5 Game Development Languages Your Team Should Know Right Now

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Game development requires as much imagination and creativity as storytelling. You get to piece together a game’s narrative, think of ways to move it forward, and even have a well-defined image of your world and your characters.

But then there are parts of game development that might not be as fun. And a majority of companies engaged in video game production will tell you this not-so-fun part is called game programming

Of course, to some gaming companies, writing code can be an exciting activity. A few people find joy in logic-heavy work, after all. But often the same people will tell you it is tedious. And if your game company specializes in work that doesn’t involve programming, then read on to find out the most in-demand game development languages in the market.

Game Development Languages Your Team Needs to Know in 2020

There are game programming languages that have stood the test of time, while others are new and rapidly growing. It’s always wise to consider first the types of games you want to build and the game engines you want to work with before diving into a language. Every language has its strengths and shortcomings, but the following will give you an idea of where to start.

Image credits to Unsplash

C#

What Is C#?

A hybrid of C and C++, C# takes after these two languages in terms of purpose and syntax. C# is also a general-purpose, compiled language, and just like C++, it was built as an extension of C.

While it does share a lot of attributes with the earlier languages, C# varies in many aspects. For instance, it’s much easier to read, write, and understand than C and C++, both of which are closer to machine code. Machine code is a set of instructions computers can understand — and it’s often in pure binary form. Think of long lines of 0s and 1s. It’s humanly impossible to read.

Consequently, many developers regard C# as slower than C and C++. This is because computers can’t immediately interpret C#, a language that is — again — closer to what people understand. The good news is this relative slowness is negligible on most platforms. Speed, therefore, is not a significant issue with C#.

This fact also shows in the sheer number and quality of game engines that love having C# as one of their primary programming languages. So if your team is on the lookout for game developers, be sure to start with C#.

Learn more about why C# is a good game development tool in our previous blog post.

Why Choose C# for Game Development?

Aside from being a popular language among software developers, C# is also a very popular language among game engines. Even Unity uses C# as a main game programming language! Many have attributed this inclination to code games in C# to the language’s accessibility

Aside from accessibility, C# also provides developers with a rich supply of resources, documentation, and libraries. These learning tools allow for faster game development. Not only will your game developers have access to complex programming solutions, but they can also use code other developers have written for their projects and shared with the community.

Image credits to Unsplash

C++

What Is C++?

C++ is the first extension of C, a programming language that computers can read almost as quickly as an assembly language — except C++ is easier to write and understand from the developer’s perspective.

When Bjarne Stroustrup developed C++, he had a particular goal in mind, and that was to create a more understandable, developer-friendly, and object-oriented version of the original C. Some of the new changes he added to the language include the ability to bundle data and functions into a single unit and write new code using a base code, which helps reduce development time.  

Because C++ is much closer to C than C# is, and C is much closer to machine language than its extensions, we can see how C++ allows applications to run fast. This ties in nicely with another great feature of C++ — portability. Since its compiler translates it directly to machine language, C++ can be ported to any platform the developer wants. 

Why Choose C++ for Game Development?

Everyone prefers fast-running games. A large part of a game’s appeal hinges on the user’s experience, and an element that significantly improves this is speed. As we discussed earlier, C++ passes the speed test with flying colors. 

Moreover, any machine can read C++. One of its main features is portability, meaning developers can transfer any C++-based software or games to different platforms and gaming consoles. It’s no wonder big-name game engines and AAA games prefer to use C++ as their main programming language. Some of the best game engines that use C++ include Unreal, Panda3D, Urho3D, CryEngine, and Spring Engine.

Learn more about game engines that use C++ in our previous blog post.

Image credits to Pixabay

Lua

What Is Lua?

Created in 1993 in Brazil, Lua is an embeddable programming language capable of running on multiple systems and virtually any type of device. It was initially made for a Brazilian oil company called Petrobras, whose goal then was to build a data-entry application with a user-friendly interface. Because of this particular goal, Petrobras enlisted the help of PUC-Rio’s Tecgraf Institute for Scientific and Technical Software Development, giving rise to the popular game scripting language Lua. 

