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SillyCow

Multi-Player On Android

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I would like to add turn based multi-player mode to my android game.

I am pretty proficient in network programming, so I could always write my own server.
On the other hand, I do not need the headache of server management.

I heard about Skiller and Openfeint.
Has anyone used them?
What is their pricing model (Do they charge me? Do they charge the player)? They both hide their licensing agreement pretty well.
Are there other frameworks you can recommend?

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If it is turnbased you could just do url loads and use a webserver with some php scripts (Makes hosting fairly trivial)

Most cheap hosting sites I've encountered (including Google AppEngine) prohibit long polling. Correct me if I am wrong here. This would force me to make an insane amount of requests. Also this would force me to write my own user management scheme.

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I have used Skiller to develop an Android App: R:P:S Academy. It is a fairly simple game - first to 5 wins in a game of rock paper scissors, but it was a good opportunity to test out the Skiller platform. I was a very early adopter of the platform and helped work with the developers some issues and they were very good to work with. There is no charge to use their platform, they use a coin based betting system for multiplayer games and try to encourage coin purchases and avatar upgrades in addition to optional ads for revenue. Since I was testing the system, I tried to tightly integrate their entire system into my game - including the avatar directly into the game UI and using country flags as markers. THe game never caught on(didn't really expect that it would) but it is a good demonstration of a 3rd party app on their system.

I was fairly impressed with their system and its reliability. There are quirks, as their are with any 3rd party system, but those were more like just things I would have done differently but I could still get everything done that I needed. I started developing on about v1.1 of their API and finished on v1.6 or v1.7. I am pretty sure that they have released 2.0 by now and they told me that they have made some great improvements. I haven't had a chance to check out the newest version or update my app yet, but I think I will in the spring.

If you have any specific questions about Skiller I would be happy to go deeper into my experience via eMail. And if you want to try out my app in multiplayer I can set up to play against you, because there isn't normally anyone looking for a match. One of the big problems with games that are desigend for multiplayer is creating a critical mass and I never got anywhere near it.

BUKsAPPs

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Skiller has a terrible license. Make sure you read it (it becomes available when you try to sign up). Until they change it, I'd stay very, very far away from them.

Openfeint only offer their multiplayer features on IOS.

There are a couple of new kids on the block now - Playphone (has some multiplayer capability) and Swarm (cloud capability, chat). Unfortunately, Playphone is extremely vague on the precise terms of their service (Swarm is a bit better, though it's not exactly crystal clear info).

If you are proficient in server workflow, it might be worth considering one of the Cloud-as-a-Service providers for mobile - Stackmob, Parse, Kinvey, et al. The ones I've experimented with have had some pretty nice SDK's and really provide most of what one needs to manage a simple multiplayer backend.

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I'm no expert at networking but have you heard of Hamache. It lets you create private networks. You could use this to have players connect to their own private network thus eliminating the need for a server. Some of my future games may use this principle.

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