A Step-by-step Guide to Getting Involved in Open-source Gaming

Open-source gaming developers got a new tool in their arsenal this month as Silicon Studios announced that Xenko 3.0 will now be completely open-source. The 2D and 3D cross-platform gaming engine, which can be used to create games for PCs, mobile devices and VR, had previously been under a dual-license arrangement where the engine was distributed as open-source software bit the editor was proprietary. Under the new agreement, Silicon Studios will drop official support for Xenko, while its development team members continue to work on the project unofficially, and both the engine and editor will be available as open-source under the MIT License.

The release of Xenko 3.0 illustrates the growing popularity of open-source gaming, which can be a great way to sharpen your skills in programming, collaboration and design. Here’s a five-step path to getting involved in open-source gaming projects.

open source gaming

Get Familiar with Development Platforms

In order to break into the open-source gaming community, you should first spend some time on your own familiarizing yourself with today’s leading open-source development platforms and associated tools. Which platform is right for you will depend partly on your programming skill set. You don’t have a programming background to work with some platforms, such as Gdevelop. If you have a background with C#, C++, or Python, you may want to consider the Godot platform. Your preferred device and operating system are other considerations. Some platforms work across all devices and multiple platforms, while others favor a particular type of device or operating system. For example, if you want to create games for laptop platforms and other mobile devices, you may want to check into the Qualcomm Developer Network.

Meet Experienced Game Jam Participants

After gaining some familiarity with open-source development platforms, you’ll want to start getting involved in game jams. The best way to do this is to get guidance from a more experienced game jam participant. A game jam team will normally include at least one programmer and at least one artist, so these are the types of people you’re looking to meet. Some game jams are conducted online, while others are hosted locally at universities or conference centers. You can meet experienced game jammers by visiting indie game sites such as Steam, Itch and Game Jolt, or by going to events such as Open Jam.

Look for Projects

After you’ve dipped your foot into the open-source gaming community, it’s time to start looking for projects to practice on. Ideally, you should seek projects that match your programming skill set and your interest areas, although you may choose to challenge yourself by looking for projects that stretch your programming knowledge. You’ll also want to consider project requirements, especially deadlines, when deciding which projects to take on. You can look for projects on independent gaming sites such as Indie DB or game development sites such as GameDev.net.

Check Your Project Code Before Distributing It

Both for your own reputation and for the benefit of players who use your games, it’s vital to check your code before you start transferring it to an open-source file for distribution. Testing your code gives you a chance to debug it before others start discovering flaws. It also lets you test your project’s gameplay experience to make sure you’re delivering the entertainment quality you want associated with your name. You’ll find it considerably easier to test your code if you use automated testing tools such as Espresso, Appium, Robotium and SeeTest Continuous Testing.

Network with Other Developers

As you’re participating in game jams and pursuing projects, you’ll want to leverage these activities to start meeting other developers. Interacting with your development peers can help you debug your own game concepts and coding. It can also help you sharpen your programming skills, learn about news in the gaming industry, and point you toward projects that might be available. Besides participating in game jams and gaming projects, other good ways to network with developer include participating in development support forums, attending gaming events, and following the launch of new games.

Getting into open-source gaming is easy if you follow these steps. Start by familiarizing yourself with the platforms and tools you’ll be using. Reach out to an experienced game jam participant to gain your introduction to the gaming community. Start working on projects, and test your code before releasing it. Network with developers to get more project opportunities pointed your way. If you follow these steps, other developers will soon be looking to you to help them get started in open-source gaming.

[Image via: Google Images]