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MGDF - Matchstick game development framework

What is it

MGDF is a framework designed to make developing, installing, distributing, and updating games on Windows (Windows 7+ supported) easier. The framework uses DirectX 11 for graphics, RawInput/XInput for user input (has full support for the XBox 360 controller), and OpenAL for audio (supports 3d positional audio and audio streaming using Ogg Vorbis). The framework also provides a virtual file system which allows easy access to resources stored in zipped archives (new archive formats can also be plugged in).

  • MGDF makes developing games in c++ faster and easier as you no longer have to build and rebuild the same boilerplate code for initializing DirectX/Audio etc, loading preferences and setting up a render loop every single time you make a game. This means you can spend more time making your game.
  • MGDF makes distributing games easier as it includes an auto update mechanism with full versioning support.

How do I build games using MGDF?

To download the SDK, or view the getting started and API reference, go to Alternatively you can clone this repo instead of downloading the pre-built SDK.


The framework is composed of three main parts (the second two of which are not required for running games, but for online updating/distribution)

The core

This is written in c++ and is the part of the framework which actually runs the games. The core works by initializing the graphics/input/audio devices, loading up user preferences and setting up a multithreaded render/simulation loop before boostrapping the user supplied game dll and passing control on to that dll. Once up and running the game dll can then access the frameworks functionality via a series of c++ interfaces (graphics, audio, input, virtual filesystem etc...)

The GamesManager (Optional)

This is written in C# (.NET 4.6) and consists a windows forms application which provides a graphical user interface for launching and updating games.

Statistics services (Optional)

This is written in c# (.NET 4.6) and is a WCF web service that allows games to submit statistics to remotely in order to help developers get better information on how their games are being played. In order to respect users privacy, any games wishing to upload statistics to a statistics service will have to be granted permission by the user. This service exposes a simple REST API and could be implemented using a non .NET backend if required.

Building Source

  • Using Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 build Matchstick/Matchstick.sln in x64 debug/release configurations

Running unit tests

All managed code projects use nunit 3, all unmanaged code tests are contained within the core.tests.exe binary which must first be compiled as part of the Matchstick/Matchstick.sln project Once built, running this exe from the command line will run the test suite.

To make running the unmanaged unit tests easier you can set up an external tool in visual studio. Go to tools->external tools and select Add. Then fill in the following fields

Title: Core tests
Command: <MGDF bin dir>\core.tests.exe
Initial Directory: $(TargetDir)
Also tick use output window

Running core.exe from command line

core.exe can be invoked either via the GamesManager or directly via the command line. For ease of debugging command line parameters can also be placed in a params.txt file in the application directory (the contents of this file will have preference over anything specified on the command line)


  • -logLevel: (OPTIONAL) allows you to specify the logging verbosity, possible values in descending order of verbosity log_low|log_medium|log_high|log_error
  • -userdiroverride (OPTIONAL) if specified, the directory from which to load and save user specific data to (save games/preferences etc.) will be either the gamesdir override (if specified) or application directory. If this parameter is omitted, the data directory will be the users appData\Local\MGDF<uid> folder
  • -gamediroverride: (OPTIONAL) allows you to specify a directory from which to load games from (by default this is the core.exe's application /game subdirectory). Useful for local development

Running GamesManager.exe from command line


  • -register: In order to make installing/uninstalling your game easier, you can use the gamesManager register argument to create installed program registry entries, desktop shortcuts, start menu shortcuts and windows games explorer integration.

  • -deregister: Removes anything added via the register argument

  • -gamediroverride: (OPTIONAL) allows you to specify a directory from which to load games from (by default this is the core.exe's application /game subdirectory). Useful for local development

  • -noupdatecheck (OPTIONAL) disables checks for updates.

Building a release package

  • To build a release package, run Matchstick\build\build.ps1 -Target Dist -buildnumber=x.x.x from a powershell prompt. This will put the generated release in /dist
  • To publish the release, locate /dist from the previous step and run Matchstick\build\build.ps1 -Target Publish -dist=<dist_folder_from_previous_step> -backup=<some_build_archive_folder> -s3accesskey=xxxx -s3secretkey=yyyy from a powershell prompt.


Matchstick game development framework - A framework designed to make developing games easier






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