Mobile game development in 2017: best tools and advices

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Tablets and smartphones have already become usual stuff like home PCs earlier. As a result, they open amazing fields for game industry. Here mobile game development tools would get handy to realize your game ideas.

While technologies are developing each day, all those mobile devices are becoming more advanced and more comfortable for use. Lately, desktop game market has started to lose its positions due to mobile game market growth. As a result, the market for mobile game development is expanding and filling with new products every day.

However, market competition is growing too. So, it is more difficult to be noticed with the average product. To receive success your desirable game should be greater in all means. But today engine and graphics are as important as gameplay and storyline. So, to be obtained you need suitable development tools for your game.

We divided all tools suitable for game creation into several categories. Here is the list of them with a few examples for each one.

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Type

Platforms

Monetization

Game making App

Tools that are shown in this category don’t require any coding knowledge. Most of them are designed as Drag-and-Drop framework, to provide the simplest developing experience to anyone. Such kind of services uses strong popularity among people that want to try themselves in game development. So, most of audience of such game maker programmes are students and amateurs without technical skills.

But to be honest, pitfalls still exist. While it’s good to create small and common games, it’s impossible to create a unique or enterprise project. As a result, capabilities of these tools are limited. And the case where you stuck while looking for suitable relation options for your unique game feature is much possible.

Moreover, they aren’t so easy as they try to look at first sight. In the end, you will waste as much time for this unique project as it would be taken to develop from a common game developing SDK. But, surely, you don’t code a bit in the end.

Construct 2

mobile game development

Developer: Scirra Ltd.

This software provides a chance for everyone to build his or her own 2D game, without any coding. In addition, the project created with the use of Construct 2 would be supported on most of mobile platforms. That includes popular iOS, Android and Windows Phone, as well as more exotic Blackberry. Finally, it’s also suitable for web game creation as it is supported by HTML5.

Construct 2 offers great features:

  • Fast and easy: just place objects, add some behaviour and everything comes alive; easy interface opens a wide toolset that helps beginners with little knowledge and time. You can get a working prototype really quickly to share and test it.
  • System of events and actions: the main method is the usage of event sheets (when a condition is true, some action or function is performed).
  • Flexible behaviours: behaviour is a set of properties of the object. It can save your time. The example is movement in 8 directions.
  • Momentary preview: you can preview the game any time you want.
  • Visual effects: over 70 WebGL-based effects. In addition, Construct 2 provides Particles plugin with the help of which you can get smoke, water and other interesting effects.
  • Multiplatform export: one project for several platforms through the use of CocoonJS, PhoneGap and Crosswalk. That’s why some poorly optimised apps can be slower.
  • Easy extensibility: built-in or self-created plugins can be used. Developers of Construct 2 even encourage creating new plugins. They give advice on how to write and customise your plugins.

Price:

  • free version has limited features capabilities.
  • standard version costs $65.
  • business version costs $255 (if developer takes over $5,000 in revenue from their project)

Fusion

mobile game development

Developer: Clickteam.

Fusion provides features you need to build an event-based game. Fusion is really not difficult for start right now, while it doesn’t require any programming language knowledge. Use conditions and actions. No need to spend hours looking for some option. The interface is intuitive and provides native fillings.

Important features:

  • tutorials – to help you at the beginning of development;
  • all visual programming;
  • complete development studio – graphic editor;
  • library graphics – choose premade graphics for your game;
  • copyright is yours;
  • strong development community – help with any step of the development.
  • quick and easy prototyping.

Clickteam developers argue that Fusion allows creating any kind of 2D game, though it is a better variant for games with events under the static camera. Also, Clickteam community and support can always help you and answer your questions.

Platforms: Windows, iOS, Android.

Prices:

  • there is free version.
  • Full version costs $49.99-$99.99.
  • Additional functional packages cost from $39.99 to $149.99.

Starter game creation softwares

These tools are great to start a real game developer path with them because they are easy and contain many step-by-step guides and tutorials. In addition, these frameworks have tips and clear examples of usage of all their functions. Finally, tool developers are usually active and likely to help their own audience with any questions and problems.

In fact, these tools are great for juniors, because they provide all they need to develop a unique and interesting project. However, it does not suit large-scale and enterprise projects, because of optimization issue. So, It’s better to limit yourself into developing small indie projects then try to jump into an enterprise level.

