Monday, 24 October 2011

The tools: a decision

Having given it much thought I have come to a decision about the gaming environment I am to start with. To summarise I will list my findings to date and then let you know which one I am to write my first game with.

This was the first for me and I enjoyed using it. it was pretty straightforward to use and would fit well with those coming into gaming that maybe come from a design background or used to using products such as Adobe Flash.
Key Facts
Programming Language: Not applicable
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad, Web)
Notable Games: Angry Anna, Bumps
Cost: $499 pe year

While a steep learning curve at first it was very rewarding when getting things working. A knowledge of objective-c, XCode and Box2D is advantageous the excellent community and books available make almost any question, answerable.
Key Facts
Programming Language: Objective-c, C++
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad)
Notable Games: Feed me Oil, Tap Pet Hotel, Tap Zoo, Air Penguin, Zombie Farm, Trainyard
Cost: Free

Found this framework to be a half way house between GameSalad and Cocos2D. The new programming language took a little getting used to but the speed you could get things going as well as a decent community support meant I was up and running in no time. In built Box2D capabilities allowed me to achieve decent physic effects with a few lines of code.
Key Facts
Programming Language: Lua
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad), Android
Notable Games: Bubble Ball. Blast Monkeys, Globs, Float, Forgotten Places Lost Circus HD, Critter Quitters, Turtle and Rabbit Hare, ESP Guitar Experience
Cost: iOS: $199/year, Android $199/year, Both: $349/year

Unity 3D
I haven't really touched the surface of this and the power of the product is very clear. However, I was very mindful again of the words of Steffen Itterheim in Learn iPhone and iPad cocos2d Game Development, reiterating the need to focus on some achievable. With that in mind I have shelved this to at least year two when I have a game or two under my belt.
Key Facts
Programming Language: Javascript, C# and Boo
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad), Android, Web
Notable Games: Battleheart, Zombieville USA, Battle Bears
Cost: iOS: $400/$1500, Android $400/$1500

This promised much from having read the website and gone through the forums. After downloading and registering I fired up the sample projects. Here started my problems!! Under the trial license you need to communicate with SIO2's licensing server but my license key wasn't recognised from their developer portal. A common problem from what I have read on forums and across google. I tried to then contact technical support but was told this wasn't available unless I upgraded. I also tried using iChat to get some assistance but was refused connection.
Key Facts
Programming Language: Lua
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad), Android, Web
Notable Games: Manic Marbles, Bowmaster
Cost: iOS: $399, Android $399

iTorque 2D
To be honest I didn't evaluate this one. But they describe themselves as follows:
"Making games for the iPhone, iPhone4, iPod touch, and iPad is now a fast, fun, and straightforward process using Torque's tools for game development. The unparalleled 2D editor has been extended to bring more iOS control and features to your fingertips with less coding required.

Students, designers, and indies can jump start their development with easy and powerful technology used by thousands of developers. Advanced developers can accelerate their development with this feature rich development environment.
Your iTorque 2D license provides the following features specific to the iPhone, iPhone 4, iPod touch, and iPad"
Key Facts
Programming Language: TorqueScript
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad)
Notable Games: Mass Effect Galaxy, Marble Blast Mobile
Cost: iOS: $149

Gideros Studio
Deniz Asli Soykurum Cetin, co-founder of Gideros, very kindly pointed out their game development framework. I have decided at this time not evaluate but that is not slight on their product but more a focus on those that have gone before them. They say:
"With Gideros Studio, now it’s possible to build a proof of concept demo of your application in a couple of hours. You can test your application idea in your desired platform by simply clicking play button, thanks to AS3-like functions in Gideros Studio. Even if you are an experienced mobile designer, fast testing your application concept on the real device will give you a important feedback about the user experience. You can use the accelerometer of iPhone for example, to see if your idea is fun enough."
Key Facts
Programming Language: Lua
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad), Android
Notable Games: Tim the Timber
Cost: Free/$139/$449

Thank you to @_danyal for telling me about this product. Again, I have not tested as this seems pretty advanced for a newbie but offers good testimonials as well apps that have been created with it. In short, Marmalade is described as "the world’s most powerful SDK for the creation of richer apps and games on iOS, Android and other platforms. Marmalade’s unique technical architecture offers maximum performance through true native code."
Key Facts
Programming Language: C/C++
Supported Platforms: iOS, Android, Symbian, bada, webOS
Notable Games: Need for Speed Shift, Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2011, Backbreaker Football
Cost: Free/$149/$499/$3499

Steffen Itterheim who wrote the aforementioned Learn iPhone and iPad Cocos2D Game Development has also been busy extending the Cocos2D framework. Extending what is already an excellent language is obviously one to watch. Steffan writes: "Kobold2D is an extended and improved version of the popular Cocos2D game engine. Kobold2D is easier to get started with, more convenient to use, more powerful and flexible than Cocos2D. Use Kobold2D to develop iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Mac OS X games for the Apple App Stores. Kobold2D is free and open source with additional premium content to support its development."
Key Facts
Programming Language: Objective-C
Supported Platforms: iOS (Mac, iPhone, iPad)
Notable Games: N/A
Cost: Free

So who have I gone for? Well I have really debated this but Steffan's words keep ringing in my head as well as a new member of my conscience, Jay Jennings. Jay Jennings for those of you who may or may not know wrote the excellent Corona Project Manager. He said something that has stuck in my head for days and that was: "I got into game development because I want to DEVELOP GAMES, not program". This was a really valid point that I had lost focus on. Given that the first two years of this project is to deliver quality successful games I have to be realistic and put my time into game design, polish and marketing to achieve results.

It is because of this I have decided to go with Corona. While the Lua language is at present a complete mystery to me I was able to get my prototype up and running very quickly and with the ability to relatively inexpensively distribute to both iOS and Android devices this had the final advantage over Cocos2D.

Wish me luck!


Danyal said...

Good call! A couple of months ago it was Corona or Cocos2D for me too. I've gone the other way but I'm looking forward to reading about your experiences with Corona and Lua.

Jay Jennings said...

Glad that I could help you get started "right." ;)

Actually, anything you had decided would have probably worked for you (mostly), because the big thing is to just get started using *something*.

Good luck!


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