Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Game Development On Android

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the pong-on-a-positronic-net dept.

Cellphones 211

Gamasutra is running an article about the state of game development on Android. The author explains some of the strengths and weaknesses of the platform, and makes comparisons to development on the iPhone. Quoting: "While iPhone apps are written in Objective C, the Android SDK uses relatively more programmer-friendly Java. The iPhone store charges developers $99 a year to distribute their apps, while Android has a one-time $25 fee for developers. And the review process for iPhone apps grows increasingly lengthy — sometimes weeks or more — and it's somewhat arcane. Android apps go live as soon as the developer hits the publish button. Google handles the review process post-hoc, and is much more lax in terms of content. ... For now, if a developer decides to implement a game exclusively for a particular smartphone platform, and the choice is between the iPhone and Android, the tradeoff is between trying to get noticed in an incredibly crowded and competitive market where the potential payoff is huge for those at the top, or entering a market with low barriers, little competition, currently low returns, but the possibility of potential growth."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

opinion (4, Interesting)

amnezick (1253408) | about 5 years ago | (#29742771)

I think that Android's future depends not on Google but on the devices that run it. Apple has the advantage of controlling both the platform and the device. So you know that whatever you develop for the iPhone it will work. But Android resembles more the PC market where there are different memory capacities, 3d acceleration or not, multi touch or not, keyboard or not, etc. That's why I don't play games on my PC and I bought a separate games console. Because I don't want to care about requirements.

PC vs Console (-1, Flamebait)

Inominate (412637) | about 5 years ago | (#29742853)

This is also why consoles are stuck with the same copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy games while the real innovation happens on the PC.

Re:PC vs Console (2, Insightful)

koolfy (1213316) | about 5 years ago | (#29743023)

Could you please explain the link between hardware requirements and game innovations ?

I just don't see it.

Re:PC vs Console (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743183)

A variation in hardware requirements creates innovation in 3 ways- overcoming variations in hardware to deliver the same experience, pushing the envelope of more advanced hardware, delivering new experiences to those without advanced hardware.

In the first case, a PC made game is much more likely to be "scalable" in graphics, difficulty, AI, etc. The engines are much more robust because they must deal with many different levels of hardware and still deliver a bare minimum experience to the end user. Bloated code obviously still happens, but when you know that half your potential market may not be able to play your game, you are more likely to optimize. Contrast this to a console where you know exactly what the audience has. You don't bother to innovate in how you compress, store, display, program your code unless you have to. Knowing ahead of time that all hardware is equal, you are less apt to innovate.

PC's traditionally break away from consoles fairly quickly in graphics and computing power each generation. While little is done with all this extra power, a few games per year can be seen pushing the envelope of what can be done with the PC. Similarly, innovation comes not only from graphics but from AI. PC games are more likely to be programed with AI /physics, etc, that once again scale to the user's hardware. While on a console that AI only needs to be stagnant, a PC games AI may be able to react faster, smarter, etc on a more powerful system. Again, not all games do this, but some games are innovative enough to scale with the growth of your own machine, providing a better experience to those who shelled out the money.

Third is the opposite of my second point. Not everyone has an awesome PC. Just as some companies are trying to push the graphics and AI envelope, some companies are trying to appeal to the lower end of the spectrum. Companies may, and have tried to create new types of games or new games that cater to people who can only run the barest of systems.

Good examples of a games that could not exist on a console system are dwarf fortress and battle for westnoth.

The first for it's portability and scaleability. The innovation is that you can play DF anywhere of a thumbdrive, and it will scale to your hardware last time I checked.

Second, games like westnoth rely entirely upon the user community after release. The closest thing on a console is Little Big Planet, but last time I checked you can't package your own artwork, items, models, etc. into the game. Westnoth grows because it is open to the community. This allows it to scale to different hardware very well and at the same time the non-locked-out hardware of the PC allows anyone to create anything they'd like for the game (art, missions, items, characters, cutscenes, UI, etc..)

Re:PC vs Console (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 5 years ago | (#29743551)

One could argue the other side and say that by not having to worry about innovating on the tech side to fit a game into an unknown hardware spec, the developers can spend more time innovating on the game play side.

But really, I think the argument is moot. Both PCs and Consoles need each other even if just as an adversary such that there is no stagnation in the industry. Without PCs, Consoles have no reason to go to the next gen. Without Consoles, PCs have no reason to make drastic changes to game play.

Re:PC vs Console (1)

Fross (83754) | about 5 years ago | (#29743189)

Anything from Bloom/HDR to Anisotropic filtering back all the way to 3d textured FPSes. The jump from, say, Doom to Quake was entirely driven by uptake of hardware 3d acceleration.

If you decide to "not see" those as innovation, well, that's your choice. They're certainly innovations in the style of games that can be portrayed. When/if the next change comes to realtime raytracing, that will completely change the way games can be designed (no need to count maximum visible polys, for a start), and that will be hardware-lead, too.

Re:PC vs Console (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about 5 years ago | (#29743179)

This is also why consoles are stuck with the same copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy games while the real innovation happens on the PC.

Ohhhh.... so that's what all those junky cookie-cutter FPS and RTS games on the PC are, innovation! All this time I thought they were a quick way to make money by tapping into other games' success.

