It’s safe to say there will not be a lack of demand for iOS games anytime soon. Games account for almost a half of all the downloads on the App Store.
If you’ve decided to come into play with your own iOS game, get ready for it to be cut-throat. Currently, developers submit over 200 new games to the App Store every single day!
What makes some of them Angry Birds-level popular, while other similar ones sink without a trace? And what can you do to win iPhone and iPad owners’ love?
Find out how to craft an engaging, high-grade game for iOS with these tips and tricks.
#1. Divide and conquer!
Before you start, there is one not very exciting yet utterly important thing to do. You need to think through your future app concept carefully and tell game mechanics from the game content it’s going to have.
For example, if you’re developing a platformer, game mechanics include your character’s controls, physics, the enemies’ behavior etc. Game content, in turn, is all the different kinds of levels of your game world.
You may have 20 or 200 levels with their own objects, textures, and landscapes to amuse the player. But the mechanics will be the same from location to location.
To achieve exceptional gameplay, bear in mind the rule: you should model game mechanics in code. Everything else should not be in code files.
Otherwise, you end up with a ton of duplicate code, which is a big no-no in development. Your game will be ponderous and painful to support. Besides, if you want to make a single change in gameplay, you’ll have to go through each of the level files, which can be hundreds!
If your game is rich and complex, you can split it into gameplay files and resource files. The resource files will store a collection of different game objects, positions, and animations while gameplay files will hard-code the mechanics.
#2. Integrate time-dependent actions with core timer
Update loop is the concept that orchestrates your game’s actions, making its world look whole. It works like a timer that sets how often the game is rendered to the screen.
Typically mobile games are rendered 60 frames per second. But sometimes developers prefer to set their own timers for specific actions.
What they often forget is that the global rendering speed can slow down significantly in mobile games. It happens when the game is complex, or when the iPhone it’s running on is overloaded.
Then your game actions start to run out of sync. What was a harmonious world falls apart. Magic evaporates.
To avoid this issue, use the timer your game engine provides – not your own. And when you need to add your own specifically-timed actions, integrate them with the internal timer.
This way, if the rendering speed drops down from 60 frames per second, all the time-dependent actions will stay in-sync, and your game will still be looking smooth.
#3. Control memory consumption
Don’t let your app treat the device’s memory like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. You should discover that memory usage can be restricted in different ways on the iPods and iPads, so you can’t develop your game on the assumption that it can occupy all available memory resources.
The trick for decreasing memory consumption is to avoid using the png loading function of Apple’s GLSprite Demo. It eats a lot of memory and caches images, slowing down your game performance.
Besides, you have to think ahead when designing the sprites for an iOS-based game. Make it a habit of cropping the sprites tightly and accurately when drawing them. The iOS system will be slow at mixing if you don’t take care of it.
In a similar vein, always choose the textures that help to boost the app’s rendering performance. Using the right textures also saves a lot of memory. Don’t forget that texture compression isn’t available for sprites in iOS games.
#4. Avoid third party libraries
Often developers take the path of least resistance and simply build their games around third party libraries instead of looking for their own solutions.
Well, as an iOS developer you can’t pull it off. Apple forbids the integration of third party apps into games which are meant to be used on iPads and iPhones.
Of course, you can still take a shot and hope no one notices. But if you want to be on the safe side, and want your product to be featured on the App Store, you’re better off avoiding third party libraries.
#5. Choose the best development platform
By choosing the right development software, you can drastically accelerate your workflow and focus on the creative part of it instead of the routine. Of course, the choice depends on your game genre, animation, and user input solutions etc. Look through the major game development platforms and pick the one that suits your goals the best.
- Stencyl is another great platform which allows you to create games without coding skills. It has an intuitive interface and rich toolset. The games built with its help have been sponsored by such leading publishers as Newgrounds, Kongregate, ArmorGames etc.
- LiveCode is a powerful coding platform for creating native games and apps. It provides numerous extensions, widgets, and libraries to speed-up the development process.
#6. Befriend useful tools!
Finally, you don’t have to develop your game the hard way. There are plenty of game engines, frameworks, and various tools to make iOS game development fun and effortless. Feel free to use them, to deliver the best to your future players!
- Unity Mobile is an advanced mobile version of the most widely used game engine, Unity. It supports both iOS and Android.
- Unreal Development Kit is an alternate engine for mobile apps and games. It will be especially useful if you’re planning to make a 3D simulator game. Besides, it also provides a free version.
Additionally, consider these awesome tools that are specifically made for iOS game developers:
- iTorque – game editor for the entire iOS device ecosystem. Its open source version is available as well;
- Sparrow is a free and open source tool for Objective-C;
- NinevehGL is a 3D engine for easy iOS based games building;
- Oolong – free engine for developing and exporting iOS games;
- DragonFire – a tool for developing 2D games. With its help, you can also create App-Store-ready apps;
- Newton – is a rich library for realistic physics simulation.
Now you know how to make your iOS game neat, light-weight, and easy to support. You probably can’t wait to start creating all the stunning locations of its universe, and the glorious adventures your customers will be going through.
What are you waiting for? There’s a lot of exciting work ahead of you!