In this article I am going to introduce you to an amazing game development framework called libGDX which helps you to make your game development task easier and fast. It is a popular library and has ample documentation and tutorials on the internet for anyone interested in working with it. Read on to know more about the features of libGDX.
LibGDX is a Java-based game development framework packed up with a plethora of features and capabilities which can enhance the development process of a game developer. It contains a set of APIs that are built in to support writing of games for all the platforms supported by libGDX. Game development, as many of you may know is a pretty difficult task. If you were to create all the components in a game from scratch it will take months to create a simple 2D game. So, there are a lot of frameworks out there which help developers take a legitimate shortcut and think about the logic of the game rather than worrying about the machine-level details. LibGDX is open source and completely free to download and use. Being open source makes it open for all the developers to make their valuable contributions to the framework and add new essential features to it. There are many reasons which can make you choose libGDX over other frameworks which are described below.
Let us now take a look at the features of libGDX which make it a powerful tool for the game developers especially the indie game developers.
Input Handling: Input handling is the most core part of a game development framework. LibGDX boasts of handling all the possible inputs like mouse, keyboard, touch screen, accelerometer and compass. It also can detect gestures, taps, panning, flinging and pinch zooming.
Graphics: OpenGL ES 2.0 rendering is supported for all platforms. Vertex arrays, textures, meshes, shaders, simple shape detection and many more are included in low-level OpenGL. Orthographic camera, Bitmap fonts, 2D particle system, TMX tile map, 2D UI library are all included in high-level 2D APIs. The games developed with libGDX can have amazing graphics. Custom OpenGL ES 2.0 bindings are available for Android 2.0 and above which can help in the performance as well.
Audio: LibGDX supports streaming music as well as playing back sounds in WAV, MP3 and OGG formats. Direct access to audio devices for PCM sample playback and recording are also available. You can be as creative as you can with all these capabilities provided to you for free.
Math & Physics: Math and physics are the main components of a game when it comes to the logic and the real gameplay. A large number of libraries are already written for different math functions in libGDX. Some include matrix, vector and quaternion classes. Intersection and overlap testing, bounding shapes and volumes, frustum class, common interpolators, concave polygon triangulator and more are present in the area of math and physics to access. For 2D physics, you have JNI wrapper for Box2D physics which is so amazing that other game engines use it as well. JNI wrapper for bullet physics is also present in the 3D physics.
Pros and Cons
LibGDX is open source and is licensed under Apache 2.0 and the community (you) can download the source code of the framework, study it and make your valuable contributions to the framework. This feature helps the framework to grow quickly and have bugs fixed fast. It also means that it is free to download and use even for commercial purposes.
There are some ebooks on the official website of libGDX which can help you learn the ins and outs of the framework if you are planning to be a serious game developer.
The documentation doesn't seem to be the best. You have to buy the books mentioned in the official website to learn libGDX perfectly.
How to use LibGDX?
To get started with using libGDX, the first thing you have to do is to download the libGDX jar file from their website. Now just double-click and open the file. It will provide a window where you can enter the name of the game, the path to save it, the package name, and the path of the SDK of the platform of the game. You can also check which platforms you want the game to be in. There are some advanced options as well. After you are done with that, you can simply click on the Generate button. LibGDX will now create a project folder with all the necessary files in it according to the platforms that you have selected. Now you just have to open the project in the respective IDE and start working on the game. By default, a simple window with an image is coded in the project.
LibGDX is a great game development framework making it easy to write games. There are also some extra tools available to be used along with libGDX called 2D particle editor, 3D particle editor, texture packer and bitmap font generator can help you take your creativity to the next level. LibGDX is also an ideal framework for those of you who are planning to get started with game development. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and grab the latest version of libGDX from the official website. After all, it is free. I hope you may have gotten a rough idea of libGDX and why you should try it out.