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jwezorek

Is AGK Tier 2 for real?

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I've been reading about this AGK, "App Game Kit", from a company called "The Game Creators" who are apparently the people who made DarkBasic (which I guess I've heard of). So the story is the AGK product is for creating cross-platform 2D games, focusing on mobile, in basically two separate ways:

"tier 1" is a system in which you write a game in a BASIC-like scripting language in an IDE that they provide, and their IDE will compile to bytecode and package the bytecode with an interpreter implemented on a variety of platforms so that (I assume) it will run on each platform like a normal executable.

The above isn't particularly interesting to me, because (a) don't want to write in BASIC and (b) it *clearly* violates Apple's developer agreement which I'm sure will be an issue if AGK develops a large user base. (I also think the Corona SDK violates Apple's developer aggreement -- thoughts?)

"tier 2" on the other hand is interesting to me. AGK tier 2 is as far as I can determine a standard C++ application framework + class library for 2D games that allows cross-platform development in the standard way: you write your application using their objects and they provide platform-dependent implementations of their objects across all the platforms they support. So I may be wrong about this, but if my characterization of AGK Tier 2 is correct, it is

(a) The only all-in-one application framework for writing games as native applications that supports both iOS and Android.

(b) The only all C++ -- not Objective C -- game framework for iOS, period.

But, you know, I've been trying to get more information and there's just not a lot out there, plus the TGC forums don't give one a lot of confidence, etc. It seems like a very interesting thing but right now is a little hard for me to take seriously.

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Hi. I'm from The Game Creators. Firstly Tier1 does not violate Apple's agreements. We have successfully had apps published on the iOS App Store. So these were games made in Tier 1 BASIC on a Windows PC, then compiled. The resulting byte code was then packaged in with the player for the iOS platform.

Tier2 is aimed at more experienced developers like you. When you buy AGK you get all the downloads for all the platforms we support, currently: Windows, iOS, MacOS, Android2.3, Bada, MeeGo and Blackberry Playbook. We give you templates for each platform so you can start coding without issues. We made Mr Dork in Tier2 over a six week period. Once the game worked fine on the PC we quickly moved it to iOS, MacOS and Android within 24 hours.

We have big plans for AGK this year, it's a tech that will get many more commands and platforms.

Cheers,

Rick Vanner
Director
The Game Creators Ltd

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On the Apple developer agreement, I don't really know. It was my understanding that you can't run a script on a virtual machine on iOS, which was why Flash was out. Then there was some question about whether it was okay to have a game that had some scripted functionality written in Lua and word from Apple came that said basically, "oh yeah, that's okay as long as the entire game isn't scripted". But in the case of, say, the Corona SDK the entire game would be just a script running on a player app. Same thing with AGK Tier 1, but I'm just saying here what it seems like to me -- not a lawyer, etc. Don't really care, and honestly I'm on your side and generally think the whole issue with that developer agreement is stupid.

On Tier 2, I looked at it and considered it for what am working on now but decided to pass. Basically because I would like to have slightly lower level control over things plus the higher level API that your product exposes. In particular I'd like to have access to cross-platform functionality (backed by OpenGL ES on iOS) for painting bitmaps, composing bitmaps together / doing blits, as well as the sprites class you provide. I would want this functionality in order to dynamically generate some assets instead of just loading them from files. For example, the game I'm working on is a word game that is tile-based, so you have letter tiles, like in scrabble, but the letter tiles can be different colors so I want to be able to have a sprite atlas that contains the different colored blank tiles and a sprite atlas that has all the the letters of the alphabet with a transparent background and then be able to compose those together to make, say, a red tile with the letter 'E' on it, but I didn't see a way to do that.

Also, this functionality would be useful for handling different output resolutions. Your API provides a "virtual resolution" for output which I assume will just scale everything to fit the given platform's native resolution. This would work for some types of games but not so well for others. Generally you would want to be able to compose together art assets to make, say, a background image suitable for an iPhone and a differently laid out background image suitable for an iPad, To do that you would want to be able to create an image at a specific size and then blit pieces of artwork into it at startup time. I didn't see a way to do this.

Another issue was that I didn't see a nice way to do a cross-platform load screen which displays a progess bar while loading large assets. For the word game I'm working on for example I have to load an english language dictionary and put each word into a hash set. This would take too long to do without a progress bar. To do it in a separate thread I would have to handle the different platforms separately or use some other 3rd party cross-platform library for threading. I mean obviously it could be done by updating the progress bar at various steps while loading but this is such a common thing to need to do that it would be nice if there was API support for it.

Those were my two main issues: I want a cross-platform image/bitmap class that supports blitting and some cross-platform way of doing a standard load screen, if not full cross-platform threading.

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