No-code or codeless systems are becoming more and more common among game engines and they offer a few benefits. Using a visual programming language enables non-programmers to interact with the code in a more tactile way, while the code itself tends to be a bit more self documenting then most scripting or programming languages. Make no mistake, you are still programming, you just aren’t typing in lines of code in a text editor, instead you script logic by defining events and properties or by connecting nodes together in a graph.
In this article we are going to look at the majority of codeless options among modern game engines, both 2D and 3D.
3D Game Engines
Built on top of the Blender open source 3D application, this game engine has a node based option for game development, in addition to a Haxe based API. Learn more here.
BuildBox is a commercial game engine sold on a subscription basis that uses an entirely visual based node programming system. Aimed at making games without requiring any programming knowledge.
CryEngine is a AAA calibre game engine with a visual programming language named Schematyc. It is designed to enable programmers to expose portions of their game logic to designers. Writing a full game in Schematyc is not really the purpose.
The Godot game engine has a Visual Scripting Language, with much of the same functionality of GDScript. You can mix and match between the two scripting styles in the same game. Honestly though, it’s not really that useful yet.
Unity doesn’t actually support Visual Scripting, although a Visual Scripting language is in the works for a 2019 release. In the meanwhile there are several addons adding a Visual programming language such as Bolt.
Unreal has perhaps the most robust visual programming language in the form of Blueprint, that can be used for everything C++ can, beyond changing the engine code itself. It is also perhaps the most complicated visual programming language on this list.
2D Game Engines
|Clickteam Fusion 2.5|
Perhaps most famous for making the 5 Nights series of games, this game engine use a tree/spreadsheet hybrid approach.
Construct 3 is a commercial, subscription based game engine that runs entirely in the browser. Uses an event sheet programming model very similar to GDevelop and ClickTeam Fusion.
Stencyl is a game engine using a lego style brick approach to programming. There is a free version available and the visual programming language ultimately generates Haxe code, which you can also code with.
Scratch is an MIT project aimed at teach programming concepts to kids. It, like Stencyl, uses a lego brick style programming interface.
GDevelop is a free and open source game engine that uses a programming model based on behaviors and events.
|GameMaker Studio 2|
YoYoGame’s GMS2 has been around for decades and is a complete game editing environment with two programming options. A visual drag and drop programming system, and their own GM scripting language.
GameSalad is focused at students and non-programmers and is programmed using a behavior based logic system. I have virtually no experience with this game engine.
|Pixel Game Maker MV|
Pixel GameMaker MV is a complete commercial game making package from the same publisher as RPGMaker. It uses a visual programming system and property based programming model. It’s also pretty awful, IMHO.