Re:PC vs Console (1)

agnosticnixie (1481609) | about 5 years ago | (#29743773)

To be fair, the bar for indy development on PC is much lower - see Penumbra (yes, it's a FPS engine, but it's a First-Person-WHATTHEHELLISTHATRUNAWAYAAAAAGH, and for that it's pretty awesome, even if, yes, horror survival is nothing new). Introversion also has a lot of awesome stuff under their belt in terms of innovative, and there's the "game as art" lot, even if a few of those later had console ports (and of course, there's the game everyone seems to be trying to clone, like Patapon (initially for the PSP), and that seems to spring up on pretty much on anything every once in a while)

Portal was the same, but was first launched on console, while some of the more innovative strategy games (early 4x ers, grand strategy, breaking from tactical leverl gaming) have been on PC, it's a question of interfaces and input, Konami's strategy games were cute (I less-than-threed them a lot), but oh so fucking limited. A lot of Sierra's awesome but slightly broken ideas (Homeworld, Outpost (bug-ridden piece of crap but superb idea)) have yet to have anything on console, or anything retaking their ideas on any platform at all really (okay, not true with Homeworld, Star Wolf did try to bring some of its elements on the table)

But, true, so long as corps like EA, Blizzard or Ubisoft (even if they had a few great things) exist in both fields, there's no way mainstream gaming is innovative anywhere, period. Besides, like in movies, I'm no pedant - I like some arthouse stuff and I like some of the commercial schlock, for different reasons.

Re:PC vs Console (1)

Tsujiku (902045) | about 5 years ago | (#29744211)

Portal was launched simultaneously on PC and console, but it plays far better with a mouse.

Re:opinion (3, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29742875)

It's not really a problem in PC, it can be assumed everyone has atleast keyboard and a mouse and if you're playing games, graphics card too. What it comes down to is if you have enough RAM, CPU and powerful enough graphics card and you can see the requirements from the package (or online).

Phones are different because of the actual hardware differences. Like you said, some phones might have (multi)touch or not, physical keyboard or just software keyboard, 3d acceleration, different types of physical keyboards, different resolutions and so on. Since iPhone is always the same kind, it's easier to develop to it.

However for Windows Mobile and Symbian game developers have usually released different versions for different devices. It might create more barrier for an indie developer to entry the market because they have to test their software on all the supported devices and make adjustments, but for studios it's not so much work. But then again, big studios port their games to all platforms; Symbian, WM, iPhone and Android.

But Java on Android.. meh.

Re:opinion (2, Interesting)

e2d2 (115622) | about 5 years ago | (#29743697)

But Java on Android.. meh. One could easily say the same about Objective C on the iPhone. It's no Sunday walk in the park.

Re:opinion (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 5 years ago | (#29742925)

Of course, your game console has a proper controller.

Quality control (1)

moankey (142715) | about 5 years ago | (#29743527)

I have to agree to a certain level. Apple has a level of quality control that people tend to forget and think of it more as a proprietary system. Its true Apple does not make sense in their choices most of the time and for some reason it works. A elite cliche type of expression if you own their products.

Whiles others that see room for improvement in their model try the same with looser controls and it never seems to be able to catch that distortion field momentum that Jobs is so good at creating.

Re:opinion (1)

Wallslide (544078) | about 5 years ago | (#29744015)

In that case, which is the better comparison (with respect to games of course): the difference between PCs and consoles or the difference between Apple computers and the Windows PC ecosystem?
If we compare the iPhone vs. Android situation to PCs versus consoles, then we have an Enthusiast market versus a casual market (where basically different game types work better on either a PC or a console). If we instead make the comparison to Apple versus the PC market, then Apple pretty much lost in that respect, and eventually the iPhone should lose out to the avalanche of rapidly evolving Android devices.

Re:opinion (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 5 years ago | (#29744145)

I completely agree, Apple has the advantage of having all of their hardware being the same, makes development easier, and users don't have to worry about different requirements. Other platforms like Android or Windows forces you think different, not a familiar concept in Apple land despite the fact that it's their main slogan.

Re:opinion (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 5 years ago | (#29744251)

Personally I'd rather not return to the bad old days where every phone was incompatible with each other, but:

Apple has the advantage of controlling both the platform and the device. So you know that whatever you develop for the iPhone it will work.

There's nothing stopping you from developing for one specific brand of phones. Indeed, this is precisely why such a comparison is ludicrous - and what about all the other phones out there? Even if you stick to one brand, there are plenty of others, that sell more than Apple (e.g., Nokia, Blackberry).

Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1, Insightful)

danaris (525051) | about 5 years ago | (#29742847)

The way the section quoted in the summary plays up the "wide-open field" of Android just strikes me as very silly. If you replaced "Android" with "Mac" and "iPhone" with "Windows," you'd have a pretty good approximation of the marketshare situation in the PC game market...and no one's suggesting that writing games for Mac is smarter than writing games for Windows due to massive overcrowding of the Windows games market.

(Apologies for any incoherence. Please blame posting before fully waking up.)

Dan Aris

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (4, Interesting)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29742919)

You're being shortsighted though. While your numbers might currently be true, you're not seeing the big picture in all of this. Apple is 2 years old on the market, they are past their initial launch boost and they have exactly 1 product with different capacities.

Android is less than a year old on the market, many of the Android devices are announced and coming this fall/winter. They have many more carrier deals than the iPhone has, and already more devices. Expect the tables to turn in 1-2 years. Apple will become the niche and Android will be everywhere. That is if they manage to supplant Symbian which right now has 3 times more market share than the iPhone and Android put together.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29742957)

They have many more carrier deals than the iPhone has, and already more devices. Expect the tables to turn in 1-2 years. Apple will become the niche and Android will be everywhere.

iPhone and Android are in different kinds of market. iPhone's disadvantage *is not* that it only has one device on the market; it's an advantage for Apple, since it's the exact same phone for the whole platform, while in Android (and Symbian/Windows Mobile and so on) developers have to count all different kinds of devices and make separate apps for every phone. However, for Android it's also their advantage that they will have more models on the market.

