Defold Popularity - Discussion

Thank you for the feedback @ahmedmaawy, much appreciated!

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When I tried moving from GMS to Godot, it was really tough trying to wrap my head around the differences, understanding the scenes system, and finding workarounds for things that were really simple in GML. It was very hard to find applicable solutions to issues on google, and many of the functions were deprecated since the answers were posted. The current 3.X Godot documentation really wasn’t any help at all either. Although there are benefits for things like physics, and other built-in tools, it always felt like I was fighting against the engine, instead of engineering my own solutions to problems.
Now I’m using Defold with much success, where things are usually working how I expect them to. I like the documentation a lot more than Godot’s, but it’s tougher to find YouTube videos and tutorials. I know this will change as the community grows, and I really appreciate that I can look at solutions from 5 years ago and have them still function properly, instead of necessary functions being removed from the engine between releases. There are some things that don’t make sense to me yet, but I’m certain it’s more of an issue with my inexperience, rather than an issue with the engine lacking features to be implemented. And for some of that stuff, the community has made helpful addon libraries, which I’m excited to try out.

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For what it’s worth, i just began to learn Defold a few days ago, maybe practiced for 10 hours or so. I am 44, a simple worker in a chemical plant, with no background in the IT thing.
I’ve been learning game programming for 1 year now, started with Löve2D, and practiced a bit of C and GLSL. I quickly understood that i had not enough time to dedicate to my hobby, and despite the fact that i literally loved to play with Löve2D, LuaJIT and its FFI, i just couldn’t afford to build my own engine if i wanted to make more than little prototypes.
So i started to look at the big boys, did lots of testings, and… meh… Unity, Unreal and GameMaker were not for me.
I felt too overwhelmed by the way they forced me to do things their way.
I like the coding part of game dev, and i felt like i was fighting against these engines, and that they were not really helping me to make things faster than before.
And lastly, they are really heavy runners, and my poor laptop heated my entire home.
Then i gave the not so big boys a try, and after weeks of wandering, i decided to stick either with Defold or Godot.
You guessed it, for now, my favorite is Defold, but i’m going to make a little prototype with both Defold and Godot to settle my choice.
Ok, that was for the context, because i think context must be known.

Now my personal feedback on my experience as a ( very ) beginner with Defold.
At first, i felt lost in the learning and references ressources. I do not mean it is bad, not at all, it is excellent in fact, but kind of scattered. I did not felt at home as fast as i did with the Löve2d documentation, and i was really a true beginner when i started with Löve. I think the content of Defold documentation is really great, and that’s really a matter of finding the adequate ratio of compactness / quantity of information depending on the context ( newcomer , confirmed or advanced ). That’s a pity because now that i’m used to it, i can clearly see that it is far better than the Löve2d wiki, and the newcomer has tons of clear and useful ressources to begin with.
For this “issue” maybe you should duplicate the hierarchy of the “learn” page onto the homepage’s learn section, showing videos at first. And i really think that the first videos should be ones made by the Defold team. I know this is not fair, but my first thought was “oh, they rely on Youtubers to make this stuff”. And that is a pity too, because that is just not true !

On the zero setup part now, i believe that is a success for most newcomers, but i experienced Apple FR keyboard inputs bugs, and needed to spend few hours to have a not perfect but workable environment. And that’s a pity too. I know Apple European Users must not be so many, but one should be able to just use his inner keyboard layout. I have never experienced such issue even on small community softwares.

Now on the Defold engine part !
That’s clean, that’s simple, that’s light weighted, it builds fast and light !
I have not experienced annoying bugs so far ( i don’t do much advanced stuff yet ).
But, from a beginner point of view, i could not imagine having started with needs to understand vectors, matrices and quaternions. Today that’s no more an issue because i’ve got used to it, but for a true first day beginner, i think that’s a no go. We need a simple way to do basics translations and rotations without being required to understand those at first. Even if it is just inefficient and slow functions that have no over goal than being used by newcomers just the time they need to learn the basics.
Same goes for OOP related things, but Lua’s lacks in this area already helps to mitigate the harm ( on this subject, Lua IS one of the main features that made Defold appealed me ).
For this issues, i know that it is not Defold’s burden to teach all the basics, but that’s what other engines do, i found that the manual you did about shaders basics was really helpful and well done, maybe some manuals covering game development basics, like coordinates, vectors, matrices and other necessary knowledge would help if placed at top level content for newcomers. Godot’s doc does a good job in that area, and Defold’s doc is far better in others in my opinion, so…

Wow…
I’ve been writing for far too long now.
I will stop here, and this is the place to apologize for my poor english, i’m not confident in my ability to explain things like that.
To end this, Defold seems to be a really awesome engine, the team does an outstanding job, i’ve never felt a community being listened to that point. That’s certainly part of why this community seems so great.
Anyway, keep the good job guys, i’ll keep studying Defold, and i’m confident that i will have some great satisfaction using it.

Thanks.

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So my take on this one is that the “big” engines are well known throughout the industry and pushed as the must haves if you want a job. To some degree this true but many independent developers ended up with jobs and didn’t use these engines.

I have tried many engines and frameworks over the last couple of years. Very recently trying out Defold based on two things. A video by GameFromScratch about choosing an engine and the recommendation of a developer I have a lot of respect for, @Alex_8BitSkull.

I do think the lack of coverage does hurt Defold. I very rarely see any videos coming up on YouTube or Tweets the the Defold or MadeWithDefold tags. If nothing else it creates more awareness. Even just getting more eyes on the project would help. If only 10% of them took up the engine it would be good.

