Cross Platform Mobile Game Development

If you own a smartphone, it probably contains a game or two. These are the games you play during your leisure time, on a long commute, or to break the monotony of daily routines. Mobile game development presents several opportunities for software developers. The number of mobile devices keeps growing daily, with different users having unique gaming preferences.

Software developers use cross platform mobile game development to create games compatible with different devices and platforms. What does it take to develop cross platform mobile games? Do cross platform mobile game development strategies vary from standard software development methods?

Individuals can participate in online mobile gaming competition

Here is a quick guide for cross platform mobile game development. It covers the basics of gaming development, elements of cross platform games, engines used to develop mobile games and a few tips for streamlining cross platform mobile game development.

The cross platform mobile game development market is growing. Its expansion is fueled by the creativity of the developers, customer preferences and emerging digital trends. 

What is Cross Platform Mobile Game Development

Cross platform game development, as the name suggests, is a set of activities for developing, distributing and maintaining games that work across multiple mobile devices and operating systems. The developer ensures the game is stable and operational across platforms. It implies they require basic knowledge of iOS app development and Android app development to help them optimize game features and resource utilization limits. 

Cross platform mobile game development also involves building games that can be played on the web. These are usually resource-intensive video games and are hosted in the cloud. A cross platform mobile game developer should understand how web app development works. That way, they can optimize the quality of graphics, on-screen commands and sensitivity of gaming controls. 

Game developers must test their products on different devices before release. The developers can verify if the games load and run on all target devices and platforms through testing.

An example of a mobile game UI

Developers may have to create several libraries for different devices. It is done to guarantee similar user experiences irrespective of the physical limitations of the targeted mobile devices. Although this is cumbersome, it is necessary when developers intend to reach more customers.

Millions of games exist on different play stores for customers to download and run on their devices. When beginning cross platform mobile game development, involved teams should clearly understand the level of competition among the different game categories. Cross platform games are available in the following categories:

  • Adventure games
  • Card games
  • Puzzles
  • Arcade
  • Multiplayer online games
  • Action games
  • Strategy games

In cross platform mobile game development, experts leverage a unified codebase to build 2D and 3D mobile games. These games are more enjoyable if mobile phone owners can remotely compete through the internet. The developers require various software development tools and sets of unique graphics and artwork that define these games. Some critical cross platform mobile game development tools include:

  • Game engines
  • Scripting languages
  • Cross platform software development kits

Cross Platform Mobile Game Development Engines

Developing cross platform mobile games is challenging yet rewarding. Developers use different methods to monetize their products. Current monetization models include:

  • Pay per play
  • Running ads
  • Charging a one-off fee when downloading the game

Before thinking of monetizing apps, cross platform mobile game development teams should have a robust knowledge of different programming languages, best practices for wireframe development, code adaptation to different platforms and scalability of mobile games. Cross platform mobile game development is incomplete without the utilization of game engines. What are game development engines, and which are the most popular cross-platform engines?

Developers build games targeting different age groups

What is a game engine?

A cross platform game engine is a specialized software framework used to build and validate mobile games. The engine contains several tools, support programs and libraries required to facilitate cross platform mobile game development from start to finish. 

Most engines support game development for consoles, PCs and mobile devices. Game engines have various capabilities including:

  • Graphic and video rendering
  • Scripting
  • Memory management 
  • Sound control
  • Cinematic optimization
  • Game localization

Using cross platform game engines offers an economical means for game development agencies to build and sustain multiple gaming products. The developers reuse or adapt similar gaming codes to produce new games and port existing mobile games to diverse platforms. 

Cross platform mobile game development teams have preferences over which engines to use. Aside from offering several visual game development tools, the engines have several reusable game development components. The availability of these tools in an integrated development environment simplifies cross platform app development. Game development is competitive, and developers continually explore methods and strategies that guarantee rapid game development based on factual market data.

Game engine developers strengthen the capabilities of cross platform mobile development IDEs by adding advanced tools and technologies to the frameworks. These engines have collision detection tools, animation and artificial intelligence. 

Game engines are vital for platform abstraction – that is, they allow cross platform mobile games to run across platforms without making changes to the source code. Sometimes, the developer may make a few changes to the source code. These changes have little impact on code structure and are meant to adapt games to native mobile platforms.

Every game engine has unique capabilities

Each game engine used for cross platform mobile game development has unique characteristics and capabilities. Some are specialized to provide real-time 2D and 3D rendering of game elements, while others are designed to enhance game functionality across platforms. Let us take a look at the most popular engines used for cross platform mobile game development.

Unity

Unity is among the most popular cross platform mobile game development engines that facilitate the collaborative creation of 2D and 3D games. The platform supports game development for PCs, diverse mobile platforms and consoles. 

It is an easy-to-use game development engine that enables developers to create attractive and intuitive interfaces. This engine uses C# or UnityScript as the standard scripting languages. It is also easy to install and set up the platform. The developer selects the target platforms they are building games for, and the system automatically loads all the required SDKs. 

