Tuesday, 9 October 2018

How To Develop Games On Linux

Anyone who's been following my YouTube channel for a little while might realize that I do all of my game development work stuff on my computer which runs Debian Linux rather than Windows.

I thought I'd just outline some of the tools that I use when working on Linux, so here we go.

The biggest component of my gamedev toolkit is probably the Godot Engine. It really nicely handles everything I want to do for 2D games, though I haven't really ventured out into 3D as of yet. If you don't wanna use this engine then you can also use an experimental build of Unity which apparently supports Linux, which is awesome. However in my experience from a couple of years ago, this build of Unity is filled with bugs and from what I've heard isn't MUCH better even today.

However, at least as a transitional step between Windows and Linux, Unity is still there. And it sorta works.

Another engine that works WAY better on Linux is Unreal, since Unreal is able to built on pretty much any machine via way of keeping its source code available(although unavailable for any edits, so I don't think it's technically open source).

I've opened Unreal and while it's a pretty heavy program compared to Godot or even Unity it seems to work perfectly! No bugs, no glitches and no unexpected crashes.

Now unfortunately if you're a big fan of something like GameMaker then this is gonna hurt. No matter how much I try I just cannot get GameMaker to work on Linux- even using WINE which is a compatibility layer specifically designed to make Windows programs work on Linux. I mean your best bet is to get GameMaker running in a virtual machine, but... you know. That's not a great setup.

So in short, I use the Godot Engine for the bulk of my gamedev stuff. There are, however, a few more tools that I use, so I'll just name them off real quick.

Aseprite is great for pixel art, and chances are if you're running Windows you'd be using this one too. I do find that it opens a little faster and runs a little smoother on Linux, but that might just be my own subjective experience, so I won't pass that off as a fact.

Anyway, if you can't or don't want to use Aseprite you can use online editors like Piskel or Pixie- both of which seem pretty good to me. I started off using Piskel, though unfortunately it became a little bit unwieldy for bigger projects- hence why I switched to Aseprite.

However, what if you don't wanna do pixel art? Well, you have some options here. You can either run Photoshop in WINE where I'm told it runs very nicely and efficiently, or you can choose from a few Linux alternatives. The leading one I'd recommend is actually Krita if you're coming from Photoshop because Krita is easy to use, pretty quick, it has a slick and intuitive UI and it's just a really nice program to use in terms of workflow and everything. I generally recommend Krita to anyone who wants a nice digital art program.

The other obvious answer that I have to mention on penalty of Richard Stallman strangling me in my sleep is GIMP- GNU Image Manipulation Tool. It's pretty good and I do use GIMP sometimes if I want to generate a graphic or edit a picture in some way because it's really useful for certain tasks. I'm not sure I'd recommend it as a general digital art tool when being compared with Krita, but it's really powerful at what it does do.

So now let's move onto an area I know a little less about- music. If you want music, I'd probably recommend you something like BeepBox because it's easy, web-based and you can basically just click randomly with your eyes shut and get something that isn't *that* bad. However, if you want a little bit more than a simple chiptune generator can give you, you can move onto something like the much less popular Bosca Ceoil.

Bosca Ceoil is very similar to BeepBox and I'm sure it was based off of it in some way but it allows a much wider variety in instruments, BPMs, etc. It's basically BeepBox+, though in its complexity it does lose out on some of the simplicity that makes BeepBox so easy to create with.

If you're a real music boy then you can go ahead and run a DAW of your choice. Chances are if it isn't natively Linux compatible(which many of them aren't), you'll be able to run it perfectly fine on WINE. I've never had any problems with any of my terrible attempts at using FL Studio.

So anyway, if you want some sound effects synthesis then you can use Audacity which again- if you're on Windows you probably would be using this all the time anyway. Download some samples from freesound.org or your website of choice, edit them to your needs and you're good to go! However, if you're making a chiptune game and you want something a little bit more specialized to help, I can recommend you the tried-and-true sfxr. If you want something a little bit more easy to use or refined lookin, you can go for ChipTone.

Usually for things like Ludum Dare or any game wherein I need a chiptune thing, I'd use ChipTone since I really prefer the intuitive visuals and UI. However, I can understand why somebody would use sfxr for more fine control over the sound. They're different tools, but for a beginner I'd recommend ChipTone.

Lastly, let's get onto some code editors because I realize that even if you're using a proper engine like Godot or Unity or Unreal, you might still want a third party tool to edit code with. My first suggestion is always Sublime Text 3 and again- many Windows people will have heard of this too. VSCode works on Linux, as does Atom but I'd always recommend Sublime Text 3. It runs so damn smoothly, it's so damn nice and I've been just looking for excuses to use it I get so much pleasure out of it.

But I guess failing Sublime, Atom would do just fine too.

So yeah, I think that's pretty much everything. I'll rattle off a few more useful programs- kdenlive is really useful and it's what I used for editing this video, OBS is always the king of video recording software, and LMMS is a Linux native DAW that is surely useful in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.

So thanks for watching, and stay tuned for more videos about Linux and me usin Linux to do Linuxy things in the Year of the Linux Desktop. Goodbye!

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