Which PHP Framework Is Best Suited For Video Games?

PHP Video GamesHey there, folks! Today, we’re going to be addressing a pretty niche topic. We’re going to be talking about PHP game development.

These days, gaming is more popular than it’s ever been. Mobile and browser-based games are taking the world by storm, and the games industry itself is a multi-billion dollar juggernaut that could soon even rival Hollywood in size and cultural influence. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that more and more programmers are starting to find their way into gaming – and consequently into game development.

Now, before we move on, there’s one thing worth mentioning at this point. Chances are pretty good that if you want to code something more than a browser game, you’re going to need to use a game engine like Unity or The Unreal Engine 4. The reason for this is that PHP is primarily intended for server-side scripting; it’s not meant for client-side games.

That said, there is at least one PHP engine out there.

But we’re getting a bit off track. Let’s say you’ve got your mind set on developing a browser-based game in PHP. Technically, this is something you can do with any framework…but some choices are better than others.

So, with that in mind…which framework works best with gaming?

In order to answer that, we first need to understand precisely what we’re looking for here. Game development’s a fairly extensive, tedious, and involved process – and that’s if you’re passionate about it. Not only that, games tend to be fairly resource-intensive and code-heavy.

Taken together, what all of this means is that the framework you end up using needs to possess five specific qualities:

  • Speed: A framework that is resource-light and efficient.
  • Modularity/Extensibility: Due to the complexity involved in coding a game (and the fact that PHP doesn’t generally offer out-of-the-box support for video games), you’re going to want a framework that’s both modular and extensible. That way, you can pick and choose which components you use; easily adding more on an as-needed basis.
  • Ease Of Use: It takes a lot of effort to code a game – you want to put as little effort into learning your framework as possible.
  • Stellar Documentation: This is sort of tied to ease of use. The better a framework’s documentation, the quicker you’ll be able to get back to coding when you run into trouble.
  • A Great Community: Whatever framework you settle on, make sure the community is awesome. That’s sort of a given.

There are two frameworks that meet all of the above qualities: Zend and Kohana. Both are highly modular, with an incredibly low memory footprint. What’s more, both are quite simple to pick up and use, with comprehensive documentation readily available for anyone who’s trying to learn. Which of the two you use is really entirely up to you – but they’re definitely the two strongest choices.

Again, though. Game development can technically be done with any PHP framework. Keep that in mind – don’t try to learn a whole new way of doing things if what you’re comfortable with will function just as well.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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