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Gaming Platform question for iOS (and possibly Android) Game


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#1 vividcode   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 03:32 AM

Hello GameDevs!

This is my first post here, so thanks for stopping by!

I am newbi to this group, but a programming professional since more than a decade.
I am a recent entrant into gaming, and have couple of game ideas to publish on my own.
I have been researching the net for obvious questions - have tried half a dozen mobile game IDEs so far, and still unsure if I am missing something crucial here.
Can anyone lead me into proper direction?

1) I have a very simple game idea.
Does not require much graphics but simple view-only DB operations (can be handled through flat file too, but the content should be private)

With my experience so far, I can do it in any language - be it c++, C#, javascript or Lua - looking at the online resources so far.

As for Game IDEs, I know Unity 3d (toughest), Shiva 3d (OK for me), Eclipse (OK for me) and Titanium (bit awkward structure, also, can't get how much it costs for pro version)

2) I want to publish on iPhone platform first. Later I may choose to publish on Android too.
I want to minimize my development efforts.
I don't have mac, neither I am intending to buy it.
I have 2 windows PCs - xp and Vista
(Lately I have been reading that there are services that allow you to compile against mac and publish it, but I need specific details)

3) Last but not the least - I want to minimize my costs - at least until I make a break-even revenue with my game.

Questions:

a) What is the best IDE to go for, which will require me to do minimal coding, and the app will be ready with just some drag-drops and event handlers?

b) Will this IDE allow me to create
- iPhone app on my windows box - if not, how much is the minimum cost to get it done?
- android app on my windows box

c) What is the total cost involved including hardware, licensing and publishing?
- considering iPhone as the only target
- considering iPhone + Android both

I think anyone who has been through this phase definitely knows where I am, and what's best for me.
Specific answers, please, as I have searched and googled too much, and I am tired with answers like "it depends on how you want to do it" sort of stuff!

Thanks to all in advance for reading me this far :-)
-vividcode

Sponsor:

#2 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 10070

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 07:39 AM

The "Breaking In" forum is for posts about preparing for, or getting, employment in the game industry.
Moving this to a more appropriate forum.
-- 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.

#3 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 22242

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 09:11 AM

a) What is the best IDE to go for, which will require me to do minimal coding, and the app will be ready with just some drag-drops and event handlers?

Minimal coding means you need to pick an existing engine. There are many different engines out there, exactly which one you choose depends on your target game and your available funds.

Even with that, "minimal" probably means several hundred hours of effort.

b) Will this IDE allow me to create
- iPhone app on my windows box - if not, how much is the minimum cost to get it done?
- android app on my windows box

Apple requires all iPhone development to be done on a Mac. iPhone app on windows is not a supported configuration... although you can search for "Hackintosh" to see how some people have done it.

Android on Windows is just fine. Download the Android SDK. It is written in Java so you can develop on any platform.

c) What is the total cost involved including hardware, licensing and publishing?
- considering iPhone as the only target
- considering iPhone + Android both

Hardware for iPhone will include a mac and a phone, you'll need to register as a developer. If you don't own any of them it will run about $4000, almost all of that for the hardware.



Check the forum's FAQ for a list of cross-platform engines. So far there are no free cross-platform engines out there.

Check out my book, Game Development with Unity, aimed at beginners who want to build fun games fast.

Also check out my personal website at bryanwagstaff.com, where I write about assorted stuff.


#4 freakchild   Members   -  Reputation: 557

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:33 AM

a) What is the best IDE to go for, which will require me to do minimal coding, and the app will be ready with just some drag-drops and event handlers?


To be completely honest, you'd likely have to say a little more about the app you wish to make in order for anyone to give you an idea about whether any particular game development suite or ide is going to be suited towards towards creating that game. There are quite a few options, some of which won’t meet your needs and some of which might be overkill.

Just as an example...gamesalad is aimed at doing minimal coding via drag and drop game creation and thus given what you’ve said it might fit your needs. But without a little more info on your app I couldn't tell you whether it was appropriate or not.

IMHO…you'll be best off just furthering your trials of the various options to the extent where you actually try to put at least a part of your game together. This will tell you much more about what the best solution is for your needs than any subjective answer on a forum.

b) Will this IDE allow me to create
- iPhone app on my windows box - if not, how much is the minimum cost to get it done?
- android app on my windows box


I think there is one solution that does allow you to create an iOS app on your windows box. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it and even a google hasn’t helped. I wouldn’t actually recommend it anyway because every time people have discussed it on another forum I subscribe to - the feedback has been generally quite negative and this has been from professional game developers who I trust.

