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Making cross platform games - Experimentation

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delagames

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Hi,

This is my first ever journal post here on gamedev. I will discuss about doing an experiment to find as cross-platform development environment as possible!

For my next game i've decided to make it very "cross-platform" and port to many platforms (initially probably 2-3 smile.png ). Entire game code will be written in C++ and OpenGL ES 2.0. Since this is my first attempt, I really tend to keep the game as simple as possible smile.png . Following platforms are in the target list:

1) Desktop (Win / Mac / Linux)
Since direct support for GL ES is weak on desktops specially Windows, I am considering 3rd party EGL bindings. PowerVR and ATI SDKs for OpenGL ES 2.0 are good options as they come with GLES 2.0 simulators. But an alternative option I found really tempting was "Angle". It provides headers and libraries to develop GLES 2.0 applications on Windows. It appears light weight, under the hood angle translates GLES calls to DirectX. For basic window management one could write small amount of system-specific code. I will discuss this in future blog post after some experimentation.

2) Android
Android SDK and NDK supports GLES 2.0 and let you write entire thing in C++. So the porting won't face any real issues except to write the window initialization and little system specific code.

3) iOS
Exactly the same as android. Native support for GLES 2.0. Xcode also has a nice built-in emulator. Can easily merge C++ with Objective-C.

4) WebGL
This is probably the easiest smile.png . Use emscripten to convert the entire C++ / GLES 2.0 game to HTML5 with almost no modifications. Entire Unreal 4 engine has been ported to HTML5! Emscripten has very good built-in support for GLES 2.0 and GLFW. The community is very active and lots of material available on the internet.

5) Flash
You can port you existing C++/GLES code to Flash using Crossbridge. Epic have ported their Unreal 3 engine and you can check out the demo. But i think that this is pretty much dead. It is no longer being regularly maintained and an inactive community. But this may be OK for small 2D games that I intend to make.

6) Black berry
Black berry provides their own SDK and let you to write Native code in C++. Porting should be relatively easy.

7) OUYA
OUYA development is almost like android. They also provide their own SDK.

8) Nook
9) Various consoles
Will look at these in the future.

Summary:
Majority of the mobile devices support OpenGL ES 2.0. It appears to be a good idea to write a single portable GLES 2.0 renderer which would work on almost all the devices without any changes. It even works with traditional desktops (even though ES2 is not as powerful as the full blown OpenGL but it is pretty good for 2D games). But finding a cross-platform solution for Sound, context management, input, APIs for quering resources etc might be a real challenge.

Next time i'll post the results of this experiment and list down libraries that I found to be the most portable across all platforms.

Happy coding...

-Fakhir
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Interesting. Glad to see you are breaking this down into a manageable project. Will read your results with interest.

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I look forward to reading your findings, but yeah I wouldn't bother with Flash, it is a dead technology that is quickly phasing out. Android drop flash support a few years ago, and BB nor Apple ever supported flash if I remember correctly.

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I look forward to reading your findings, but yeah I wouldn't bother with Flash, it is a dead technology that is quickly phasing out. Android drop flash support a few years ago, and BB nor Apple ever supported flash if I remember correctly.

 

The only reason I am considering flash is that the porting comes almost free. As we speak browsers have weak WebGL support but it is getting stronger day by day. So for example if you wanted your awesome 3D C++/GL game to be played on facebook, the above mentioned pipeline lets you do that almost for free. (maybe a tiny bit extra abstraction layer over facebook APIs).

 

Playing Stage3D or WebGL games in a "Mobile browser" is already out the window smile.png. Above pipeline let's you easily make native mobile versions of the game. I am doing some experiments. Will get back with more results !!!

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didn't you try Libgdx? I didn't use it, but it looks promising and it's just focused on these problems.

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didn't you try Libgdx? I didn't use it, but it looks promising and it's just focused on these problems.

 

No I didn't try it but I guess that it doesn't support all of the platforms that I am trying to target (I think it does not support WInphone, OUYA, PS vista, xbox one etc etc). My purpose is to make an extremely lightweight cross platform 3D engine tailor made for my game requirements. Unity is a generic engine and totally not as flexible as customized C++ code and it is pretty bloated in size as well !

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