Programming Languages Overview


Which programming language to choose? Whats the difference between C and C++? What's the whole deal about functional programming? In this article we will give an overview about the major programming languages, provide a code sample for each one and talk about the characteristics a bit.

The Overview

There are a lot of programming langues, but we will only cover the most popluar ones here (based on the TIOBE Index):

Object Oriented means that the language works with objects, like Player(which has health and mana), Monster, World and so on. Object oriented languages usually deal with Objects all the time, for example when adding a Player to the World. Object Oriented languages are usually easy to learn and understand.

Functional languages are very close to pure Math. In functional languages it's often easy to solve complex problems, but harder to do simpler things. For example: pathfinding can be done with 10 lines of code in a functional language, even though it takes about 1000 lines of code in a Object Oriented one. Functional languages are hard to learn and to understand, but they can be incredibly powerful.


Java is a object oriented programming language. It runs about everywhere, writing code can be very comfortable due to the Eclipse IDE. The code is executed in a Virtual Machine and sometimes Java programs can take a whole lot of RAM. Java is a good choice for a whole lot of fields. While it's not always optimal, it's still often a solid choice.

Some typical Java code:

void test() {
    Player p = new Player("SomeName");
    p.moveTo(new Vector3(1.0f, 2.0f, 3.0f));


C is a very system near language, completely without objects. We can do a whole lot of crazy things, like developing operating systems or creating drivers for our hardware. Of course making games is possible too. The language itself is loved for its simplicity, yet it can be hard to learn and managing your our own memory or messing around with Pointers easily leads to bugs in the code.

Some typical C code:

float vec2_length( const float v[2] )
    return sqrt( ( v[0] * v[0] ) + ( v[1] * v[1] ) );


Objective C is similiar to C, but with Objects.


C++ is like Objective-C, just with a whole lot of more features. There is an endless discussion going on about if this is a good or a bad thing. If you like simplicity, then this is a bad thing. Due to the language being so incredibly complex, reading other peoples code is hard. Say that we want to use someones physics library in our game. This task can be so incredibly frustrating in C++, it can easily take a week of fixing linker errors (even if you already know C++ for 6 years or so).

Some typical C++ code:

void test()
    std::vector<Player> playerList = new std::vector<Player>();
    playerList.push_back(new Player("SomeName")); Vector3(1.0f, 2.0f, 3.0f));
    Player* ptr = &;
    ptr->moveTo(new Vector3(2.0f, 3.0f, 4.0f));


C# is pretty much Java reinvented by Microsoft. There are a few little differences, but the syntax is almost exactly the same. C# uses the .NET framework a lot, which is a big library of functions developed by Microsoft. If you are a fan of Microsoft, then this might be a good language for you.

Some typical C# code:

void test() 
    Player p = new Player("SomeName");
    p.runTowards(new Vector3(1.0f, 2.0f, 3.0f));


PHP is mostly used for web servers. If we open a website in our browser, it's very likely that the site was created by some PHP code running on the webserver. PHP can come in handy when making browser games, but for the common singleplayer 3D game it's not very suitable.

Some typical PHP code:

$s = 'someText'; 
        $something = true;

Visual Basic

VB is a event driven programming language developed by Microsoft. VB had its peak a few decades ago in a lot of Windows programs. Microsoft has stopped supporting it in 2008, hence why the language is slowly dying.

Some typical VB code:

Private Sub Form_Load()
    ' Hello World MessageBox test
   MsgBox "Hello, World!"End Sub


A lot of programmers fell in love with the Python language. It's a rapid development language, which means that it saves us a lot of time when developing programs. It works well with functional programming styles, but object orientation can be used as well. One of the major characteristics of the language is the importance of intendention to organise blocks of code. Python is a general purpose language, and it's definitely worth a look no matter what you want to develope. Note that according to the developers a program in Python can take up to 15x less code than in other languages like Java.

Some typical Python code:

def fac(n):
    if n <= 1:
        return 1
    return n * fac(n - 1)


Ruby is not used very often to make games. It's basically a object oriented scripting language.

Some typical Ruby code:

  puts "Hello World"


Perl is yet another scripting language which is often used when it comes to working with text.

Some typical Perl code:

sub logger {
    my $logmessage = shift;
    open my $logfile, ">>", "my.log" or die "Could not open my.log: $!";
    print $logfile $logmessage;


As the name says, JavaScript is a scripting language as well. It's mostly used on websites and it's very easy to learn. The language is hated by a lot of people due to its slowness and security vulnerabilities, and because it's used to display advertisements often.

Some typical JavaScript code:

function message()
  alert("There was an error");


Bash is a language to process commands on Unix systems. It's not very interesting when it comes to making games.

Some typical Bash code:

declare -A x
i=3; j=1
echo ${x[$i,$j]}


Lisp is a functional language that was and is used for a long time (created in 1958). The language is all about paranthesis and math. It's hard to learn, but LISP experts tend to say that it's the most powerful of all the languages.

Some typical Lisp code:

(if (= 1 2 2)
    (list 1 2 "test")
    (list 3 4 "abc"))


SQL is the language of choice when it comes to working with databases. When making a multiplayer game, chances are high that we need to know SQL in order to store the players account data in some database. SQL is easy to learn, but the language itself makes not too much sense at some points. Its design got messed up over the years. Often there are two words for the exact same thing (which increases complexity), and sometimes a word means something completely different when used with another query.

Some typical SQL code:

SELECT * FROM accounts WHERE username = 'SomeName';


Delphi is a very solid object oriented language. It's very easy to learn as a first language, and creating graphical user interfaces is very easy. The syntax is really easy to understand, yet it's a matter of taste. The downside is that it's a proprietary language. It's a solid choice to learn how to make games.

Some typical Delphi code:

procedure TForm1.Button1Click(Sender: TObject);
    Label1.Caption := 'Test';


Lua is yet another scripting language. It's often the number one choice when it comes to scripting in games (for example to develope some monsters behaviour). It's really lightweight and often a good choice.

Some typical Lua code:

local start,finish,delta = 10,1,-1
for index = start,finish,delta do


Assembly is raw machine code. This is what our computer reads when he executes a program. Other languages are always a layer of abstraction to make things easier for us humans, but in the end they are almost always translated to Assembly, so the machines can understand the code.

Some typical Assembly code:

mov eax, edx
add eax, 3
push eax

Which one to choose?

There is no perfect programming language. Which one to choose always depends on the circumstances. It's probably impossible to create a driver in JavaScript, but it also wouldn't make much sense to use Assembly on websites (hence where JavaScript is better for).

Time is always an important aspect. Making a simple tower defense game in Assembly could easily take a whole year (including a lot of headaches). Making the same game in Java could be possible in a month or two. The difference is immense! Just think about it: instead of making one game per year, it's possible to make six games per year by simply choosing a different programming language.

In the end, games are about fun. If you found a language that you enjoy, then just use it! Having fun will decrease the chance of giving up along the way.

If you came here to find an easy language and you don't want to try all of them then take a look at: Java, Delphi, C#, Python and just for the experience one of the system near languages like C++ and one of the functional languages like Lisp.