Developers of AppGameKit V2.0 talked about the way modern indie game developers can use modern game technology to create mobile games.
We’ve had a chat with Rick Vanner (Development Director) and Paul Johnstone (Lead Programmer) – the main people behind a new game development tool AppGameKit V2.0, which recently had a huge release on Steam. The developers were kind enough to talk about their incredible editor and the way it can help indie developers to build better games.
About AppGameKit V2.0
Rick Vanner: We’re a UK based company located in the North West of England near Manchester. We’re a virtual company – meaning that we all work from home so no stressful commute to work for us. We’ve been in business for over 15 years producing a range of game making products (Dark Basic, The 3D Gamemaker, FPS Creator).
Lee Bamber our CEO always planned to make his own company. When I worked with him at Europress (a UK multimedia publisher) I recognised his ability to create and develop ideas quickly as a programmer. I wanted someone to make a BASIC for the PC and Lee picked up on this and created DarkBASIC which then became the backbone of his new company. I was impressed with how he had started up so joined him early on in the life of the business and together we’ve had a fun time building products for Indie and Hobbyist developers from all round the world.
For the past few years we have focused on two key brands, AppGameKit and GameGuru. The foundations of these two products is very strong and we’re committed to evolving and growing them so that they become great products that let users do what they want to do without worrying about the complex areas of game development.
Paul Johnstone: “The biggest changes in the latest release are the new 3D commands which support bone animation, individual vertex manipulation, and a 3D physics system based on Bullet physics. Together with a new shader engine that will automatically generate a shader based on how many lights are affecting an object, users now have the ability to create detailed 3D worlds for their games. We are also continually improving the core command set which now includes additional string functions to find, replace, and remove characters, and a set of custom tween commands that modify a variable over time using an selected interpolation function.
Multi Platform Support
Paul Johnstone: For development we provide an AGK Player app. This can be downloaded from the Google Play store on Android devices, or side loaded on iOS devices using an Apple Developer account, and it receives apps broadcast from the IDE on Windows, Mac, or Linux. This allows users to test their apps on a device very quickly without having to copy or install any additional files on the device. The IDE transfers the code and media files to the device and then runs the app exactly as it would appear when distributed as a standalone app. The same code will run across all our supported platforms, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Blackberry 10 without any changes, so once you’ve written your app for one platform you can easily package it for the others as well.
App Game Kit VS Unity
Paul Johnstone: We are very focused on making game development as easy as possible, whilst still giving users the tools to make any type of game they desire. I think AGK finds a good balance here, with its very fast compile times and the AGK Player making rapid prototyping and testing very easy, whilst the extensive 2D and now 3D commands provide the flexibility necessary to explore different ideas. Whilst Unity has the more advanced feature set, and will probably remain the choice for AAA game development, AGK is a good choice for small to medium sized projects, and holds its own particularly well in the 2D arena.
Helping with Publishing
Paul Johnstone: With the new IDE in AGK 2 we have tried to make it as simple as possible to target iOS and Android by having an export option that will package your project into an IPA for iOS or an APK for Android. Apple require that the user build IPA files on a Mac, but APK files can be built on Windows, Mac, or Linux. These IPA and APK files can then be submitted directly to the Apple AppStore or Google Play store ready for distribution. We also support distribution on Blackberry 10, Windows, Mac, and Linux by packaging the compiled bytecode from the IDE with the AGK Player to create a standalone app that you can distribute anywhere you like.
Advice for Indie Devs
Paul Johnstone: If the aim is to make money or get lots of downloads then the challenge is to get noticed. Both the Apple and Google stores are now very competitive so apps tend to get lost in the crowd, so your best bet is to think outside the box. Try out game mechanics that you haven’t seen before, or find a way to get people talking about your game. Alternatively make lots of little apps that on their own don’t make much noise but together earn you enough to keep developing. We had one user in our AGK community become well known for creating over 100 apps and submitting them to the Apple store, and apparently he did quite well out of it.