GameMaker: Studio

mobile game development

Yoyo games launched their own development framework special for 2D game creation. Game Maker Studio is easy to use and great to start with. Drag-and-drop method and fast to learn GameMaker’s own language (similar to C) would be beginners-friendly experience to junior developers.

With Game Maker you don’t require any large budget to start your own game development and make it pretty. Especially, it has a bunch of useful features like:

  • full support 2D Spine animations.
  • In-app purchases are integrated and are easily configured.
  • real-time analytics to get known more about in-game activities.
  • various shaders.
  • Steam and Git integration.

However, the work with 3D in this environment is quite inconvenient. 2D Game Makers projects still look way better.

Meanwhile, you can use your YoYo Account to get access to all game making softwares. If you have a laptop pc, you get an efficient workflow that does not get in the way of development. Also, the platform allows users to fully personalize itself,by setting development environment or organising workspace.

Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Tizen, Amazon Fire, PS Vita.

Price: highly depending on features that developer requires:

  • limited with no features may be free.
  • average cost varies between $150 and $800.

Corona SDK

mobile game development

Corona SDK is designed to take place as a faster toolset for creating 2D games. Guides and tutorial also will help learn easy and build fast. Moreover, large set of features and function also helps save your time. Major features are:

  • No encryption required. Just write and save code to see the result. You will save tons of time by using prototypes to find bugs and issues.
  • Another important feature is built-in monetization.
  • SDK has more than 500 various custom APIs and plugins in Marketplace. Any user is free to design and sell his or her own one there.
  • You can choose the frame rate per second: 30 or 60. A better option is 60 because in this case the game interface becomes more smooth and looks more appropriate.

Lua language that Corona SDK uses to work with is pretty easy to learn and code with. In addition, Platform’s Community is big enough. Its includes more than 300K developers in total, so forum is live. Finally, documentation has many details and advice, so you get everything for the easy start.

Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Kindle, Android/Apple TV

Price:

  • Corona SDK – 100% free.
  • Enterprise – $79 per month.
  • Enterprise (unlimited) – $199 per month.

CocoonJS

mobile game development

Developer: Ludei.

Cocoon suits best for web game and application development based on HTML5 language. Moreover, thanks to WEBGL canvas acceleration tool all games and apps would be more stable and faster. Meantime, project creation is fast, because many features are preset and can be easily integrated. Finally, PhoneGap and Cordova are compatible with it.

While Ludei offers many useful features, it also has a unique one. Thanks to WebView all projects made on Cocoon would work on any platform and support various APIs. In addition, Ludei offers testing and debugging tool for all developers. Completed projects may be easily uploaded on the market.

Ludei promises to save your app from fragmentation, as you will have the only set of HTML5 features on all devices. In the end, Cocoon provides the cloud-based compilation on all platforms.

Price:

  • free to create a new project.
  • Silver edition costs $8.
  • Gold edition costs $69.
  • Platinum edition costs $199.

Heavy game development tools

This game development software is complex, heavy and requires a skilled developer to manage the project with it. Some of these tools are beginners-friendly, thanks to huge community, a large number of documentation, tutorials and guides. But, most of them still need good knowledge and experience of popular programming language.

This time your desirable game maker software would cost you money, having Engine itself as well as owning and using of advanced PC. Moreover, it would be hard to create alone something good enough to become noticeable. So, be ready to look for getting into development team with other developers, designers and sound artists.

Unity

mobile game development

Developer: Unity Technologies.

This is the world leading tool in game development industry. Unity provides multi-platform solutions for creating 2D and 3D games. Developers use it to build tons of simple and AAA-class games. And what is more, important for beginners developers – Unity has already strong community with an immersive number of guides and tutorials.

Tons of features, preset models, textures and documentation would help new developers peruse with Unity advantages. Moreover, extension of Unity isn’t a problem with flexible free and paid addiction services in the Unity Asset Store. But even standard ones would help anyone develop a great project.

  • Unity development technology depends on layers where different game objects can be set. Adding and modification those layers would help developers manage scalable project.
  • Rendering properties may be edited by Quality Manager.
  • While too many processes run at the same time, CPU would be excessed. That would lead to reducing game productivity and lags. But, batch processing should solve that problem.
  • Play Mode integrated into Unity engine would help developers debug projects fast by running and pausing project any time.

