Here are the questions you asked our panel of people who work in the games industry and app development.
Damien Murphy (SAP): Hi Charlotte, it is kind of like asking “How long is a piece of string” since you can make a single-page app with a picture of a cat in about five minutes if you know how to make apps, or you could spend months or years making huge enterprise apps with teams of hundreds of developers working on both server side and client side. My team make apps which take anywhere from one day to one month.
But when you finish and people love your app or you make a difference to someone’s lives with your technology, well it drives you on. That’s what keeps me going.
Damien Murphy: Hi Maryla, making apps requires a lot of functional designs and graphical designs which sometimes can take longer than the actual making of the app. Understanding complex use cases and making them work on mobile is a tricky thing to do and requires a lot of due diligence and experience to get right.
When starting any project, the scope of the project needs to be considered in relation to the time and resources available to complete the work. We would estimate how long each feature of the app would take and see how much we can fit in the given time frame.
Mark Lambe: Sticking with it is about work ethic. Making games is, quite often, not very fun. The counterbalance being that it is often a whole lot of fun.
Damien Murphy: There are many ways to do this.
- Make several apps natively for each platform iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone etc
- Make HTMl5 apps that are basically web pages inside native apps such as PhoneGap/Cordova.
- Use tools that do cross compilation for different platforms such as Appcelerator
Mark Lambe: Making app multi-platform is getting easier, with engines that allow you to build the games for many platforms at once, then allowing for different screen resolutions is your main problem. (In terms of supporting the hardware capabilities of different phones, you just have to test and support only certain devices, you’ll never get them all).
Damien Murphy: Hi Luke, I like you’re thinking here as it shows you have thought about this issue yourself. The best answer I can give is that you have to spend time writing down what the app will do and how it will do it and for what reason. Something along the lines of “My App will be a role-playing game, using 3D graphics so that players can collect Easter eggs.”
The target age group should match the game characteristics so the above example would probably be for 4- to 12-year-olds but if they were collecting guns then I would say 12- to 24-year-olds.
Market research is the best way to find out what sort of apps suit what sort of age groups. If your market research tells you something, use it to your advantage.
Mark Lambe: When creating a game we aim it at a particular group of people, and that will usually have some age component to it. For example, TroubleSum on iOS is aimed at people who find maths fun, and the primary age group for it would be 20-35. During development we concentrated more so on people who enjoy maths, but we’re always conscious of the type of people that will play it.
Damien Murphy: Hi Luke, for Android Java would be the preferred language since the operating system runs Java natively. There are lots of Frameworks for Android that aid in game development.
Mark Lambe: Free apps generally have two ways of generating revenue. Firstly there’s advertising, so if a game has ads in it, the developer will get a small payment every time a player clicks on one of the ads. The second is user acquisition.
So for example, you download the free version of “Angry Birds” to try it out, and then you might purchase the full version if you like it. Having a free version of your game can help to convince people to buy the full version.
Damien Murphy: Hi Jack, some people release their games for free (like me) because they want people to play them. If an app costs $0.79 you will get a lot less downloads compared to a free app. A lot of free games in the iTunes App store are “Lite” versions with limited functionality or levels etc.
This approach lets people try out the game before they buy and will increase sales compared to an app that people can’t try without buying.