Interview: Defold co-creator and King developer Ragnar Svensson

Interview: Defold co-creator and King developer Ragnar Svensson
Sean Cleaver

By Sean Cleaver

May 2nd 2017 at 11:39AM

Develop speaks to King’s lead engine developer and co-creator of Defold, Ragnar Svensson, about the engine a year on from its free release, and how the differing power of handsets can affect development.

Its been over a year since the Defold engine was released for free during GDC 2016. Ragnar Svensson and Christian Murray had developed the engine, which developer King acquired in 2014, for over ten years. Whilst King has been using it, and Svensson also joined the company as lead engine developer, the engine has gained in popularity, thanks in part to its free release.

“We wanted to give back to the games community by releasing Defold publicly and do something cool,” Svensson says. “Over the past year, we have really enjoyed seeing the indie community taking to the platform and making awesome games on it. For us, it is all about making better games.”

Games development is an ever- fluctuating medium. One of king’s successes, arguably, has been their games’ ability to be played on virtually anything. From the outset, Svensson and Murray both wanted something that helped the engine adapt to service the needs of multiple users with different requirements. That idea is something Defold will be building on throughout 2017.

“I feel player expectations and demands grow faster than what the indie community can keep up with," Svensson says. "With the market now being constantly flooded with new games, developers and companies must do more to make their games better. We want our engine to be open and ready to anybody and anyone willing to employ it for good.“

Player expectations and demands grow faster than what the indie community can keep up with
Ragnar Svensson 

ENGINE MANAGEMENT

The mobile games market is incredibly successful despite the saturation of handsets and massive disparity between the processing powers of them. When creating an engine primarily for mobile, it becomes essential to make sure what you’re creating isn’t going to cause problems for the user.

“Over the last few years, the mobile games landscape hsa changed so much," says Svensson. "Some may say that games have gone through the whole cycle, from small casual arcade games to gorgeous 3D core titles.

“I indeed see many developers working on 2D games now with more casual mechanics. Perhaps devices available in developing markets are influential on other markets. “Nowadays games must have small memory footprint, instant level loading and be platform agnostic to appeal to the mass audience. We feel that Defold users are in a very good position here.”

Defold is using this need for accessibility and adaptation to be a benefit to all users, according to Svensson. “We maintain bi-weekly release cycles and guarantee backwards compatibility, so there are no issues when the update is pushed. It is important that both King, who may be working on a two-year-old project, and an indie developer who may be working on a two week old project, feel equally comfortable.”

“The other side here is that some of engine features may only be relevant for some indie developers and may not be on our top priorities list. This is where the Defold community thrives and these concerns can be raised to the top of our priority list. With this in mind, we have designed an editor and a runtime extensions feature.”

THE GDC COMPETITION

The Defold community is a very big part of what makes the engine so progressive and many games are already available on itch.io and other similar sites in HTML5. It’s why Defold came to this year’s GDC on the back of a big competition.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response of developers using our platform. We think it’s important to recognize these developers by offering them an opportunity to come along to GDC and showcase their game to the industry."