Why Do I Use MonoGame

I get asked this question a lot. So much that I started joking on my stream that I should write a formal statement about it on my website to link to. I could provide a pros and cons list of using MonoGame vs insert game engine of choice here but that doesn't explain why I use MonoGame. Hopefully this will answer the question.

My Background

Before understanding my answer, it's important to establish some credibility for me. Where game development is concerned, I have experimented with a variety of engines and frameworks over the years including:

  • Unity
  • MonoGame
  • Unreal
  • XNA 4.0
  • Gamemaker
  • RPG Maker (95 - VX)

While my usage in most of these was mostly just hobby and experimenting and prototyping with them, I did manage to actually finish a game and release it on Steam on September 15th, 2017. I developed that game using Unity, so outside of MonoGame, most of my experience and knowledge is with Unity. Because of that I'll use it for comparision below.

So, Why Do I Use MonoGame

Alright. Are you ready for the answer? Have you prepared yourself for this mind blowing revelation? Are you sitting down?

The reason I use MonoGame is...

It is the tool that works for me

That is the simpliest answer to that question. However, I know that's not going to satisfy some, so let me expand on that some more

2D Development

I work in 2D. I honestly have no interest in doing 3D game development. Creating art assets is time consuming enough when it's just sprites and sprite sheets. Adding 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, rigging, and an entire third axis is just so unappealing to me. Not to downplay 3D games and their developers. You guys make some amazing things, and I love playing those games. It's just not for me when it comes to actually developing something.

I mention 2D specifically though because an engine like Unity is made for 3D first; the engine itself is called Unity3D. That's their focus first and foremost. 2D development is definitly possible with it, and there are some great 2D games made with Unity, but as an engine and its development, that's not its focus. There are some really cool things that have been talked about with Unity regarding the 2D side on the Unity blog, that have taken forever for them to implemnt, because it's just not the focus of the development.

So what is MonoGames focus when the developers are working on releases? That's a good question. Let's explore that in the following seciton call ...

Framework vs Engine

MonoGame is not a game engine. It is a framework. This is a very important distinction to make and understand. A framework is like a foundation that you build upon. When you're developing a game using a framework, your code calls the framework to perform tasks. You have a level of control and structure over that.

With an engine, you sacrifice that level of control by handing it off to the engine. The code you write doesn't call and instruct the engine what to do, instead the engine calls your code. Take Unity for example. When you create a new script and add it as a component on a game object, the engine calls your script to perform the actions within.

I prefer having that level of control that a framework provides. Not every game needs a physics engine computing velocity and managing collisions through complex resolutions. Sometimes all you need is before moving a sprite to the left do a quick AABB check. It's simple and effecient. If I decide later that I need some physic simulation, I can not only add that in either myself or by using a third party library like Box2D and Farseer, but I have control over how it's implemented into the game.

Speaking of control over how things are implemented ...

Open Source

MonoGame is open source. If i'm curious about how something in the framework is performed, it's a quick check on GitHub to find the information I need. Don't like how something is done? Think a different approach would work better? I can download the source and change it to fit my needs. Is there a bug in the framework or additions need to be made? I can contribute to the project.

Not only is it open source, but its free. I don't have to pay a subscription to unlock a dark theme for the editor. I don't have to wonder which subscription plan I need if I happen to make that instant hit game.

Speaking of subscription plans ...


MonoGame is free. The license is simple. Go check it out for yourself. It's 86 lines of simple. Now Go check out Unity's license.. (I'll wait) It's multiple terms of services, agreements, policies, etc. How many of you reading this and use Unity have read through all of that before you agreed to any of it?

In Conclusion

Unity is great. Gamemaker is great. Unreal is great. Your game engine of choice is great. Whatever tool works the best for your use case is the what you should use. I don't want to deter anyone from other game engines and frameworks, nor do I want to make some statement that MonoGame is the best and better than the rest. It just happens to be the tool that works for me. So, go, find the tool that works for you. Make great games. Be extraordinary.