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Apr
30
2014

Developing PC Games vs. Console Games

Developing PC Games vs. Developing Console Games

Most gamers dream of a career that will allow them to work around their favorite pastime—if you’re the creative type, that means designing and developing your own games. But, where do you start? How do you know what language to use when coding your game? Should you develop your game for PC or console?

So What’s Easier: Consoles or PCs?

Prior to the most recent generation of consoles (i.e., Playstation 4, Xbox One, Wii U), the method of coding was significantly different than coding for PCs. Fortunately, in recent years this has started to change. The newer consoles use the same architecture as PCs, making developing games very similar between the two formats.

Determining which format is easier to develop for is a difficult question to answer, as both have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, it may be easier to write code for a console game, as consoles have fixed hardware—unlike PCs, there aren’t a plethora of processors, video cards, sound cards, etc., to worry about when developing a video game for consoles.

On the other hand, this can also been seen as a negative for console game development—due to the fixed hardware, games developed for consoles will have a lower ceiling for graphics, physics, etc.

Additionally, each individual console has proprietary features and hardware not present on the other consoles. So, developing a game for a Microsoft console will differ from developing a game for a Sony or Nintendo console. As a result, most developers have teams dedicated to working on each console individually. Coding for a game running on Windows will be the same for any computer, regardless of the manufacturer.

So, it really isn’t “easier” to develop for either consoles or PCs, it’s just different. In reality, it’s all about figuring out which format you enjoy the most and you’re most comfortable with, as they both have their developmental advantages and disadvantages.

Which Coding Language Should I Use for Consoles? For PCs?

Starting the development of a video game is a very overwhelming prospect—especially if you’re someone who has never made a game before. If you’re looking to develop your very first game, it’s best to start small. The first thing you’ll want to tackle is the coding language you’re going to work with.

The good thing about coding a video game is that there is no end-all-be-all language. It’s really about picking one that you’re comfortable working with. If C++ is your thing, by all means, code your game in C++.

Because modern consoles are built with similar architecture as PCs, it’s becoming even easier to code games for both consoles and PCs. There is no coding language solely dedicated to creating PC games or console games—it really is just a matter of what you prefer and know best.

So, It’s Really All the Same?

Well, for the most part it is. But, there are additional steps to take when developing a game for consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony are taking steps to make developing and releasing indie games much easier for the budding developer. Unfortunately, there are still a number of hoops indie game designers need to jump through before having their creations featured on these consoles.

Both manufacturers have a list of technical requirements necessary before a game can be released. Neither company wants to see buggy, poorly coded games released on their respective marketplaces, so you’re going to have to submit your games for quality checking. The problem is, this cycle will cost you both money and time—resources you’re not likely to have a lot of as an independent developer.

As a result—and as the current trend seems to be—most independent developers are releasing their games for PCs. There is far more freedom for the developer, as you can release your game on your own terms (unless you go through Steam Greenlight). So long as you can host a download link, you are free to release your game in whatever state you feel is complete. Isn’t that really what being an independent developer is all about? So, while most things are equal between consoles and PCs in terms of development, the freedom offered by PCs makes it a better option for most.

Are you interested in developing video games? Have you already tried? Do you have any tips for up-and-coming developers? Let us know in the comments below!

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