They do not necessarily have to fight with each other. Both PC and Consoles have been for long in the same gaming market and both are still doing good. And iPhone and Android are even more far away from each other.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (3, Insightful)

RedK (112790) | about 5 years ago | (#29742991)

No, they're really not. iPhone and Android compete in the same space, with the same kind of marketing and appeal to the same kind of crowd. They are Internet devices that happen to have phones in them. And Android is pretty device agnostic contrary to Symbian. The Android Market is open to all Android phones and Apps aren't really limited to certain phones yet (the ones on the market all share the same specs under the hood). You can think the iPhone is safe, but Apple has a lot of competition coming in the next few years and they better be ready to fend it off.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (2, Interesting)

cabjf (710106) | about 5 years ago | (#29743501)

The shotgun approach to competition isn't guaranteed to work. I highly doubt Apple is just going to sit around and let the competition pass it up. In the end it's going to be about three things: features, marketing/reputation, and app store contents. And right now Apple has an advantage in both marketing and their app store. Feature comparisons change with every new model is more transient than the other two.

Think about it this way. If you need to lubricate something (not like that), what kind of lubricant do you reach for? Most people would say WD-40. Yet WD-40 is general purpose, only sells one type of oil, and really hasn't changed in something like 40 years. Having a good reputation is the key. That gets diminished when you put your platform on different hardware. Why do you think Microsoft decided to produce the Zune as a different device than the PlaysForSure shotgun approach before it? They found that in the handheld gadget arena people stick with brands rather than platforms. So they had to craft their own brand separate from their own existing platform.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1, Interesting)

salesgeek (263995) | about 5 years ago | (#29743845)

Android already has passed up iPhone. Multitasking. Scripting languages. Open application development. All things that Apple has chosen to withhold from the market and all things that will enable users to do more with their android phone. Oh, that and laying the foundation for establishing the standard for open handsets - literally and figuratively.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (3, Insightful)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 5 years ago | (#29744129)

name a market segment that cares about *any* of that then get back to me.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (2, Interesting)

windwalkr (883202) | about 5 years ago | (#29743021)

It's always interesting to guess at the future, but at my day job (definitely a Windows shop) everyone is buying Apple hardware and nobody even mentions Android. You may be right, but Google has a long march ahead of them.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (3, Interesting)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 5 years ago | (#29743043)

You're being shortsighted though. While your numbers might currently be true, you're not seeing the big picture in all of this. Apple is 2 years old on the market, they are past their initial launch boost and they have exactly 1 product with different capacities.

Android is less than a year old on the market, many of the Android devices are announced and coming this fall/winter. They have many more carrier deals than the iPhone has, and already more devices. Expect the tables to turn in 1-2 years. Apple will become the niche and Android will be everywhere. That is if they manage to supplant Symbian which right now has 3 times more market share than the iPhone and Android put together.

1. Windows Mobile is on a lot of different devices but according to Canalysis, the iPhone outsold all WM devices combined worldwide last quarter.

2. Rob Glaser, founder and C.E.O. of RealNetworks (circa 2003), ''It's absolutely clear now why five years from now, Apple will have 3 to 5 percent of the player market.'' Plays4Sure devices were suppose to overtake Apple and leave Apple a niche player....

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/30/magazine/30IPOD.html?ei=5007&en=750c9021e58923d5&ex=1386133200&partner=USERLAND&pagewanted=all&position= [nytimes.com]

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1, Interesting)

Fross (83754) | about 5 years ago | (#29743263)

I can't agree with this entirely, you're forgetting that there was life (or rather, there were smartphones) before the iPhone. It's not like there was nothing before, but iPhone wiped the floor and really set the standard.

3 years ago, everyone was clamouring over the new motorola, nokia, treo or what have you. The market was segmented, lots of different standards (anyone remember nGage?), OSes, and phone brands. Then all of a sudden comes the iPhone - one phone, one supplier, one app store, one development environment, and bam, completely flattens everything else. The only remaining phones from beforehand are others with strong brands and purpose/identities - namely the Blackberry.

I don't see how a varied approach can beat the iPhone, in the mainstream arena. It's just too complicated for most people to go back down the multiple options route. To usurp the iPhone, something needs a killer device, and a killer app. You're not going to get something as impactful without a joined-up approach.

Having said that, I'm an iPhone user, really looking forward to Android, and may even develop for it (I hated Objective C and in particular XCode), but I'm a techie, not mainstream. I had a treo, lots of palm apps. Most people want a phone that looks cool, plays good games, has good music playing capability and is fun to use. The iPhone does these incredibly well and simply.

Android will hopefully take off and become a really great niche player for those of us into it, but the iPhone has practically defined the market and expectations single-handedly for mainstream smartphones, and it'll take one hell of an effort to beat that.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

salesgeek (263995) | about 5 years ago | (#29743943)

This was not a problem for personal computers, and will not be for phones. iPhone was a game changer, just like the Apple II, Mac and Newton were in their respective times. Apple has always been the best at making a vision for the future real - but they rarely translate that into a dominant market share (iPod is the exception, but one has to wonder if technology based vendor lock in for music will remain a valid strategy forever).

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

craagz (965952) | about 5 years ago | (#29743291)

That is if they manage to supplant Symbian which right now has 3 times more market share than the iPhone and Android put together.

Already, Nokia, the largest pusher of Symbian is looking to move into Linux (Maemo). Looks like Symbian will be dropped somewhere along the way.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743831)

Big vendors, except Palm, Apple, RIM and Nokia, are adopting Android because they need something to fight iPhone since Symbian and Windows Mobile (which were heavily used until now) aren't competitive to the iPhone OS.

Not sure about Blackberry OS, but at least RIM has ability to improve it as they want and need (unlike licensed systems). So far they even managed to beat Apple in the US.

IMHO, what sells phones is aesthetical design + first-time feeling when they use the interface + a brand name (buyer is less suspicious and applies less scrutiny when selecting). Of course, telco advertisements and offerings also play a great deal here.

