Making games with Python is a great way to improve your Python programming skills and have fun along the way. It can be an end in itself, but it can also give you plenty of practice in algorithmic thinking, problem solving and general Python programming.
One of the many great things about Python is how easy to do powerful things by making use of open source libraries. One such library is
pygame which makes creating games with Python fun and accessible even for beginners.
Advantages of using Pygame for Game Development
- Large community so lots of tutorials, support and code examples easily available
- Easy to get started
- It’s Python!
There is plenty of help and support available for making games with Pygame, in the form of books, websites, projects, forums etc. This is a big deal, as it can be very frustrating to have a great idea but then get stuck with implementing it.
Disadvantages of using Pygame for Game Development
- Pygame programming is quite niche
- Pygame is not really designed for 3D graphics
Recommend Books for learning Python game development
Here’s a few great books to help you learn game development with Python.
“Invent with Python” is mostly concerned with the basics of Python programming but has a section on working with PyGame. The others are more specifically about Pygame.
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A taste of Python Pygame programming
Fist off, install Pygame with
pip install pygame or
pip3 install pygame on Mac/Linux. Or you can use your IDE’s package installation functionality.
Below is a minimalist Pygame program showing how some of the basics work, such as initialising Pygame, displaying objects and implementing some user interactivity. The code is commented to help you understand what is happening. I recommend typing the code into your Python editor rather than copy/pasting, and then running it to see what happens…
import pygame # Define some colors and other global constants RED = (255, 0, 0) GREEN = (0, 255, 0) WHITE = (255, 255, 255) SCREEN_SIZE = (500, 500) # Initialize Pygame pygame.init() # Set the dimensions of the screen screen = pygame.display.set_mode(SCREEN_SIZE) # Set title pygame.display.set_caption("Fun with Pygame") # Create a clock to manage the speed of screen updates clock = pygame.time.Clock() circle_color = RED # Initial color of the circle we're going to draw circle_pos = (SCREEN_SIZE // 2, SCREEN_SIZE // 2) # Center of screen # Loop until user exits done = False # Main program loop while not done: # Main event loop for event in pygame.event.get(): if event.type == pygame.QUIT: # If user clicked exit done = True # Allow main program loop to exit if event.type == pygame.KEYDOWN and event.key == pygame.K_SPACE: print("here") circle_color = GREEN if circle_color == RED else RED # Clear the screen screen.fill(WHITE) # Draw a circle - it will be in memory after this but not sent to the screen pygame.draw.circle(screen, circle_color, circle_pos, 100) # Update the screen with the circle we've drawn pygame.display.flip() # Limit execution to 60 frames per second clock.tick(60) # Exit nicely pygame.quit()
Try pressing the space bar in rapid succession…
You can see that it really isn’t that hard to make game-like things happen with Pygame. As mentioned there are many resources online to help you. Probably the best way to approach learning game development with Pygame is to find some examples from books or websites, type them in and make sure they work, and then get stuck in and make changes. Try things out. Be creative. Once you have a bit more experience you might then want to implement a game from scratch. This is a great way to learn, but you may need to be a bit patient, and also to develop the skill of asking questions on sites like stack overflow in a way that gets you the answers you seek. This is actually a very important skill for any budding developer, and something that takes a bit of effort to get right.
Other Pygame resources
There is a website dedicated to Pygame here: https://www.pygame.org/. It’s very useful and has lots of example projects on it. Be aware though that the site had been around for many years and some of the links to code examples are broken.
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This article has explored the Pygame Python package, which is a fantastic way to make exciting games in Python and develop your programming and problem-solving skills in the process. I hope you found it interesting and helpful.