Unity offers various services like Unity As, Analytics, Cloud Building, Collaborate for comfortable team development efforts, etc.

Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Tizen and Fire OS.

Price:

  • personal edition is free.
  • plus edition – $35/month.
  • pro edition – $125/month.
  • enterprise edition tailored setup.

Unreal Engine

mobile game development

Developer: Epic Games

Epic Games provide a tool release ambitious ideas without additional plugins. Epics are updating their product all the time, so developers could use all new technologies and future trends. Many world AAA-class games used Unreal Engine as their main platform.

Unreal Engine allows to build game that would be supported by the majority of platforms and operating systems. It offers the developers 2 main tools: traditional C++ and visual scripting Blueprints that help deal with the game logics quickly.

It is developed to meet all needs of both enterprise and small games projects. It’s suitable for creation games of any genre from shooters to quests. To make things clear, forums contain many helpful documents and YouTube-channels stream many tutorials and guides for beginners.

Unreal Engine has a powerful toolset that includes:

  • C++ code view, full source code access and scripting.
  • Film-quality visual effects creation tool.
  • Advanced, flexible and customized artificial intelligence.
  • Real-time rendering tool.
  • Complete audio system.
  • Instant game preview.
  • Hot reload function.
  • Guinness World Records awarded Unreal Engine with “the most successful video game engine”.

This tool is completely free to start with. While the project hits $3000 profit you should give just 5% royalty on your game. It seems to be a profitable offer for entering the game market.

Prices:

  • completely free for small projects.
  • for commercial products with more than $3,000 per calendar quarter it takes 5% from revenue.

Marmalade SDK

mobile game development

Developer: MARMALADE TECH

Marmalade is a multiplatform game making tool that uses C++ code for game building. As a result, its main concept is “write once, run anywhere”. Marmalade includes a set of libraries, code examples, and tools to simplify programming, testing and deploying applications on different platforms. Finally, it supports both 2D and 3D games development.

The main features are clean

  • Graphics renders by OpenGL directly or using Marmalade Studio layer.
  • Usage of Android optimizations within original codebase.
  • Open source of major components.
  • High performance.
  • Open architecture.
  • Quick conversion.

Marmalade provides developers with even more features, like:

  • support for specific capabilities of iOS and Android,.
  • code-checker for ARM-platform.
  • the set of open APIs.
  • unique support.
  • test simulator.

In addition, there is no problem with processing speed for projects on this platform. Marmalade provides a very simple and effective memory model and includes billing and IAP API for app stores and various social, analytic services.

Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone8, Tizen, Blackberry, Connected TV Platforms.

Price: $600.

AppGameKit

mobile game development

Developer: The GameCreators.

AppGameKit is a solution for multiplatform game projects. The platform was mentioned in top 15 game frameworks of 2014. It is suitable for both new and experienced game developers.

Key advantages of AppGameKit are:

  • Simplicity: its own programming language is similar to C++ is AGK BASIC. So it enables developers to start developing games without much time of learning it.
  • AppGameKit Magic: a new cross-development model increases productivity; compiles the game and launches it on device for test run.
  • Go Native: build game with C++ using IDE you have already worked with.
  • Sell your apps anywhere using engine’s guides.

AppGameKit IDE includes:

  • color schemes.
  • full debugger.
  • code folding.
  • compiler.
  • editor.

The main feature is cross-platform support and capability to have one project for all platforms.

Platforms: Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Blackberry.

Price:

  • SDK costs $39 – $99.
  • Average bundle cost $50.

MonoGame

mobile game development

Developer: MonoGames.

MonoGame toolkit enables to build multi platform games. Its class architecture is similar to the XNA 4 API. Project runs on any C# or .Net languages. If you already know those the mobile game development with MonoGame shouldn’t become difficult for you. Besides, there is a bunch of tutorials and guides to help you start your first project.

Platforms use shaders written in different languages. That’s why MonoGame developed its own language for creating shaders – MGFX. Finally, the program has the same structure as Microsoft FX files, text format for easy editing, compiled binary format, can be improved.

Platforms: Windows Phone, iOS, Android.

Price: free.

