Java is a widely used programming language known for its simplicity, versatility, and platform independence. In recent years, Java has been increasingly used for game development, particularly for mobile and browser games. With its rich libraries and tools, many developers and game studios have found Java to be a suitable choice for game development. However, some argue that Java’s performance limitations make it unsuitable for certain types of games, especially those that require high-end graphics and intense computations.
In this article, we will examine the pros and cons of using Java for game development, and whether it is indeed a suitable choice for game development in today’s fast-paced gaming industry.
Java is a beginner-friendly and easy-to-learn language. There’s a huge variety of open-source resources, courses, tools, and materials for Java learners. You’ll be able to write your first Java game in mere months.
It is also a high-level, class-based, object-oriented language. So, learning Java will give you an understanding of the main programming concepts and a good basis for learning other programming languages.
Besides, Java is in high demand in the job market. If you discover you love it while creating your game and decide to become a professional Java developer, you can eventually make more than $107,000 a year.
Things you need to learn before you can start working on your game
If you have zero coding skills, you need to learn some basics before you can start working on your Java game.
When you start learning a new language (a human one), you begin with learning the spelling and grammar. So, you should start learning Java the same way – by mastering its syntax.
At this step, you should cover the essential Java components (objects, methods, classes), primitive data types, strings, loops, branches, and arrays.
Object-oriented programming principles
Java deals with objects, not functions. So, you’ll need to learn and understand the basic principles of object-oriented programming: abstraction, inheritance, encapsulation, and polymorphism.
Several classes and interfaces can represent a group of objects as a single unit in Java. This is defined by the Java collection framework. So, you’ll need to learn the data structures, Java collections, and Java map interfaces, as well as their implementations.
Multithreading allows executing multiple threads simultaneously. This has a lot of advantages: minimized system resource usage, improved server responsiveness, superior application responsiveness, etc.
It is a rather tricky topic for a beginner, though. But learning and understanding multithreading is imperative if you want to be able to code an engaging game.
Patterns allow us to save time and effort, so learning to apply them will help you write a game faster.
You cannot create a fully functioning game if you do not know how to test your code for bugs and errors. So, learning the basics of unit testing should be a part of your study plan.
Where to learn?
As we’ve already mentioned, there are numerous online and offline study resources to learn Java: courses, boot camps, blogs, video tutorials, communities, schools, you name it. Looking for the best fit among those numerous resources might take a lot of time and effort. So, we’ll recommend a couple of materials.
It is logical to start with learning the theory. Here are some of the best titles to help you with that:
- Head First Java by Kathy Sierra;
- Core Java Volume I – Fundamentals by Cay S. Horstmann
- The Beginner’s Guide to Android Game Development by James S. Cho;
- Killer Game Programming in Java by Andrew Davison.
But theory alone will get you nowhere. The best practice/theory ratio is considered to be 80 to 20. So, the best way to go about it is to study a topic, then practice what you’ve learned by coding. You can find a lot of practical Java exercises online, both free and premium. But we recommend finding a course built with the 80/20 ratio in mind. CodeGym, for example, has perfected this balance and offers over 1200 Java exercises with instant validation. And there’s a game development section! You can follow the easy step-by-step guides and create your versions of the popular games like Racers, Minesweeper, Snake, and Space Invaders. It’s a fun and effective way to learn.
Why Java Might not be a good fit for Game Developers
Game developers use a software called game engine which makes game developers very easy and fast. The most popular game engines are Unity, Unreal and Godot. If you planning to develop a AAA title then you will definitely require a game engine and none of these game engines support Java as the programming language.
Unity Supports C#, Unreal requires C++ and Godot uses C# and GDscript(Similar to Python). The amount of work that goes into game development without using a game engine is very considerable and this can be a deciding factor for many.
Java is a suitable language for game development in certain scenarios. Its ease of use, vast libraries, and platform independence make it a good choice for developing 2D and simple 3D games, especially for mobile and browser platforms. However, for more demanding games with high-end graphics and intense computations, Java may not be the ideal choice, as its not supported by game engines. Even though Java is easy to learn and has lot of potential to get you a Job, if you are seriously considering game development as a career then going with C++ or C# is the best option.