Can Java Be used for Game Development?
Yes, Java can be used to make games, although Java is not very popular in the game development industry these days, it was one of the popular programming languages for making games in times past, this can be seen through a number of popular games made with Java such as Minecraft among others.
Java is not commonly used for Triple-A level games these days, but you will still be able to develop decent games that can attract the attention of many users. There are many games that have been developed using Java that have a decent user base.
Since its creation by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems in 1995, Java grew in popularity and usage in many software development fields including Game development, Java has grown to become one of the most commonly used programming languages.
According to a Stack Overflow Survey of 2022, Java is the 5th most used popularly used programming language (excluding HTML/CSS). But in recent times, Java’s love from developers has been decreasing as seen in the same sure. Java is loved by 45.75% of professional developers versus 54.25% of developers who dreaded it.
Java is a high-level, object-oriented, general-purpose programming language. Java empowers developers to Write Once and Run Anywhere (WORA). It is used in large enterprises to build robust and reliable software. According to Oracle, Java runs on 3 billion devices.
You can use Java for Desktop GUI applications, Mobile Applications, server-side applications, Embedded Systems, Games, Big Data processing, Machine Learning, Internet of things (IoT), Web Servers, Scientific applications, and many other fields.
There are many companies using Java, some of the popular ones include Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, eBay, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. but, nearly none of these companies use it for game development. Most of these companies use Java for server-side logic.
GAMES MADE WITH JAVA?
There are many popular games made with Java, some of the notable ones include
- Spiral Knights,
- Gangstar: Crime City,
- Old School RuneScape,
- Saints Row 2,
- Asphalt Urban GT2,
- Hotel Tycoon Resort,
- Slay the Spire,
- Zombie Age 3,
- Space Impact,
- Disney Heroes: Battle Mode, and many others.
JAVA GAME ENGINE
There are not many Game Engines available to make games with Java, game engines are very helpful to easily and efficiently make games, here are some of the common game engines for Java.
- JmonkeyEngine – an open-source, modern, easy-to-use game engine written in Java. JmonkeyEngine makes modern 3D development with Java relatively easy, it was used to make games such as Skullstone, Spoxel, LightSpeedFrontier, Mythruna, and many others.
- LibGDX – an open-source, cross-platform framework for making 2D and 3D games with Java. You can use the same codebase to build a game for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and the browser. LibGDX was used to make games such as Slay the Spire, Ingress, Disney Heroes: Battle Mode, Sandship, Zombie Age 3, Let’s Farm, Space Haven, etc.
Other Game Engines that are reported to provide support for Java using various implementations include Cocos2D (Android), DimensioneX, Monkey X, and Spring.
You can see that there are only a few game Engines and libraries for making games with Java, this means that, if you can’t find what need from the few available game engines, you will have to do it yourself, it can be initializing graphics APIs, or handling input, many other complex features needed for your game.
If you plan on making games where speed and performance are critical, using Java is not the best choice, Java is a little bit slower compared to other low-level languages that are popularly used in game development.
Most modern game developers do not use Java for game development, if you seriously want to develop games that are fast, and performant, using C++, C# or Lua is the best approach.
There are a lot of resources available for these languages to help you build your games quickly and efficiently.
WHAT KIND OF GAMES CAN I BUILD WITH JAVA?
There are many types of games that you can build with Java, from simple to complex multiplayer games, some of the categories to consider include Racing, Puzzle, Simulation, Action, Card, VR, RPG, Strategy, FPS, Open World, and many more.
WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVES TO JAVA FOR GAME DEVELOPMENT?
There are many programming languages and platforms that you can use as alternatives to Java for game development. Here are some of the popular ones:
Unity is one of the most popular platforms for developing 2D and 3D games. Unity uses the C# programming languages for game logic, there are also other features that can be implemented with drag and drop.
Unity has a marketplace called Asset store, where you can download free and paid game assets to quicken your development process. Unity is regarded as a beginner-friendly platform, it is used by big companies as well as indie developers.
Some of the popular games made with Unity include Pokemon Go, Monument Valley 2, Tempo Run, Robocraft, Angry Birds, Sonic Dash, Marvel Strike Force, Iron Man VR, Lara Croft Go, Super Mario Run, and many others.
Unity supports many platforms, once you are done developing your game, you can deploy it to different platforms such as Android, iOS, tvOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, Playstations, Xbox, Nintendo, Stadia, WebGL, Oculus VR, PSVR, ARCore, Magic Leap, etc.
Unity is also used in other industries such as Film, Automotive, Architecture, Military, Engineering, Construction, etc.
UNREAL ENGINE (C++)
Unreal Engine is one of the most advanced, powerful, and popular platforms for making 2D and 3D games, it uses the C++ programming language for programming the game logic.
Unreal Engine has also a marketplace that has a lot of resources ranging from art assets to models, sounds, environments, code snippets, and more. Some of them are free while others can be paid for.
Some of the popular games made with Unreal Engine include Fortnite, Brothers in Arms, Golden Eye: Rogue Agent, Medal of Honor, Shadow Ops, Shrek 2, Star Wars, Spider-man 2, Batman Arkham City, DC Universe Online, Mortal Kombat, Transformers, Crash Bandicoot, and many others.
Unreal supports many platforms, once you are done developing your games, you can deploy to different platforms such as Android, iOS, tvOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, Playstations, Xbox, Nintendo, Oculus VR, PSVR, ARCore, Stadia, WebGL, etc.
Unreal Engine is also used in other industries such as Film & TV, Architecture, Simulations, Automotive & Transportation, Broadcast & Live Events, Engineering, medicine, etc.
GameMaker Studio has also a marketplace that has a lot of resources ranging from animations to sounds, backgrounds, fonts, objects, paths, sprites, scripts, shaders, and more. Some of them are free while others can be paid for.
Some of the popular games made with GameMaker Studio include Undertale, Forager, Hyper Light Drifter, Samurai Gunn 2, Webbed, The Tarnishing of Juxtia, Destructivator 2, Fields of Mistria, Flynn: Son of Crimson, Katana Zero, Battleships Forever, Tower of Heaven, and many others.
GameMaker Studio supports many platforms, once you are done developing your games, you can deploy to different platforms such as Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Tizen, Playstations, Xbox, Nintendo, Amazon Fire TV, WebGL, etc.
It can be seen that Java can be used for Game development but is it not at the level of C++, C#, or Lua. Java has very few game engines to choose from and some of its features like garbage collection among other features may hinder it from being widely used in game development.
If you want to make games for many platforms and consoles that are reliable, fast, and performant, using Unity (C#), Unreal Engine (C++), or Lua is the best approach.
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