So, Symbian and Windows mobile sales (until maybe v7 salvages remnants of Microsoft's market share) could face a huge drop when users are confronted with slick UI of Android phones, N900 and maybe Palm Pre(Pixie?), along with already available 3GS. I also expect iPhone sales to get weaker because of competition here in Europe (until now it simply had superior interface so people were falling in love with it on first sight).

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | about 5 years ago | (#29743861)

Already, Nokia, the largest pusher of Symbian is looking to move into Linux (Maemo). Looks like Symbian will be dropped somewhere along the way.

Yes, although they're also pushing QT everywhere (now that they bought Trolltech), which I think is their way of papering over gaps between their Linux based smartphones (which are still a tiny minority of sales), and Symbian based cheaper, normal phones (which have a huge install base and will continue to do so).

All the money in the future (certainly in apps) looks like it'll be on smartphones though.

They might find long term it's easier to move everything to Linux, but Symbian will probably be with us for a while yet, even though it does seem a bit of a dead end, and is probably an albatross around Nokia's neck at this point given the horror stories you hear about development on it.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (4, Insightful)

kyz (225372) | about 5 years ago | (#29742987)

Twenty years ago, in Europe, the PC was a dull machine that you only ever ran business applications on. Maybe a flight simulator if you're lucky. The Mac was an obscure machine for desktop publishing. If you wanted gaming, you bought an Amiga or Atari ST. Now look where we are.

You're pointing at the entrenched PC games market, where everyone has hugely invested in writing in C++ for the Microsoft Direct3D API.

By comparison, smartphones are relatively new and the investment in Apple's iPhone API is tiny compared to the gigantic Windows-only ecosystem (Windows-only middleware, Windows-only tools, Windows-only 3D programmers, etc.) that keeps gaming chained to PCs.

So, given Android programming is much easier (far more programmers know Java than Objective C), and there's not yet a huge iPhone-only ecosystem in place, switching is still relatively painless. All it would take is one damn good phone running Android to topple Apple off its perch.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743097)

All it would take is one damn good phone running Android to topple Apple off its perch.

Only on technical merits, which accounts for nothing. You fail to factor the zealotry and media hype surrounding Apple. It's going to take a very long time for Android to get real traction in this market, assuming we ever get to see a decent piece of hardware with a realistic battery life. Outside the US is a different mindset, open phones are the norm.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

kyz (225372) | about 5 years ago | (#29743129)

I would definitely include "media hype" as part of any potential iPhone-toppler, not just technical merits.

But, if Android gives you an OS for nothing, you should have plenty left over in your marketing budget for media hype.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743165)

I think you are underestimating the iPhone ecosystem. It is big, bold and in your face. Even my folks know about the app-store. When the "We've got an app for that" parodies got out there, you know the clock was ticking for Android. The G1's been out for a year, and I don't know anyone with one. All I can say, disappointing...

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

wed128 (722152) | about 5 years ago | (#29743271)

well the G1 is kind of a junky phone, not to mention TMobile is kind of a bum carrier.

Android has a lot of potential, and when the Q4 wave of new android phones rolls out in time for the holidays, there may be a diamond in the rough.

only time will tell.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

craagz (965952) | about 5 years ago | (#29743341)

Reading this popped a question into my mind.

With all this PC entrenchment, why did Microsoft launch Xbox?

Someone explain, Please.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 5 years ago | (#29743481)

The PC gaming platform does not represent recurring revenue for Microsoft.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29744007)

To take out the market of PS2 and PS3 (and pushing their platform-dependant Direct3D API onto that market as well).

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743389)

Not everything changes. In Europe the Mac is still an obscure machine for desktop publishing.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

dkf (304284) | about 5 years ago | (#29743751)

In Europe the Mac is still an obscure machine for desktop publishing.

But their laptops are definitely taking over, at least in academic settings.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

Rutefoot (1338385) | about 5 years ago | (#29743405)

A good phone unlike my HTC Magic that randomly decided yesterday to start vibrating at its highest setting for no reason until I removed the battery?

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

Zwergin (572487) | about 5 years ago | (#29743579)

I am looking forward to how the Android mobile devices look over the next year, and especially for those including NVidia's Tegra APX chip line. They have been hyping it long enough as already integrated to work with the Android OS, I would hope some mobile device makers have jumped on board.

http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_tegra_apx_us.html [nvidia.com]

~Zwergin

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 5 years ago | (#29743799)

Honestly, I think the only reason why the iPhone will be tough to beat (and FWIW, I have Windows Mobile and am considering Android) is iTunes. iTunes is locked to Apple products and is a huge factor in what will make or break a platform. If people can't get their music out of iTunes and on to their phone, the platform won't succeed. If a "better iTunes" came along that wasn't tied to Apple products, you might see people flocking away from the vendor lock in. The App store was initially a key differentiator, but all platforms are getting one (and I'm surprised it took MS this long since WinMo has been around this long). And really, the killer app is still iTunes.

Language is not an issue. (1, Informative)

FellowConspirator (882908) | about 5 years ago | (#29743945)

The statement "given Android programming is much easier (far more programmers know Java than Objective C)" is nonsensical. True enough that Java is popular, but Objective-C is trivial to learn. Actually the languages themselves don't have much bearing on the ease of development for the two platforms. It's the APIs. I've recently started messing around with Objective-C and Apple's Cocoa, and the language itself is VERY easy to pick up (and I'm not a professional developer s much as a person that uses programming as part of his job). The Cocoa API, however, is another kettle of fish. Not that Cocoa isn't well designed -- it's astonishingly well designed -- but, it's huge. Java is similar in that the language is relatively simple (on par with Obj-C, more or less), but you've got LOTS of APIs to learn.

I suspect that if you are a game developer, you're probably making little use of most of the APIs, and if you are big enough, I'm sure that you use a toolkit that abstracts-away the underlying platform. In either case, the primary language used probably has little bearing on the ease of development of games on either platform.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

WaywardGeek (1480513) | about 5 years ago | (#29744121)

All it would take is one damn good phone running Android to topple Apple off its perch.