Game design software

There is no doubt, that without good looking visual shell any game can’t become really successful. While gameplay, mechanic, storyline and stability plays important role, graphics will still make the very first impression on a user. These game design tools would help you manage your quest.

Surely, many game engines have build-in design tools. But in order to make real masterpiece, it’s better to get use for specialized softwares. We take only one example for 2D, 3D animation and model creation. Also one tool that helps buff quality of various visual effects and polish graphics to Hollywood level.

Spine

mobile game development

Developer: Esoteric Software.

It is a powerful 2D animation software to  fulfill any game with advanced good looking animation. It is one of best framework to use for both game developers and artists. In case of game developing it contains tons of features to custom your characters movements. However, most of the features are unavailable in free version, so it’s more like a demo, then completed tools.

Spine provides developers with amazing benefits from using it, like:

Skeletal (cutout) animation. All characters images are partly attached to bones to make animation easier.

  • Spine animation saves only bone data, thus animation would be low-sized and would not take much memory.
  • Interpolation feature would save the quality while it plays in slow motion.
  • Animation data may be reused for characters while they change outfit. Moreover, it can be used for characters that look different.
  • It enables to mix two animation into one. For example running and shooting.
  • Bone data may be manipulated via code.

However, creating good animation is part of a problem, because animation should be also integrated and attached to code inside your project. That is where Spine Runtime would make a deal. This libraries may be source for your game to unable managing animations like Spine do that. Officially it is supported by 19 game engines and 7 programming languages.

In the end Spine actively updates regularly. It affects not only adding new features, but also polishing old ones.  

Price:

  • free version is limited.
  • essential – $99.
  • professional – $329.
  • Enterprise $2200 annually plus $269 for each additional user (only for business with more than $500K budget)

Maya LT

mobile game development

Developer: Autodesk.

Maya LT is a useful software for 3D modeling and animation software. In a word, the framework has a ton of features and modelling tools. They are used for creating different surfaces, textures, lighting and the skeleton of characters. Moreover, Maya LT offers Hypershade to work with textures. Another tool, 3D Paint, provides drawing on the polygon mesh.

Maya used for fast and effective app building for qualified game developers and is easy to learn for new users. It is a long list, but you should practice and use guides to be able to use most of them. Probably, you will find all tools you need in this framework.

To simplify development Maya LT files can be used by Unity3D and Unreal Engine without any change of format. Finally, each object can contain up to 25,000 polygons.

Price: $30/month.         

Yebis

mobile game development

Developer: Silicon Studio.

Yebis is a heavy and complex software to make impressive realistic environmental effects. The company has a great experience providing visual effects for famous game companies and film studios. Yebis offers many useful features for creating successful projects:

  • Aberrations and correction simulation.
  • HDR (high dynamic range) effect.
  • Optical effects as if it is viewed using real lenses.
  • Blur effect describing the speed.
  • Recreation the feeling of the real camera with optical effects.
  • Real, simulated and pseudo-HDR rendering.
  • Method for destroying jagged edges.
  • Special effects, each with tons of parameters.
  • Easy to use and install.
  • Colour grading effects.

Yebis was a tool in the development of projects like DARK SOULS III, Ride, Bloodborne, Valhalla Knights 3. You can use it with any type of rendering engine or pipeline.

Moreover, Yebis appeared 10 years ago and all these years was growing, adding new technologies, algorithms.

Platforms: iOS, Android.

Price: free trial, and custom price for purchase.

Game audio creation software

As developers aim to hit top rated nishes in game market, there no chance to get so far without good sound effects. Sound and music play important role in capturing audience, buffing storytelling and making game fun.

Be sure using tools that suit your needs to be sure the game sounds exactly as you imagine. It should be clean and possible to live up player game experience. We uncover few audio tools designed for game creation. For one example to two the main need is: sound creation and in-game sound managing.

FMOD

mobile game development

Developer: Firelight Technologies.

This is another effective sound tool for video game. FMOD has an organised library of audio effects for any game. So, developers have access to stunning effects for their the game via Unity and Unreal Engine plugins. Finally, it’s possible to create the audio on your own using intuitive visual environment without any coding.  

It is a multiplatform engine with more than 15 years of successful work. FMOD offers team collaboration and familiar simple, intuitive interface.

