Draft of, "How to port and market games using #python and #pygame."

This is a collaborative document, and a really early draft. Please feel free to add any tips or links in a comment here or on the reddit post https://www.reddit.com/r/pygame/comments/9aodt7/collaborative_doc_lets_write_pygame_distribution/
You've spent two years making a game, but now want other people to see it?
How do you port it to different platforms, and make it available to others? How do you let people know it is even a thing? Is your game Free Libre software, or shareware?

All python related applications are welcome on www.pygame.org. You'll need a screenshot, a description of your game, and some sort of URL to link people to (a github/gitlab/bitbucket perhaps).  But how and where else can you share it?

a few platforms to port to

  • itch.io and windows
  • windows store?
  • mac (for itch.io)
  • mac store
  • steam
  • linux 'flatpack' (latest fedora/ubuntu etc use this like an app store).
  • pypi (python packages can actually be installed by lots of people)
  • android store
  • web
  • debian
  • redhat/fedora

Make it a python package.

Some of the tools work more easily with your package as a python package. Working with all the different tools is sort of hard, and having a convention for packaging would make things easier.

Python packaging guide - http://packaging.python.org/

So, why don't we do things as a simple python package with one example app to do this? pygame has an example app already, solarwolf - https://github.com/pygame/solarwolf. With work, it could be a good example app to use. We can also link in this guide to other pygame apps that have been distributed on various places.

There are other example apps linked below for different distribution technology.
 

pyinstaller

https://www.pyinstaller.org/
This can make ones for linux, windows, and mac.
pyinstaller --onefile --windowed --icon=icon.ico .py

Windows

pynsist and pyinstaller can be used.
https://github.com/takluyver/pynsist

The benefit of pynsist is that it can create installers. Whereas pyinstaller is for making standalone executables (which is good if you are putting your app on the Steam store for example).

Windows code signing

Flatpak

apps on linux - https://flatpak.org/
Here's an example of making a pygame one. https://github.com/flathub/flathub/pull/478
Developer guide for more detail here - http://docs.flatpak.org/en/latest/

pypi

The python package system can mean your app can be available for everyone who can use pip. Which is an audience in the millions.

Mac

pyinstaller is probably the best option at the moment. If your game is open source, then you could use TravisCI for free to make builds with pyinstaller.

Unfortunately you probably need a Mac to make a mac build, test it, and release on the mac/ios stores. Getting a cheap apple machine off ebay might be the way to go. Or a cloud account perhaps from 'macincloud'. Also the mac developer program costs $100.

Another option might be to borrow a friends machine to make the builds when it's time.
See:

iOS

It's not easy, but possible.

With pygame 2 this should be possible since it uses the new SDL2.
If you use LGPL code on iOS you still have to let your users benefit from the protections the LGPL gives them.

Tom from renpy says... "I've been distributing Ren'Py under LGPL section 6c, which says that you can distribute it along with a written offer to provide the source code required to create the executables. Since Ren'Py has a reasonably strong distinction between the engine and game scripts, the user can then combine the game data from an iOS backup with the newly-linked Ren'Py to get a package they can install through xcode." https://github.com/renpy/pygame_sdl2/issues/109#issuecomment-412156973

An apple developer account costs $100, and selling things costs 30% of the cost of your app. https://developer.apple.com/

Steam

There's a few games released using pygame on steam. Here are two threads of games released:
Costs $100 to join up and sell a game on this store. https://partner.steamgames.com/
Recently someone used pyinstaller to package thier game.
pyinstaller --onefile --windowed --icon=icon.ico .py

SteamworksPy

A python module for the C++ steam sdk. https://github.com/Gramps/SteamworksPy
Made by someone who has released their game (using pygame) on steam.

Itch.io

"itch.io is an open marketplace for independent digital creators with a focus on independent video games."
Quite a few people have released their pygame games on itch.io.

Android

This isn't really possible to do well at the moment without a bit of work.

python-for-android seems the best option, but doesn't work well with pygame. https://github.com/kivy/python-for-android There is an old and unmaintained pygame recipe included (for an old pygame 1.9.1). With some work it should be possible to update the recipe to use the SDL2 support in pygame.

There was an older 'pygame subset for android' which is now unmaintained, and does not work with more recent Android devices.

Web

There's not really an 'export for web' option at the moment. It is possible with both CPython and SDL as well as SDL2 working on emscripten (the compiler for WASM and stuff that goes on the web).
Here is the latest 'cpython on web' project. https://github.com/iodide-project/pyodide

Building if you do not have a windows/mac/linux machine

CI tools

If your game is open source, you can use these systems to build your game remotely for free.
How to do that? Well, that's an exercise left up to the reader. Probably getting it to use pyinstaller, and having them upload the result somewhere.

One python app that uses Travis and Appveyor is the Mu editor. You can see how in their .travis.yml and appveyor.yml files. See https://github.com/mu-editor/mu


Virtualbox

With virtualbox (and other emulators) you can run some systems on your local machine. Which means you do not need to buy a new development machine yourself for those platforms.

Both windows and linux images are available that you could use legally.

https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/

Note, that it is good to do your testing on a free install, rather than testing on the same machine that you made your executables with. This is because perhaps you forgot to include some dependency, and that dependency is on the development machine, but not everyone else's machines.

Writing portable python code

Some old (but still valid) basic advice on making your game portable: https://www.pygame.org/wiki/distributing

Things like naming your files case sensitively.

Announcing your game.

Generic Indie game marketing guides all apply here.

Some python/pygame specific avenues for marketing and announcing...
Of course the python world is a tiny place compared to the entire world.



Icons.

Each platform has slightly different requirements for icons. This might be a nice place to link to all the requirements (TODO).


Making a game trailer (for youtube)

You may not need to make the best trailer, or even a good trailer. Just a screen capture of your game might be 'good enough' and is better than nothing.

How about making a trailer with pygame itself? You could call it 'demo mode', or 'intro mode'.
There's a free iMovie on Mac, the Microsoft video editor on windows, and blender for all platforms. An alternative is to use the python module moviepy and script your game trailer.

OBS is pretty good multi platform free screen capture software. https://obsproject.com/download

Animated gif

These are useful for sharing on twitter and other such places, so people can see game play.
You can save the .png files with pygame, and convert them to a gif with the 'convert' tool from imagemagik.
# brew install imagemagick
# sudo apt-get install imagemagick

# call this in your main loop.
pygame.image.save(surf, 'bla_%05d.png' % frame_idx)

Now you can convert the png files to
convert -delay 20 -loop 0 bla_*png animated.gif

Some solutions on stack overflow.

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