxy. Nintendo Software Technology would start using the engine for their own games, like F-Zero 99 and Mario vs. Donkey Kong, after becoming a support studio for the 3D Mario team.
- The NintendoWare Bezel Engine is used by Nintendo subsidiary NDcube for all their games from Super Mario Party onward, and has also been used for titles such as Tetris 99 and WarioWare: Get It Together!.
- Retro Studios uses a proprietary engine called "RUDE" for all of their games, the first iteration of it dating back to the first Metroid Prime.
- Starting with id Tech 5, id Software stopped licensing out their engines, and kept them for their own use and that of other studios under their parent company Bethesda.
- Bethesda's Creation Engine, used in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76. Based on independent research, it appears to be derived from the same heavily modified Gamebryo engine Bethesda used since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. It would later be succeeded by Creation Engine 2, which is used in Starfield.
- The MT Framework, used in games like Dead Rising, Lost Planet, Devil May Cry 4, Resident Evil 5, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Monster Hunter: World. There's also a Mobile varient used for their handheld and mobile titles.
- The RE Engine, used in Resident Evil 7, Resident Evil 2 (Remake), Resident Evil 3 (Remake), Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 4 (Remake). It's also used for non-Resident Evil titles like Capcom Arcade Stadium and its sequel, Devil May Cry 5, Monster Hunter: Rise, Ghosts 'n Goblins Resurrection and Street Fighter 6.
- Square Enix:
- Crystal Tools (originally called the White Engine): Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIVnote
- Luminous Engine: Final Fantasy XV, Forspoken
- Crystal Engine, which was used in the Square Enix-published games Tomb Raider: Legend and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Not to be confused with Crystal Tools. note
- Men of War has the GEM Engine, previously used for the prequel Faces of War.
- Lithtech: every Monolith Productions game since October 1998. Was infamous in its early days for being licensed out for cheap budget titles.
- Lithtech 1.0: Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, Blood II: The Chosen. 1.5 licensed for KISS: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child.
- Lithtech 2.0/2.2: No One Lives Forever, Sanity: Aiken's Artifact. Licensed for Legends of Might and Magic and Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza.
- RealArcade Lithtech (in conjunction with RealNetworks): Tex Atomic's Big Bot Battles
- Lithtech Talon: Aliens vs. Predator 2. Licensed for Might and Magic IX.
- Lithtech 3.0: the Vaporware Shogo II
- Lithtech Jupiter: No One Lives Forever 2, Contract J.A.C.K., TRON 2.0. Licensed for Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, Wolf Team, Cross Fire and Combat Arms.
- Lithtech Discovery: The Matrix Online
- Lithtech Jupiter EX: First Encounter Assault Recon, Condemned: Criminal Origins, Condemned 2: Bloodshot, Gotham City Impostors, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
- Lithtech Firebird: Middle-earth: Shadow of War
- The Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), which is used in Grand Theft Auto IV, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, Grand Theft Auto V, and Red Dead Redemption II. Was first used to make a table tennis game.
- The Dark Engine created by Looking Glass Studios and used in Thief: The Dark Project, Thief II: The Metal Age and System Shock 2.
- Hedgehog Engine by Sega's Sonic Team: An engine built to render CGI-quality graphics using global illumination (allowing for complex lighting and directional shadows) very quickly. Used in the HD versions of Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Generations and Sonic Lost World. An improved version of the engine, dubbed "Hedgehog Engine 2", was used in Sonic Forces and Sakura Wars (2019).
- Dragon Engine by Sega's Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios: An engine made to take full advantage of the Playstation 4's technical prowess for the Yakuza series (known as Like A Dragon in Japan, hence the engine name). Used in Yakuza 6, Yakuza Kiwami 2 and series spin-off Judgment.
- Frostbite by DICE: Initially used for the Battlefield series (from Battlefield 1943 onwards), Need for Speed: The Run and the Medal of Honor reboot's multiplayer, in 2013, DICE's parent company Electronic Arts made a strategic decision to move nearly all of its studios' internal development onto the Frostbite rails, even the less shooter-y games like Dragon Age: Inquisition.
