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Why use Defold and not some other engine?

We get this question from time to time and while it may seem like a simple question it is not really a question that can be answered without elaborating a bit on the design philosophy of Defold. Great games are created using many different engines by teams, large and small, all over the world, so why use Defold and not some other more well known engine?

Most game engines have impressive and very long lists of supported features (we do too!) and on a feature by feature comparison you will probably find other game engines with more features than Defold. What you won't be able to tell from a list of game engine features is the effort it takes to create games using an engine and the actual day to day struggles of game developers using the engine.

"What are the day to day struggles of game developers?"

We know that making games is more than picking the engine with the longest list of features and we have spent a lot of time and effort into making sure that certain key elements of the game development process are as smooth and effortless as possible. We believe it makes Defold stand out from the crowd:

Truly cross platform

Supporting multiple platforms can be a real pain, especially if you need to have a lot of branching code and exceptions to deal with the different platforms. With Defold this is a non issue. You create your game once, and can without making any changes export to all supported platforms: Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS, HTML5 and Nintendo Switch. You should never have to care about which platform your game is running on. The Defold APIs work across all platforms and you do not have to worry about typical platform specific things such as file paths, texture formats, input methods, render pipelines, networking protocols or in-app purchasing systems. We got you covered!

Nintendo Switch logo Android logo Apple logo macOS logo Linux logo Windows logo Steam logo HTML5 logo Facebook logo
Zero-setup policy

There is nothing more tedious than keeping tools and SDKs updated with the latest changes and requirements, especially when all you want to do is to create a game right? We promise you this: You should never have to do more than download and install Defold once. Nothing else. You do not need to install and keep Xcode updated to make an iOS or macOS build. You do not need Android Studio or any of the Android command line tools to make an Android build. No Visual Studio install for Windows, and so on for the rest of the platforms. You should not have to worry about how your application is built, we promise to take care of this for you. PS You can still control the build process through our command line tools if you want to!

"You should never have to do more than download and install Defold once."
No breaking changes

We know how frustrating it is to play catch-up with breaking changes and we promise to very rarely introduce breaking changes (hardly ever!). You should not have to worry about your game breaking just because there is a new version of Defold. And your old projects should always build using the latest version of Defold. We also make sure to always upgrade our tools to support the latest OS versions and the latest platform requirements.

"You should not have to worry about your game breaking."
Small and performant

Defold has a very small engine runtime and it performs really well even on old hardware. We spend a significant amount of effort to make sure it stays that way. The engine is designed from the ground up to conserve memory, take up little disk space and not waste CPU cycles. Keeping the engine small allows you to release games on platforms which many other engines are unable to support.

PLATFORM DEFOLD UNITY GODOT
Android (32+64 bit) 3.3MB 11MB 7.1MB
iOS 2.6MB 9.8MB ?
HTML5 881KB 2.7MB 2.9MB

Source: https://github.com/Calinou/godot-size-benchmarks and Build size. Auto Stripping or manual configuration

Low level building blocks

Defold provides low level building blocks to create high level things. The design philosophy of Defold is to provide developers with low level building blocks that can be used to create just about anything. But they are just that, low level, which means you have to do a bit more work yourself. On the other hand you are in full control of what you create. Two examples to show what we mean:

  • If you need a button you can create one using our GUI system, but there is no ready made button component. You create a button from a box node with a nested text node.
  • If you need a spaceship that can shoot bullets you create one from a game object (the basic building block of Defold games) to which you attach components. A sprite component for visuals, a factory component to spawn bullets and a script component for the logic.
Iterative workflow

We have all heard the horror stories of developers waiting ages for a build to complete, only to find that their latest change caused a crash. Long turnaround times kills productivity and hampers creativity. We want developers to be able to rapidly test a new idea, iterate on a game mechanic or tweak a level. That is why a Defold build usually takes only a couple of seconds. You're even able to push new or updated content and game logic to an already running game on your desktop, phone or console.

A great community ❤️

The myth of the lone developer really isn't true. Being able to share accomplishments, discuss design problems or implementation details is part of the process of developing games, and being able to do so in a friendly and inclusive environement is as important for the beginner as it is for the expert. We get a lot of praise for our friendly and active community, especially in the official Defold forum.

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