Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Interview With A Game Developer

I would like to thank L. Spiro for taking the time to perform the following interview.  His responses are very insightful.

David Ransom:     What is your Name?
L. Spiro:    Shawn (L. Spiro) Wilcoxen

David Ransom:     What is your job title and job description?
L. Spiro:     R&D programmer.  I create and optimize the core engine used for our mobile games.

David Ransom:    How long have you been in your field?
L. Spiro:    In games, ~10 years.  In mobiles, ~6 years.  In R&D, ~1 year.

David Ransom:   Do you have any advice that you would like to offer someone who is interested in pursuing a career in mobile game development/design?
L. Spiro:    Like with any other type of game programming, just stick to your goals and produce many demos.
 Most mobile development is not satisfying on a personal level.  At my current job we are making AAA games with huge brand names for mobile devices, which is satisfying, but a very rare case.  Most of the time, especially when you start out, you will be working on very low-budget games and you may easily be finding yourself questioning the value of what you are putting out there.

David Ransom:    What are some highlights from your career?
L. Spiro:     I was the lead programmer for Fit for Rhythm which became the #1 free iOS app in many parts of Asia for a while.

 I am writing a book for Addison-Wesley Professional on advanced game architecture and OpenGL ES 2.0 optimizations for iOS due to hit shelves next year.

David Ransom:    (Bonus) Anything else you would like to add. Feel free.
L. Spiro:    As mentioned before, mobile development is not usually a goal for people; it is usually just what they get stuck doing since the industry is going that direction for now.  But it is an easy place to start and to get into the industry.  Just be ready to move on to more exciting jobs when the initial rush of getting into the industry subsides and you find yourself unsatisfied with the games you are putting out there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Development and Promotion of Sales


Your game is now ready for the development stage once it passed through the prototyping and wire frame requirements. This is an exciting time when developers can witness their game coming to life.  The overall process requires lots of patience, time and effort.  You will require team members that are proficient in programming code, 3D modeling, and art design.  The following list contains popular software development kits (SDKs) for cross platform games:

Sales Promotion

Gamer players will want to be in the know about upcoming or new games.  Promoting your game is one of the most effective ways to create a demand and generate revenue.  Start building networks with individuals in the game industry ASAP in order to create opportunity for your game to be featured in game review websites such as Gamespot,  PocketgamerIGN, etc.  Doing so will help to build up anticipation and create a following for when your game is released.   Use methods such as Blogs, forums and social networks offer free promotion for spreading the word about your game (Stalk, 2011).  Some pay services such as Appsfire specialize in app promotion which can be very beneficial if you can afford it.

Stalk, M.  (2011, Dec.)  Publishing your mobile game? Free DIY marketing: my insights so far.
Retrieved from:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Design Elements

Design Elements

Today’s blog entry will focus on design elements of mobile games.  Aesthetics are very important for attracting users to your app; however it is not always the most important factor.  The user interface must be well designed to allow for easy navigation.  Ensure the game display matches up with screen sizes on all of the different devices the app is marketed for.   Please visit the following website for a list of well designed mobile apps.  

The following list defines key Design elements:


 Make the game easy to understand.  Some game developers use children to test their games.  (Edis, 2011).  Simple games may attract a wider audience.

 Ensure your games are fun to play.  Create your game so that it can hold someone’s interest for as long as possible.  The app markets are full of games, so you will need to be creative to ensure your game stands out.    Choose your play testers wisely and gather feedback.  (Edis, 2011).

Take your time

Test, test, and test your game content to ensure it does not contain crashes or bugs. A high quality game may  
help to make the difference if game players are using your game.  Quality content will typically matter more to most players than appearance.

 Ensure your game is packed with plenty of well designed material.  The story and appearance must be excellent in order to attract player's attention.  Offer incentives for replay value such as the ability to unlock items once players meet certain requirements.  (Edis, 2011).

Reward Players That Invite Their Friends to Play

Use the mobile devices’s resources to your benefit.  Encourage players to get their friends involved, but do not punish if they don’t.   (Skipworth, 2012).  Some games allow for the ability of players to send virtual gifts to other players within the game.  In game rewards can be a way for the players to get ahead in a game; however, many games are  known for being annoying.

Break content into small units 

Many people use mobile games for brief distractions in their busy day.  Keep this in mind to allow users the ability for brief game play.  Breaking the content into smaller pieces will allow players to pick up the game where they last left off easier (Skipworth, 2012).


