Cross Platform Game DevelopmentBy http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // August 24, 2011 in Games
"Convergence devices like tablets are starting to change user expectations," Ken Murphy, Studios for GameHouse at Real Networks, said last night at a WTIA event in Redmond. He was addressing the subject of cross platform development in the gaming industry today.
Users expect to be able to play a game they like across platforms and devices.
In some regards, the imperative for uniformity of experience cross-platform is straightforward. For example, "leaderboards need to be the same across platforms," Murphy said.
Other qualities of "persistent experience" are less "must have" or "given" . . . and harder to pull off.
Grant Goodale of Massively Fun spoke to the challenges of maintaining quality of experience as you move a game across platforms with different bandwidth and other constraints. Insidiously, these obstacles impact design. As Murphy interjected (to affirmative nodding heads all around), you have to fight the urge to design to the lowest common denominator.
There's a freedom factor in the vision of being platform non-dependent. Liberated from proprietary consoles, independent developers can better chart their financial independence. "Show me a developer that's gotten rich on Nintendo's platform," said Todd Hooper of Zipline Games.
Not that Android, iOS and the social media paradigms are without challenge or frustration. "You just wish you had one currency," said Pat Wylie of Big Fish Games, speaking of how jealously the social networks guard their payment schemes. You can also get caught in the cross-fire: Murphy said his company launched in G+ and lost their Facebook promotion (a "coincidence!").
But cross platform reality doesn't mean an entirely uniform, full-featured experience on all systems and devices: we'll see more and more "chunks of play" optimized for the particular platform, Murphy predicted.
Pictured, left to right: Kraig Baker, Partner, Davis Wright law firm; Pat Wylie, VP of Studios at Big Fish Games; Grant Goodale, CEO of Massively Fun; Ken Murphy, VP of Studios for GameHouse at Real Networks; Todd Hooper, CEO of Zipline Games.