This is absolutely key, and for some reason, stupid cell-phone marketing guys don't get it. Motorola should recall how the RAZR happened [theregister.co.uk] . In short, a brilliant marketing guy at Motorola with the clout to ignore everyone else forced Motorola to build the RAZR.
It turns out that every time a marketing department is allowed to design the next product, they do user forums and talk to the sales team. The one thing that comes back loud and clear is "Make it cheaper!". Thus, we get crap like the new Motorola CLIQ.
It takes a genius like Steve Jobs to understand why we actually want products that are over-priced and beautiful, even when they offer no new functionality: we're stupid and vain. When asked, we all say, "all I care about is functionality... I'm not vain!" Then, at the store, our true nature takes over and we fork over $$ for the pretty objects.
Why can't marketing guys figure this out?
And... I am vain. I've owned an iPhone and currently own a T-Mobile G1. My G1 has some real problems - the camera sucks, the battery is wimpy, it has no built-in flash, it's bigger than an iPhone but has a smaller screen... however, what really pisses me off about it is that it's ugly and clunky! Make a beautiful Android phone, and I will switch carriers, fork over $400, and sign a two year contract!
Marketing morons: I'm your typical user!

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (2, Informative)

vhogemann (797994) | about 5 years ago | (#29744163)

Objective-C is not all that bad...

I'm a Java Web developer, without any real experience on desktop programming. But recently I was given the chance to do a small iPhone app for one of our clients, so I had to learn Objective-C from scratch to do it.

Objective-C might seem a little weird at first, but when you got used to the sintax the concepts used on the frameworks are not all that different from the Java counterparts. Appkit for example is much more pleasant to work with than Swing, for example.

It took around a week to learn the Objective-C basics, and another week to build a fairly complete prototype of the application.

So while might be a barrier for Java developers, it's not that high.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29744297)

"So while might be a barrier for Java developers, it's not that high."

Only if you don't bother learning the C side of the language and just stick with the high level OO stuff.

Did you learn about pointer arithmetic? Low level memory allocation? Unions? Bitfields? Function pointers? Pre processor macros? Issues with casting on non aligned word boundaries?

No , didn't think so.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (0, Troll)

2obvious4u (871996) | about 5 years ago | (#29744219)

The key is the carriers.
Verizon has the largest network and subscriber base, but doesn't have any [verizonwireless.com] good smart phones. [wired.com]
T-mobile has the g1, but T-mobile is [etf-settlement.com] a horrible [cnet.com] company.
AT&T has the iphone but it costs a fortune [att.com] for service.

The key will be what smart phone takes hold on Verizon; currently it looks like it is going to be an android phone.

Verizon Wireless: 87.7 Million subscribers [wikipedia.org]
AT&T Mobility: 79.6 Million Subscribers [wikipedia.org]
Sprint: 49.3 Million subscribers [wikipedia.org]
T-Mobile: 38.2 million subscribers [wikipedia.org]

Personally I'm waiting for a phone similar to the G1 to be available on the Verizon network.

Re:Seems a trifle disingenuous to me (1)

Mjlner (609829) | about 5 years ago | (#29743369)

The way the section quoted in the summary plays up the "wide-open field" of Android just strikes me as very silly. If you replaced "Android" with "Mac" and "iPhone" with "Windows," you'd have a pretty good approximation of the marketshare situation in the PC game market...and no one's suggesting that writing games for Mac is smarter than writing games for Windows due to massive overcrowding of the Windows games market.

...and no one's suggesting that writing games for the iPhone is dumber, because the market is overcrowded. The quoted section is saying that there's more competition and the competition is strong, whereas the payoff - if you succeed - is huge... which is also true for the Windows game market, of course.

Extending your analogy (1)

Comboman (895500) | about 5 years ago | (#29743607)

However, you aren't forced to buy Windows games only from the Windows Store(TM) where each game must be approved by Microsoft before you can buy it. If that were the case, developing games for Mac would suddenly start to look at lot more appealing, in spite of the smaller installed base.

Trendy (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 5 years ago | (#29742881)

You can use logic all you want to show the advantages Android phones have, but until the shine wears off for the iPhone fans and people realize just how tied their hands are, it will remain the dominant phone. Really, the average user doesn't even care, although they usually realize later that they should have. The article that predicted 2012 for Android to surpass the iPhone is probably accurate, or perhaps even early.

Re:Trendy (1)

sopssa (1498795) | about 5 years ago | (#29742933)

I do care about the openness of Phone, or so I always think. I love Windows Mobile (and my HTC has better interface than the usual WM one) because theres no restrictions on what apps you can install, like on iPhone and Symbian.

But then again, why? Yes it's great when you want to install certain app and theeres nothing in way of that (as long as theres such app available), but frankly I dont use the phone so much that I really care much. I might sometimes play around with some new fancy app I found, but then it goes back to what phones are made for - calling and sms (and having an easy memo to carry with you, take pictures and listen to music - which I could most likely do with iPhone too).

I can understand really good why "normal people" just dont care about such. They can easily get the apps from the store anyway.

Re:Trendy (2, Insightful)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | about 5 years ago | (#29743099)

You can use logic all you want to show the advantages Android phones have, but until the shine wears off for the iPhone fans and people realize just how tied their hands are, it will remain the dominant phone.
You're half right, the other part of the shine equation is eventually, the air of exclusivity will wear off and apple will become the next burberry and chavs will have them and then no one will want one.

Re:Trendy (2, Insightful)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | about 5 years ago | (#29743787)

You're half right, the other part of the shine equation is eventually, the air of exclusivity will wear off and apple will become the next burberry and chavs will have them and then no one will want one.

Don't assume that everyone picks a phone based on who else uses it or whether it is trendy.

