Illustration of cross platform development (console, tablet, PC, mobile).
November 19, 2020

What You Need For Cross Platform Game Development

Game Development

Games coming out for a specific console are a thing of the past. Players want to connect online using a variety of hardware. Cross-platform game development allows your team to code once and release everywhere.

How Do Cross-Platform Games Work?

Cross-platform game development requires a variety of software tools to build the games from common code and art assets. Developers can all work in one code base. And game engines, software libraries, scripting languages, and software development kits (SDKs) are used to create platform-specific elements for the game to be released.

Why Cross-Platform Development?

Cross-platform game development has serious benefits. Studios don’t need to maintain separate and specific codebases for platforms. Maintaining one codebase can make it more stable and easier to maintain. It also creates an opportunity to deliver your game into the hands of the most players. Users only need to purchase the title for one specific system to have access on other devices.

Cross-platform game development also helps with upgrades. Teams no longer need to go in and make a change on two or more codebases. They can simply make a change and deploy it to all platforms at once, saving both time and money.

However, there can be some disadvantages. Native platform development offers an exclusive integration with the platform, usually resulting in faster performance. Non-native code can suffer some delays. It is important to focus on the user experience and test on all platforms.

You need to plan your game from the start with cross-platform game development in mind. One of the biggest factors to figure out early is what software you need.

Cross-Platform Game Development Software

The best way to ensure your game reaches the most people is to create it for cross-play. So, what software do you need for cross-platform game development?

Game Dev Engines

Game engines provide a framework that can support 2D and 3D game development.     

Unreal Engine & Unity

Unreal Engine is considered one of the most powerful game engines out today. It comes with a visual scripting tool — Blueprint — to design visual elements of the game that can be used with different hardware. This is helpful for those who don’t want to dive into the C++ code. For cross-platform game development, Unreal Engine requires some setup. You need to separately install SDKs for each intended platform.

Unity is another popular game engine. Many indie dev studios prefer it because it offers a simpler setup, especially for cross-platform game development. When you install the engine, you simply choose the version and targeted platforms. The required SDKs are automatically downloaded. Unity also offers a variety of 2D elements that are optimized for mobile development.

Both Unreal and Unity game engines can be used to develop mobile, console, AR/VR, and PC games. Many plugins for cross-platform game development are available from their marketplace or on GitHub. This include scripts, 2D/3D assets, animations, audio, and more.

Of course, there are other game engines out there. Many are optimized for mobile and PC game development.

CryEngine

CryEngine is another engine used for cross-platform game development. It offers stunning visuals. To make it work across-platforms, you do need to make changes directly to the code.

GameMaker Studio

GameMaker Studio is described as incredibly user friendly. Users can just point and click to make elements. This game engine is somewhat limited in its functionality but works well for mobile game development. There is a free version available, but for cross-platform development, you need the professional or master versions.

LibGDX

LibGDX is a free open source Java game development library. It provides an API that works across Windows, Linux, MacOS, and mobile. It is not as powerful or robust as Unity or Unreal but provides a framework for mobile and web game development. It doesn’t come with a GUI, so you will need to check your assets in the game environment.

Godot Engine

Godot Engine is another free option for both 2D and 3D game development through MIT. It comes with built-in nodes, common tools, and a visual editor. This can help speed up the cross-platform game development process. Godot has a large user community that is actively fixing bugs and creating new features.

Solar2D

Solar2D (formally known as Corona) is a 2D game engine simulator. It is a Lua based game engine and adapts to many resolutions and ratios. Lua is known for being easy and it allows teams to quickly add in elements with just one line of code. But this game engine does have limited deployment options.

What Is the Future of Game Dev?

Recently, we surveyed over 500 game development professionals to find out what they thought was the future. They predicted that streaming gameplay would grow the most.

Platforms like Steam and Stadia are driving this initiative. But people will still want the option to play on their favorite devices. If you haven’t started designing with cross-platform game development in mind, you may already be behind.

“We believe cross-platform gaming will become an expected standard in the game development industry. We as developers need to break the barrier at limiting people from interacting based on a platform. If we have all the tools and resources, we should have no excuse to not deliver.”

More Game Dev Predictions 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Game Engine

Advanced game development features require the use of a game engine. But to get the most out of it, you need high-performant tools that match. Version control is an essential to store, iterate, and manage the wide range of digital assets required for cross-platform game development. It also can help you deliver the extremely large files associated with game development to remote team members around the globe.

Helix Core — version control from Perforce — is trusted by 19 of the top 20 game dev studios. It’s because it allows studios to streamline builds and manage all their assets, not just code. If you are embarking on cross-platform game development, Helix Core can organize the wide range of assets needed for specific platforms.

Why Helix Core For Cross-Platform Game Development?

Helix Core delivers lightning-fast performance. Unlike other version control systems, it can manage all the large digital assets associated with game development as well as code. This gives your team a single source of truth for your entire project.

Binary files, audio files, video files, code, and more can all be managed inside a Helix Core depot. Then these assets can be combined and released for a variety of hardware.

How Helix Core Helps Teams

Using Helix Core ensures that your large files are delivered around the globe, fast. With Perforce Federated Architecture, you can set up servers where you need them. For example, you could set up build servers, on-premise or in the cloud, to handle your builds. Or install them near a group of remote team members to give them instant access to the files they need.

Helix Core integrates  with the tools digital creators are already using — 3ds Max, Maya, and more. And it works with most popular game enginesincluding:

See for yourself why so many studios choose Helix Core for cross-platform game development. You can start free for up to 5 users and 20 workspaces.

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