FMOD FMOD includes four services with some unique functions for every one of them, like mixing option, digital audio workstation:

  • Event Player.
  • Designer.
  • Studio.

It can be integrated with Unity, Unreal Engine, Cry Engine, Source, BigWorld Technology.

Format: AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3, MIDI, VAG, WAV and a few others.

Platforms: Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Blackberry.

Price:

  • for budget under $500,000 – free.
  • over $500,000 – $5000.
  • over $1,500,000 – $15,000.     

Wwise

mobile game development

Developer: Audiokinetic.

Wwise is an advanced audio tool for game developers. It allows team collaboration and provides useful services and plugins, integrates with Unity and Unreal. At first sight, Wwise seems to have a difficult and intricate interface. But, after some time you learn it a little, you will see how functional it is.

Wwise offers an interactive audio toolset, comfortable limitless collaboration, reduces technical risks. In Wwise you can create parameters that change sounds depending on the data that the engine receives. One of the best options is RTCP function. Then sounds are changing in the real time.

Wwise allows to import sounds, apply effects, mix new sounds, simulate sounds of different environment. It includes sound engine, real-time game simulator, architecture for source, effects, SoundFrame API. Once Wwise was even used for live performance because of its wide range of features.

The Wwise community is pretty large and international. Besides, Wwise provides a free guide to get started or to improve your skills.

Plugins:

  • Wwise convolution – can reproduce any real acoustic space;
  • soundspeed – it’s a set of interactive sound generators;
  • motion – with the use of Wwise Authoring Tool.

Platforms: Windows Phone, iOS, Android.

Price:

  • free for small budget production, non-commercial/academic usage.
  • Pro edition – from $750.
  • Premium edition – From $18000.

Useful utilities

To be serious, project development does not end on game launch. All responsible developers take mission on maintaining, updating and bug fixing own product, while here stays actual amount of its audience. Moreover, professional developers often track achievements of their own creation to make it better, or do their best in causes of the next project.

So, be brave to think strategically while you want to launch more than one successful product. In this cause, many useful softwares and services will get in hand. It all will start from task management services to advance your team work output while the developing process is hot. And finally, it ends on analytic services integration and privacy protection.

Perforce Helix

mobile game development

Developer: Perforce Software.

Helix is a unique platform that allows connecting distributed teams, protecting any intellectual property. Versioning Engine can help avoid any problems with the size of a file or data. Helix has many other interesting features:

  • collaboration (the interface allows to add comments, tracks your decisions);
  • GitSwarm ecosystem;
  • safe and secure (including access control, flexible authentication, password security, secure replication),
  • industrial strength (limitless file type or size, thousands of users),
  • open, flexible (SDKs are available in C/C++, Java, Java, .Net, Ruby, etc. ).

Helix includes components for version control, Helix Swarm for the code review, Helix Insights for analytics of completed work and project status, bug fix and GitSwarm. It works on a client-server architecture. Perforce Software has more than 20 years of successful experience.

Insights is one of Helix tools and serves for describing important information about the state of project, code, team performance. All the information has a graphical representation. Perforce carries a very powerful, scalable and fault-tolerant engine that easily integrates with the git workflow.

Platforms: iOS, Android.

Price:

  • free up to 20 users.
  • otherwise from $320 annulary.

Upsight

mobile game development

Developer: Upsight.

Upsight is the world’s leading user lifecycle management platform. The company describes its mission like “Transform the world’s data into valuable action”. Developers use this software to get known about their users activities. As a result, developers may use provided information to make a better game.

The platform processes over 500 billion points of data each month.

Upsight offers customers to speak directly with users, monetize successfully, help to reach any user, to use their algorithms to get effective result. Run tests and make conclusions, to separate users into segments. Use this tool for comfortable collaboration, analyze the data and store it all in their storage solution.

Upsight provides solutions for world’s largest software companies. A customer is able to make dashboards for managers, analytics, etc, to monitor key performance indicators and control permissions.

Platforms: iOS, Android.

Price: from $500 (depends on usage).         

Conclusion

There are tons of different mobile game development tools. This list is just a drop in the ocean. In spite of any budget, type and game design, you can find something interesting, meeting your needs, ideas, and expectations.

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1 comment

Avatar
Bob Robinson
07:53
12.09.2017

Great info on Mobile game development. Thanks for sharing

Chatra