5 Ways To Get Started With Mobile Game Development
Written by: Simon Batt
The mobile gaming industry is one of the most exciting places to be in right now, but in order to be a part of it, you need to know a little about mobile game development in the first place! This can be a tricky path to take, and it’s not immediately obvious on where to start. While nobody can tell you exactly how to make a game you’re proud of, there are definitely a few things to consider before you start.
Choose an Operating System
One of the most important parts of the development process is choosing somewhere to start. Of course, games have the capabilities to be ported to multiple operating systems, but if you’re a small team (or even just yourself!) it’s a good idea to focus on one system. You can branch out once you have a completed game that can be ported.
What operating system you pick mainly depends on what you want. Do you have an Android phone you can test your game on? Or do you dream of being on the Apple store? Go for what’s familiar or exciting to you, as this will be 90% of the drive to learn and develop mobile games.
Get Familiar With The Development Space
Now that you’ve picked out the operating system you want to develop for, it’s time to get into the development space based on your choice! Android Developers gives you the tools and documents to get started, as well as a guide to making your first app. Apple Developer, on the other hand, gets you started with iOS tools.
Of course, you’ll need to know how to code your projects; thankfully, both Android and Apple have tutorials you can use to learn how to make your game. You can find tutorials all over the web, as well as communities to help you get unstuck.
Get Familiar With What’s Available
The mobile gaming scene is huge; there’s a very good chance that someone has made a game that’s at least somewhat similar to your idea already. It’s a good idea to spend some time downloading and playing these games for inspiration. There’s a good chance that, during each game’s development, they’ve tackled key problem areas with smart design. There’s no point re-inventing the wheel; take inspiration and learn from what other developers do!
Getting familiar with your genre can also tip you off in two more areas; what kind of people play your game, and what ideas and themes are overdone. Both of these topics can be used to tailor your own game so that it’s both aimed at the right people and not treading on tired tropes.
Consider Monetization Methods Before You Develop
Unfortunately, in this day and age, people aren’t so keen on spending money to download an app. They prefer to download the app for free also known as Freemium, give it a try, and then pay money for in-App-purchases to receive benefits, features or to speed up progress. If you’re making an app mostly ‘for fun’ as a hobby, then this can be simple things such as a one-off payment for an ad-free experience. Otherwise, if you want to make this a full-time job, you need to consider repeatable purchases that a user can make, such as exchanging real world money for an in-game currency. It’s important to sort this before you start, so you can build your game around your desired income levels.
Make a Few Trial Apps First
If you’re planning to jump into a huge game full of features, and you can afford to take your time with it, it’s a good idea to make some trial apps to get you started. These should be fun, throwaway apps that aren’t intended for sale.
Some developers set a fun challenge to try to complete an app a month. The short deadline means you can quickly gauge how much you can code in a specific time. Can you complete a short platformer game in a month, or will you still be stuck on finalizing level 1? These things can only be discovered by trying. You’ll also be carrying your total experience between each month, meaning you’ll be coding faster and developing better each time
Making a game is only the first step. After you’ve done all that work, you still need to learn how to publish, market, and efficiently monetize your game before you can turn a proper income from it. If this seems stressful, it’s a good idea to submit your game to a publisher who can handle all the heavy lifting for you.