Setting Up MonoGame
We're ready to begin our adventure! Our first step will be to install the necessary software to start making games with MonoGame. Fortunately for us, this software is free! (All of the software I recommend is free, or I'll suggest a free alternative that could work almost as well.)
There will be two pieces to the installation process:
1. Install Visual Studio 2017 Community Edition (if you haven't already).
2. Install MonoGame.
Installing Visual Studio
Our first stop will be to install Visual Studio, if you don't have it already. (If you've gone through my C# tutorials, you've already got this, and you can skip ahead.) Visual Studio is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) provided by Microsoft that is used to make all sorts of software.
Choosing an Edition
Visual Studio comes in a number of variations, ranging from free to insanely expensive. The 2017 edition of Visual Studio has three options to choose from: Community, Professional, and Enterprise.
Let's start at the top and work our way down. Enterprise is the high-end version of Visual Studio. It has more features than the other versions, but is quite expensive. If you're learning or are a hobbyist, I'd recommend against this. The features this adds are minor for the cost, and don't affect the programming itself. (The additional features are mostly for non-programming activities, like architecture and analysis.) If you have a company paying for it, it's worth it, but otherwise it is not.
Professional and Community both the same feature set. The difference is that Community is free while Professional is not. Whether you are allowed to use Community depends on whether you qualify under the license. You can't use Community if:
- Your company has a gross income of more than $1000000 a year.
- Your company has 5+ Visual Studio developers total.
- You company has more than 250 computers.
Basically, if you work for a company that can afford the roughly $500 for Visual Studio, they expect you to pay for it. Otherwise, they do not.
If you're reading these tutorials, you almost certainly don't violate any of those, and can use Community.
Downloading Visual Studio
All three of these options are available from here: https://www.visualstudio.com/downloads/
Chose the option that best suits your needs (probably Community because it is free) and download it and start the installer.
Once the installer comes up, it will ask you for what components and workloads you need to install. You can pick and choose whatever you think you may want some day, but it is also easy to re-run the installer to modify which components you have installed. I'd recommend keeping it simple, and just installing the .NET desktop development workload.
Microsoft does eventually seem to require you to register your copy of Visual Studio, which requires giving them an email address. I've never felt like they've spammed me with this. The emails seem to be rather rare, and notify me when a new version of Visual Studio is available, which is nice.
If you don't register, you'll only have about a 30 day free trial (yes, a free trial for free software, which is a little odd) before they block you.
For the free Community edition, this only requires an email address, not a credit card or anything like that.
With Visual Studio installed, you're ready to install MonoGame. Currently, MonoGame is version 3.6, but I know that is bound to change eventually. Like with Visual Studio, if when you read this, you discover that there is a version newer than 3.6, please let me know so that I can fix it.
The place to download MonoGame is here: http://www.monogame.net/downloads/
(Follow the link to 3.6 and then click on MonoGame 3.6 for Visual Studio.)
At this point, you should have everything you need to start making games with MonoGame! In the next tutorial, we'll do just that!
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