Both game engines and integrated development environments (IDEs) play crucial roles in game development, but they serve different functions.
A game engine is a software that provides game creators with the necessary set of features to develop games quickly and efficiently. It typically includes a rendering engine for 2D or 3D graphics, a physics engine, sound capabilities, scripting, animation, artificial intelligence, networking and much more. Some popular examples are Unity, Unreal Engine, and Godot.
On the other hand, an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is a software application that facilitates application development. IDEs typically provide a source code editor, build automation tools, and a debugger. They may also offer more sophisticated functionalities like intelligent code completion. Examples of IDEs include Visual Studio, Eclipse, and IntelliJ IDEA.
In the context of game development, you would use an IDE to write the code that tells your game what to do – how to react when a player presses a certain button, for instance. The game engine, meanwhile, would be where you actually create the visual aspect of your game – designing levels, creating characters, setting up physics, etc.
Here's a simple analogy: if creating a game was like making a movie, the game engine would be the camera, lighting, and sets, while the IDE would be the scriptwriting software.
This code, written in an IDE, defines a player character for a game, specifying how they take damage and what happens when their health reaches zero. But to create the visual representation of the player character, animate them, give them sound effects, and so on – that's where you'd need a game engine.