Game Development Guide: What Coding Languages to Learn and How to Get Started
Do you have an idea for a game and want to create it yourself? You do not know where to start ?
If you have programming experience, you probably know that there are more aspects to consider when developing games. Physics, animation, rendering – which usually does not show up when building, for example, an ecommerce platform.
And if you’re a newbie developer, well, there’s still a lot to learn about industry-specific game development. But on the bright side, you have a clear goal for learning to code. So let’s take a look at what you need to know to start making games.
What goes into game development: key components
Game development refers to the entire process of game creation. It involves more than just programming, but each of its components affects the code.
You can create a game individually or as a very small team, in which case it will be called an independent game. Or you can find your way into a large corporation. Whether alone or in a team, the following are essential for games:
- Story – a game can have a linear or non-linear structure. In the case of the latter, the plot of the game will change depending on the actions a player does.
- Characters – the entities that the players use to mimic the plot. The characters have physical appearance, abilities and personality.
- audio – all sounds in a game, including background music, character voiceovers and all sounds triggered by actions such as drawing a sword.
- Art – all visual elements such as texture, colors or the representation of natural phenomena.
- Lighting – another visual element that creates the mood with warm, cold, neutral, muted or bright tones.
- Levels – the gameplay element that can be achieved through different floors, buildings, countries or other places that pose varying or increasing difficulties.
How do you form a game from all of these components? You need a set of tools.
Choose software to get started in game development
Games involve a lot of audiovisual elements. But besides the graphics tools, you also need a game development environment to bring these elements to life. So here are the main software tools you need, along with a few examples:
- Game engine
- jMonkeyEngine – written in Java and used specifically for 3D development.
- Unity – a popular 2D and 3D multiplatform engine for creating mobile games.
- Phaser – a 2D framework for web games.
- Artistic program
- Adobe photoshop – one of the most popular graphics editing tools in the world.
- Pixelmator – a graphics editor for Mac.
- GIMP – a cross-platform and open source image editor for raster graphics.
- 3d modeler
- 4D cinema – a 3D suite for motion design and animation.
- ZBrush – a sculpting tool to create characters.
- Blender – an open source tool for 3D and visual effects.
- Audio tools
- Daring – an open source audio editor.
- FMOD – an engine for creating sound effects.
- Fabric – audio components in Unity.
What should you learn to get started in coding games?
Each game engine has a corresponding programming language. Let’s go over which ones are suitable for the engines we mentioned earlier.
Java for jMonkeyEngine
Java is a versatile object-oriented language that is commonly used to create 2D games. But when used with jMonkeyEngine, you can develop stunning 3D worlds.
- Easy to learn – Java is suitable for beginners and there are many courses to learn it. One of the best is CodeGym.cc platform that offers the possibility to create your own version of the classic game while learning (for example, Hungry Snake, 2048, Moon Lander, etc) and even share it with your friends.
- Suitable for cross-platform development – the code is executed on the Java Virtual Machine which ensures the interoperability of your games on different platforms.
- Android native – in fact, the operating system was written in Java, so you shouldn’t have any problems adapting games to mobile.
- Deep community support – you can easily find help from peers and more experienced game developers.
- Support for open source libraries – even though Java is commercial, you can find an abundance of open source resources.
- Strong demand for specialists – having mastered Java, finding a job will be easy.
- Java is quite verbose, which means some of your constructs may be difficult to read.
C ++ for unity
C ++ – an extension of the C language – is a general-purpose language that also supports the object-oriented paradigm. It is one of the most popular languages used with Unity.
- Fast program execution – thanks to the C ++ code more difficult to write than Java because of the complex syntax, its processing is done during compilation which allows to reduce the execution time.
- A good basis for learning other languages – if you are proficient in C ++, it will be much easier to study more languages.
- Portability – C ++ is platform independent, which means you can run the same application on different platforms.
- The language has a complex syntax so it is difficult to master it and write good code.
- C ++ does not offer a garbage collector because memory management is done on the user’s side. Thus, there is no automatic filtering of parasitic data.
- Web game development – it is used to create a gaming experience in the browser.
- Lightweight – JS is generally less resource intensive for game development.
- If you want to make a 3D game, you will need an engine that offers such graphics.
Creation of a game prototype
Whatever career path you choose, the best practice is always your own little project that will help you develop your skills. It is also a nice addition to your wallet.
Game development begins with building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – the basic mechanics of the future game.
Once you get your characters moving (spin, jump, etc.) without a hitch, the art and sounds can be layered. You can create these resources yourself or find suitable ready-made ones at sites like itch.io or OpenGameArt.
And once your game looks like a real one, it’s time to set up a game loop – the things that make you want to keep playing, like winning, losing, and starting all over again.
Coders from different industries and with different levels of experience may experience this. If you do, here are some options for finding a way out:
- Ask the community for help on sites like GitHub, Stack overflow, and Reddit.
- Try to look at the problem from another angle or find a way around the problem.
Game development can be a difficult, but very rewarding experience. Think about the game you can play at the end of your project. If it’s not motivating, then what is it?
So pick a language and a motor, and start coding. You’ll be able to layer artwork, sounds, and other features as you go.