There comes a time for every game where the “game” part takes the back seat and the “app” part kind of takes over. I’ll explain in a moment what I mean.
Last week my latest game, Major Escape, reached closed beta status. A very select few testers are playing it and soon it’ll become an open beta. To get the game to beta, not only the main design and mechanics of the game have to be implemented, but also the user interface, menus, screens and in my case, the Leader-boards and Analytics for the game. Those last items is what I mean by the “app” part.
At some point I had to stop doing game, art and sound design, to deal with leader-boards and a comprehensive way to gather data from the testers, so that their time with the game could be used in the best way possible to make the best game possible. This has nothing to do with making a fun game, and everything to do with making a solid app.
Take this for example: text input. I want players to be able to write the name of their character in the game. If you are playing on PC, that is not a problem, everyone has a keyboard. In mobile devices however, that can be tricky. I was able to find an extension for Game Maker that allows me to call for the virtual keyboard on the device so problem solved, right? Nope. It only works for iOS and Adroid. I also want to develop this game for Windows Phone 8 and I don’t have a way, that I know of, to call for the virtual keyboard on this platform.