Mint and Godot: Feels Good Man

Thank God I went and bought a hard drive, the one I ordered on the 16th is finally scheduled to arrive on the 29th. It’s a tiny thing, but it should make decent backup should this new one explode unexpectedly as hard drives tend to do on occasion. Yes yesterday I finally ponied up some money and bought a decent Seagate drive. Now I can happily run Linux Mint by pressing power, instead of fighting with the BIOS to boot from USB every time. Even though it claims to have accepted my changes that it should prioritize USB boot before anything.

If you’ve never used Linux, you should give it a go. Especially since you can run it as I have been off a $5 USB drive never installing it on anything. If nothing else it’s nice to have around as a recovery tool. Just last week my girlfriend’s hard drive started failing bad enough that Windows essentially stopped functioning. Plugged in an external, booted from USB, copied her files, ran diagnostics to confirm it’s the drive. Like I was saying, it’s a nice tool to have in your personal arsenal. Especially if you rely on third parties to do any other servicing as their policy is almost universally format and throwaway. Hope you weren’t storing your doctoral on there.

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As a broke ass developer Linux is an obvious choice for me, but the truth is I’ve been using it for years now. In college I had a laptop with Windows Vista and each month it over heated just a little bit faster despite me cleaning it. Eventually I just decided the operating system was putting too much strain on the machine to make it usable, put Mint on it, and kept running it until the screen started falling off. I also once made a jukebox using an old Pentium III and some hard drives from garage sales combined with a truck stereo amp that I hot wired into PC power supply, for this platform I chose Lubuntu and the media software Clementine. I can’t vouch for the safety of the setup, but I will link how to do it.

But as anyone who knows anything about operating systems knows, Linux can be hit and miss when it comes to finding software. Though this has improved a lot, especially with the rise of Android and as more people and institutions switch to Linux (nearly 5% market share!). So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Godot.

Godot is this open source game engine that has 2d and 3d support, a built in scripting language, physics engine, support for C++ extensions, and literally seems to build out to everything. Including my Blackberry Z10. Yes I’m part of the now <0.1% running the Blackberry OS. Still works good, so fuck it. So this engine seems too good to be true for someone like me.

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So what’s the catch? Well there’s some nitpicky shit, the built in language is modeled after Python, which I’ve never been particularly fond of. C++ is one of those languages every programmer is told to learn, but fewer and fewer do. Myself included, I used it in high school and haven’t had to touch it since. It also lacks some of the built niceties that Unity has, like all the prefab controllers and all the other tools that probably ultimately contributed to the demise of Steam Greenlight by allowing cheap and quick games to be thrown together with little knowledge or skill. The biggest one is the engine itself, not that there is anything wrong with it, but using one means bringing the bloat and any performance issues it has into any project done with it.

But there’s a flipside to the cons too. Built in language means that all the functions have been geared toward game development, and that the libraries don’t sprawl into the territory of things you don’t need. There’s fucktons of prebuilt things in C++ and even a novice to the language like me can trim up and customize a plugin to my needs without breaking too many things. Lacking the perks of Unity also means lacking the sheer weight of Unity. I’ve never had a computer that was able to run the editor well. It’s huge. Godot runs on Linux and is less than 50MB. With some tweaks and endless patience you could run this on a phone. And the bloat is manageable and in this case I would say negligible. I mean my current CPU is a $35 2-core AMD and I haven’t found any issues. A standard laptop or desktop will have no problems.

Besides all this there’s another reason I really like Godot for starting new projects with, it’s a bit selfish but it reminds of the tools I have to use at work. Its paradigm is nearly identical, which really makes me feel a little more at home. I’ve been trying to use Game Maker and Unity at work on Windows, but after spending so long using proprietary tools I need something that feels a little more familiar to guide me back. I learned a lot with Game Maker back when I was in middle school, back then though it was free, like 100% free. Not like now where it’s free to try. Also I don’t have Windows! So Unity is just a no go (though it too builds out to Blackberry 😀 ).

These are all good tools, especially for small or one man army developers. But from where I am weighing my options it’s a no brainer. Godot has all the basics like Game Maker, a lot of the perks of Unity, the freedom of C++, supports and is built for Linux, and looks fucking good. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s the first physics engine I’ve ever used, that I didn’t build myself, that felt intuitive to me.

So I’d recommend any Linux users give Godot a try if you haven’t already. For Game Maker users I think it’s a step up on difficulty but it offers a lot more flexibility. Unity folks, might not be impressed, but for a simpler project you can’t beat a price of free. The hard cores who insist on using only custom tools and engines, well I know you will disagree regardless. Me though, I’m one guy who’s not interested in reinventing the wheel literally every time I need a wheel. I’d rather just get a project to completion than be able to claim authorship of every line of code it runs with.

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