Mobile Game Development Tools
we are going to explore the best mobile game development tools, platforms and engines you can use to build your own game. Game Development is the art of creating games and describes the design, development and release of a game. It may involve concept generation, design, build, test and release. While you create a game, it is important to think about the game mechanics, rewards, player engagement and level design. PC games and console games sometimes take several years to be built. On the other hand, Indie games take lesser time to develop. With the rise in the mobile game market in recent years, there has been tremendous growth in the Indie game industry. Mobile game development tools play a vital role in the development of any game.
Games are generally created as a creative outlet and also to generate profits for the developer.
Why you should go for Mobile Game Development
According to a report from Statista, which tracks and reports on the global games, and mobile industry; in 2019 the global games market generated $119.6 billion, and mobile games generated $77.2 billion or 60% of the total games market. Video game market will increase to $300 billion by 2025, and this will be the year when the mobile games market will eclipse the PC and Console games market. mobile games would contribute as much as $200.5 billion out of it. This is good news for mobile game development companies.
With the rise in smartphone usage and mobile internet penetration, more and more people of all ages are playing mobile games, and more professional mobile game developers are creating games to meet their requirements. Some reasons why mobile gaming is gaining popularity are:
Mobile phones are portable, and people can play the game anywhere, while waiting in a restaurant, on board a plane, in the classrooms, anywhere. All it takes for one is to download their favorite games from Apple’s AppStore or Google’s PlayStore and start playing the games.
Lower Development Costs:
Compared to Consoles or PC games, which most of the time cost in millions, the cost of developing mobile games are much less, and with so many mid-size game development studios present, you can get the games developed through them at a fraction of the cost and also faster.
Cheap and Free Games:
Most of the games which you can download from the app stores are free or affordable, typically in the range of $0.99 – $10. The free ones make money by offering some In-App purchases or using ads which can be annoying at times.
Earlier serious gamers as well as novice users used to prefer console gaming over mobile gaming because of game controllers to get that tactile feedback that a dedicated physical controller provided and which the touch-based controller on the mobile platform lacked. That has changed these days with many accessory manufacturers coming up with game controllers to be used with mobile devices like MOGA Pro Power, 60beat wired controller, PhoneJoy, iMpulse, Mad Catz C.T.R.L.R., SteelSeries Stratus XL, iDroid, etc. These can be connected to your mobile device using Bluetooth or via the 3.5mm jack on the phone.
Have a Game Idea. Now What?
So you have a brilliant idea for a game and want to get it developed, you can either create the game yourself or outsource the game development to a game development studio. Creating the game yourself is a time taking process since you have to learn programming languages or the functioning of game development engines and game character designing. Whereas, if you outsource the creation of games to a studio, you can get the games done fast, save lots of money as you don’t need to hire game designers or art designers or game programmers. With the studio’s expertise and experience of having created 100s of games, they would create a technologically advanced game with level designing, helping you in developing your gameplay and creating cross-platform compatible games which can be played on iPhone, iPad, Android-based mobile phones, Windows PC or Consoles.
With that said, let us take a look at some mobile game development tools which can be used to create mobile games by any novice game creators or experienced top game developers.
What is a Game Engine?
A game engine is nothing but software designed to create and develop video games. The game developers use the IOS and Android game engine to create games for PC, Consoles and Mobile devices and it helps the developers in doing common tasks like rendering graphics, collision detection, and response, physics, animation, AI, memory management, scene graph, etc. The mobile game engine also helps the developers to port the games to multiple platforms.
Some of the most famous games Dota 2, Battlefield 3, Crysis 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Badland, Cut the Rope were all developed using game engines. As mentioned above mobile game development is the top priority for many game developing companies for its market.
Let us take a look at some of the game development tools/engines which are popular among developers creating mobile games.
Company: Unity Technologies
Platforms: Windows, OS X, Xbox 360, Linux, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 4, iOS, Android, PlayStation Vita, Windows Phone, Unity Web Player, BlackBerry 10, Tizen, Windows Store, Oculus Rift, Gear VR, Android TV, WebGL, Samsung Smart TV, Daydream, Nintendo Switch, Steam VR
Unity3D has been one of the best mobile game development tools of choice for most of the game developers for quite some time now. This game engine has everything which you would need to create 2D or 3D games. Right out of the box it has multi-platform support meaning you can build the game once and use it on all the platforms be it mobile, consoles or PC. There is a vast amount of tutorials available to learn Unity, and it has a great community to help game developers. Unity also has an extensive collection of game assets which are available for free and also paid.
Unity has a free personal version as well as commercial license version which sells at $35 and $125 per month.
Some of the popular games developed using the Unity software are Temple Run, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, Deus Ex: The Fall, Angry Birds 2, Scrolls, Shadow Blade, Angry Birds Epic, Mini Metro, Lara Croft Go, Fallout Shelter.
Company: Epic Games
Platforms: Windows, OS X, Linux, HTML5, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
In 2014, Guinness World Records awarded Unreal Engine as “the most successful video game engine.”
Unreal Engine has a big set of tutorials on their site which the game developers can use to get the most out of the software, plus it has a big and helpful community and forum which helps the user when they are stuck in a bottleneck.
The con (if you can say so) is that it requires game creators to pay Epic Games 5% of the sales revenue from any game published using the engine.
