Have you already started your coding journey? Are you ready to make some games? Or, perhaps you’re interested in a game development career, and want ideas on where to start?
Whatever the case, some programming languages are better-suited to game development than others. Just bear in mind, if you have no coding experience at all, you may be better off starting with a novice-friendly language.
Let’s just say you’ve already learned how to program. What other languages should you be learning? What are some of the best programming languages for game development?
The Best Programming Languages in Game Design
Programming is a critical aspect of game development and design, however, it’s not the only step in creating a console, PC, or mobile game. Graphic and art design are also important, as are narrative design, character design, and much more.
A small team of game developers might consist of a coder or two, an artist, a writer, and someone to manage all of those roles. Big teams, at a AAA studio, might include hundreds of game programmers of all types.
There are also many smaller roles in between, too, like level designers who create the virtual worlds (levels) for a game. They also do some coding like adjusting variables, level parameters, creating player encounters, and much more.
The best programming languages for games are:
- C++ or C#
For desktop and console games, C++ is one of the best, followed by Lua.
For mobile and web games, there are a host of languages to choose from like Swift, Kotlin, HTML5, Java, and beyond.
The Best Programming Languages for AA/AAA Game Development
Many of the largest game development companies use C++ because it’s a high-level programming language that’s incredibly versatile. An alternative is C#, which is a blend of Java and C++, and compared to C++ it’s a more recent language. Unity relies heavily on C# and would be a familiar coding ground for experienced C developers.
Unreal Engine uses C++ but you can get by with intermediate knowledge, because it utilizes a visual scripting language called Blueprint, instead of C++ directly.
Lua is also a reliable choice for game development, and it’s used for games like Roblox, Crysis, and even the Dark Souls series. It’s highly compatible with other languages, including popular game engines like Corona, CryEngine, and Stingray.
You could argue there is no “best” language for game development as they are all good choices, and each one serves a different purpose. However, some languages are less than ideal, but in most cases, you can still use them to make games.
Is C++ or C# Better for Game Development?
Out of the two languages, C++ is the best to start with because after learning it, similar languages like C# are easier to pick up. That said, C++ is not necessarily a beginner-friendly language, but there are many tutorials and courses available that you can use to train or teach yourself.
Out of the two languages, there is no clear winner, but some developers prefer to use one over the other. C# has the benefit of Microsoft’s XNA framework, commonly used to develop older Windows and Xbox-compatible games. More recently, Xbox swapped to Unity for development, which still uses C#.
Commonly, C++ game development is used for the logic in a game or game world, while high-level scripting is used for other tasks. Some games made with C++ include the Assassin’s Creed series (Anvil Engine), The Witcher, Hunt: Showdown (CryEngine), the Doom series, Monster Hunter: World (MT Framework), Bioshock (Unreal Engine 2), and many more.
The Best Programming Languages for Mobile Game Development
The languages of mobile game development, web game development, and app development are all incredibly diverse. A lot of this has to do with the various platforms available like Android versus iOS.
For example, if you’re planning to make mobile apps or games for Apple’s iOS ecosystem, you should look into Swift. If you’re developing for Android, you might want to check out Java, Kotlin, or even Corona for its cross-platform support.
Before choosing a language, consider the project, and then what devices(s) or platforms you want your game to be compatible with. It will help you find which language or development environment is best, especially since there are so many mobile-compatible languages.
What Language is Best for App Development?
Again, the best language depends on where you want your mobile apps or games to be available.
How Is Programming Used in Video Games?
Programming, or code, is used to create nearly everything in a video game from the levels and environments to the engine — which handles in-game physics and NPC behaviors, among other things.
Code is essentially attached to everything. It’s used to translate player commands to actions in the virtual world. Sometimes, it’s used to create proprietary tools like map editors, character designers, and more. Other times, it’s used to facilitate interactions in multiplayer or vast open-world games.
Game programmers work together to create the virtual worlds we play in, alongside graphic artists, concept artists, writers, and a host of software engineers.
That tree that sways in the wind? Someone had to program everything about it including the model, its movements, and reactions.
If you pursue a career in game development you will more than likely end up choosing a specialty, instead of being a general programmer. Here are just some of the different types of game programmers:
- Artificial Intelligence Programmer
- Audio Programmer
- Game Engine Programmer
- Game Tools Programmer
- Gameplay Programmer
- General Programmer or Engineer
- Graphics Programmer
- Input Programmer
- Lead Game Programmer
- Network Programmer
- Porting Specialist
- Technology Programmer
- UI/UX Programmer
Do Game Programmers Make Good Money?
Generally, yes, game programmers make good money, but it depends on who they work for and what they do. A solo and indie game developer is going to make significantly less than someone working at a corporate position with a AAA game developer.
At a smaller studio, game developers make anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 per year. If the game is a big hit, they can make much more than that. At a big studio, like a AAA company, developers can make upwards of $70,000, and sometimes over $100,000 per year.
The game development world is very competitive, however.
Is Python a Good Language for Games?
Python is an excellent language for beginners, rapid prototyping, and general use. When you learn python online, you can create games with it, but there are performance limitations, so it’s not ideal for modern resource-intensive and 3D games.
Some examples of games that were created using Python, including EVE Online, Civilization IV, The Sims 4, and World of Tanks.
If you wish to enter the game development world, specifically, your best bet is to learn C# or C++ especially since they serve as a foundation for major platforms like Unity or Unreal.
What Is the Best Programming Language for 2D Games?
Some of the best languages to use when developing 2D games, like sidescrollers, include:
Of course, with 2D games, it’s also better to use the language you’re most comfortable and most familiar with. Unlike resource-intensive games, they tend to be simpler to build and it doesn’t matter which language you choose. The only requirement is that the language must support basic graphics capabilities.
The more complex the game, the more capable the language you’ll need, and C++ is always a safe bet.
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