Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Game Development for Android Article on Gamasutra

So about a month ago, the game industry website Gamasutra posted an open call for feature story ideas. I sent them an email saying I'd like to see an article devoted to game development on Android. The feature editor emailed me back and said "Go ahead and write it."

It was posted on Gamasutra yesterday, and Slashdotted today. It's meant to be a high-level, market-centric overview, rather than dealing with the technical intricacies of the platform.

Unfortunately, a number of programmers are not happy with this line from my article:
While iPhone apps are written in Objective C, the Android SDK uses relatively more programmer-friendly Java.
I even put a hedge term in there, but I guess I should have expected a backlash from iPhone developers (even though the article overall is very fair in discussing some of the advantages and disadvantages of each platform/market).

Jeff LaMarche, an author of iPhone development books, says overall he likes the article, but then says:
On the first page, for example, the article says that Android uses the "more developer friendly Java". What the hell does that mean? I've done both Java and Objective-C for a living, and neither one has ever waved to me or gotten me a cup of coffee. They're programming languages.
Well, so is assembly language. I think "programmer-friendly" is a fairly obvious term, and means more than just a lot more people program in Java (although a larger potential support community is a factor in making a language friendly to programmers). The first comment on LaMarche's post points out a few more reasons.

Ultimately, though, the designation is subjective, and the choice of programming language is certainly not a deciding factor for an experienced developer. However, it might be a factor for new, inexperienced programmers.

In any case, it's good to see the article getting some attention. I hope that it generates some interesting discussion and brings some focus to Android as a game development platform.


  1. Hi, I have being following your blog religiously for a couple of months now since I found it thanks to one of your post on indiegamer's forums. I am graduating soon (computer programmer degree in Canada) and thanks to your inspiration I will probably try my luck as an indy game dev (I'll probably get a part time job though so I have a bit of stability).

    Thanks again for sharing your experience and information, I wish you the best luck, you are doing a great job.


  2. Great job taking incentive and writing an article about Android game development, it's definitely a burgeoning industry. It's interesting to hear a market-centric perspective; I've read a lot of technical information from the industry but haven't seen much market overviews. The controversy you mention regarding the phrase “programmer-friendly” applied to Java highlights the experience variety among programmers.