Many people pick phones based on how it works and what it does - I certainly chose an iPhone on that basis, because the UI was the first one which felt like it was actually designed with a user in mind. The UI on the iPhone is good in my opinion, much better than what came before. It's quite a good phone (*if* your telephone service is good), the software is updated regularly, and in spite of Apple's control freak tendencies on their store, and the crapflood which is the app store listings, it has a lot of games and a lot of interesting other apps.

Re:Trendy (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | about 5 years ago | (#29743229)

Yeah, cause everyone out there is just waiting for a chance to stick it to the man (or fruit) and rid themselves of the chains of tyranny.

Using, and developing for, an iPod touch (can't afford the iPhone) I fail to see how my hands are 'tied' or how a regular user would ever 'realize their hands are tied'. Dream on Mr. Revolutionary Geek, and make sure you fight the power of sleek designs.

Re:Trendy (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 5 years ago | (#29744077)

Android phones are a usability mess.

I was out on a smoke break with a friend of mine who owns a G1 a few weeks ago. I was also bashing out some mobile specific web app and wanted to test it with a G1.

Because the fact that /, -, and some other common symbols are hidden in weird places on the keyboard, it took me a bit to get to my own app, even on the soft keyboard.

I don't care what's under the hood, usability is king among consumers. Freedom? That's a huge after thought.

Objective C Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29742885)

>in Objective C [...] more programmer-friendly Java.

[Arguments needed]

Re:Objective C Java (1)

Procasinator (1173621) | about 5 years ago | (#29742977)

One argument would be the available tool set and support for Java-based technologies is much larger than that of Objective-C.

Additional, the collective knowledge (and hence publications) for Java, is again, larger.

Re:Objective C Java (1)

Clarious (1177725) | about 5 years ago | (#29743051)

Maybe because there are more Java programmers than Objective C ones?

Re:Objective C Java (1)

Per Wigren (5315) | about 5 years ago | (#29743159)

That doesn't mean that Java is more programmer-friendly than Objective C.

Re:Objective C Java (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | about 5 years ago | (#29743239)

That doesn't mean that Java is more programmer-friendly than Objective C.

Right, it just means that more programmers are Java-friendly.

hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29742895)

Hmmm. Long-term investment with the potential for steady, but solid growth? Or the ridiculously slim chance of striking it big in an oversaturated market? As an American, I think I know which way my fellow countrymen will tend to lean.

Tempting (1)

Canazza (1428553) | about 5 years ago | (#29742911)

Android is definitly a tempting choice for development - purely because of the ease in which you can push a product to market. But then again, there's also Symbian, which is used on things like the Nokia N97, which has been around for ages (in various itterations), the latest one is the true smart-phone style thing, but I have a 3 year old phone with an older version of Symbian on it that can still run Java Games, meaning there is already the possibility of a large market for simple apps that can run on older phones as well as the newer smartphones

N97? (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about 5 years ago | (#29743059)

First, I have an N95 8GB which is the best "phone" I have ever seen. Symbian is fine as long as there are buttons to push. I mistakenly bought the steaming pile of shit, that Nokia refers to as the N97. Nope, Symbian is not god for, ready for, should be used on, anything with a touch screen. This thing is a disaster. Update the OS, doest it make it any better? Nope. Symbian has hit a brick wall. N95 = good (V3) N97 = not only bad, but embarrassing for Nokia.

I think the reason Nokia is releasing the N900 is because they hit a dead end with Symbian 5 and the N97.

Development? go look at maemo.org. Everything you could want. Apple C or Java, puullleeese, it's Debian Linux with every tool you can think of.

Nokia prolly was reluctant to do this, but with the embarrassing failure of the N97 and Symbian 5, they had no choice. The N900 is light years ahead of the iPhone, or Android, and all the development choices are your. You don't have to pay or ask permission from anyone to develop in Linux.

Re:N97? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 years ago | (#29743175)

Amen.

iPhone - locked down to what Apple wants you to do.
Android - locked down to what Google wants you to do (ie Java/Dalvik development only with their own version of the app store and installation verification)

Maemo - pure, open, Linux loveliness.

(and then there's WebOS and Moblin too)

ArsTechnica has a little review about Nokia's plans and the N900 [arstechnica.com] . Its step 4 on their 5-step Linux/Maemo strategy. Certainly it will set the bar higher for the other players and possibly dominate the smartphone/tablet/MID marketplace just as Symbian did. given you can code any QT/GTK+ [arstechnica.com] based application for Maemo, who'd want to tie themselves in to Android's development mandates?

Nokia wasn't reluctant to do this either, they've just been working on their Linux strategy for a while so probably took their eyes off the Symbian ball once it became apparent the Linux stuff woudl work beautifully.

Oh, and don't forget, while consumers may want iPhones, businesses have traditionally bought Nokia (and Blackberries, but their marketshare will wither once the newer smartphones come with the bells that made Blackberry so popular).

Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (1)

kill-1 (36256) | about 5 years ago | (#29742945)

That's depends entirely on the taste and skills of the programmer.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (1)

windwalkr (883202) | about 5 years ago | (#29742995)

More importantly perhaps, the iPhone does not actually force you to program in Obj-C. A very thin wrapper can be used to interface native C++ with the hardware. While Java may be friendly to mobile developers, C++ is definitely the language of choice for games developers.

I believe that Android has taken steps in this direction as well, but last I heard there were severe compatibility concerns. Anybody know whether this has gone anywhere useful?

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 5 years ago | (#29743065)

What about applications that are not games. Can you still write them in c++ without wrapping the entire iPhone api?

