(Note: the general consensus on Defold and 3D is not exactly as I propose in this thread’s initial post. Please read through the comments as well if you are using this thread as a means to decide to use Defold for a 3D game.)
I recently received the official Nerd badge and figured now would be a reasonable time to bring up my thoughts on Defold and 3D support:
It is often stated that Defold is not meant to compete with other engines which focus more heavily on building 3D games. However, in the past year or so from my perspective, it seems as though the amount of questions and effort being put into building 3D games with Defold has increased drastically. I say this based on the activity I see on the forums, in Discord, and in the occasional engine new release threads.
To get to the point, it feels like there is a little too much effort going into implementing 3D support that could be much better spent working on the 2D side of things. It is honestly a little bit sad to see creators trying to build their 3D visions in Defold. They probably have never used an engine that is better suited for that, so they just decide to stick with Defold since learning a new technology can be annoying for a while.
Take Unreal for example. This engine is actually unreal. It is absolutely incredible to see just how much they manage to provide out of the box for their users. Advanced lighting, reliable netplay for multiplayer that takes less than a minute to get working, and who knows how many assets available for free in their Community Marketplace which serve a seemingly infinite amount of possibilities. Heck, even one of their many project templates–those little projects you can select on the launch screen–basically gives you a fully functional 3D first-person shooter with animations, dynamic lighting, and multiplayer already baked in. To achieve even these effortless results in Defold, it would probably take you… well, who knows? It really goes to show just how much time is wasted trying to develop for 3D in Defold.
On the flip side, Defold is one of the greatest engines out there if you’re looking to build a 2D game with low overhead and bloat. It’s really a diamond in the rough. You can quickly get a game going simply due to how intuitive the engine and editor are to work with. You don’t have to worry about managing features or components in your game that you don’t even want to use, thanks for Defold’s bare bones philosophy. If you decide to go for other engines for a simple 2D game, you’re going to have to deal with all kinds of complicated setup procedures and work around the inherent 3D support features. I remember this being a particularly annoying problem in Unity way back when, although I heard recently that 2D support has been improving over there.
Anyway, I guess I have two main points here.
Focusing the vast majority of resources on developing Defold for only 2D games really seems like the better option here, for both competition with other engines and giving developers a top notch engine to build their ideas.
Perhaps it is better to refrain from encouraging users to use Defold for their 3D game ideas. When someone comes to the forums and asks if their idea is possible in Defold, and it involves a lot of 3D, it’s probably better to say something like “Defold primarily supports 2D games rather than 3D, so it’s unlikely you will be able to see the project through unless you’re looking to reinvent the wheel,” rather than “Sure! Defold’s 3D support has been improving a lot recently and it would be exciting to see more 3D games made with it.” The latter feels scummy and you’re intentionally leading them down a path of headaches and missing features.
The goal of this thread is to spark conversation and interesting ideas, not to express contempt with the Defold Team! Defold, its community, and its development Team are awesome and I believe the community and frequent interactions play a major role in its success.