Newcomers to game development are flocking to easy-to-use game tools like Unity, and GameMaker. However, veteran programmer and ex-Google, ex-Nokia software engineer Sarah Smith says there are other ways to go. Her latest game ‘Pandora’s Books’ was developed exclusively in code using the framework SpriteKit, Apple’s solution to game development.
“In game dev you try to separate code from assets, functionality from data, as you do in regular programming or good software engineering. With a framework, you’re actually writing a computer program. Everything is possible. With an engine, you’re restricted by the engine’s capability. Everything feels quick and easy. But as time goes by and you try and develop it further, you might find yourself not being able to do what you want it to do.” Sarah said.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great things about engines. Engines like Unity, Unreal, and even GameMaker are incredibly powerful and talented 3D programmers have produced a lot of common 3D rendering functionality into a tightly honed and well-documented beast which you can call on to get your game up and running quickly. But there is also the cost to think about. Whilst you might think you’re getting something for free, as soon as you look to sign up as a developer, the costs can really add up.”
“I chose to develop our game in SpriteKit for a number of reasons. The load times are faster, less licensing hassles, there is an open source community with 3rd party items often at zero cost, not to mention the fact that it’s free.”
“Yes there are some drawbacks. For example, you need a programmer. You can’t do this without a good understanding of writing code. The code isn’t cross platform and there are less off the shelf “store” assets. But for me, being a software engineer the plus side of being in control of the game far out-weighed the down-sides”.
Sarah’s game “Pandora’s Books” by her studio, Smithsoft, is a word unscrambling game and is set to hit the App Store on 18th of August 2016.
Sarah’s full story can be read on her blog Indie Game Coding Confessions.
Smithsoft Games, consists of Sarah Smith (Founder and Programming), Wren Brier (Art Design), Jane Dyson (Marketing and Production) and Crystal Htay (QA, Community Management and Game Design) with the help from Zander Hulme Music. The studio was initially founded by Sarah and Raymond Smith in 2012 as a software consultancy company whilst Sarah worked as a sole Indie developer. Smithsoft grew to the four person indie studio it is today in January 2016. Previous games released or developed by Sarah acting as a sole Indie developer include Space Bot Alpha and Ethex 2080.