raylib–A C++ Game Library Perfect For Beginners


Traditionally I don’t recommend beginners start with C++.  There are a number of reasons behind this opinion, most of which are explained in this video.  Most of the reasons however have very little to do with the language itself (which does of course have some downsides) and more to do with the build system, linker and limited included libraries.  I recently discovered a library aimed at beginners that alleviates a great deal of the downsides of learning using C++, raylib.  It’s free, open source (available on Github) and provides most of the functionality you require to make a game.  Most importantly, it’s aimed at beginners meaning the library is easy to use and comes with a turn key installer that enables you to hit the ground running.

If you are interested in learning more about raylib, be sure to watch this video (also embedded below).


The key features of raylib are:

– Written in plain C code (C99)
– Uses C# PascalCase/camelCase notation
– Hardware accelerated with OpenGL (1.1, 2.1, 3.3 or ES 2.0)
– Unique OpenGL abstraction layer (usable as standalone module): [rlgl]
– Powerful fonts module with SpriteFonts support (XNA fonts, AngelCode fonts, TTF)
– Outstanding texture formats support, including compressed formats (DXT, ETC, ASTC)
– Basic 3d support for Geometrics, Models, Heightmaps and Billboards
– Materials (diffuse, normal, specular) and Lighting (point, directional, spot)
– Shaders support, including Model shaders and Postprocessing shaders
– Powerful math module for Vector and Matrix operations [raymath]
– Audio loading and playing with streaming support (WAV, OGG, XM, MOD)
– VR stereo rendering support with configurable HMD device parameters
Multiplatform support: Android, Raspberry Pi, HTML5, Oculus Rift CV1
– Custom color palette for fancy visuals on raywhite background
– Minimal external dependencies (GLFW3, OpenGL, OpenAL)


The part I found most impressive though is the installer.  It comes with a pre-configured version of the MingW compiler and Notepad++ set up for development right away.  Basically you run the installer, open notepad++, start writing code and hit F6 to run it.  No dealing with setting up a compiler, learning about linkers and all the various things that make the C++ learning curve so painful.  Well, most of the things…


I should point out quickly, while I’ve been calling it a C++ library, it’s actually a C library.  This is a minor distinction as it is perfectly usable in C++ and feels like C++.  It comes with a copious amount of examples, with very easy to understand code.  Here for example is an, um, example that illustrates loading and drawing images:

/********************************************************************************  ***********  *  *   raylib [textures] example - Image loading and drawing on it  *  *   NOTE: Images are loaded in CPU memory (RAM); textures are loaded in GPU   memory (VRAM)  *  *   This example has been created using raylib 1.4 (www.raylib.com)  *   raylib is licensed under an unmodified zlib/libpng license (View raylib.h   for details)  *  *   Copyright (c) 2016 Ramon Santamaria (@raysan5)  *  *********************************************************************************  ***********/    #include "raylib.h"    int main()  {      // Initialization      //---------------------------------------------------------------------------      -----------      int screenWidth = 800;      int screenHeight = 450;        InitWindow(screenWidth, screenHeight, "raylib [textures] example - image       drawing");        // NOTE: Textures MUST be loaded after Window initialization (OpenGL context       is required)        Image cat = LoadImage("resources/cat.png");             // Load image in CPU       memory (RAM)      ImageCrop(&cat, (Rectangle){ 100, 10, 280, 380 });      // Crop an image       piece      ImageFlipHorizontal(&cat);                              // Flip cropped       image horizontally      ImageResize(&cat, 150, 200);                            // Resize flipped-      cropped image            Image parrots = LoadImage("resources/parrots.png");     // Load image in CPU       memory (RAM)            // Draw one image over the other with a scaling of 1.5f      ImageDraw(&parrots, cat, (Rectangle){ 0, 0, cat.width, cat.height }, (      Rectangle){ 30, 40, cat.width*1.5f, cat.height*1.5f });      ImageCrop(&parrots, (Rectangle){ 0, 50, parrots.width, parrots.height - 100 }      ); // Crop resulting image            UnloadImage(cat);       // Unload image from RAM        Texture2D texture = LoadTextureFromImage(parrots);      // Image converted       to texture, uploaded to GPU memory (VRAM)      UnloadImage(parrots);   // Once image has been converted to texture and       uploaded to VRAM, it can be unloaded from RAM            SetTargetFPS(60);      //---------------------------------------------------------------------------      ------------        // Main game loop      while (!WindowShouldClose())    // Detect window close button or ESC key      {          // Update          //-----------------------------------------------------------------------          -----------          // TODO: Update your variables here          //-----------------------------------------------------------------------          -----------            // Draw          //-----------------------------------------------------------------------          -----------          BeginDrawing();                ClearBackground(RAYWHITE);                DrawTexture(texture, screenWidth/2 - texture.width/2, screenHeight/2               - texture.height/2 - 40, WHITE);              DrawRectangleLines(screenWidth/2 - texture.width/2, screenHeight/2 -               texture.height/2 - 40, texture.width, texture.height, DARKGRAY);                DrawText("We are drawing only one texture from various images               composed!", 240, 350, 10, DARKGRAY);              DrawText("Source images have been cropped, scaled, flipped and               copied one over the other.", 190, 370, 10, DARKGRAY);            EndDrawing();          //-----------------------------------------------------------------------          -----------      }        // De-Initialization      //---------------------------------------------------------------------------      -----------      UnloadTexture(texture);       // Texture unloading        CloseWindow();                // Close window and OpenGL context      //---------------------------------------------------------------------------      -----------        return 0;  }  


All examples are a single .c file and there are plenty of them.  All you need to do is open them in Notepad++ and hit F6 to run.


At the end of the day, I still don’t personally think C++ is the ideal language to learn game programming, or programming in general.  However if you are going to start using C++, raylib is the single best starting point I have ever seen.  In fact, let me know if you would be interested in a beginner C++ tutorial series built around this library, let me know!


The Video

Programming CPP

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