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The 6 Best Mobile Game Developing Tools Out There

Mobile gaming is big business, but that doesn’t mean that creating the next blockbuster title requires a big budget. All developers need is a solid concept, a little creativity, plenty of caffeine—and the right tools.

Mobile gaming is big business, but that doesn’t mean that creating the next blockbuster title requires a big budget. All developers need is a solid concept, a little creativity, plenty of caffeine—and the right tools.

Foremost among the tools is the right software development kit that handles much of the heavy lifting and helps developers focus on the elements that make their games unique. But savvy developers don’t stop there; they also plug into the range of pro-grade tools that help with areas of game design such as lighting, sound, and multiplayer communication.

Here are six of the best tools for mobile game development right now.

1.  Unreal Engine

First used in 1998 for the first-person shooter Unreal, this powerhouse development engine by Epic Games now has been adapted for mobile development. Titles such as The Infinity Blade series and Batman: Arkham City Lockdown have taken advantage of it, and the current Unreal Engine 4 brings much to the developer table.

It includes an integrated Unreal Editor suite, C++ source code as well as direct support from the company’s engineering team. There’s also a free edition of Unreal Engine 3, the Unreal Development Kit, with more than 2.25 million unique installs currently and an easy upgrade path to the paid offering.

2. Marmalade SDK

Cross-platform game build is important, and Marmalade SDK is one of the fastest tools for building cross-platform C++ games. Both Xcode and Visual Studio projects can be opened and compiled for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry 10, Tizen, Mac, and Windows desktops, and the company’s Marmalade Juice allows for cross-platform use of Objective-C projects.

The SDK also offers Marmalade Quick, which is a Lua-based 2D RAD acceleration tool. Plants vs. Zombies and Signal to the Stars have used Marmalade for development, among many others.

3. Corona SDK

Another easy and quick SDK for mobile development is Corona SDK, which may not be available in a can, but does make mobile games available on the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Games such as Blast Monkey, Major Magnet and Bubble Ball have used it, among many others.

One aspect of Corona that has made it a favorite is that it comes with an advanced physics engine that enables game creation in only a few lines of code. It also enables games to access APIs and has hooks for other frameworks so developers can take advantage of hardware components such as the mobile device camera, GPS, and accelerator.

4. Maya LT

The venerable Autodesk 3D animation tool has been rebuilt specifically for mobile development with Maya LT, and it currently is one of the best tools for developing 3D mobile games.

The engine delivers 3D animation, modeling, simulation, rendering, and Maya composition for a complete suite of mobile animation tools. It has been used by such games as NASCAR Thunder and Madden NFL.

Through its Maya Embedded Language, developers can create scripts and customize their mobile apps.

5. WWISE

Sound is a critical component of an immersive gaming experience, so getting sound elements right is important for any mobile gaming effort. One standout for creating high quality sound is Audiokinetic’s WWISE, one of the leading audio tools for consoles that also can be leveraged for mobile game development.

WWISE empowers mobile game designers with a complete authoring tool for creating engaging audio. It is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Nintendo 3DS, and PS Vita, and games such as Limbo and Solitaire Blitz have used it.

WWISE offers a number of different price points depending on the scope of the game being developed, including free for non-commercial and academic use.

6. Agora.io

Sharing the gaming experience with friends is key, and developers can bring a needed dose of real-time communications (RTC) to their offerings by incorporating SDKs that deliver voice and video through the high-quality global Agora network. By using RTC, mobile games can add dynamic communications among users and also include video chat as appropriate; who doesn’t want to see the face of your friend after you’ve crushed him?

While there are plenty of ways to incorporate RTC into mobile games, Agora adds the extra elements of reliability and quality because it manages the network connection through its data centers and ensures that poor network connectivity does not lead to trouble. That’s important for developers who want their games to “just work.”

With these tools, it’s game on. There’s no excuse for losing when it comes to mobile game development.

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