Some notable games which were developed using the various versions of Unreal Engine are Deus Ex, Duke Nukem Forever, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Rune, Unreal Tournament, America’s Army, BioShock, Ragnarok Online 2: The Gate of the World, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed Chronicles, Batman: Arkham City, BioShock Infinite, Gears of War series, Marvel Heroes
Company: Corona Labs Inc.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows Phone 8, Apple TV, Android TV, OS X, Windows, Nook
Corona SDK is a cross-platform software development kit used by hundreds of thousands of game developers to create apps and 2D games for mobile platforms as well as Apple TV & Android TV. It is used mostly for 2D mobile game development. It uses the scripting language Lua for creating games. Lua with its shorter learning curve is also the most popular choice for scripting language by game programmers. Corona Labs also claims that Corona SDK is 10 times faster than other engines to create mobile apps and games. With its real-time testing feature, you can see the result immediately when you save the changes to your code.
The basic version of Corona SDK is Free. They also have an enterprise solution which cost $79/month, and another version cost $199/month
Some famous mobile games created using Corona SDK Bubble Ball, Blast Monkeys, The Impossible Test, The Secret of Grisly Manor, Thief Job, Finger Hoola, Draw Rider Plus, Brain Lab & Freeze! – The Escape
Platforms: Windows, Android, Linux, OS X, iOS, BlackBerry, Tizen
Cocos2d-x is another of the popular open-source mobile game development tools having cross-platform support, and it is used by thousands of game developers all over the world. It is mostly used to create 2D games though it also supports creating 3D games. The games created using cocos2d-x can have size as low as 1.5 MB. The Cocos2d-x game engine uses OpenGL to render optimized 2D graphics
Badland, Clash of Kings, Hardest Game Ever 2, DQMSL, Contra: Evolution, Tiny Village, 2048, Small Street, Tiny Tower, Geometry Dash, Pocket Planes, Hill Climb, Star Thief, Dragon City are some of the games developed using cocos2d-x.
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Lumberyard is a free AAA game engine developed by Amazon. The game engine is based on CryEngine architecture. It has cross-platform functionality. Lumberyard provides a lot of tools to create AAA quality games. You do not have to pay any fees or share revenue with Amazon for using the Lumberyard game engine. The most important feature of Lumberyard is that it is integrated with Amazon Web Services so that you can host your community-driven multiplayer games on the AWS cloud infrastructure. It helps to deploy and scale your games quickly.
Amazon acquired Twitch, a live-streaming social video platform with a primary focus on video game streaming and a user base of over 100 million users monthly, and it has become critical for mobile and video game marketing. Lumberyard with its native integration with Twitch allows the game developers to engage with the gaming community on Twitch. It uses Twitch ChatPlay, Twitch Metastream, TwitchJoinIn to enable you to build the social gaming feature in your games.
Some features of Lumberyard include full C++ source code, terrain tools, character tools, networking, Audiokinetic’s feature-rich sound engine, rendering and authoring tools which help to create photo-quality 3D environments, and more.
Games like Crucible, New World, Breakaway, Star Citizen are created using Amazon Lumberyard engine.
Company: Marmalade Technologies Limited
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows 10, Amazon, OS X, Windows, Roku, Tizen, Chromecast, BlackBerry
Marmalade SDK is a fast, cross-platform, high-performance engine to create 2D and 3D games using C++ Lua, Objective-C, and HTML5. It is one of the very popular mobile game development tools for native games which you can deploy on the desktop as well as mobile platforms. Marmalade is used by many of the top game developers. It has a one-time fee of $600 to purchase the engine
Marmalade also provides another development tool called Marmalade Juice which helps in the easy porting of iOS games to the Android ecosystem by recompiling the Objective-C code and iOS API calls and adding Android specific optimizations within the original iOS codebase. Another of its tool called Marmalade Quick can help build the 2D games quickly using the Lua scripting language.
Marmalade SDK Platform won the Best Engines & Middleware category at the TIGA Games Industry Awards 2015
Famous games like Cut the Rope, Doodle Jump, Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies, Metal Gear Solid Mobile, Bejeweled Blitz, SimCity Build It, Worms, Need for Speed: Shift, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light were all developed using the Marmalade engine
Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox One, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Open-Source VR and PlayStation VR
CryEngine is a game engine developed by Crytek, a game developing company from Germany. It is mainly used by Console & Windows PC game developers to create 3D games. It is very popular for creating First Person Shooter games. To create other genres of games you need advanced level knowledge of C++, Visual Studio, ActionScript, and Lua.
Some of the features of CryEngine includes Voxel-Based Global Illumination, Per-Object Shadow Maps, Motion Blur and Depth of Field, Volumetric Fog Shadows, Level Design, Flowgraph, Real-Time Dynamic Water Caustics, Multi-Layer Navigation Mesh, Parametric Skeletal Animation, Advanced AI System, Physics Solution, etc. With its Audio Translation Layer, you can use any audio middleware like FMOD, CRI or Wwise with CryEngine.
Some of the games which were developed using CryEngine are Far Cry Series, Crysis, Enemy Front, State of Decay, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2
Recently CryEngine has moved to a Pay What You Can model. You can pay them any amount which you can afford and get all the features, full source code and it is 100% royalty free. CryEngine has a vibrant marketplace where the game developers can download free and paid game assets like 3D models, sound effects, texture maps, animation, full projects, etc. for their game development projects as well as sell assets which they have created.
The game development company would also provide you with the necessary support, add enhancements to the game, build new challenging levels to keep your game up to date and fun to play in the competitive gaming landscape.