Unity enables game developers to create responsive and interactive simulations when building video games. They can animate several real-life situations and include complex game scenarios like engineering or auto racing. Unity also allows cross platform mobile game development teams to import 3D applications and assets from third-party sources and app stores. It enables them to customize gaming solutions for target devices and customers.

Small game development companies can expedite game development by leveraging tools provided by the Unity game engine. It is vital for startups that are building their first products. They can create functional games without the need for complex graphics and initial cross platform mobile game development experiences. 

Games built using Unity are small since the engine determines the number of plugins required for smooth game operation across platforms. The engine is preferable across the game development sector and receives massive support from a robust community of developers and users. Indie studios, small game development agencies and gaming enthusiasts can receive tons of critical game development info from online Unity communities and other training organizations.

Godot

Godot is an open-source cross platform game development engine. It facilitates 2D and 3D game development and contains several in-built tools. Developers using this engine can expedite the game design and coding using visual editors and inbuilt nodes. The visual editors are user-friendly, and beginner game developers can easily navigate aspects of game development like UI UX design and artistic animations. Godot’s visual editor is accessible to artists, animators and UI designers. It makes Godot a reliable engine for UI design.

Godot game development experts continue supporting cross platform mobile game development by working collaboratively to fix gaming bugs and creating advanced gaming features for newer games.

Godot is vital for deploying PC, mobile and web games. The engine also permits game exports to consoles. However, such exports are only limited to console developers licensed as third-party game porting service providers. 

Unreal Engine

Unreal is considered a powerful cross platform mobile game development engine, having unique capabilities and advanced tools. The engine uses Blueprint, a built-in scripting tool used to create intuitive visual game elements. Unreal Engine supports game development for PCs, mobile phones and consoles. 

Unreal engine contains several plugins necessary for building large games. Developers may be required to disable some of these plugins when building games targeting mobile devices. The engine allows developers to modify the game code base and optimize it for different hardware. Unreal is popular among game development agencies working on large-scale gaming products like multiplayer mobile games or PC games.

Unreal is a flexible cross platform mobile development engine that caters to developers with different experiences. Beginners can enjoy game development with little or no programming experience. On the other hand, experienced developers can showcase their C++ programming skills by diving deeper and building unique game source codes targeting different hardware and platforms. 

Unreal requires additional setups before use. The developer should install separate SDKs if they intend to utilize the engine for cross platform mobile game development. The SDKs are unique for every targeted mobile platform. The engine is also helpful for the film industry as it facilitates the design of virtual scenes, animated movies and fictional movie sets. 

An advanced marketplace for cross platform mobile game developers exists online. Game developers can freely store gaming assets on the platform and receive compensation from companies or other game developers that use their resources. 

Cocos2D-x

It is a cross-platform game development engine vital for building small games. 

The engine supports 2D and 3D game development and utilizes different scripting languages. Developers that use this engine require a solid understanding of one or more of these languages:

  • C++
  • Lua
  • JavaScript

It is an open-source game development engine suitable for experienced game developers due to the intense programming required when using it. Cocos2D-x is critical for graphic adaptation to different mobile phone platforms and is simple and fast to use.

Developers using this engine can access critical documentation from the vast community of online developers.

GameMaker Studio

It is one of the most user-friendly game development engines in the market. The platform was developed targeting novice game creators. With time, the platform has become preferable among cross platform mobile game developers. The engine uses drag-and-drop to organize game elements and leverages GameMaker’s unique programming language. It also supports other advanced scripting languages.

GameMaker studio is easy to use and provides game developers with various tools. They allow novice and experienced game developers to deploy cross platform mobile games faster. This engine is designed for 2D game development and contains a rich library of standard 2D graphics that developers can drag and drop on the IDE.

Games developed using GameMaker Studio may have limited functionality. The engine is available freely, although experienced cross platform game developers require access to the subscription-only professional or master engine versions. 

Solar 2D

It is a free, open-source game development kit formerly known as Corona.

The gaming engine uses Lua for scripting. The 2D game development platform has several plugins and built-in features required to enhance game development. 

The engine has an online feature, Solar2D Playground, that facilitates instant online development and deployment of cross platform mobile games. Developers can infuse changes to cross platform game codes faster, enabling the engine to adapt to different hardware resolutions and screen ratios.

Final words

Cross platform mobile game development has revolutionized how customers consume gaming products and how game development companies approach product deployment and maintenance. Game development requires basic knowledge of iOS, Android and Web app development and extensive knowledge of several programming languages. Mobile games are designed using Game development engines, and developers choose these engines depending on the ease of use, the game complexity and previous experiences. 

If you intend to build a cross platform mobile game, understand the preferences of your target audiences, design, develop and test the game on different devices and provide continuous game support post-release. Use online resources and developer communities to gather information about best game development practices, bug fixing and the best game development engines.