May 22, 2012

(Great Teams + Great Tools) x Creativity = Great Mobile Games

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Next Gen Mobility magazine.

Great mobile games are built by great teams. Great teams build with great tools. When great teams build with great tools, creativity multiplies. And creativity is the fuel needed to find that addictive hook that leaves the user wanting to play just one more round.

Developer tools empower the creative and allow for a quick turnaround from conceptualization to testing. The ability to move fast from concept to build saves time and allows for more iteration. This encourages a kind of bold braveness and grass-root creativity in the team members.

With thousands of mobile games launching every day in the different app stores and firing the know problem of app discoverability, finding that creative hook has become the single most important aspect of mobile game development. And tools help you make time to search for that spark.

Tools aren’t just for saving time and improving the development process though, they also help in getting more creativity from a developing team as a whole. Without tools, you are stifling innovation. No best-selling game was ever built on just one great idea. It’s a common misconception, even by AAA game designers, that a great, well-thought-out idea is all you need. It is quite the opposite – long documents with clearly defined rules do not make great games. The fact is, your first idea of what will make your game fun is usually wrong.

Truly great game designers will build a sandbox to play in. They take a rule set, tweak parameters, and try different things, and experiment, experiment, experiment until the game concept is apparent. Many game designers use paper and board games to prototype new ideas quickly and start testing.

Why not just build it on the computer? The reason is because the faster creative can come up with a new direction and try it out in the current version of the game, the more iterations will be possible and the better the game will turn out to be. If a designer thinks of an idea, but has to wait hours, weeks or months before he or she can see what it does to the game, then the innovation is already stifled. It is really that simple.

Tools create the sandbox. And the more fun designers can have in this sandbox, the better the game will be.

This is especially true as game concepts grow and the game size scales. The quality of complex games like RPGs, Platformers and Strategy games, depends strongly on running numerous iterations. Tools allow designers to test and manipulate the game concepts without relying on developers. This gives them more creative freedom but also saves the studio valuable time and resources. Unless the team built its own set of tools for designers to use, developing these kinds of games simply wouldn’t be possible, let alone economical. 

If it weren’t for tools, game developers would be doomed to act as bottlenecks at the very end of the development process. The artist can create an amazing artistic vision; the UI designer can create an awesome plan for an intuitive UI; the game designer can create a hundred levels, which all are fun and addicting, but without tools, the developer has to do all of the heavy lifting and put all of that content in the game. With great tools, the creatives can skip the middleman. They can design games in their heads, explore what’s possible, and see their creations immediately.

Unity is the weapon of choice at XMG Studio because it is a game engine that allows developers and designers to co-exist. It forces developers to design and develop their code so that designers can play with it. The interface is easy enough to use that with a few days of training anyone can be placing objects and manipulating game parameters. Time is saved, creativity enhanced, and the developer isn’t left alone with the hard work.

Adam Telfer is vice president of game development at XMG Studio Inc. (

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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Rich Tehrani,
Since 1982 Rich has led TMC© in many capacities. Rich Tehrani is an IP Communications industry expert, visionary, author and columnist. He founded INTERNET TELEPHONY® magazine...Read More >>>
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Today as a partner at Crossfire Media, Carl is developing programs that bring to light an understanding of the issues required for delivering broadband wireless Internet...Read More >>>
Erik Linask,
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Paula Bernier,
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om is executive technology editor for TMC® Labs, the industry’s most-well known and respected testing lab, and ...Read More >>>