Mobile gaming is a big business. From elementary school children to grandparents, college kids to young professionals, it seems everyone has gotten in on the mobile trend. And we mean everyone: in 2013, over 1.2 billion people across the globe were playing games on their mobile devices, and that number is steadily rising.
With mobile gaming’s popularity showing no signs of slowing, there’s never been a better time to take that idea you had for an awesome game and turn it into a reality.
But unless you’re an experienced mobile game developer, it can be hard to know where to start. With so many resources and information out there on mobile game development software, how do you pinpoint the best game development tools for beginners? Tools that will leave you with a well-designed, easy-to-play game that your target demographic will go crazy for?
We’re here to simplify the mobile game development process with this roundup of the best mobile game development tools to take your game from idea to app store in no time (and with as little stress as possible):
1. Construct 2
If you’re looking to build a 2D game with the potential to work across a variety of platforms, Construct 2 could be just what you’re looking for. In terms of mobile, they support them all: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. But Construct 2 is unique in that it also allows you to you to run your games on desktop operating systems and on the web (through HTML5). The ability to create games that run on so many platforms really opens up opportunities to reach a wider range of players.
Construct 2 is also a great tool for beginners; their drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to place objects anywhere you’d like and add the behaviors and interactions that bring your game to life. You also have the ability to preview your game in the browser of your choice without compiling, which will give you real time feedback on game performance and give you insights into any changes or adjustments you need to make before finalizing your game play.
Learn more about this tool at Scirra.
If the setting of your mobile game takes place outdoors, you’ll definitely want to check out SpeedTree for Games. This tool (known in the industry as a “vegetation modeling tool”) allows you to quickly and easily create realistic-looking trees and foliage.
SpeedTree for Games, which recently won the Develop Award, allows you to create your own unique tree designs or use one of their pre-made designs to make populating your outdoor world a snap. And the resolutions are optimized for devices with lower performing platforms like mobile phones, ensuring each of your players has an optimal experience no matter what kind of phone they’re using.
Learn more about this tool at SpeedTree.com.
The best games are fully immersive experiences. And while most mobile game developers focus on graphics and the visual experience, you don’t want to forget an important component of a great mobile game: audio.
Wwise, which supports iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, is “an interactive sound engine empowering audio creators.” This tool allows you to seamlessly insert high-quality audio to create a more well-rounded and immersive gaming experience for your players. No matter what kind of game you’re developing – whether it’s first person shooter, a puzzle game, or a traditional side scroller – the right sound is only going to enhance the game play and make it that much more addicting for your mobile game users.
Learn more about this tool at Audiokinetic.com.
4. Fusion 2.5
If you’re a true beginner in the world of mobile game development, you need an easy-to-use tool that will take you from game idea to actual game quickly, easily, and with as little hassle as possible.
Enter Fusion 2.5.
Fusion 2.5 is a 2D game creation platform that allows you to create event-based 2D games in an hour flat. This tool offers a huge library of pre-made graphics you can insert into your game, essentially cutting out the time-consuming and tech-heavy design process.
They even have a free edition, so if you’re just testing the waters, this will give you a solid idea of what it’s like to develop a game, will allow you to see what your idea looks like in game form, and decide if your idea is worth further investment.
Learn more about this tool at Clickteam.com.
Playir is another great tool for beginners, especially those looking to break into the 3D mobile game space. Similar to Fusion 2.5, Playir offers a host of features best suited to new developers like a drag-and-drop interface and pre-existing templates and graphics to use in your game. But Playir also offers 3D animators which will allow you to take your game to a whole new dimension.
Learn more about this tool at Playir.com.
If you’re looking for a hybrid tool that will support your growth from beginner to expert developer, GameMaker Studio offers the best of all worlds. This 2D tool from YoYo Games allows you to create robust single and multi-player gaming experiences. What’s unique about GameMaker Studio is you have the ability to use a drag-and-drop interface to build your game (which is a great option for newer developers) or code your game from scratch using GameMaker Language (GML), GameMaker’s C-based programming language.
GameMaker Studio also offers a host of helpful features to support you wherever you are on the development scope, including in-app purchase support, real-time analytics, and a wide variety of user engagement tools.
Learn more about this tool at YoYoGames.com.
If you’re going for a realistic feel for your mobile game, one design feature you’ll need to think about is texture. All objects have depth and texture (like the potholes on a street or the light variations in the ocean), and capturing that in a realistic way can be a challenge, even for experienced mobile game developers.
That’s where Substance Designer comes in. Substance Designer allows you to instantly create an infinite number of materials and produce both Substance textures and MDL Materials that add a realistic edge to your mobile game.
Even better, you can easily export those textures to any game engine or renderer, giving you a lot of flexibility in the development process.
Learn more about this tool at Allegorithmic.com.
One challenge that developers face is that because they develop their games on a desktop, there isn’t always an easy way to test their game play on mobile devices to get a sense of user experience and areas that need to be improved from a mobile standpoint.
StingRay is great because it allows you to seamlessly test your game at every stage of development on your mobile device by maintaining a live link between your mobile platform and your desktop platform. Developers love this tool because it saves a ton of time and energy during the testing process.
Learn more about this tool at Autodesk.com.
GameSparks is a great all-around tool for developers that helps to boost revenue and player engagement. The social and monetization tools allow you to analyze your player behavior, encourage engagement and social sharing through features like tournaments and chat functionality, and split test new features to continually optimize your game play.
GameSparks is also committed to supporting the student and indie development community; they offer 100,000 free MAUs as incentive for all new student and indie developers.
Learn more about this tool at GameSparks.com.
If you’re looking to bring an HTML game to mobile – without sacrificing everything you love about your game, like graphics, performance, and game play – you’ll definitely want to check out CoCoonJS. This HTML5 compliant platform allows you to port your HTML games to mobile platforms easily and without losing any of your game’s functionality.
Learn more about this tool at Ludei.com.
Arguably the most popular tool on this list, Marmalade is a developer favorite for creating mobile C++ games across multiple platforms.
Marmalade has a host of impressive and helpful features, like the ability to develop your base code inside Marmalade and later add platform-specific features and additions for each platform you plan to export your game.
Learn more about this tool at MarmaladeGameStudio.com.
Helix is a versioning software by Perforce that helps developers scale and grow their apps. With features like threat detection and code scalability metrics, developers are able to adapt their games in a way that maximizes growth and revenue. Helix also helps to protect your creative assets and ensure that your game is safe as you grow.
Learn more about this tool at Perforce.com.
If your game has a social focus, Viber is fantastic This development tool has a cross-platform layer that allows you to integrate a social feed where your players can interact in real-time during game play. Viber also encourages social sharing and sparks competition with various leaderboard challenges, increasing engagement with your players.
Learn more about this tool at Viber.com.
With mobile gaming gaining popularity every day, there’s never been a better time to move on that idea you’re sure could be the next Candy Crush or Angry Birds. And with these mobile game development tools, you’ll be one step closer to bringing that game to life.