Blog 11

09 Apr 2019

This week, for a class game jam, I explored the (Xenko)[https://xenko.com/] game engine. Xenko, formally known as Paradox, is an open-source game engine licensed under the MIT license and originally made by game development company Silicon Studios. Xenko has an interesting licensing history. Before version 3.0, Xenko actually had two licenses. The engine itself was licensed under the GNU GPLv3, while the editor itself was proprietary. This dual-license arrangement was mainly meant to be convient for different different use cases, like places where the GPL license would not work. This was ultimantly one of the important reasons for re-licensing the engine under the more permissive MIT license.

Xenko is available for Windows, but can as deploy for MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and XBox one. This is a little limiting to who can use the engine, especially since the main operating system of open-source software users is not available for development, and I think it’s probably one of the reasons Xenko is not as popular as engines like Godot.

Using Xenko was an interesting experience. At first glance, the engine functions very similar to Unity, featuring a similar layout with similar scripting capabilities. Like Unity, Xenko also uses C# scripting, meaning that the code is very similar to Unity as well. Overall, it wasn’t difficult to start developing for the engine, especially since they had a “Xenko for Unity Developers” tutorial.

Unfortunately, as we used the engine more, we discovered more problems. First, most of my team seemed to have trouble installing Xenko on our home PC’s. We repeatedly had to install and uninstall different packages until it eventually worked. On top of this, sometimes the smallest changes would cause the engine to break and not compile. We tried to change the resolution of our game, and it ended up causing the exe to crash every time we ran it. When we reverted those settings, the exe still crashed when we ran it. On top of all the errors and crashes we experienced, there documentation was not the best, and there was almost no community for the engine.

I think that if Xenko had a stronger community to contribute to it to add features and help make it more stable, it could be a create engine to use, and a powerful competitor to Unity. Unfortunately it’s instability and small community just make it too much of a hassle to deal with, so if you’re looking for a FOSS engine, I recommend just sticking with Godot.