- UbiArt Framework by Ubisoft: Rayman Origins, Child of Light, Valiant Hearts
- Snowdrop, also by Ubisoft: The Division, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Starlink: Battle for Atlas
- LucasArts also has the following, besides SCUMM:
- Terminal Reality's Infernal Engine: created for Ghostbusters: The Video Game; licensed for Def Jam: Rapstar, the Wii version ofThe Force Unleashed II and Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars.
- SSI's Gold Box engine, used for numerous Dungeons & Dragons and Buck Rogers games.
- The Filmation engine, created by Ultimate Play the Game (now Rare) and used in their Isometric Projection games Knight Lore, Alien 8 and Pentagram. Its more action-oriented successor Filmation II was used in Nightshade and Gunfright.
- The Crusader games reused the engine from Ultima VIII.
- The "Vision" engine from Wing Commander Prophecy was developed in part to be easily modified. In addition to being used in the sequel, Wing Commander Secret Ops, it's also the basis of several fan Game Mods due to the aforementioned ease of modification.
- The HPL Engine (named after H. P. Lovecraft) by Frictional Games:
- Lobotomy Software's Slavedriver engine, which was used in the Sega Saturn versions of PowerSlave, Duke Nukem 3D and Quake. Known for being one of the few pieces of software specifically optimized for the unusual 2D graphics-orientated hardware of the Saturn, which allowed Lobotomy to do 3D things on the console that other developers wouldn't dream of.
- Apogee Software reused the Crystal Caves engine in Secret Agent.
- Most of Sierra's adventure games were based on AGI (Adventure Game Interpreter) or its successor SCI (Script Code Interpreter/Sierra's Creative Interpreter), which went through several revisions. King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella marked the transition, and several AGI games were later remade for SCI.
- The Diesel Engine, originally created by the developer GRIN, and used for all of their games like Bandits Phoenix Rising, the PC versions of Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and the Bionic Commando remake. Overkill Software, headed by the same people after GRIN's bankruptcy, continues using the engine for PAYDAY: The Heist and PAYDAY 2. The way the engine is composed makes it very difficult for a casual modder to work with (mostly due to how the models are rendered and how they are bundled to be used by the game), hence why the developers haven't released a friendly modding tool yet. Granted, the more dedicated modder can easily modify the game's files, as the lua code is pretty easy to decrypt and use. The Windows version uses a 32-bit version of the engine, and the Linux port of Payday 2 uses a 64-bit version of the engine, which essentially means that the Linux port doesn't suffer from the same memory issues Windows users have. The engine is also used in RAID: World War II by Lion Game Lion, which is composed of former Overkill devs.
- CyberConnect2 has a special "Sensible Art Innovation" Engine that they made for the seventh generation of consoles onward. It was first used for the .hack//G.U. trilogy movie, and has been used for all future .hack installments and related projects on consoles, as well as their Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm installments. However, some of the company's titles from the mid-2010s onward (such as Asura's Wrath, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, Fuga: Melodies of Steel and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles) have used the Unreal Engine instead.
- Neversoft had an engine best known for its use in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series, though it was originally developed for Apocalypse.
- The X-Ray engine, created by GSC Game World and used in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series.
- Striker in the Crypt of Trogan reused the engine of the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC ports of Switchblade.
- David Perry's Global Gladiators engine, used in Mick and Mack as the Global Gladiators, Cool Spot, Aladdin (Virgin Games), Earthworm Jim and Earthworm Jim 2. The Genesis version of Robocop Versus The Terminator also used Perry's engine, despite the game not being developed by him.
- Dreams is practically a game engine unto itself, being extremely powerful with a wide range of options available for building scenes, tinkering with logic and AI, making music, and so forth. It is also extremely user-friendly, with the engine's full functionality available to anyone with a DualShock 4 controller, or two PS Move controllers in tandem.
- Digital Extremes made the Evolution engine, which they used for darkSector, Star Trek: The Video Game, The Darkness II and Warframe.
- 4A Games' eponymous 4A Engine, used for the Metro series of FPS games (2010's 2033, 2013's Last Light, and 2019's Exodus).
- Ensemble Studios' Genie Engine, owned by Xbox Game Studios: Age of Empires I and Age of Empires II (further modified for their modern system updated rereleases long after Ensemble's folding); licensed for Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds.