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | about 5 years ago | (#29743151)

You can even write Obj-C++, where you are using Objective C objects and syntax in C++. (Or is it the other way? ^_^)

Only problem I ever had was with the GCC compiler that was included with versions prior to iPhone OS 3.0 SDK, which would spew out warnings for C++ objects with non-trivial ctors embedded in Obj-C objects even though I did explicit calls to ctor/dtor's. Now it's done automatically with the right compiler flag.

Really... Is Java easier to program games with than C++/Obj-C? Making an assumption on behalf of other people on such things means you have a narrow view of the variety of programmers out there.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (1)

Timmmm (636430) | about 5 years ago | (#29743093)

And more to the point, what about garbage collection? Every time the garbage collector kicks in the UI freezes for a short time. You really don't want this in a game (or at all really). In fact can anyone name any popular games written in Java? As far as I know they are nearly all C/C++.

Luckily you can write OpenGL Android games in C++ using the NDK.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (2, Informative)

kill-1 (36256) | about 5 years ago | (#29743117)

This problem has been solved long ago by incremental garbage collection. Apple's Objective-C 2.0 also has garbage collection BTW.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (2, Informative)

Timmmm (636430) | about 5 years ago | (#29743155)

Android doesn't use incremental garbage collection. Or JIT for that matter.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (4, Informative)

kyz (225372) | about 5 years ago | (#29743233)

Yes, Android uses a converter that changes java bytecode to a different beast entirely, and performs a large number of global optimisations that decrease size and increase speed - ones that a compliant Java VM isn't allowed to do. So it ends up going about the same speed as JIT, but only needs the power a small phone supplies.

As for garbage collection - Android performs about as well as a C/C++ program filled with malloc()/free() or new/delete. C/C++ games programmers could do that, but they choose not to because they know that avoiding malloc/free/new/delete gives them a performance boost. Android has exactly the same tradeoff - avoid object creation in your code! Create what you need at the start of a level and then don't free it until the end of the level. You'll get good performance. Android has an entire section on how to get good performance [android.com] , just like C/C++ programmers have plenty of strategies for getting good performance out of any platform.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (1)

Timmmm (636430) | about 5 years ago | (#29743329)

It doesn't convert it to a 'different beast entirely'. It's still bytecode, and slower than native code.

new/delete is still much faster than garbage collection, and doesn't freeze the UI like Android's GC does.

Check out this paper, they found that java with manual free's performs much much better than GC java, especially when memory is limited (as in phones):

http://www-cs.canisius.edu/~hertzm/gcmalloc-oopsla-2005.pdf [canisius.edu]

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743739)

If Android is freezing when switching apps or going to Home or whatever it's most likely because it's having to reload parts of apps from NAND that were dumped from memory, not due to actual Garbage Collection.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (1)

radish (98371) | about 5 years ago | (#29743755)

1) That paper is 5 years old. Things change.
2) They actually say that GC (from 5 years ago) is just as fast as manual malloc/free if you have plenty of RAM. Not true on a cellphone, sure, but true in many cases.
3) They didn't look at the Android GC impl, for obvious reasons.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (3, Informative)

radish (98371) | about 5 years ago | (#29743827)

I have no idea about the Android JVM, but in a regular Java JVM object creation is actually significantly faster than malloc. This article [ibm.com] is quite old, but shows that even back in 1.4.2 days it was nothing to be scared of.

Re:Java more programmer-friendly than Obj-C? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743447)

The young kids who want to go into game programming learned Java in their "Intro to Programming with Java" classes, so if your view of what a "programmer" is has a horizon limited to your classmates in the CS program at Helluva State U, then yes, Java is more programmer friendly.

Objectve-C (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 5 years ago | (#29742947)

Microsoft and other anti-freedom corporations use corporate languages like Objictive C and Java. Thses languages impede thinking and stifle freedom and creativoite Free Software Developers everywhere use LISP on their telephone.

It Just A Matter of Time (1)

mattwrock (1630159) | about 5 years ago | (#29742981)

Unlike the Mac/Window comparison, Android's market is not purposefully small. Android is currently T-Mo, but will be on other telcos soon. Android is looking to be used in the Netbook space too. While the market share is smaller, Google is actively pushing it grow, and Apple is beginning to look like Microsoft in this area. Given that most games were written in Java before the iPhone, and I bet the port from MIDP to Android SDK is not a big one, I think you will see real competition in the game market. Does this mean we will be seeing the "I'm an Android/ I'm an iPhone" commercials now?

Re:It Just A Matter of Time (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 5 years ago | (#29743879)

Already on Sprint (as of a few days ago) with the chinless Hero. And on Nov. 1st, the Samsung Moment. So, not only does Sprint have Android, but they will have two devices within weeks.

TC (1)

chiu.au (1196987) | about 5 years ago | (#29743047)

What is the utmost important for developers is to get them paid for their hard work. The openness of Android platform is actually hurting developers' profits since it encourages pirate copies of their software freely distributed on the internet. With the tight-control of the distribution and installation of software, iPhone platform seems to provide a stronger incentive to developers to write innovative applications for iPhone. The popularity of the iTunes' App Stores has proved my point.

Java??!!?? (1)

PeeShootr (949875) | about 5 years ago | (#29743075)

Oh yes, every game developer would MUCH rather program in Java than in C/C++ (of which Obj-C is a superset). It is soooo much easier to write OpenGL code in Java than in C. What a joke. This article is completely idiotic.

Re:Java??!!?? (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | about 5 years ago | (#29743211)

Obj-c is not a superset of c++

Re:Java??!!?? (1, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 5 years ago | (#29743653)

Any programmer who prefers Java to Objective C or C is an idiot.

But I say that because I think Java is the worst language to be created since C++.

