I would like to start a thread on game engines that support Pixel Art graphics, hoping that it will grow in time by users’ contributing links and to the discussion — where «game engine» can be interpreted in a non strict manner, including well known middleware and graphics/game libraries, as well as game-oriented programming languages and IDEs.
Pixel-Art is definitely a determining factor in the choice of a game engine, beacuse some 2D engines can’t handle pixel art well — it needs to support pixel perfect graphics, without apllying filters that might distort the pixels, and it should handle well pixel ratios at different screen resolutions, and possibly do a good job in scaling up images.
Some engines might offer Pixel Art support out of the box, while others might need some configuration tweaks or dedicated scripts. I’d like users to share in this thread their experience with various engines, highlighting the pros and cons of each, and maybe some guidelines and/or links on how to setup the engine for Pixel Art projects.
It might be worth also listing 2D Engines that don’t support Pixe Art, and explain why — this could spare us embarking in dead-end attempts to use a given engine. The last time I looked into it, I had found it a time-consuming task to work out which engines are good to work with Pixel Art (isometric or otherwise) and which aren’t up to the task.
Here is a table for quick reference of various reknown game engines, further down a more detailed review of some of them.
|egnine||pixel-art||develop games in||has IDE||license|
|AGS||yes||via GUI and scripts||yes||Artistic License 2.0|
|Construct||yes||JS / via GUI menus||yes||commercial|
|Game Maker||yes||via GUI / GML||yes||commercial|
|Godot||yes||GDScript / C# / C++||yes||MIT|
|PGE||100%||via GUI menus||yes||GPLv3|
Engines That Support Pixel Art
The following game engines are known to support creation of 2D games with Pixel Art, either out of the box or by tweaking settings.
AGS (Adventure Game Studio)
AGS is a cross platform open source game engine and IDE for developing click-and-point graphic adventures, supporting Pixel Art. Initially developed in 1997, AGS is actively maintained and updated.
Anura is the game engine used for creating the videogame Frogatto & Friends and it’s’ Pixel Art oriented right out of the box. It’s cross platform, open source and free for commercial and non-commercial use.
Construct, Construct 2 and 3 support pixel art videogames creation via settings.
A cross-platform and open source 2D game engine programmable in AngelScript that comes with a full IDE. Compiled games can run Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. Although development seems to have stopped in 2017, the engine is stable and usable in production.
Ethanon is designed with 2D graphics and lights effects in mind: it supports pixel shaders, static and dynamic lights, shadows, normal mapping, height and specular maps, and particles — and it works well with pixel art, especially if you are looking for special light and fire effects.
Game Maker is a family of commercial game engines by YoYo Games.
Game Maker supports Pixel Art.
Godot is a free open source and cross platform game engine supporting both 2D and 3D graphics. It natively supports Pixel Art via custom settings, as well as isometric games. Godot ships with a full IDE.
Third party extensions are freely available to further help in developing isometric games — see the godot-isometric-framework.
LÖVE is a free open source and cross platform 2D game engine. Pixel Art support is achived by disabling anti-aliasing and setting scaling filters to “nearest neighbour”. Various Pixel Art video games have been creted with LÖVE engine.
LÖVE doesn’t have an IDE, and games must be programmed in Lua language. Many third party libraries, frameworks and resource are freely available.
PGE (Platform Game Engine) if a free and open source engine and IDE for creating Super Mario Bros. style platform games without programming, via the PGE Editor’s menus. The PGE engine is 100% pixel art oriented.