What is a game and what is a game engine? sounds like another egg and chicken dilemma ,but a close look at the two resolves it.Video games are soft real time simulations of multiple agents interacting in an environment with presets rules,soft because if these rules aren’t followed it doesn’t cause direct physical harm to the user in this case the player,when your game crashes because of a memory leak,the only pain you will feel is the frustration of an unsaved game file,but if the same was to happen in an helicopter avionic system it could have been tragic.
the unreal ed, unreal’s engine level editor/resource manager.
now that’s resolved ,so whats a game engine? a common misconception is picturing game engines that spew out games in the same way a word-processors grinds outs text documents,game engines aren’t software for making games but a library foundation that has the basic skeleton framework that developers can build on top different games,this practice started when games started becoming too big for lone developers and took years, instead of reinventing the wheel and rewriting everything from scratch for every new game the studio made ,the started reusing the core systems that usually take a lot of time and resources. Subsystems like physic simulations and rendering can be reused with almost no modification for different games instead of rewriting it over and over.
So if game engines are just software templates,why do engines like Unity and Unreal have some kind of easy to use drag and drop and visual scripting systems? these are actually separate tools known as level editors and these usually ship with the engine, levels can be developed in code,but it will be tedious,prone to errors and require constant recompilation just to see the results,so instead the engine uses an algorithm to read in levels in run-time,these levels could be defined in simple formats like XML ,that can be edited by a custom tool(the level editor in this case)so that the designer only sees it visually instead in text.some highly advanced engines like unreal actually run the level editor on-top of the game so that the designers can see how the game will look like exactly in-game,the editor in most cases doesn’t ship with the final game though some games do so that players can edit their own map,a popular example is the age of empires series.
i hope this resolve the egg and chicken dilemma in this context.