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How crucial is iOS/ OS X experience?


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#1 WaywardSquanderer   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 01:14 PM

Macs are expensive. Installing OS X on a non-Apple machine is a pain in the arse for a noob.

I think it is fair to say that indie development is on the rise and part of that includes deploying a game to as many platforms as possible. While OS X has a small market share in the PC environment, iOS is a very popular mobile platform. So, is it enough for a game dev studio to see that a prospective hire has worked on Android and Windows Phone 7? Is OS X or iOS development different enough such that an employer wouldn't want to bother with a new hire's learning curve if they haven't worked with it before?

I'm having a bit of a dilemma here, as I am considering a purchase of an HP laptop with superior specs (except screen res and Thunderbolt port) and $900 cheaper than the high end MacBook Pro 15 in. I've looked into how to install OS X on the laptop and none of it is straight forward and much more hassle than I want to deal with at this point.

So would this $900 Apple taxed machine with inferior hardware be a worthy investment in my future, presuming that future is in game dev? While I would like to work in "AAA" development eventually, I'd rather be prepared for as many jobs as possible in game development.

I'm aware that I'm not including premium design features (aluminum body, high quality track pad, etc.) that Mac owners use to justify the price in this discussion. I believe that those things are luxuries that I don't need. I have no disdain for Apple products, and I do in fact want a Macbook Pro. I just can't justify spending that much money for OS X, a Thunderbolt connector and otherwise inferior specs. Unless of course it will give me a significant edge in a job interview...

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#2 loom_weaver   Members   -  Reputation: 325

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 03:39 PM

It depends on the studio. If they create iOS games then having experience in that area is a big plus (and you'll probably need a Mac to get this).

That being said, your skills as a developer, portfolio, and interview ability is what really matters, not what laptop you use.

#3 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17216

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 11:33 PM

If you're going for a job specifically creating games for iOS then obviously a developer with actual iOS experience would be preferred over one without, but in the general case simply showing you have the ability to learn how to target different platforms should be sufficient assuming you are otherwise qualified (relevant degree, portfolio, ability to answer interview question, etc.).

Unless you're specifically interested in a studio that does a lot of iOS work I would go with the purchase you're more happy to make for now -- you can always pick up the hardware and experience for iOS development later. If you're just after a portfolio piece that runs on iOS hardware you could also consider targeting that platform with Flash -- not quite the same thing, but it may still give you a leg up over someone with no iOS-based portfolio piece, and shows you can take the hardware requirements into consideration and work with different tool-sets.

#4 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8647

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 11:39 PM

is it enough for a game dev studio to see that a prospective hire has worked on Android and Windows Phone 7?

Not if the studio develops for Playstation3 or Nintendo.
Read FAQ 49.
-- Tom Sloper
Sloperama Productions
Making games fun and getting them done.
www.sloperama.com

Please do not PM me. My email address is easy to find, but note that I do not give private advice.

#5 WaywardSquanderer   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 07:19 AM

It depends on the studio. If they create iOS games then having experience in that area is a big plus (and you'll probably need a Mac to get this).

That being said, your skills as a developer, portfolio, and interview ability is what really matters, not what laptop you use.


Thank you for your well stated point. I suppose iOS is more crucial for a dev studio that works exclusively with iOS, though I wonder if such a place exists. As well, I will attempt to install the Mac OS X on a non-Mac machine and/or virtually.




#6 WaywardSquanderer   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 07:28 AM

If you're going for a job specifically creating games for iOS then obviously a developer with actual iOS experience would be preferred over one without, but in the general case simply showing you have the ability to learn how to target different platforms should be sufficient assuming you are otherwise qualified (relevant degree, portfolio, ability to answer interview question, etc.).

Unless you're specifically interested in a studio that does a lot of iOS work I would go with the purchase you're more happy to make for now -- you can always pick up the hardware and experience for iOS development later. If you're just after a portfolio piece that runs on iOS hardware you could also consider targeting that platform with Flash -- not quite the same thing, but it may still give you a leg up over someone with no iOS-based portfolio piece, and shows you can take the hardware requirements into consideration and work with different tool-sets.



I think I will also do some research on the Unity3D engine, as it seems that it is designed to aid in multi-platform deployment.



#7 WaywardSquanderer   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 09:04 AM

is it enough for a game dev studio to see that a prospective hire has worked on Android and Windows Phone 7?

Not if the studio develops for Playstation3 or Nintendo.
Read FAQ 49.


Mr. Sloper, evidently I must apologize for a poorly worded ( or "dumb" as stated in your blog) question. In retrospect, what I had intended to ask was whether not having iOS experience (while having WP7 and Android experience) would be cause for a mobile game developer to discount my resume or job inquiry. An even better question would be to ask "How significant is the difference among developing for iOS v. WP7/Android?" Is the learning curve steep? Is it so steep that a prospective employer would rather not spend time allowing someone to train or learn the environment?