So…if you wish to develop on windows you’ll likely be targeting Android first and then porting it to iOS at a later date, or developing for both targets side-by-side. You’ll naturally want to have a solution that supports both platforms well then.

Again, I’ll be up front with you. If you really want to target iOS you should just get a Mac and an iOS device. Why?
Well, first…if you want to create a game for both platforms it’s best to trial the platform specific support for each solution. However, in your case because you do seem to want to stick to Windows based development I really would suggest you evaluate the full workflow of developing on Windows for Android and then switching across to Mac/iOS. Bear in mind you may wish to evaluate switching targets regularly as you might in a scenario where you develop for both platforms side-by-side and/or you may want to consider evaluating for the workflow of developing the game in its entirety on one platform, then porting to the other.

If you really do want to avoid getting a Mac now and cannot evaluate this 'feature', I would personally just stick with a known entity like Unity for now. This might be overkill for your app though.

Incidentally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing everything for Android in a Windows environment. But bear in mind that even if you don’t evaluate the multi-platform support now you’ll still need a Mac and iOS setup eventually regardless.

c) What is the total cost involved including hardware, licensing and publishing?
- considering iPhone as the only target
- considering iPhone + Android both


4GB Mac-mini (So mac-mini @ $599 + 2GB of extra RAM OR Mac-mini @ $799 which already has the RAM)
SDK licensing @ $99.
Minimum iOS hardware (8GB iPod touch) @ $199.

Read: you can get in to iOS from scratch for about $1000

That is a minimum but also sufficient. I wouldn’t recommend going for the $599 mac-mini without getting the extra RAM - do not be tempted by this..yes it will work, but you need the extra RAM to get sufficient speed from the development environment for your workflow.

The iPod touch is also a minimum but also quite/more than sufficient unless you want to target specifically or optionally support a tablet or you’re using features that would only be in a phone (such as GPS).

To add Android to this I assume you already have a windows box given your comments about sticking to that OS as your development host. So your cost here is really going to be the cost of a tablet or phone (the SDK is free). A decent-ish tablet will run @ $399 although there are deals to be had here and there. A phone can be much less or the same (mine was $150 although I don’t use it for development as it’s Android 2.2 and not very powerful – I stick to the tablet devices instead). Bear in mind performance and features vary somewhat wildly and you'll likely at least want something supporting at least Android 2.3 at this stage.

If you are looking to develop cheaply on tablet you could also consider a Kindle Fire. Some people do use these for development, although they require a small modification to .ini files on your PC to work for that (takes about two minutes) and personally I don’t think they are the best for development. As such I would only recommend this for the lower end apps, but some people do indeed development more than lower end with this. Cost of Android SDK is free.

If you want to make it even cheaper, then you could try not buying any hardware and using the emulators/simulators. This would also reduce your iOS SDK cost too. You could try this, but I would generally advise that you’ll likely (depending on your game) meet the limits of these very quickly and end up needing the target hardware either way. You would obviously need an IDE or SDK that supports this if you took that route. Again, I would steer you away from this in general…I only mention it because it has some validity as a solution if you have a limited budget. If you are interested in this, I would at least suggest you consider it only an interim solution.

Some people might say you need a more powerful Mac. So…I’ll mention that incidentally, I am developing an fps game via porting a PC engine to both iOS and Android. I’m doing something that would generally be considered higher end and I am using the $599 mac-mini with extra memory and an iPad 2 for iOS and a Windows 7 PC with a Motorola Xoom and a Kindle Fire for Android. Prior to the company buying the tablet hardware I actually developed for iOS using my own iPod touch.

Bear in mind...all costs quoted here are based about getting a development environment set up. If you're doing all the work yourself, there will be no other development costs unless you have to pay for an IDE. If you need others to do some work, there will be additional costs to pay those people.

It also doesn't cost anything to put an app out there for sale but bear in mind that your app may need a cash spend to assist it have even some small success. Therefore publishing can include costs for marketing and promotion, which still don't offer any guarantee. What you spend on this (if anything) is really up to you though.

Edited by freakchild, 15 May 2012 - 11:45 AM.


#5 vividcode   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 11:58 AM

@Frob and freakchild - thanks for your replies.

@Frob - I know about Hackintosh. However I am search of something simpler than that - like building on PC, then getting it compiled on mac - some kind of cheap service that will do this - cheaper than owning a Mac.

I also know that right now there is no tool that allows to produce mac binaries on a PC.
But I have heard about websites / independent services producing iOS target binaries for us.

My question about costing is also derived from the same - given that when I chose an IDE that does produce an iOS code for me, how much will it charge me for the licensing?