One of Lua’s main tenets as a programming language is portability, which resulted from Petrobras having a lot of computer devices. This prompted the team at TecGraf to ensure the language can adapt to any system. Today, Lua is available for public use, and its simplicity, portability, and versatility make it one of the most popular languages for game development.

Why Choose Lua for Game Development?

Lua is a high-level programming language that’s embeddable. It puts a premium on short, understandable code, which is a huge draw for many gaming companies.

Lua’s memory footprint is also small, making it a fast interpreted language. So how do all these features relate to game development? While C++ and C# are responsible for controlling gameplay, which is invisible or intangible in the game’s world, a programming language like Lua is responsible for manipulating the game elements players can actually see

One of the main reasons why Lua stands out is plenty of amazing game engines support this embeddable language. Game engines such as CryEngine, Urho3D, and Cafu use Lua, and with the right plugins and libraries, you can use it in Unity as well. Some of its notable games include Angry Birds, SimCity 4, Monopoly Tycoon, and World of Warcraft. 

Image credits to Unsplash

Python

What Is Python?

Python is a general-purpose programming language made for easier and cleaner software development. This also means it’s a high-level language, so developers understand its code effortlessly as it is similar to English.

Python has many features that make it one of the best and most in-demand languages in the tech industry. For example, it can adapt to new technologies because of its portability, and it has an efficient system for maximizing your software’s memory by removing data that’s no longer needed.

All of this contributes to the speed at which developers can build with Python, which leads us to an important benefit of using this language for game development. And that is rapid prototyping.

Why Choose Python for Game Development?

Rapid prototyping is vital in game development. Once your team starts building your game, they test and learn how feasible a game is through trial and error. If they’re able to test a game’s limitations and possibilities through prototyping, the better the development process will be.

Python allows game programmers to conduct rapid prototyping simply because it’s a clean, flexible, and readable language. Developers don’t have to write long lines of code to execute a game or any type of program with Python, making the code much easier to revise and improve upon if the need arises. Good game engines also like to use Python as a scripting language, including Panda3D, Cocos, Kivy, and Pygame.

Image credits to Unsplash

JavaScript

What Is JavaScript?

JavaScript is an interpreted programming language just like Python. It was created to help Netscape launch its web browser Netscape Navigator, which went against Microsoft in the 1990s.

The reason behind JavaScript’s creation centered around the fact that web pages then were not as interactive as they are today. It works in conjunction with HTML and CSS to form a functional website. While HTML gives shape to a website’s foundation and CSS significantly improves a website’s appearance from the user’s perspective, JavaScript’s role is to dictate the individual behaviors of website elements, making the site more engaging and interactive.

Why Learn JavaScript for Game Development?

But what is JavaScript’s role in game development? The idea of using JavaScript in game development doesn’t cross a lot of people’s minds. The language does have many good qualities, but rendering AAA games is not one of them. Instead, small-scale games are its strength. 

As JavaScript is easy to learn, very accessible, and supported by numerous game engines, independent game developers are inclined to write their game with this scripting language. Small games also have a huge impact on the gaming industry, and some of the most popular ones — including 2048 — are written in JavaScript. If you’re planning to build your own game using JavaScript, you can check out its many game libraries and engines, such as PlayCanvas, MelonJS, and PhaserJS.

In Summary

The top five game development languages you must learn right now are:

  • C#
  • C++
  • Lua
  • Python
  • JavaScript

But before you invest your time and resources in any of these game development languages, you must determine first what type of game you want to create and what game engine you want to use. That way, you’ll have a clear vision and direction toward your game development goals.

FUN FACT: Did you know NarraSoft’s game developers can write code using all of the languages mentioned in this article?

So if you want us to build your game with C#, C++, Python, Unity, and more, reach out to us through our email at sales@narrasoft.com, or you can message our chatbox or fill out the form on this page!

Justine Jordan

Justine Jordan

Justine Jordan is a content and copy writer. She has written for a popular business daily in the Philippines and for various startups across the globe before transitioning to work for NarraSoft. She graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a bachelor's degree in journalism.