Edis, S.  (2011, Feb, 7).  4 Golden Rules of iPhone Game Design
Retrieved from:

Edis, S.  (2011, Jan 17).  4 Tips to Get in the App Store Top 200
Retrieved from:

Skipworth, H.  (2012, Mar 20).  How to build a chart-topping app game
Retreived from:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wire Frames and Prototyping

Wire frames and prototyping methods for mobile game design are tricky topics to write about.  Both methods are considered similar yet very different.  One key difference between the two processes is that wire frames tend to focus on creating a rigid skeleton for a mobile app, and prototyping focuses on the design elements.  Some mobile game developers may choose to bypass wire frames entirely or switch the order of steps in development.  Each development team might have their own development techniques and opinions about the use of wire frames and prototyping.   (Gordon, 2010).  You as a mobile game developer must choose what is best for you. 


The wire frame methods are considered similar to a conceptual reference or rough draft while keeping the general goal in mind.  Wire frames can very useful for ensuring games have the proper placement of user interface elements such as menus and general shapes.  Keep in mind that different mobile devices will have various screen sizes.  For example, the size of a mobile phone is smaller than a screen on a Ipad or tablet.   Sketches are typically used to examine how the general outline of your game would appear on a mobile screen.  Some developers may prefer to complete their wire frames using freehand sketches.  Other methods are often used such as computer software or mobile apps.  (Lim, 2012).


Prototypes are beneficial  for ensuring a game contains the proper design elements and offers early detection of major issues.  (Turner, 2012).  Prototyping tools are often used in the following formats:

  • software programs
  • mobile apps
  • websites with drag and drop capabilities 
  • traditional pen and paper 

 The process for prototyping has the potential of saving a great deal of time and money if done correctly.  Designers can take advantage of finding checking to see how the look and feel of their game will be viewed before it is brought into the development stages.  Some modern prototyping software allows designers to create a test version of their game and exported it to multiple devices.   (Turnbull, 2012).  The exportation of a test version provides the opportunity for users to pre-screen, play test and offer feedback.  Feedback is a valuable resource which can help to ensure the game has the correct focus before proceeding to the later stages of development.


Gordon, J.  (2010, Dec. 22).  5 Steps for Wireframing and Paper Prototyping Mobile Apps.
Retrieved from:

Lim, W.  (2012,  Jun. 18).  A Beginner's Guide to Wireframing.
Retrieved from:

Turnbull, C.  (2012, July 26).  Codiqa: Mobile App Prototyping, Reinvented.
Retrieved from:

Turner, N.  (2010, Nov 18) .Wireframes are dead, long live rapid prototyping.
Retrieved from:

Friday, November 9, 2012

App Development Part 1

App Development Part 1

Game Development Pay Services

Today’s blog entry will be divided into two parts.  The first part will focus on pay services for game app development, and the second will feature DIY development tools.  Growing popularity for mobile games has paved the way for specialized services such as outsourcing game development.  Developers have the option to hire a professionals to program for them or create them on their own.  Hiring a professional may be a desired option in cases where the developer lacks skills such as writing code.  Outsourcing is often considered expensive in the event the programming requires lots of time to complete the project.  The cost of expenses for outsourcing your programming varies from pay services.  (Stetler, 2011).  The following link will direct you to a list of app development services.

Many of the professional services specialize in various areas such as security, cloud-based services, business friendly, and many more.  Take the time to seek for the service that best meets your needs as you develop your game.  You may save money by paying only for the services you need.  Skilled programmers may charge up to $100/hr.  Estimated costs for paying a professional to develop your game may range from $10,000 to $250,000 and up.  (Thomas, 2012).   Be careful that the developing professional has a good reputation before hiring them.  Cutting corners on the quality of your coding has been known create more issues in the long run.  These issues may require more money to fix them and cause a delay in development.   (Stetler, 2011).


Stetler, M.  (2011, Jan. 11). APPMUSING BLOG, Hiring a professional App Developer.  How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Mobile App?
Retrieved from:

Thomas, C.  (2012). How much does it cost to develop an app?
Retrieved from:   

Thursday, November 8, 2012

App Development Part 2

Software development kits (SDK) are specialized to allow for simplified app development.   SDKs integrate both the graphic interface and coding into the program.   The greatest advantage to using a SDK is the ability to create an app once for multiple platforms.  Some large companies take advantage of this approach in the instance where they require the graphic interface of an app to be identical across platforms.  (Picciotto, 2012).  Using SDK's for development can be beneficial in cases where time and money are factors for your development decision.  SDKs are capable of producing simple apps that require little to no knowledge of coding skills, however complex apps will require coding skills.  

