Founded in 2008, Defold was built from the ground up by a team of developers who had experienced their own pains in making their ideas a reality. Today, Defold is used and loved by thousands of developers around the globe.
Defold started with Ragnar and Christian talking about game creation at Avalanche – the AAA game company where they both worked.
Defold office at Apelbergsgatan Stockholm, Sweden
They were both highly impressed with the team behind the game God of War, who created a great game with only 7 programmers. About 60 programmers worked on typical AAA games at the time. The game God of War was a 1.5 MB executable with only 25 programmer bugs. Compare that to the industry norm of around 40 MB executables and 1000 bugs.
God of War made them realise that their work was State of Industry and not State of Art.
One late night when they were discussing this Christian suddenly said ”I’m making a game engine at home” and Ragnar replied with ”Actually, me too!”. They realised that they should do this together instead of individually, and from there Defold was born.
When Ragnar and Christian started working on Defold the games industry started opening up to not only use Windows but also Mac, Linux and so on. So they made Defold cross-platform from the beginning.
Being cross-platform helps the Defold team every time there’s a new gaming machine released that they want to support.
A problem they saw with in-house technology was the insider knowledge you needed to use it. ”Oh, it doesn’t work for you? Here’s a script.” All of these workarounds, short cuts, and systems that just aren’t ever fixed. They wanted to create a real product made for real users. Something that worked and that you could depend on.
So they turned Defold into a web service with Git version control. A complete package that would take care of everything for you so that you wouldn’t have to make all of these choices, like ”What version control should I use?”. It should just be a system that you turned on and started creating games in.
Performance is everything. Without performance you have nothing. That’s why we value it the most.
This performance concerns everything. Not only run time, but also load times, work flows, everything that has to do with a game engine and creating games with it.
But we also want to maximise creativity. We do that by removing obstacles, minimising wait times, removing friction. There’s no waiting times.
Ragnar often compare being creative creating games with sculpting in clay, which is the perfect interactive environment to instantly see how your action is affecting the material. We want to create the same situation in Defold where you can test things and instantly see explore the result. This is how a creative work flow should be.
Portability is an important factor when you’re making a game. Because it’s not always obvious when you start creating what platform works best for your game. That choice should instead come at the end of the project when you know what you have done.
Another aspect of performance is scalability. If your game grows with more levels or bigger playable worlds, it shouldn’t be hurt by the engine. It should be easy to efficiently create complex scenes or structures and reuse objects.
When Ragnar and Christian started working on Defold they were only two programmers and knew that they had a monumental challenge ahead of them. They realised that they would never have time to rewrite code. They had to focus on solving problems before they wrote the code. They couldn’t spend time fixing bugs.
That meant that they had to have a very strong design focus before they started to code. They spent more time in Google Docs than coding. Sharing and discussing solutions to make sure that they had cracked every problem that they saw.
Defold office at Apelbergsgatan Stockholm, Sweden
When the coding began Ragnar and Christian sprinkled the code with tests that they could run to make sure that they weren’t breaking things, because they couldn’t spend time manually testing these things.
Being only two people automation became a mantra for Defold. Ragnar and Christian went as far as implementing a video recorder in the engine (It’s still there!) just for the sake of being able to automatically run test examples, capture the video, upload it to Youtube, and include that video in the documentation and not having to do it themselves.
Still they wanted that Defold should have frequent release cycles. So they implemented a bi-weekly release cycle. And not just make them bug fixes, but significant releases. To bring features that people would get happy and excited about. To make the users trust the release cycle they made a promise. The Defold promise is 100 percent backwards compatibility at all times.
Defold started a partnership with King in 2013 and made a couple of King games in Defold to prove that it worked for the type of games that King makes. That partnership resulted with King acquiring Defold in 2014. Ragnar and Christian and the rest of the Defold team are really happy to see that they can work with Defold in the same way as before they became a part of King. This is very important to Defold as a tools provider. Defold provide a game creation platform on which game creators can stand. Gaming centric means for us that a game team that use Defold should only think about creating the game. They shouldn’t have to think about platform issues or memory management or something else but the game. You should just explore the game and we will solve all of these issues for you.
In the end, it’s just about shipping games.