- CD Projekt's REDengine, first used for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The latest version, REDengine 4, is used for Cyberpunk 2077.
- Guerrilla Games developed their proprietary game engine for Killzone Shadow Fall. The same engine powered their later breakout success, Horizon Zero Dawn. After licensing the engine for Kojima Productions to be used in Death Stranding, they had to chose a name for marketing purposes as their internal name "the engine" wouldn't cut it. They named it Decima after the island of Dejima which used to host a Dutch trading post in Japan (Guerrilla Games is based in Amsterdam). An updated version of the engine is going to power Guerrilla's upcoming Horizon Forbidden West.
- After using Sony's PhyreEngine for several years, Falcom decided that it has had enough with the engine's shortcomings and decided to write their own for the next game in the Trails Series, The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak.
- Turn 10 Studios' ForzaTech, used for their Forza Motorsport series and later adapted for open worlds in its sister series, Playground Games' Forza Horizon. Playground will also use the engine in the upcoming Fable reboot.
- Gray Matter's games all use variants on the same engine: Wayne's World, James Bond Jr., The Terminator, The Incredible Crash Dummies, Ren & Stimpy: Veediots! and B.O.B
- Mortar by Halfbrick Studios, originally created for PlayStation Portable ports of their Halfbrick Fridays games, and used for many of their later projects, including Fruit Ninja, Monster Dash note , Jetpack Joyride, Colossatron: Massive World Threat, Dan The Man and Battle Racing Stars.
- Head over Heels took the engine of the isometric Batman Licensed Game and adapted it to work with two player characters.
- Brøderbund had their own flexible engine which they use for a large number of their titles called the Mohawk Engine. The engine has been used for everything ranging from the Windows Myst port and point-and-click adventures like the Rugrats Adventure Game to the Living Books titles and even the Carmen Sandiego games. It is also fairly easy to tell if a title is using the engine- those titles will have the titular .MHK files scattered all over the CD.
- Bungie has the Blam Engine which was used for the mainstream Halo games up until Halo 2. The Blam Engine also saw use on Stubbs the Zombie by Wideload Games (founded by Bungie co-founder Alex Seropian), which they proudly advertised on the game's box as "Built with the Halo Engine". A upgraded version of the engine called the Midnight Engine was used from Halo 3 up until Halo 5, and a further upgraded version of the engine called the Tiger Engine was used for the Destiny series of games. A fork of the engine hybridized with the Saber3D engine was used for the anniversary edition of the first two Halo games.
- 343 Industries created a new engine, the Slipspace Engine, for use with future Halo games after releasing Halo 5. It was initially used in Halo Infinite.
- Konami used a modified version of Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear engine for Mission: Impossible (Konami).
Things That Are Commonly Called Engines But Aren't:
- The Havok "Engine". This is not an engine; it is a physics library.
- RenderWare, developed by Criterion Games and bought out by Electronic Arts (notable for making PlayStation 2 development a lot easier). This is not in the most technical sense an engine, because it does not provide a means for using it without modifying the source code. It is a codebase, a large code library that serves as a useful starting point for making games, but it has no inherent extensibility built into it besides writing code. Games made using this codebase include Burnout (Criterion's flagship series), Grand Theft Auto (III, Vice City and San Andreas), Sonic Heroes and SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom. It is no longer actively used; Criterion's last game to use RenderWare was Burnout Paradise (2008) and Burnout Paradise Remastered (2018), the latter's use making it the only RenderWare game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) was the last original EA title to use it, Persona 4 Golden for the PlayStation Vita was the last game to use the vanilla RenderWare, and Taiwanese game Chinese Paladin 5 Prequel (2013) was the last to use any version of RenderWare (it used a modified version).
- Cocos2d (along with its cross-platform offshoot, Cocos2d-X) (2008-present)): It is commonly used for making iOS Games, but like RenderWare above, it is not an engine in the above definition.
- Old Apple Macintosh users might remember the Sprite Animation Toolkit (SAT), which was a 2D animation code library, though not a complete game engine.
- SDL and SFML are commonly mistaken for game engines, but they are actually multimedia libraries which can be used to make engines.note
- XNA and its open source implementation MonoGame are not engines but frameworks for creating games and engines using .NET/Mono languages like C# and Visual Basic.