Also, I failed to specify that the original question was referencing mobile game devs. I can see how this would be confusing as I'd stated that I also hope to eventually participate in "AAA" development. I'd like to point out that I hate using the phrase "AAA" as it seems to imply that mobile games are not serious undertakings, which I know is generally not the case. I believe that there are valuable gameplay experiences that can be had from PCs, consoles, mobile platforms and web browsers. I am just trying to plan ahead to take into consideration the trend (anecdotal or not) of the industry moving towards smaller teams working on smaller projects.

Two inferences you make of laziness and trying to cut corners are unnecessary and insulting. I'm aware of your disclaimer of applying the contents of the article to the reader's situation (such as my not being lazy), however statements of judgement like these are still distracting from the point you are trying to make. You also state there being a problem with the "naivete behind the question". A question is generally asked because of naivete, i.e. having a lack of judgement, experience or information. To be bothered by this encourages people to remain naive and ignorant, which is actually more dumb than asking a 'dumb question'.

I think it is fair to say that $900 is a significant amount of money. As well, trying to maximize the utility of the dollar by getting as high quality as possible for a reasonable price, i.e. the difference between getting the cheapest Mac machine v. an equivalently priced but more powerful PC, is also a reasonable action. I refer to the wisdom of loom_weaver, jbadams and the first statment in your comment in this regard. The product in question is really a means to an end, with that end being the development of software that will hopefully aid in my being employed in game development. Thus, having experience with a certain technology will probably not outweigh having a portfolio well designed code and projects written for other platforms, unless the employer works primarily with that technology.

Lastly, I want you to know that I have visited your website on a few occasions and have found it useful. I do take your point that nothing is enough. A better way to state this might be: "you only need to meet the qualifications of the resume, bring more to the table than the competition, impress someone enough to offer you a job without your inquiry, patience, luck, and a strong professional network." That seems like a sufficient starting point. Again, I apologize for the lack of clarity in my original question, hence the length of this response.

#8 Tachikoma   Members   -  Reputation: 548

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 12:38 PM

Regarding iOS development, it is sufficient to get a refurb Mac Mini for nearly half the price of the $900 machine you posted. If you want to focus purely on iOS development, you don't need much grunt. Just get plenty of memory.

That said, writing a iOS game on other platforms is possible, provided you keep as much code platform neutral as possible. You can download OpenGL ES 2.0 emulators on Windows or Linux, including PVR texture compression support. OpenAL is also widely supported. However, you will need to do a lot boilerplate stuff on your own, or use some cross platform lib; and then you will need Objective-C to glue everything together at some point, which means using Xcode/Mac anyway.
Latest project: Sideways Racing on the iPad

#9 WaywardSquanderer   Members   -  Reputation: 120

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 08:16 PM

Regarding iOS development, it is sufficient to get a refurb Mac Mini for nearly half the price of the $900 machine you posted. If you want to focus purely on iOS development, you don't need much grunt. Just get plenty of memory.

That said, writing a iOS game on other platforms is possible, provided you keep as much code platform neutral as possible. You can download OpenGL ES 2.0 emulators on Windows or Linux, including PVR texture compression support. OpenAL is also widely supported. However, you will need to do a lot boilerplate stuff on your own, or use some cross platform lib; and then you will need Objective-C to glue everything together at some point, which means using Xcode/Mac anyway.



There is much to digest in your response; thank you. And the $900 is the difference in cost (savings) between the Apple product and the Windows machine, not the total cost of the Apple product.



#10 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6765

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 09:21 PM

There are few facets here regarding mac vs PC:

Firstly, while its true that laptops of greater or equal spec can be had on the PC side for less, in my experience owning both PC and Mac laptops, the macs are very competetive with PC laptops of similar build-quality. This is something that's hard to describe in terms that geeks like you or I can appreciate because we tend to look at the bullet-points first, and to not put much value at all on the complete package. The Unibody macbook I'm typing on right now is, to date, the nicest laptop I've owned or used. For what its worth, I kind of consider HP to be on the lower-rung of PC laptops. Lenovo makes good kit, so does Asus. If you do decide to stick with a PC laptop, I would recommend either option (or nearly any other, frankly) over HP. I'm not that surprised that the HP would be so much cheaper at a more impressive spec, but ask yourself, how do the manage to do that? By cutting corners on the overall package. One example I like to give is the trackpad -- trackpads universally suck on PC laptops, not so on the macbook -- in fact, I like it so much that I almost never use the mouse I bought for it. I don't think I've even touched that mouse in the last two years. Battery life is great too -- the value of needing *only* the laptop itself shouldn't be underestimated. carrying a power adapter and mouse everywhere you go is a pain, and just you try using a mouse on a small starbucks table or cramped airline seat.

