Using Game Frameworks in Game Development

So here we are again! 10 post left and the year will be over! I have used the IT Value Chain before, but for today’s topic, I think I need to bring it back! In my post on Bringing Ideas to Life I said that there are two options in building games. You could write code from scratch or use a game framework. This post will look at the latter option.

The first place to start when thinking of a game framework is here. This list is by no means exhaustive but it gives a good starting point for anyone interested in game development.

Choosing a Game Framework

The first consideration in choosing a game framework is the team behind it. Frameworks like XNA and Unity3D have a team behind them. Using such a framework means that you are sure of documentation and support. JGame is a very impressive J2ME game framework but since it is the work of one individual, it has not been well documented. I must state that the main problem with open source is adherence to standards. Because the code is given away, there is rarely a way to enforce standard coding practices. As a result of this, in order to use a game framework, the game developer might have to rewrite some portions of the code.

The second consideration in choosing a game framework is the platform you will be developing for. Currently, the platforms for the gaming industry looks like this

Business model

So let me list the platforms: Desktop, Console, Web, Mobile and Facebook. Contrary to media noise, the desktop is still a platform people develop for. Consoles include Nintendo Wii and XBox I remember with nostalgia how the Nintendo Wii made its entry into the market in late 2008. It sold itself! It also helped this book sell! That was the year that Nintendo as a company got back into the game market as a contender.

The mobile space is perhaps where the most noise is made. With Nokia, BlackBerry, Android, iOS and Windows Phone on the scene, the stage is set to see one of the biggest face-off in the years to come.

The Web is steadily making a case with HTML5. Years from now will we wonder how we got by without it! Facebook was where Zynga made fame and fortune for themselves. Sadly the companies fortunes have continued to decline in recent times.

Learning How to Use a Game Framework

There are only three things to consider

  1. Research :- Perform detailed research into the game framework you decide to use. Then make a selection. Once a selection is made, look for documentation and tutorials that will help you get started with the game framework.
  2. Experimentation :- Make “Hello World” examples using the new framework. Create a basic game.
  3. Development :- Take the knowledge you have gained and create your own game. Get a prototype working using programmer art and be satisfied with your game mechanics.

The above form an acronym: RED and this is how any game framework can be used.

Conclusion

So I brought in the IT Value chain for this topic whats the deal? The truth is that finishing a game makes you a Content Producer. To distribute your game, you need to an Aggregator / Host. This can be an app store or a website where people download your game. The developers of the game framework you choose to use are the Access Providers. Advertisers and Users? Well you know who they are.

Programmer Art is important when developing a game. MBA means Mechanics Before Aesthetics. And for me that is the second reason for the IT Value chain. Even though its Aesthetics is poor, it gets the job done!

That’s it on this week’s post. I have given out most of my tricks. But remember this when game frameworks fail, hard coding lives on! If you have experience with any game framework and would like to share, please take out the time to leave a comment.

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