@Freakchild - indeed very in-depth analysis from your end - mine is very simple 2d app and I am using it just to build my developer profile.s l
It's a game, doesn't require any special features like accelerometer, web or anything. Just a small 2d game with need for compact db - or an encrypted flat file.

At the same time I do not want it to fall big time, I need some returns for sure.
I have other games to be developed but I wouldn't spend a fortune right now just to build this game. ($1000 is quite big for me)

Once on my feet, I would venture more.
As for the tool, so far I have seen, unity 3d is too big to try for it - both from learning curve and cost perspective.
So suggest me only other alternatives.

As for Android, right now google doesn't allow to sell / buy from where I am located.
I hope that will change soon.
But somehow I feel that developing for Android initially will not give me the 'required' boost to be a fulltime game developer, that's why I have chosen iOS path first.
In any case, tell me if you differ on this - but I don't really smell success here.

Thanks again!
-vividcode

#6 freakchild   Members   -  Reputation: 557

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 12:48 PM

So suggest me only other alternatives.


Here are a bunch of options. I’ve excluded Unity from this list due to what you’ve said about that and I don’t think I’ve repeated others you’ve already mentioned:Some of these are API level SDK’s/frameworks and some are more the IDE type you’re looking for.

I know you’re looking for more of the IDE type with more drag and drop solutions, but you might find something even slightly lower level offers a better support structure for you. Development is all about trading one problem for another thus some of the options above may not be exactly what you are looking for but you might find the community and 3rd party tools available make up for whatever is lacking. Some of these options do have tools or simulator solutions that might help alleviate your need for hardware, at least for the short term.

I don’t think cocos2d is for you but I’ve listed it because I think you might benefit from reading about various options to understand the entire range. Knowing the extremes will help you to zone in on the correct solution.

My question about costing is also derived from the same - given that when I chose an IDE that does produce an iOS code for me, how much will it charge me for the licensing?


Best to look up licensing fees for SDK’s from the websites as they are all different. Bear in mind some are free, some are typically free in specific circumstances and some have varying licensing costs depending on your success. Beyond the cost of the Apple SDK, you won’t have to pay a licensing fee to Apple or Google, they will however take a cut from any revenue your app generates.

But somehow I feel that developing for Android initially will not give me the 'required' boost to be a fulltime game developer, that's why I have chosen iOS path first.


You really should either get that Mac then, or try and set up a hackintosh as Frob suggested.

If either of those aren’t for you then it is likely Android for you.

There is also another option of just developing on Windows/for Windows (to prototype and further the idea) and porting to iOS later when you think you’ve made a hit game and are more prepared to spend the cash on a Mac.

At the same time I do not want it to fall big time, I need some returns for sure.
In any case, tell me if you differ on this - but I don't really smell success here.


It’s not unreasonable to want returns, but I’d be cautious with expectations. Many people get $0 back for their mobile games. It’s only ‘risky’ and you will only ‘lose your shirt’ if you’re throwing a lot of money at it, but you’ll need to be prepared to lose at least your time either way. Spend only as much as you’re willing to lose, in terms of both time and money because there is no guarantee but also bear in mind that success if often brought about by persistence. Many people put an app out there, have no return quickly and give up there and then. This will generally fail but persistence on the other hand does still not provide any assurance of success and will at least require more time (if not more money) well beyond an initial release.

Really, the best reason to do this is not success or money, but fun. If you need more than that I would at least think twice before parting with any cash.

Edited by freakchild, 15 May 2012 - 12:53 PM.


#7 vividcode   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 12:38 AM

@freakchild - that's very reasonable reply by you - Thanks a ton!
I agree - the best reason to do this is for fun - and nothing else.

It has given me a direction, and you have convinced me to get a hackintosh - and I can also arrange for somewhat old iPod touch for testing.

Reading for Hackintosh - I got many sites, but I want specific to mine case (you know, formatting business I have rarely done)

I have two PCs - one with windows xp and other with Vista. Both have 2 GB RAM, 100+ GB HDDs.

1) which one can I dual boot on hackintosh?
2) where exactly do I look for step by step instructions?
3) I need specific mac os version details that will be compatible with latest iOS versions, as well as legal ways to get them so that there won't be any Afuture issues compiling / distributing my iPhone App.

-vividCode

#8 Benton   Members   -  Reputation: 101

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:54 AM

I see two options for you,
Shiva 3d allows you to develop the game on PC, but you can build it for iOS only on a Mac with the authoring tool. You can use MacInCloud which allows you to build your application on a Mac. Totally legal.

Or you could wait for Leadwerks 3.0 to come out with iOS and Android support, you could do the same thing with MacInCloud. No hackontosh required.




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