Somewhat backwards logic (1)

hotzeyboy (725567) | about 5 years ago | (#29743107)

By the logic of this author, it's better to open a store in the middle of nowhere than a shopping center, because the middle of nowhere is not saturated with competitors. The number of applications on the iPhone actually draws in more customers, Apple advertises rather heavily the fact that you can find an app for anything!. It's also been shown that iPhone users are willing to pay money for applications, has the same been shown about android users? Also I question whether Java is more developer friendly than objective - c. The syntax is more familiar ... perhaps, but thats really its only advantage, Objective C also has memory management (if you want it).

Re:Somewhat backwards logic (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 5 years ago | (#29743713)

Objective C's garbage collection is not available on the iPhone, and hopefully never will be.

Major Problems with Android (1)

PocariSweat1991 (1651929) | about 5 years ago | (#29743127)

FTA: "The developer laments issues with the market interface [...] and a lax return policy (24-48 hour returns, no questions asked). But the issue of piracy is also raised, [...] A cursory search of popular torrent sites reveals bundles of Android games for download."

For a prospective developer, those are some serious issues... I was hoping that the second half of the article would mention some changes in the platform that would solve those issues, but the only solution that is offered is to "monetize apps through advertising."

Investing time to master the Android SDK seems exciting because it's a chance for everyone who missed out on the initial iPhone app wave to catch a new wave. However, after reading this article it seems like it would be more advantageous invest time creating an awesome app for the iPhone.

Give us C++ (2, Insightful)

kyashan (919683) | about 5 years ago | (#29743245)

Java may appeal to some, but many of us just want C/C++ (Objective-C, allows that).
Games on consoles and PC are normally not developed in Java for many good reasons. Game developers that want to transition to phones are likely to prefer to stay with C++ where they can use their tools of choice, such as Visual Studio.

In fact, I think that a few people out there already develop C++ on PC and keep the actual iPhone/XCode build on the side. This is a big plus for those that are already making games and would like to try to use their knowledge and tools for a cell phone game..

Re:Give us C++ (1)

ptolemaeus (1656353) | about 5 years ago | (#29743267)

Mod parent up.

Re:Give us C++ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743473)

Nothing stops you from using C/C++ on Android.

Re:Give us C++ (1, Troll)

radish (98371) | about 5 years ago | (#29743625)

Game developers that want to transition to phones are likely to prefer to stay with C++ where they can use their tools of choice, such as Visual Studio.

I can see wanting to stick with C++ because it's what you're used to or what you like. But Visual Studio? Seriously? I have to use that POS every day and to be honest it's only made even remotely usable by adding ReSharper, which gives you some of the features from IntelliJ. The best Java IDEs are leagues ahead of VS.

Re:Give us C++ (1)

kyashan (919683) | about 5 years ago | (#29743791)

I suppose it depends to what you are used to. VS is quite popular in game dev.

Personally I rely on Visual Assist X for refactoring and better code navigation.
Also the debugger is pretty powerful, a lot better than XCode's one in my experience.

Re:Give us C++ (1)

radish (98371) | about 5 years ago | (#29743853)

I can believe it's better than XCode (I've never used it) and I could even believe it's the best overall C/C++ IDE. It's just not very good compared to the Java IDEs - and therefore doesn't make sense to me as a reason to not use Java.

C/C++ is for games (0, Troll)

ptolemaeus (1656353) | about 5 years ago | (#29743417)

C/C++
Counter-Strike
StarCraft / WarCraft
Gears of War
Bioshock
Duke Nukem
Doom 1,2,3
Unreal Tournament
Halo
Oblivion
Eeathworm Jim, Monkey Island, Braid..
Half-Life
--- insert pretty much everything important ever made ---

Java
Some Tetris Clone
???

Java programmer friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29743639)

"While iPhone apps are written in Objective C, the Android SDK uses relatively more programmer-friendly Java."

Javas problems regarding non-deterministic garbage collection and non-existing management of other kind of resources than memory is programmer friendly? Really?

If you have other kind of resources in an object the object can be stuck in the pipeline without being garbage collected for a long time or never for that matter if memory usage isn't high compared to available memory. It's simply broken IMHO.

Personally I think non-deterministic garbage collection, as implemented in Java and C#, is the biggest king-without-clothes in modern history when it comes to programming.

That Java is programmer friendly is subjective at best.

Android not limited to just Java (1)

Sehnsucht (17643) | about 5 years ago | (#29743813)

But if you want it to be cross (CPU architecture) platform easily, you'll want to stick to it.

You can actually build native code with the Native Development Kit using C/C++/whatever, and so far all the current phones are pretty well compatible as far as native code goes, but if someone rolls out an Android device with a different CPU architecture than the current ARM incarnation, you'd have to rewrite or at least recompile your native code for it, and either distribute multiple versions of the app or include the native code for all versions and dynamically pick the correct one at run time.

opinion piece (1)

carou (88501) | about 5 years ago | (#29743919)

relatively more programmer-friendly

[citation needed]

More Work? (1)

BiggoronSword (1135013) | about 5 years ago | (#29743947)

FTA:

One advantage of programming for the iPhone is not having to worry (much) about hardware compatibility. This could potentially be a problem for Android game developers as new handsets emerge. The possibility of a backlash exists if users buy a new Android smartphone only to find that the most popular games in the market don't render properly on their screen, or that the control scheme for the game doesn't work. A developer can try to work their way around these issues by designing for multiple screen resolutions and including multiple input methods, but this of course means extra work.

How is this any different from application development on PCs? It's really hard for me as a developer to feel remorse for a mobile application developer when it comes to backwards compatibility.

Clearly define what your hardware requirements are for your application. If the user doesn't comply, it's their own fault. Nothing new here.

Got my HTC HERO w/Android yesterday (1)

bmwEnthusiast (1384289) | about 5 years ago | (#29744159)

I am in love with my new phone. The Android Marketplace from what I can tell is almost %80 free. I plan to personally download the SDK and Eclipse stuff and make my own apps/games in java. The Hero is a solidly built phone with every feature you could ask for including exchange sync. Love it!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?