In recent years, the utilisation of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) has gained significant popularity within the gaming industry. The primary driving force behind this trend is the ability for game developers to easily access a diverse selection of existing code and tools, resulting in substantial time and resource savings compared to building everything from the ground up.
Furthermore, the existence of numerous Open-Source libraries and tools that are created and maintained by skilled developers can lead to the creation of high-quality products.
As the gaming industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it’s vital that developers find efficient ways to meet market demand. Can FOSS provide a solution?
The Gaming Industry in 2023
Gaming is now widely considered to be one of the most dominant big tech industries. In 2022, gaming generated over $184 billion in revenues, indicating just how lucrative this once-niche hobby has become. The video games of the 1990s have been replaced by digital gaming experiences and platforms, from Valve’s Steam gaming marketplace to Ignition Casino’s bitcoin poker platform at https://www.ignitioncasino.eu/crypto/bitcoin-poker.
Today, the industry is comprised of several different games markets, including:
- PC Games – played on PCs and laptops, these games generally feature a higher capacity in video and audio output processing.
- Console Games – interactive multimedia experiences controlled with handheld devices connected to the console system.
- Mobile Games – games played on smartphones and tablets that range in quality from simple hypercasual puzzles to premium gaming apps.
How FOSS Democratises Game Development
Traditionally, the process of developing video games was limited to two options: either creating all the graphics and programming nearly every component of the game from the beginning or being employed by a well-established studio that had the resources to recruit a team to manage various aspects. For inexperienced individuals or enthusiasts, getting a foothold in game development was often an arduous process.
Nowadays, game engines, point-and-click game-making tools, as well as graphics and sound asset packs, have made game development accessible to almost anyone. With these tools, individuals can create their own games, and platforms such as Itch and Steam provide indie developers with a marketplace in which to publish their work. Furthermore, the prevalence of free and open source software has begun to significantly reshape the game development industry.
The democratisation of game development is currently being accelerated by a wide range of free and open source tools. The likes of Godot, Starling, Twine, GBStudio and Bitsy are all available under open-source licenses, making it easier for both novice and seasoned developers to create games efficiently.
FOSS software has even given rise to information gaming jams, such as Ludum’s Dare and GitHub’s Game Off, which promote collaboration among developers and encourage the use of open source development practices.
Reasons why FOSS is so Impactful
Ease of use is clearly the biggest driver in the increase of indie game development, but that’s not the only reason why FOSS is so impactful on the gaming industry.
Game designers are drawn to open-source tools for similar reasons to other developers who use open source libraries and frameworks.
These reasons include the ability to customise the underlying code, the potential for communities to sustain the tools even if the original developers or companies stop maintaining them, and the capacity to attract skilled individuals who are already familiar with a specific platform.
Fundamentally, the use of FOSS in the gaming industry allows for increased collaboration and community involvement. Thriving communities of developers, designers, engineers and other skilled individuals revolve around several FOSS projects. Tapping into such networks can be particularly advantageous for independent developers or small development teams who may have limited access to resources or lack expertise in certain areas.
The Best FOSS Technologies for Game Development
Godot Engine is a robust cross-platform game development tool that offers seamless 2D and 3D game development from a unified interface.
It supports a range of platforms, including Linux, Windows, BSD and OS X, enabling developers to build games for PC, console and even mobile devices. Godot Engine includes a range of functions and features that provide developers with a wealth of options, plus it reduces the need for third-party tools.
Cocos2d-x is a popular open source development tool that provides a comprehensive package for game development. This cross-platform software is written in C++ and is compatible with Linux, Windows and OS X, as well as being deployable across the Android and iOS platforms. A number of open source games have been built on Cocos2D-x, including Badland, Hardest Game Ever 2 and DQMSL.
Starling is a free and open source cross-platform game engine that is well-known for being simple to use. Developed by Gamua (the company behind gaming platforms like Flox and Sparrow), the software offers a 2D game development framework that can support both desktop and mobile platforms.