New into BlackBerry App World this week is Smiley's Pop for the BlackBerry PlayBook. The 'bejewelled' style game comes from Ovogame and if you also use an iOS device it may well look familiar as the game is also available for the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
There is quite an interesting story behind how Smiley's Pop got onto the BlackBerry PlayBook. More times than not we hear about Android apps being ported over to the BlackBerry tablet OS but on this occasion it is an iOS game, and Ovogame has plenty more games to come for us.
It was actually Aaron Ardiri from the developer relations team that let me know of yet another success story for developers moving to BlackBerry (and he has another to tell me soon). As we posted just the other week when I attended the opening of the new porting lab at RIM's UK HQ in Slough, the Canadian company are really going the extra mile to help developers bring their titles to the BlackBerry platform.
As RIM is so dedicated in doing what they can to help devs, Aaron got talking to Jean-Claud from Ovogame and in typical RIM fashion he seeded him a PlayBook so he could start working on getting apps ready for the BlackBerry tablet. Believe it or not, the same day the PlayBook arrived with Jean-Claude he had Smiley's Pop running on it which is yet another example of how easy RIM are making the transition process for developers.
I though this would be a perfect opportunity to speak with Jean-Claude and find out his side of the story and how he not only came to now develop for BlackBerry but also how he found the whole process. Here's his story:
My name is Jean-Claude Cottier and I am an independent French game developer. I started coding games at the age of 14 (that's 27 years ago). During my career I worked on console & PC games (I did the 3D engine for Black&White and The Movies for Lionhead). In 2006, I resigned despite truly loving my job in the AAA industry as an engine architect, I was able to work on amazing technology but I didn't work in the game industry to create technology - where wanted to work on my own games, from design to coding.
This is why I setup Ovogame and started to create casual games for the PC. In 2010, I updated my technology so my tools could also create games for the iPhone & Mac. A few weeks ago, I met Aaron Ardiri on a forum for mobile game developers. We were talking about multi-platform development and he told me that he was working for RIM, and they had created tools for the PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 that would allow me to port my C++ games in a matter of just few hours. Obviously, I didn't believe him! I've been doing this job for a long time and I knew that porting isn't as easy as you might think it is. Anyway, he got me interested and RIM kindly send me a Playbook so I could start working on it.
Once I had installed everything and registered with RIM, I was able to run their testing application (a simple square moving on the screen). At this stage, I immediately deleted all the code relative to the square and started to add my own code instead. I was working on a prototype for a new little game and thought this would be perfect for testing the whole porting process as the game was small but complex enough to test everything involved in games development.
Maybe Aaron was right, I should be able to port my games in just a matter of hours (or at least getting something working on the screen). My games are coded using C++, and I am using OpenGL for rendering images on the screen with OpenAL for playing sound and music. RIM's tools cleverly support these standard libraries and it looks like most of my code was going to work without any changes at all.
After frenetically coding for a couple of hours I was able to nail down all the issues and run the game for the first time. What a surprise! On the first try everything was displayed perfectly. Usually, the first time you run your code on a new platform, you always have something wrong, not displayed in the right place or the code might not even run at all. It was so unexpected that I took a picture of my Playbook and sent it to Aaron to show him how far I had got after just two hours spent on the porting.
An hour later, the touch input and the sound was added so I was able to fully play the game. RIM has done an amazing job to make C++ programmers life easy on their platform. They really deserve a big applause for their tools. Some of their competitors in the industry should really take a look at what they have done (yes, I am looking at you Android platform). I'm glad I invested some time with these tools as I am now updating all my games very quickly so they'll support this new platform (and BB10). So watch out for more from Ovogame coming soon on Playbook.
Thanks so much to Jean-Claude. A great tale and living proof that RIM are doing things right on the dev side for sure. Now why don't you go and play his game!
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