Use of a one size fits all approach such as an SDK can have its drawbacks.   App users may experience conflict issues with software or hardware because the app was not developed using the native code.  The graphic interface integrated into the app might confuse the user.  (Vyas, 2012).  The app will have access to fewer specialized components of the device its used with. Consider custom tailoring your app for each platform to avoid encountering these issues.  Doing so will require more time, however the app will be a better quality product.  

Other Considerations When Designing your App:

  • Hardware limitations such as CPU power
  •  Screen size on devices
  •  Memory storage on mobile 
  • Battery life  
  •  Software limitations
  • Option of web-based app such as Flash vs HTML  5.   Flash and HTML5 may use less device storage, but requires a fast internet connection speed. 

Picciotto, O.  (2012, Aug. 22).  Solve your many-device-to-many-platform mobile application integration challenges.
Retrieved from:

Vyas, J.  (2012, March 4).    How to design identical UI for cross platform Mobile app?

Registering Yourself As a Developer

It is time to decide which platform you will make your game will be available now that you have decided on a genre and concept for your game.   It is possible for your game to be available on more than one platform as long as the requirements are met.  Each platform/operating system has its own unique set of requirements or terms of agreement to ensure quality control in the market place.  Click the names of each platform to visit each of the following desired pages and fill out all the information to fulfill the requirements.  Take note that some mobile platform/operating systems offer helpful information on their websites such as tutorials, blogs, tools, and other resources to assist app developers. 

App developers have several options when featuring their app in the market place. For example,  some developers may choose to sell their app for a set price while others choose to release their app free of charge.  Paid apps are typically sold for a one-time fee.  Most of the free apps will either feature embedded ads or offer allow players to use real money to buy in-game items.  Perform research on each of these methods for offering your game so that you will know which best suits you as a developer.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mobile Game Concept

Today's blog entry will feature the first step in creating a successful mobile game application (App):  

The first step involves choosing a concept for your mobile game.  Game concepts can range from very simple to complex.   Successful  mobile games do not require intense graphics to be popular.   For example, take a look at the popular game Words With Friends.  Newer mobile devices with increasingly powerful hardware create more opportunity for success with intense graphics.  Keep in mind that games using intense graphics could potentially take longer to develop than games using simple graphics.  A portion of your choice of the intensity of graphics may rest type/genre you choose for your game.  As you probably already know, there are many types of popular genres in mobile games today.   Some examples include:
  •  First person shooters
  •  Role playing
  • Action
  •  Puzzle
  •  Racing 
Each of the game genres may require different steps for the concept phase of development.  For example, a role playing game generally uses more complex story lines and 3D models compared to simple puzzle game. The game may include items such as style, design, complexity, story, etc.  Popular games such as Angry Birds has been successful in attracting all ages of players.  Angry Birds allows for simple play catering to an audience seeking brief distractions throughout their day.  A game that requires more time and skills which may result in the game being less popular by the public.  You as a developer will need to find the happy balance.  Content will play a role in the audience you seek as you develop your game.  ESRB provides content ratings for video games on a voluntary basis.  ESRB recommends all games to be rated due to some game sellers frowning upon unrated games.   Visit ESRB's FAQ for more information.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Creation and Success of a Mobile Application

Have you thought about creating your own mobile game application (app) for portable devices?  Do you know where to begin?  Do you know what makes them successful? 

 Ever-growing technology has opened the flood gates for many subtle or not so subtle changes in America’s culture as we know it.  These changes often create a dependency.  For example, can you remember a time when many of your friends or family did not own cell phones?  Portable devices are so ingrained into our culture that many people might have difficulty getting through the day without them. There are currently 1 billion smart phones in use today. Bloomberg estimates that number will double by the year 2015. (Yang, 2012).   With so many individuals using smart phones for business and personal use, it is no wonder that the demand for mobile apps has expanded exponentially.  The list of mobile apps and their uses grow each day.  These uses might vary greatly from individual to individual.  Keeping track of these apps can get overwhelming quickly.  As a developer, wouldn’t it be nice knowing how to create a mobile game and what it takes for it to be noticed in the mobile marketplace?  Each Generation of mobile devices has increased progressively in powerful hardware and software functions.  In turn, the latest generation devices always seem to raise the bar for potential in mobile games.

This blog will focus on the process of creating mobile games and the science behind making them successful.  I will offer a new blog entry every Friday afternoon.  My goal is to provide useful and reliable information to help individuals. 

References:  Yang, J.  (2012, Oct. 17).  Smartphones in Use Surpass 1 Billion, Will Double by 2015.  Retrieved from: