Monday, May 12, 2014

To mobile, and beyond!

Yes, I am still alive and kicking, although no blog postings or games released for a while. Sometimes it is a good idea to have a little break and take a closer look what you have done recently.

After releasing Explopool, I have mostly been planning and creating different game prototypes. I've also explored various game development environments and engines to get an idea what kind of tools are available. There are plenty of choices, but I have not yet decided which one to try next for releasing a game. Haxeflixel might be a good candidate, but first I have to get better understanding on it.

Stencyl 3.0 came available couple of months ago, and I've been gradually migrating to it. Android support has been the main driver for that, because I really want to go mobile at some point and Stencyl is the most familiar development environment for me currently.

Since I am running my game development activities over Linux, it's not always so straightforward to switch to a new tool or new version of previously used software. For example, migrating from Stencyl 2.2 release to 3.0 was bit challenging to do over an year-old 32bit Ubuntu 12.04 installation. There were just too many conflicts with the libraries. Finally, a successful Stencyl 3.0 installation required migrating system to 64bit Ubuntu 14.04. But now it is working just fine and I am able to run latest Stencyl on it.

I have already converted couple of my old Stencyl games for Android just to get an idea what are the pitfalls there. It seems that most of them will require some work before they are ready for possible release. Flash versions are typically running on PC hardware which has more computing power than mobile devices. So careful CPU usage optimization has not been compulsory in most of my games. Also, mobile devices have quite limited amounts of memory compared to laptops or desktop computers, and the memory usage should at least be tracked. Luckily, I have experience on creating software for embedded systems, so I have an idea how computing and memory intensive parts can be optimized so that they will run also on devices with limited resources.

I have discussed with my brother how to proceed in the future with game development. So far this has been mostly a hobby-based activity, and we will continue in the same way at least this year. However, our plan is to improve gradually the overall quality of upcoming games and publish them for Flash and Android platforms. Also, graphics has clearly been the soft spot in all our previous games, so we are seriously evaluating the possibility to get an artist to join our team...

-Jussi

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