The person who developed Virus Strike, Neil Ferguson shares ten steps for becoming an iPhone game developer. Developing games for iPhone is something that anyone can do. Virus Strike is a puzzler based on physics that I have recently developed on very low budget, although I do not have any experience in developing games for iPhone.
It was certainly not simple, however it can become simple for someone who adopts the right approach and has the required skills. I have experience in programming and I was eight when I began developing on BBC Micro. Right now I am working full time in London. It was definitely my experience that proved helpful when developing this puzzle, Virus Strike. However, it is also true that for developing successful games you do not require any experience in programming.
Here are ten easy steps that you can follow.
Develop original idea
The idea about Virus Strike occurred in my mind around one year ago. I was playing a game, Linerider which is based on physics, besides Flight Control. It suddenly occurred in my mind that if I combine line drawing of physics engine with some game like match three type, then it could be fun. At that time I looked through almost every puzzle game present in App Store, just to ensure that no one else has done it before. I spent hours, or may be several days, but I was unable to find any. Thus I realized that my idea is original and I went ahead to develop Virus Strike.
Using right tools
For all those who are not experienced in programming, using a game development library with drag and drop feature, like GameSalad, can prove very helpful. Designed specifically for iPhone it can help you in creating games without any prior knowledge of programming. You might also realize that using Objective C, standard language used for developing apps for iPhone, is more complicated than Flash. As converting your Flash game for running on iPhone is easier, you can avail the help of various books related to game development in flash, written specifically for beginners.
If you still want to use Objective C, then use a game framework for making the coding of the game easy. Cocos2D, an open source and free framework, is what I used to create iPhone games. Presence of a physics engine has made it even easier to develop Virus Strike, thus saving my efforts and time.
Benefit from free tutorials
Being my first ever iPhone game, Virus Strike offered me a great learning experience, although I have never used Objective C for programming before. I also took help from online tutorials. You can find plenty of tutorials and that too free, on the programming of iOS.
Outsourcing is good
For all those who are not programmers, it is a good idea to outsource some of your work to a professional with better experience. You can use sites like odesk.com for posting your ideas for an app and then wait for programmers to bid for it. Similarly, if there is some part during app development that you are unable to manage, then you can outsource it. Make sure to discuss your requirements with the programmer in detail, to ensure a satisfactory outcome.
Consider features specific to iPhone
Various games available in App Store which have remained successful are the ones which have been created keeping the needs of iPhone in mind. Take Virus Strike as an example. All it did was combine the Tetris style gaming with features like acceleration and touch screen which are exclusive to iPhone. In this game you need to draw lines for directing the viruses. When the screen is tilted, the viruses get tilted as well. Thus while creating your game, spend some time analyzing how well it can incorporate phone’s style of playing a game.
Make it challenging
Once the basic mechanics of the game, like line drawing, physics engine and colour matching, have been finalized, the next step is to create a challenging and interesting game from my original idea which is also easy to play. Factors like the duration of every stage of your game and the challenges it will pose should be considered beforehand. While the game should keep on getting more difficult, it should be fair as well. You should make the players feel responsible for losing a game. At the same time there should a feel of success and progression as well, thus keeping the players motivated by their accomplishments, whether it is high score or some other kind of reward.
Incorporate sound effects for free
Use online resources to find sound effects for your game. At times it can feel like a very time consuming process, thus taking recommendations from others is helpful. Consider their opinions to know how suitable or annoying your sounds are. The sounds can be edited as well for making them fit your game better by using free programs of sound editing present online.
After you have finished the process of game development, take feedback from people you consider experienced, apart from your friends. Besides discovering how enjoyable and challenging it is considered by the users, you can also find out how easily people are able to find out the ways this game is to be played. Rather than showing people the right away to play your game, allow them to figure it out on their own.
Make tutorial video
During user testing I realized that how helpful a tutorial video can prove to be. ScreenFlow is the program is used for making one minute long video of my game while playing.
Now I strongly believe that making video is definitely worth it, as it has helped me considerably, by ensuring that people were actually able to play your game. It has also saved the journalists, as they are no longer required to know the complicated functioning of the game or download the game, just to know about its features.
Marketing of your game
Even the most incredible games fail to create a buzz among users as they are not marketed well. You should basically target sites carrying app reviews.
Virus Strike was successfully launched by a press release in which various angles or features of the game were highlighted to make it easier for the interested users. By paying a small amount, we were not only label to ensure internet-wide distribution, but the press release was copied by many other sites as well.
I am sure, the above information will help the guys who want to be iPhone game developer.