Now what I would say is I find the limited tutorials useful but only from my point of view. Having bounced between so many engines I like to think I have a good grasp of the basic programming concepts. Taking Unity as an example there are so many guides out there its easy to get stuck in tutorial hell. With Defold I have watched a few guides on the interface and from there I am just looking at the documentation and existing code. I feel I am making more progress this way but again thats down to my background.

A short series introducing the engine via a simple game project could bring more attention as it allows more beginners to get started.

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Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts in such detail. I’ve bookmarked your reply and will come back to some of the issues you raise as we start addressing some other things mentioned in this thread. :+1:

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Hi,
I decided to go with Defold after watching a video of gamefromscratch. I’m still learning, with no IT background too but I think Defold is easier than other engines for certain things.

Defold also does things in its way, it has a different approach.
And I find the community helpful, which helps a lot.

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I agree, i just meant that i 'm feeling less overwhelmed by the Defold’s way.

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@britzl what do you say for a series of tweets, each of them with one functionality of Defold showcase and e.g. #indiedev #gamedev hashtags? Twitter is full off gamedevs, so it is surely a reasonable idea. Something like - live reload and a visually clean gif/image to show this? Generally making visual stuff would demand probably hiring a graphic designer I guess, but don’t know if that’s an option?

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This is a good idea actually! I like it!

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And BTW I think Defold is still bit heavy than Godot (When Editor isn’t even finished yet), maybe because of JVM Languages. I kinda hope that Defold will still be usable and reliable in Low-end PCs when editor is finished, unlike Android Studio…

Many indie devs doesn’t have Mid-end or High-end PCs, so that is really big issue. Some people I had contact with, stated that Defold was heavy on their PCs. I don’t know if Compiling Java and Clojure Libraries Ahead-Of-Time (AOT) would minimize or solve memory footprint issue, but something needs to be done early… And besides that, I think it’d reduce the Game Engine size’s dramatically.

And BTW I think Defold is still bit heavy than Godot (When Editor isn’t even finished yet), maybe because of JVM Languages. I kinda hope that Defold will still be usable and reliable in Low-end PCs when editor is finished, unlike Android Studio…
Many indie devs doesn’t have Mid-end or High-end PCs, so that is really big issue. Some people I had contact with, stated that Defold was heavy on their PCs. I don’t know if Compiling JavaFX and Clojure libraries Ahead-Of-Time (AOT) would minimize or solve memory footprint issue, but something needs to be done early…

Indeed, it’s not the JVM or Clojure per se that takes up the amount of memory, but our data model that consumes the memory.
It’s due to our feature of “global undo”, which keeps track of all the changes. Each change result in a new state on the undo stack, and these are very large.

A long time ago, we started moving towards a more common approach, with an undo stack for each file.
The feature was put on hold due to all the changes in our organisation, and we haven’t been able to pick it up again.
I hope to be able to do so at some point in the future though.

And besides that, I think it’d reduce the Game Engine size’s dramatically.

Not sure what you mean here.
The engine itself is ~2mb for most platforms (~4-5 mb for desktop+js-web). (See graph here)

If you mean the editor, it currently weighs in at ~340mb (iirc).
It includes all tools you need to build for all platforms.

Compare that to all the SDK’s you’d have to install, with several gigabytes per platforms (we currently support 7+ platforms).

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Oh that explains why if you press UNDO on a specific file, the UNDO can actually affect the rest of the project. It’s not a problem but it might be feel more normal at some point to have it file-specific.

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Just sharing my opinion:

What I like:

  • platform support for smartphones
  • works fine on Linux (unlike Unity)

What it needs:

  • video tutorials
  • better 3d support (should be easier to use)
  • advocacy/evangelism

I think Lua is fine. Having more languages would only lead to more confusion and work.

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Well, I think it was my first bad impressions of JVM bytecode, that would mean high usage of scarce resources in inefficient way due GC and VM… What could be big issue in low-end computer system. Something similar with Android Studio or any other JVM focused products.

That was my fear when I saw JVM, but it looks like essential parts were already compiled AOT, so I guess that isn’t much big problem now. Even if they are JIT compiled later, major parts were implemented in C/C++ to ensure reliable performance.

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The editor is written in Clojure/Java, the game engine is written in C++.

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Defold got a 5-star review on G2 from a VR developer! :grinning:

P.S. If someone posts a review on G2, beware that you should have a LinkedIn profile and an email address on your business domain (not @gmail.com).

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As soon as I start business domain, this will be on my checklist :smiley:

So is Defold allowing to make a VR game?? I remember a post about something like that, but didn’t recollect if the result was there

By the way, how to quickly find interviews with developers? I think if last major blog posts will be placed to the main page as the short feed with previews it should looks more “live” and attractive.

These are very interesting articles for motivation to use the engine, especially when you see as someone share own experience.

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Eh, I just tried running defold projects on Oculus Quest, since it runs on android. It technically worked, but only on a flat screen within the default VR environment. I’m guessing he’s a VR developer primarily, but also uses Defold for other projects.

That said, it seems to me Defold would be a great fit for native Quest games, given how lightweight and performant it is. At this moment I’m concentrating heavily on my current project and will be for the foreseeable future, but I’ve been meaning to give making VR games a go, seeing a lot of amazing games made by small teams or even single developers, often surpassing the larger projects (though that’s also because there’s relatively few of those at this time). I was thinking I’ll have to learn Unity for that, but VR support in defold would be a dream =D

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His job title “Virtual Reality Developer” doesn’t mean that he uses Defold for that :grinning:

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