The advancement of mobile games has gone far past the old Snake game you use to play on your flip phone. Instead of trying to avoid running into your snake's tail, you can now defend your castle from invading orcs, battle zombies in a 3D shooter, or toss birds from a sling shot - the possibilities are endless. Just about every person these days has a mobile phone or tablet capable of playing games.
It's no surprise the mobile game market has skyrocketed due to the popularity and hardware improvements over the past several years. If you're itching to create your first mobile game, this article will walk you through some important things you need to take into account, as well as key steps for creating your very first mobile game.
As mentioned before, today there are more people than ever before with some type of smart phone, which means each one of them has access to these mobile games. More and more development companies are growing into this mobile game market simply because they can expand their reach. For instance, there may be someone who would never buy a gaming console, but they still need to kill time while their waiting in line for the movies or the plane to arrive.
Mobile games don't typically have complex story lines and next-gen graphics but that doesn't mean they aren't popular and just as entertaining. Take a look at the mobile game Angry Birds. The idea is simple, and not the first of its kind, but the art style is unique and the game play is nailed down, making it one of the most popular mobile games to date.
Before you start building your first game, you need to know what it is you want to make. Is it a side scroller? A puzzle game? Or some type of racer? You never want to jump straight in without knowing what game you plan to make. Take the time to write down ideas, come up with unique characters, play with different art styles, and think about the type of gameplay that would make your game unique. The proper planning can make or break your game.
If you're a beginner, then the best place to start may be in a 2D game. If you aren't familiar with 3D it can be extremely difficult, especially if you are a one man team. Creating the assets, texturing and animating is not something that can be done quickly and may be an added headache if you are just wanting to get into the actual gameplay aspect.
To get you up and running on how to create appealing 2D assets for your games. check out this 2D game asset creation tutorial that walks you through the process.
Know Your Game
Choose an art style that works well, and make the game something that is recognizable and memorable. To use Angry Birds as an example again, when you see someone in line in front of you playing that game, you would know instantly what they are playing. Everything, from the sound effects to the art design, are vital for establishing a mobile game that people will recognize. There are thousands of mobile games out there, so think about what you can do with yours to make it stand out among the crowd.
If you're taking your first crack at a mobile game, it's often a good idea to design something you're familiar with. Maybe you love to play those interactive puzzle games. Create something you know a lot about. What do you like about them? And what can be improved upon? Use those questions to set out to make an even greater puzzle game with your own unique spin.
Choose Your Software
Before you can start making your game, you need to know which software package you plan on using to create it. An extremely powerful game engine that has the capabilities to create both 2D and 3D games is Unity. This game engine is widely used among mobile developers and has very high graphics capabilities. The application is completely free to use, until you put your game onto the market. Another engine that can be used to create mobile games is UDK (Unreal Development Kit) which is powered by the Unreal Engine.
Depending on if you choose 2D or 3D, you will need to use separate applications to create the assets. For instance, if you want to create a 2D game you will need to use something like Photoshop to create the elements for your game. If you want to create a 3D game, you will need to have an understanding of a 3D application like Maya or 3ds Max to create all the assets for your game.
If you are unfamiliar with programming, but still have a game idea you are itching to bring into the world, there are tools out there that can help bring your game to life, like the 2D mobile game engine GameSalad. GameSalad requires absolutely no coding knowledge, but uses what they call a behavior-based logic system.
Think of it as a sort of drag-and-drop game creator. Of course there is still a learning curve, and you probably won't be creating complex games as soon as you open it. It is extremely powerful and has gained a lot of traction among the mobile development market. It can easily port your games onto Android, Windows8 and iOS phones with the click of a button. It has also found a lot of popularity among the one-person teams. Inevitably though you'll need to expand into a more complex game engine that requires scripting knowledge, like Unity, but GameSalad is a great place to get your feet wet and get a few games onto the mobile market in a short amount of time.
Learn a Programming Language
Even if you choose GameSalad to create your first mobile game, it's still extremely important to learn a programming language. As you get into more complex game creation, you'll find that knowing a programming language is vital. A great place to start with is C#. C# (pronounced see sharp) is an object-oriented programming language intended to be simple and relatively easy to grasp. C# is a widely used programming language among Unity developers. Check out this Introduction to C# in Unity tutorial to get a crash course in this powerful scripting language.
3D or 2D?
If you have the knowledge base to tackle either a 3D or 2D game, you need to ask yourself what would be best for your particular game. Does the type of gameplay you're trying to achieve really call for a complex 3D environment?
In the same way, you might be holding yourself back by choosing to go the 2D route with your game. That's why having a planning phase and knowing exactly what you want to achieve with your game is vital. Otherwise, you'll end up realizing you've made the wrong choice halfway through the development process.
Now that you have some ideas for where to start with your mobile game, take these steps into action. Compare engines like Unity, UDK and GameSalad to decide which one works best for the game idea you have. Then pick a programming language you feel comfortable with that works with your engine and start creating! If you want to learn more about the game creation process, check out this 2D game development learning path that teaches you step-by-step how to create a 2D racing game in Unity from scratch! Explore more game development tutorials and articles to keep learning.