Platform specific development

Whenever I develop for a new platform I try to see its weaknesses and strengths. Be it a gameboy, the Xbox, the iPhone or a PC or (insert your device here). The Xbox for example has a really good controller which is both precise and can be used from the couch. But since most xboxes are connected to all kinds of TVs I have to think about safety zones, PAL, non PAL, TV-resolution and so on, just to name a few problems. It is really important for me to “feel” and understand the device. Without that knowledge, I cannot develop successful games for that platform.

Every platform just does some things slightly different. This keeps it entertaining for both the developer and the player. As promised I will show a first picture of my current project GalaxiTaxi and describe the thoughts that came up with  the development on its specific platform . My idea is to release GalaxiTaxi for the iOS. This means I have to look into the iOS platform. There are currently some devices that fall under this platform. The best known is probably the iPhone4, but also iPhone3, iPhone3GS, iPhone4S, iPod4, iPad and iPad2 have to be considered. Each of these devices has slightly different screen resolutions, size, points per inch (ppi), processor power and some are even phones! Some of theses devices get carried around a lot and have players that have just a few minutes while waiting at the bus station and others are used by people lying down hours on a couch at home. But they all have a touch screen in common and the same market place (the “App Store”). From this point of view some decisions can be done:

  • The game should be easy to handle
    If the player is on a bus and the controls are getting unprecise because the bus shakes the player might blame it on the games controls.
  • The game should be understood in a very short amount of time
    If the player has only a few minutes he may not be interested in a complex learning curve
  • The game can get more complex over time
    If players are playing it at home they might not want to do the same things over and over
  • The game has to work on any resolution
    The “old” iPhone only has 320 x 480 at 163 ppi display size, while an iPad has 1024 x 768 at 132 ppi, and a iPhone4 960 × 640 at 326 ppi. This may greatly change the way the game looks on all devices. Either the game graphics are to be scaled or they have to be big enought to be clearly seen on a small device.
  • The game should be universally built
    This means a player who bought it for his phone and has a pad does probably not want to spend money again for each of his devices.
  • The save games/scores have to be accessible over all platforms
    The player might play the game on his phone on the way to work and later at home switch to another device for better visual quality.

For GalaxiTaxi I started developing mainly for the iPad. It has a reasonable resolution and from there I will scale everything as needed.

GalaxiTaxi on the iPad

Tomorrow I will talk about some of the development tools I use.


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