Of course you’ve always wanted to develop a game of your own, it’s every gamer’s dream to do so. Beginning on mobile platforms is a inexpensive and easier way to get your feet wet in the game development industry. In fact, in 2014, more digital media was consumed on mobile devices than desktops for the first time in history (study). With constant improvements in the processing power of smartphones and tablets as well as upgrades to network coverage and download speeds, mobile gaming is one of the major contributors to this trend. If you want to get yourself into the game development game, here are 7 of the best game development tools out there, that’ll make your games and vision as professional and as unique as possible.
Stingray is a brand new release from the software giant Autodesk for creating visually demanding games across iOS, Android and consoles. The company leveraged its 2014 acquisition of the Bitsquid engine, using its data-driven architecture to build Stingray. The engine enjoys interop support for Autodesk’s 3D tools Maya, Maya LT, and 3DS Max. It also uses Lua scripting and the node-based visual scripting system Flow for easily creating game logic. Subscription plans for Stingray begin at just $30 per month, and this includes access to Maya LT’s full feature set that focuses on indie game development.
Marmalade places a large emphasis on the speed of developing cross-platform games such as Plants vs. Zombies and Vector. A set of APIs provides access to the device’s camera, GPS, accelerometer, and more. An indie license costs $499 and comes with access to SDKs Marmalade Juice and Marmalade Quick. The engine’s creators pride themselves on the fact that users can quickly create games like SimCity BuildIt and port to iOS, Android, and more from a single Lua or C++ codebase with native performance on each device.
The latest iteration of this engine is Unity 5, which continues the accessibility of previous versions while improving the production quality. This engine can be used to create simple 2D games or full-blown 3D action adventures. Space Ape Games’ latest release, Rival Kingdoms, capitalized on the engine’s 64-bit support and physically-based shading to enhance game features. Unity’s integrated development environment supports C#, UnityScript, and Boo, and allows porting between all major platforms. If your game revenues where to exceed $100k, you will be asked to upgrade to Unity Pro, but the fundamental tools are available for free and provide royalty-free publishing to iOS, Android, Windows Store, and BlackBerry 10.
Competition is a great driver of gamer engagement, and the Nextpeer multi-player social SDK allows developers to add multi-player capabilities to sync and async mobile games. Releases like 2048 and Tippy Tap are already taking advantage of its capabilities, which include real-time interactions with other players, live rankings in the Nextpeer news feed, and an innovative delayed sync technology for allowing other users to play against past sessions. The studio version of this cross-platform social layer costs $199 per month, or you could incorporate the basic plan for free if you are willing to permit ads by Nextpeer.
Enhance the impact of in-game sound with FMOD by Firelight Technologies. The adaptive audio technology is modelled on professional digital audio equipment tools like Logic and Ableton, so it boasts an accessible but still comprehensive interface. In addition to digital sound creation, FMOD allows developers to adjust sounds and music while the game plays due to live in-game mixing capabilities. This technology was used by Avalanche to speed run audio production for Just Cause 3, and it was used to mix music and motors in Forza Horizon 2. An indie license for this engaging tool is free.
If you are looking to add a more interactive user experience to your gaming environment, communication-as-a-service technology from Agora.io adds a whole new dimension. This SDK makes it simple to integrate real-time voice and video chat directly into your gaming platform to drive social interaction within multi-player games. This technology leverages Agora’s global RTC-optimized virtual network to produce consistent quality of experience across the world while efficiently processing player communications in just a few hundred milliseconds, leaving more processing power for your game. It can scale up to 2,000 gamers communicating simultaneously in a single session, quite a lot more than today’s arena or raiding teams, plus the first 10,000 voice/video minutes are free every month.
7. Substance Designer
This latest offering from Allegorithmic makes it easier than ever to enhance the visual impact of your game. Substance Designer 5 enables node-based texturing and non-linear workflows that connect the channels for you, allowing for quick iterations. Turn 10 Studios showed what this compositing software is capable of in Forza Motorsport 6 by taking advantage of the platform’s physics-based rendering with impressive results. Substance Designer 5 integrates with any game engine, even in-house ones, with an indie license costing $149.
If you have a great idea for a video game, don’t be afraid to give it a shot by using these tools to make it a reality. Of course there is a learning curve to each of these tools, but it’s easier and more intuitive now, more than ever, to create the game of your dreams. And it’s the mobile platform that is the place to get started with, because relatively speaking, it’s the quickest to actually get your game out on.