Godot: the killer game engine you’ve never heard of (yet)

Andrew Wooldridge

Not too long ago I was looking at several game engines — like GameMaker Studio, RPG Maker, Construct 2, and more. Each engine had its own strengths and weaknesses. I had thought that I had found that perfect engine — one that would be easy to develop with, one that outputs to multiple platforms, and one that is supported by a large community of developers — so you can ask questions and expect some degree of assurance that someone would answer your question.

I had tried out the Godot engine back when it was 2.x and while it seemed kinda interesting, the UI was obscure, and it just didn’t seem like a good fit for me. I got a subscription to Construct 3, as well as a GameMaker Studio. There were lots of tutorials on Youtube for them, and I like that Construct 3 was based on JavaScript and other web technologies.

From https://godotengine.org/features

Then I started working on my own game engine. I call it IttyBittyRPG. It’s a simple tool to allow folks to create small RPG’s and stories. I’ve been inspired by the simple tools like the Bitsy game engine and Twine. My goal is to create something that will let you make simple games on your phone that you can share with friends and have fun in little worlds.

I had seen new tutorials about Godot 3.0. The UI was revamped, and the workflow seemed to have been updated. I wanted to check out another mature game engine and I downloaded it and tried it out. At first I was kinda confused, but I got a few tutorials on Udemy and I have to say I’m really impressed. I like how everything is hierarchical via Nodes, and that there is a dedicated 2D and 3D mode. Also, the fact that it is open source and extensible is also a big plus.

What really surprised me was that I learned that the UI that made up the IDE was itself in fact a Godot “game”. Yes, this supposed game-centric engine had enough widgets and layout capabilities to render its own IDE! I was amazed. I started looking into the documentation and read about how well organized and set up the engine was. The scripting language is a derivation of Python, and while I’m not a super fan, it’s growing on me and certainly capable of working with the internal game objects.

I also learned of another game making tool that had taken this capacity for rendering UI widgets in Godot and created a wholly new tool on top of Godot. This got me really excited. The game tool is called RPG in a Box and it is quite inspiring in its own right.

From https://www.rpginabox.com/

So, here I am, working on a simple game engine (Using HTML, CSS, and JS) that I want to make mobile first, and easy to use for anyone. I discover a relatively new game engine that allows anyone to create 2D and 3D games for Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, and even direct to web via webAssembly. It’s free, open source, and is extensible enough that anyone could write plugins or even new apps using it. You can even write scripts that control the IDE itself like macros.

Needless to say I’m super excited. And so should you be! I’m only at the barest beginnings of learning how this tool works. But I already know that it looks like Godot has a very bright future, and I want to continue to explore it’s features as a possible tool for me to build my own applications on top of, as well as make some cool games!

Check out a few showcase videos below:

And here’s a preview of the future:

So, you might be saying to yourself, “But … Unity.” or “I’ve got Unreal.” And you’d be right and fine with sticking with the two big giants. They have amazing communities, tons of assets, and an insane amount of developer support and games. If you are looking for the super best game engine out there, then no doubt you’ve already made your decisions. I’m not here to convince you to change your mind about your huge investment of … money … to those excellent tools.

What I am hoping to get across — as someone who’s only just scratched the surface of Godot — that there’s a lot of goodness here. And potentially in the future greatness. Look at how Blender has evolved:

All because of a passionate community of open source developers. Godot has that potential as well.

If you’ve read this far, then I’m hoping you are willing to go give Godot a try and see what I’ve seen: a simple, elegant game engine that is free, yet powerful and versatile.

As for me, I’m seriously considering abandoning my HTML, CSS, and JS plans for my tool (not that it’s not perfectly ok to build something with those technologies, but the UI is going to look like an amateur created it — because they did) and instead writing add-ons for Godot, and potentially a tool on top of the engine itself. I will continue to post here about my learnings and I hope you consider taking the trip with me!

If you would like to read more about Godot, take a look at my “Creating an RSS Reader in Godot” tutorial.

Andrew Wooldridge

Written by

Build web apps. Indie game and RPG fan. Dad and husband. Storyteller and game designer. I ♥ Javascript. eBay FrontEnd.

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