Second, owning a Mac can give you experience with OSX and iOS, as well as significant exposure to linux/unix tools, as Unix forms the underpinnings of Mac OS. This is another useful and transferable skill -- some tools from the Unix world don't work on Windows the same as, as well as, or in extreme cases -- at all, due to the non-posix nature of Windows. Git is a good example -- it works, but not *quite* the same as, or as well as, Git on any flavor of *nix or other POSIX operating systems.

The third thing is that, ultimately the choice comes down to you and what you want to do. Any skill you develop is a gainful one -- on one platform you might gain access to more or different types of skills. Whether the cost is worth it or not is up to you. Clearly I like mine, I'm glad I got it. Its a 2009 13" unibody model and I still find if sufficient for all my needs. I do wish the screen was higher resolution (1440x900 or 1600x900) but I get by. I'm going to max out the RAM at 8 gigs next month (up from just 2 gigs) and I fully expect to get another 2-3 years out of it.

#11 zerotri   Members   -  Reputation: 274

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 12:07 PM

I do not mean to come off as rude here, and I apologize if I do. I merely wish to help open your mind a bit to other ways of thought.

Get rid of the "apple tax" mindset. I get the impression from the way you word your first post that you believe that apple products are seemingly inferior and just cost an arm and a leg without providing any other value to the consumer user.
Stop.

If you are intending to target that audience of Apple users, your software is going to require that you have the mindset to build an OS X or iOS application. Having used Windows for years and recently switching to using only OS X and iOS I can tell you that applications built for Apple users have a certain build quality that simply wasn't seen as often on Windows(This is more a developer problem than an OS problem, IMO). My point is not to debate on the quality of Windows vs Mac OS X, or to start a flamewar. If you want to sell yourself as someone who can develop for the platform, you need to understand the aesthetics of the software the DOES sell on it. When I go to purchase an application I will spend the money on it, if I see that it is an application that I can come to enjoy. This enjoyment comes both from the usability of the application as well as the aesthetics of the application. On the app store there are some really well designed applications and some really crappy ones, and often I find myself not caring about an application unless I can see that the application will be enjoyable for me (either through a demo or a video online).

Here are some well designed iOS applications:
  • Tweetbot
  • Reeder
  • Calvetica
As well as some well designed Mac applications:
  • Pixelmator
  • Sparrow
  • Cornerstone
  • DaisyDisk
  • TextMate
So do you plan on learning to develop applications that are going to be top quality, or do you plan on developing the next crap-ware fart/flashlight app?

With that in mind, a Mac Mini will suffice. You don't need the Apple Keyboard + Mouse or the Cinema display, and for what you are doing they aren't worth the investment when there are other perfectly good alternatives out there. If you want a machine with a bit more muscle and can afford the price, the new iMac is quite a powerful beauty and I still have not seen a single all-in-one out there that defeats or even meets it's specs for that price (and the price has gotten pretty affordable with the newest model). If an all-in-one isn't your thing, then go for one of the laptops. The 13" should suffice hardware-wise(including the intel gpu) but the screen resolution may become annoying when working in XCode, and you may find the 15" or 17" more to your liking, but price will become a key factor there.

I would not suggest running a hackintosh. I've done so many times, and running one will likely leave the impression that the OS is buggy and crashes often, which may lower your expectations for what you will need to develop for the platform. The software works best on Apple hardware in most cases. Ravyne points out a few benefits to running Apple hardware as well. Refurbished macs will do you fine and are cheap. Check out your surroundings on craigslist, someone probably has a 2009 macbook pro on there for $600-800. If in a month you decide you don't like it, post it back up and you will likely find you can get back the exact amount of money you paid on the unit.

So please, if you're going to be building an application targeting Mac users like myself, consider purchasing a Mac so you can understand what it is we actually enjoy paying for. Use it for a while...and I don't mean just to use XCode; Consider using Mac applications for some of your daily tasks like checking your email(Sparrow) or using Twitter (Twitter for Mac) or keeping up-to-date on the latest tech news(Reeder for Mac beta). Even just integrating a few small tasks and keeping an open mind and a designers' eye out for some of the nuances can help you understand what apple users look for in an application.

With all of that said I wish you luck with your future development goals and hopefully I'll see your app up in the app store soon,
-Wynter Woods

#12 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6765

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 02:08 PM

Zerotri makes some good points -- firstly on the Craigslist thing. Macs hold their value quite a bit better than most PC laptops, so you can essentially "rent" one for free by buying it keeping it for a few months, and then selling it at little or no loss. Also, if you don't need portability a Mac mini is the lowest cost of entry. I've got a PowerPC Mac mini that I remote into from my desktop PC that I use to test code on a big-endian, non-x86 processor, and also to play with the altivec instructions. Being an older model with 100mb Ethernet, I don't get screen updates quite fast enough, but any intel-based mini with 1000mb Ethernet ought to be fast enough to test iOS apps in the emulator over the remote connection.




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