Game development is more accessible than ever. Many tools are free, and an explosion of online tutorials make game creation something anyone can do.
Unity and Unreal Engine are the big names in game development. They are both free to use, but they are not the end of the story. Godot is a free, open-source game development platform. Here are ten reasons Godot might be perfect for your next game
1. Godot Is Good for Programmers
Almost all game development environments rely on some programming knowledge, but some are more suited to those coming from a programming background. Godot is a perfect example of a tool built for programmers.
The Godot API exposes almost every element of the engine, and it’s rare to find features which are not directly accessible by code. Godot receives praise for its fantastic documentation and ease of use from a coding perspective.
2. Godot Has a Dedicated Language
The Godot engine comes with a programming language called GDScript. To some, this is an immediate turnoff. Frequently, in-house languages are either unnecessary or poorly thought-out.
GDScript came as a result of in-house testing by the Godot team. Rather than creating a new language for the sake of it, GDScript came through iterating through other languages such as Python and Lua. None of these languages work quite how they want, so the team created GDScript to be as readable as Python, yet retaining essential elements for development like strict typing, better editor integration, and more straightforward optimizations for speed.
Many developers who start with Godot find themselves pleasantly surprised by how quick the language is to pick up. However, if learning a new language isn’t on your list, there is an alternative.
3. Godot Supports Multiple Languages
Choosing a game development environment frequently means choosing a programming language. No matter how comfortable you are in your preferred language, if the development tools you require are not supported, then you are left with little choice.
Godot currently directly supports C++, C#, and GDScript. They are also working on VisualScript, a code-free node based programming system similar to Unreal Engine’s Blueprint system.
4. Godot Supports Language Binding
If the officially-supported languages still don’t fit, you still have options. The GDNative API allows other languages to be bound directly to the Godot engine. This provides access to the Godot API in a language of your choice.
Currently, there are experimental bindings for Go, R, Nim, Rust, and Ruby. Given Godot’s reputation among programmers and the demand for more languages to be added, you can expect this list to grow fast!
5. The Node System
Most game engines employ scenes, usually to represent a level in a game. Objects exist within this scene. In Unity these are GameObjects, in Unreal Engine they are Actors.
In Godot, a scene is a collection of nodes. Each node is a single object, and each node can inherit from any other. A group of nodes is called a scene. Scenes can also inherit from each other, so long as they have a common root node.
Godot’s node system provides a different approach to working with objects, which can take some time to understand (and is beyond the scope of this article to explain in detail here). Those who master it, value it as an intuitive and extendible design tool.
6. Godot Supports 2D and 3D Game Development
Godot supports the creation of both 2D and 3D games. Indie developers making 2D games love the work-flow Godot provides. Rather than pseudo 2D (a 3D world represented in two dimensions), Godot works in an actual 2D space expressed in pixels. This hugely simplifies 2D game creation and optimization.
3D support is newer and still lags behind Unreal Engine and Unity. Nevertheless, unless you are building a AAA game with top of the line graphics you are not going to run into any limitations using Godot.
Godot has specialized nodes for both 2D and 3D, with some designed to work in both, and support for 2.5D is coming soon.
7. Godot Is Open Source
Godot is open source software. The editor and all tools attached to it fall under the MIT license. Godot is free of charge, and you own everything created with it.
The open source nature of the Godot project also makes it highly extendable. If you are a programmer working with the platform and find something that isn’t implemented or doesn’t work the way you like, you can change it!
Godot is full of community developed tools, and many users add unique elements to the engine as part of the development of their games.
8. Godot Has Its Own IDE
Godot has a built-in IDE. While it might not come with some of the cooler functions of other IDEs like VSCode’s Live Share feature, it is ideal for use with Godot.
Of course, you are not bound to using the in-engine IDE and can use your favorite IDE or text editor for programming in Godot.
9. Godot Is Lightweight
The standard Godot executable is just over 60MB and does not require installation. Just download, unzip, and go. Alongside its tiny file size, the engine itself is comfortable on lower-powered systems.
One mind-bending but awesome fact is that the Godot engine is a Godot game. This means that any in-engine performance reflects the performance of finished projects made with it.
10. Godot Is Cross Platform
Godot is truly cross-platform, with developers on Mac, Windows, and Linux. Many alternative tools are designed with one operating system (OS) in mind and suffer problems when ported to others.
While it is unknown if Godot is cross-platform by design, users on every platform report a similar experience, and all Godot games build for multiple environments. Godot also has a server build, specifically for hosting multiplayer games.
There is even a Raspberry Pi version in the works, which needless to say excites us!
What Is Godot Not Good For?
So far you’ve seen a lot of good reasons to use Godot, but who isn’t it for? Well, Godot isn’t going to be producing the next AAA blockbuster, but then again that is not who the engine targets.
Perhaps more critical to Indie developers is the fact that at present there is no direct way to produce Godot games for consoles. This lies in the fact that the tools to publish to consoles are closed source and fly in the face of Godot’s commitment to open source.
That said, there are third-party tools in development to allow publishing onto consoles, and given Godot’s growing use it seems likely console possibilities will continue to grow.
Freedom to Create Games With Godot
Godot is free and open source, and to some people this is key. An open-source game development tool is a perfect pairing for those who care about open source games and software in general.
Godot is a wonderful option, but it might not be for you. Luckily there are many options out there for those wanting to create their own games!
And if you’d like to delve into other types of app development, here’s how to create your own self-hosted read-it-later app.