RIM has been making some great strides recently in their communication with the developer community. Their recent webinar on web development had over 500 attendees from around the world. They were even kind enough to offer a recording of the webinar for those who missed it.
Brian Z., a RIM employee, wrote a great article on the Developers Blog about porting games to the BlackBerry OS. I cannot count the times I have installed a game or even an application just to learn that it was just a stupid port. For example, I ran into one game that still made me use the number keys for controls as if the trackball did not exist. Another game I was using was obviously a port since I had to use the Q and P keys just like soft keys on a dumb phone. This is not how gaming should be! It defeats the purpose since the game will never live up to its potential.
I did not mention the names of the games since they are irrelevant in those cases but there are two companies that have notoriously let me down in this regard. Those are Capcom and Electronic Arts. I remember firing up SKATE from EA and that at least let you use the trackball to control the game. The problem was that you had to be able to move diagonally and the trackball only supports up, down, left, and right. It was like nobody had ever bothered trying the game on a BlackBerry! I don’t even want to get started on how Capcom ruined CONTRA.
You can see this over and over in the App World reviews. Just check out this listing for Sonic the Hedgehog. This could have been an awesome game! Instead you get a game that has decent graphics and atrocious controls. Tetris POP fell to the same fate. Even popular applications like Opera Mini are susceptible to this when they do not follow the same functionality that users are expecting. For example, in the new beta when you hit the back button you do not close the application!
I highly recommend that anybody looking to port their games to the BlackBerry OS read Brian’s article. He is planning on following up with a Part 2 for that article which will hopefully go into some of RIM’s experiences with ported applications.
So does anybody else have a horror story about buying a potentially awesome game/app only to realize that it is crippled by lack of customization for the BlackBerry Platform?