A few weeks ago, I wrote up a piece about GDevelop, a game engine which I quite like (you can read it here: Gdevelop 5: There’s a New (Yet Familiar) Game Engine In Town). I sent it over to the devs, who were happy with it and we struck up a conversation. It turns out, they have big plans for the little game engine that could. So without further ado, here’s an interview with the GDevelop development team!
Who are you… and… why on Earth did you decide to make a game engine?
Hello, I’m Florian! When I was a child and when growing up, I’ve always been fond of video games and wanted to make mine. Turns out it’s a fairly complex process, involving learning how to code, how to build levels, create great assets, sounds, visual effects, and it’s hard to master everything even for a fairly simple game.
Even after learning how to code and becoming a software engineer myself, I’ve always been frustrated at the amount of knowledge, time and work needed to transform an idea into a game – I wanted to help open game creation to more people. Tons of people have great ideas, and if you combine them and a tool that can help them to express this creativity, you can get awesome results 🙂
So I decided to make a game engine, but one which is radically more approachable and faster to use than what existed at the time. In a sense, it’s not so much about making a game engine as making a tool and a community that lowers the entry barrier to game development.
Can you talk a bit about the roadblocks you’ve faced since GDevelop started?
One of the main roadblock is that we’ve never done any kind of marketing for GDevelop, so it’s still relatively not well-known compared to commercial game engines. But the word of mouth in the game development community is spreading! As GDevelop is gaining more and more features, we’re also covering more use cases – making the game engine appealing to a broader audience. This also helps building a strong community that was lacking at the beginning – but which is now there and building more awesome stuff every day!
Some people could dismiss a game engine like GDevelop for not being advanced enough, or being too simple, being just a toy, or not having all the features of other game engines. That’s fine! Our goal and audience are slightly different. We’re pushing simple concepts that are easy to grasp and can still be used to build advanced stuff. Being open-source allows the community to help us push the game engine forward.
How would you describe GDevelop to someone who’s never heard of it?
I would describe it using these comparisons:
- When you want to write a book, you can use a pen and paper, or open your computer with Google Doc, Word or anything other text writing software.
- If you want to edit a video for publishing it to YouTube or Facebook, you’ll be downloading or launching a video editor.
- If you want to build an online shop, you may reach out to Shopify.
- If you want to build a website, Webflow is a good way to build one.
- If you want to get started into game creation, be it a game for a mobile phone or something you want to publish on the web or in a store for desktop computers, then you can start with GDevelop. And while it’s great to get started, it’s not just educational software, it’s actually a full-fledged game engine that can be used by professionals.
Why should people choose GDevelop over alternatives like Unreal, Unity, Game Maker and Construct?
I guess the first reason is the approachability of the game engine: it’s meant to be accessible to anyone, even people without deep coding knowledge, and this “no code” (or “low code”) aspect is what users really like about GDevelop. Most, if not all, major game engines are long to download, long to start, long to learn. With GDevelop, we try to make all aspects of game development as fast as possible, with a smooth learning curve. We’ve seen it used by teachers to teach game creation and programming, and we’ve seen it used by professional developers or brands because it’s faster and more lightweight than other alternatives.
An interesting aspect is that our “no-code” approach is, we think, actually efficient and accessible. It’s based on conditions and actions that are easy to author, easy to read, and efficient: there is no need to “drag’n’drop” stuff around, it’s as concise, if not more, than traditional code and it’s compiled down to traditional code so you don’t lose performance.
Even better, you can extend the engine and your game with new actions, new conditions and new behaviors for your game objects by creating extensions directly in the editor using these same conditions and actions that you use for your game.
We truly believe this approach is powerful and everyone can grab it very quickly and not be limited, compared to other “drag and drop” no-code solutions where you have to go back to code sooner or later.
GDevelop is also open-source and it’s a strong argument for game developers who want to be sure they can contribute back to the engine and don’t rely too much on proprietary software.
Tons of features have been made by contributors, and this is how the game engine evolves and stays relevant.
You’ve read my article, so you know some of the niggles I have with GDevelop currently, including the lack of an Asset Store. Could you please shed some light on the roadmap ahead, and what users can look forward to from the GDevelop team?
We want to foster the community and the whole ecosystem around GDevelop. For a long time GDevelop has just been a tool – giving satisfaction when it comes to building games, but with not enough support, tutorials or resources to help during the whole game creation journey.
We’ll be changing that, so you can go from zero to a published game as quickly as possible and with as much help from other community members and fellow game developers as possible. A good example is the asset library we’ve introduced – it’s fairly basic, but it’s just a first step toward a more integrated experience. We’ll be building features easing collaboration and sharing of game content. As you said in the other article, we need a stronger infrastructure around the core app/game engine to better support game developers.
As a game developer, I know there are a couple of porting houses already using middleware to port HTML5 engines like Construct to consoles. What do you think it would take for a GDevelop game to make it to, say, the Nintendo Switch?
We’ve seen various successful games made with GDevelop, and we encourage successful game creators to work with publishers to see if they can unlock resources or funds to work on console ports!
How can people contribute to making GDevelop even better than it already is? You know, bridging the gap even more to the commercial alternatives.
There is room for everyone to contribute! If you’re a game developer, you’ll be surely interested in contributing to the engine itself or one of the many extensions. Even if you’re not a coder, we have a library of extensions built on the same visual actions/conditions that are used to build games in GDevelop – you can browse them from the app and submit new ones on our GitHub.
If you’re an artist, the asset library is for now composed of public domain assets – you are free to submit your own assets or contact us if you want to push paid assets at some point! If you’re liking the game engine and like to teach, we’re searching for people to build more learning content, videos, tutorials about GDevelop! This is key to enable more people to quickly get started with GDevelop.
Anything I might have forgotten? Parting words? Where can people find out more about GDevelop?
Go to gdevelop-app.com to try the game engine (you can try it in your browser in a few seconds!). Be sure to check our Discord and community forums – that’s where the community is! You can also follow GDevelop on most social medias: Twitter, FB, Instagram, Reddit.
We’ve seen an impressive increase in adoption of GDevelop these past years and months, and we really think that our open-source and no-code approach can help democratise game creation and create a community building incredible games every day.