I always love reading about developers appreciating the simplistic yet powerful tooling for the PlayBook and BlackBerry 10. Its like night and day from just a year ago in BlackBerry Java development.The latest example was spotted by James @CrackBerry with UK based developer Ovogame. They just ported one of their popular iOS games to the PlayBook called Smiley’s Pop and had it working in a few hours after they started the port. The game is pretty fun and plays well for $0.99 in App World. They also have these 8 games coming soon to the PlayBook.
What I find most interesting from James is the story of how Smiley’s Pop came to the PlayBook straight from the developer Jean-Claude Cottier:
My name is Jean-Claude Cottier and I am an independent French game developer. I started coding games at the age of 14 (that’s 27 years ago). During my career I worked on console & PC games (I did the 3D engine for Black&White and The Movies for Lionhead). In 2006, I resigned despite truly loving my job in the AAA industry as an engine architect, I was able to work on amazing technology but I didn’t work in the game industry to create technology – where wanted to work on my own games, from design to coding.
This is why I setup Ovogame and started to create casual games for the PC. In 2010, I updated my technology so my tools could also create games for the iPhone & Mac. A few weeks ago, I met Aaron Ardiri on a forum for mobile game developers. We were talking about multi-platform development and he told me that he was working for RIM, and they had created tools for the PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 that would allow me to port my C++ games in a matter of just few hours. Obviously, I didn’t believe him! I’ve been doing this job for a long time and I knew that porting isn’t as easy as you might think it is. Anyway, he got me interested and RIM kindly send me a Playbook so I could start working on it.
Once I had installed everything and registered with RIM, I was able to run their testing application (a simple square moving on the screen). At this stage, I immediately deleted all the code relative to the square and started to add my own code instead. I was working on a prototype for a new little game and thought this would be perfect for testing the whole porting process as the game was small but complex enough to test everything involved in games development.
Maybe Aaron was right, I should be able to port my games in just a matter of hours (or at least getting something working on the screen). My games are coded using C++, and I am using OpenGL for rendering images on the screen with OpenAL for playing sound and music. RIM’s tools cleverly support these standard libraries and it looks like most of my code was going to work without any changes at all.
After frenetically coding for a couple of hours I was able to nail down all the issues and run the game for the first time. What a surprise! On the first try everything was displayed perfectly. Usually, the first time you run your code on a new platform, you always have something wrong, not displayed in the right place or the code might not even run at all. It was so unexpected that I took a picture of my Playbook and sent it to Aaron to show him how far I had got after just two hours spent on the porting.
An hour later, the touch input and the sound was added so I was able to fully play the game. RIM has done an amazing job to make C++ programmers life easy on their platform. They really deserve a big applause for their tools. Some of their competitors in the industry should really take a look at what they have done (yes, I am looking at you Android platform). I’m glad I invested some time with these tools as I am now updating all my games very quickly so they’ll support this new platform (and BB10). So watch out for more from Ovogame coming soon on Playbook.