02 May 2009

Cellphone games

I've been thinking more and more lately about trying to enter the cellphone/PDA/PMP game market.
The advantages are quite big:
1. Big companies don't compete, so there is enough room for the small guy.
2. Those devices have limited capabilities, so there is no need for fancy graphic (3D) and anything complicated. Many devices don't have a touchscreen so the control has to be done with just a few buttons.
3. Since the development time is relatively small, you can sell the games for cheap (1-2 bucks), and most people would buy such a game if they like it, since no one cares about 2 bucks.
4. It MIGHT be possible to find some manufacturer to license your game and include it by default on their device. I am thinking mostly of the chinese PMP makers.
5. Porting the game on different platforms should be relatively easy, because we are talking about 2D games here. No external libraries are needed except for Zlib, which can be statically linked with the code, and all I need is to access the frame buffer, read/write files, read the buttons state, and sleep().

The only problem is the different screen sizes and orientations. Probably a different set of artwork would be required for each screen size, so the scene will look the same. I think it is poor taste to resize images on the fly on such limited devices, because it consumes CPU time, and, implicitly, battery.

What I have in mind for my first game is 2D quest game. It will look similar in a way with the Mario games, or the old Dizzy games, but, of course, with better graphics. So you'd be able to move left, right and jump. There will a key for accessing your inventory and using objects. In total, 4 keys, perfect for a cellphone or small device.
This game will use artwork from EL (pre-rendered), and will be based on the EL universe. I'll let you know if/when I have something to show.