For thousands of developers around the world, the Android platform represents a revolution in the art form of gaming. Capturing a magic unseen since the end of the ZX Spectrum, the easily-accessible platform allows indie developers more freedom to create both entertaining and visually arresting games within a relatively short space of time and with little investment. What has followed is resurgence in indie gaming, with hundreds of thousands of new ideas being developed in the last year alone. However, there are those that claim that since the acquisition of Android by Google, and with the increasing number of alternative handsets on the market, game development for the Android platform has become increasingly challenging. In this article, I hope to shed some light on the development process behind Android gaming.
This ain’t any iOS
The first thing to realize is that Android represents a substantial opposition to the mighty Apple, who, until recently, almost held the monopoly on indie development through their SDK program. However, Android has increasingly been seen as a bastion of the underworld, being an easily hack-able platform that can roll-out updates and codes within a matter of minutes, as opposed to Apple who take a matter of weeks to do the same thing. What this means is that Android is a far more reactive platform, creating a dialogue between consumer and developer. This also means that hey, if you mess up it’s no big deal, you can easily dip back into your code and adjust, updating the app almost instantly. Having said that, anyone can develop a terrible idea just as any old alchemist can attempt to make Gold out of Copper, it takes real talent to make it shine.
Wait, I got an idea!
The initial challenge facing all aspiring developers is the idea itself. It’s incredibly easy to think, ‘Angry Birds, well I could have thought of that!’, but ultimately there are few who have such an incredible idea as think they could, otherwise every game available would be solid gold. Unfortunately the secret behind developing a great game for Android is having a great, and above all simple, idea.
I say simple, because there is a slew of titles out there that, although they may showcase an incredible and engaging idea, simply fail because they’re too complicated. The secret is to keep it simple, and make it as accessible as possible for the greatest number of people.
Code Code Code
Okay, you’ve got this far; you’ve got that great and simple idea. But if you’ve read this far and not considered the possibility you may be called upon to code then maybe you should head on back to kindergarten, you’ve obviously not progressed since then. If you have no idea how to code, then find someone who can – explain your idea to them (although leave out some of the specifics – we don’t want them stealing your idea, after all!) – And see whether they’ll be capable of helping you out. Better yet, get yourself acquainted with Code Academy, an online learning platform aiming to get everyone coding within the next year.
The Greatest Challenge
By far the greatest selling point of the Android platform is also its downfall for any would be developer. Having worked in games publishing for a few years, it’s incredible to consider the sheer number of devices your game can be made available on. It also makes coding a monumental task, as each version has to be adapted to fit the device it’s to be played on. Then consider the volume of unique and interestingly shaped devices that come in all manner of sizes, and you’re facing a task the size of Everest.
Ultimately, the experience of developing for Android can be made all the easier by perseverance and belief. If you believe in your project, and are willing to stick without through better and worse, then the challenge of developing will become enjoyable, and tackling new problems as they arise with effective solutions as you think of them will soon become your lifeblood. If you can imagine it, odds are you can build it. And build it you should!
To your success: