As an independent game developer myself, I’m always seeking out ways to maximize my usage of Chromebooks for design and execution beyond basic productivity habits. Up until recently, I’ve mostly just used my Pixel Slate, Lenovo Chromebook Duet, and other devices for sketching, notetaking, and journaling my ideas before heading over to my Windows 11 PC to dive into Unreal Engine to bring them to life with 3D modeling, programming, and more.
For those of you who are interested in getting into game development and only own a Chromebook, I’m starting a series of posts which will show you how to use different software and web applications to begin dabbling in the world of indie game dev. These will mostly be teaching you what options are available to you and how to get them up and running. Where applicable, I’ll include links to YouTube playlists for learning, but you’ll largely be on your own to begin your journey after the initial setup.
Today, I’m showing you how to use something called the Godot Engine to make 2D and 3D games for free. Godot (pronounced gud-OH, not GO-DOT!) is what’s called Open Source, meaning that it uses a special license where everyone can contribute to the creation and maintenance of the engine and benefit equally without any one company or individually benefiting more. It also means that you’ll never pay a fee to use or distribute your games created with Godot, and that makes it truly free and open! Below, you can see an example of the engine in action, but the examples of what can be created are limitless.
A lot of incredible games have been created with Godot, and you can check out the showcase if you’re interested in getting a better idea. Also, I’m including this video below to show off a sizzle reel of titles that have recently been created using the engine. It’s not quite as popular as Unreal Engine or Unity, but it’s quickly gaining ground and becoming the go-to development environment for beginners, budget-minded creators, and even those with limited hardware specs (like a Chromebook!) It’s not restricted to just these types of individuals, but it’s more common in these places and for these types of users.
Alright, now that you’re fired up for the possibilities and likely have a ton of great ideas you want to bring to life, let’s get started with the installation process for Godot. Yup, you’ve probably already guessed that this isn’t available as a Google Play Store app or a website. We’re going to be enabling the Linux container on your Chromebook. Don’t worry, it’s not actually that scary, and we’ve even created a step-by-step guide for doing so that you can follow before continuing below!
The essence of it though is that you’ll go to the Settings app of your device, go to the “Developers” section and enable Linux. After a short setup prompt, you’ll have access to the “Terminal” where you can type in some commands in white text on a black screen. All you’ve got to do is type the following commands one at a time to update your Linux installation, install something called Menu Libre, install Godot itself, unzip it and run it as software.
I just want the steps!
1. Enable Linux on your Chromebook using our step-by-step tutorial
2. Open the Linux Terminal
3. sudo apt update
4. sudo apt install libnss3 menulibre
5. wget https://downloads.tuxfamily.org/godotengine.3.4.4/Godot_v3.4.4-stable_x11.64.zip
6. unzip Godot_v3.4.4-stable_x11.64.zip
7. ./Godot_v3.4.4-stable_x11.64 (DON’T FORGET THE DOT BEFORE THE SLASH OR THE ENGINE WON’T LAUNCH!)
Fantastic! Now that you have the Godot Engine up and running, it probably looks a bit scary, right? It may remind you of standing on the shore at midnight and looking out into the dark abyss of the ocean. Okay, it’s probably not that bad (this is quite scary, try it sometime!) but it’s overwhelming without a guide. That’s why I’m not going to leave you hanging, remember?
As promised you can follow the tutorial below to get started with your first game in Godot. It’s a fantastic, step-by-step guide from GDQuest for creating a 2D platformer inspired by Mario. If you’re interested in creating a 3D game, just type “Beginner 3D game development Godot tutorial”, or some combination of those keywords into the YouTube search bar. There are several parts and entire playlists for you to follow if you’re interested, and an extremely friendly community to answer any questions you may have if you get stuck. Let me know if you’re going to give this a Godot, or if you’re sticking with something like Construct 3 instead. What, you didn’t think I would write something without using a pun, did you? Happy devving!