How to Make a Mobile Game from Scratch?

With the staggering success of mobile game apps, you are likely to aspire to build a mobile game. Do you want to know how to make a mobile game that makes millions? Let's not take things in a hurry since building a game that turns into a phenomenal success story is not easy.

We all played mobile games, and many of us have the experience of being addicted to mobile gameplay. From CandyCrush to Snake and Tetris to PubG to SubwaySurfers, the list of highly addictive games continues. Unlike other mobile app development niches, the beauty of mobile gaming is that everyone has his own unique game playing preferences. So, there is an unlimited scope of creativity and innovation to come with a unique game.

If you have a great game idea and if you can execute the game idea to perfection, you are not far from creating a new success story. But wait, creating a great game involves a rigorous process, several industry acclaimed practices, and many considerations revealed through other successful game app projects.

Through the rest of this post, we will explain how to make a mobile game involving key steps, technologies, and considerations.

How to Make a Mobile Game: a Beginner's Guide

Now that you have comprehensive knowledge of the different popular game engines, it is time to describe the game app development process.

Building the Game App Plan

If you are serious enough to know how to make a mobile game app, having a comprehensive and full-proof plan and app development roadmap is very much important. This initial development plan can carry out the weight of a blueprint for the entire game app project. The same plan will also document all the project requirements that we can convey to the developers and designers in due course.

First of all, choose a game niche and the type of game app you aspire to develop. It is better to describe your game app project clearly and then validate the idea in close circles. Thereafter you can create a visual storyboard with meticulously crafted branches of user journey from different junctures.

Now, at last, you need to describe the monetization plan or how the game app will earn. After only by describing the game idea and providing all the answers to questions regarding the project, you can have a transparent vision of the app project that you can subsequently pursue.

Get Familiar with a Programming Language

Game engines generally come with all the templates, plugins and components you require to put things in the right place and make the game roll. But such built-in tools and established conventions are not always enough. Developers for custom gaming experiences and features often need to code some parts of the game app. This is why learning a game app-friendly programming language becomes easier.

You have an array of popular programming languages starting from C+, C#, Java, JavaScript, Kotlin and several others. But knowing an elementary language and developing command with the same will be more effective. Choosing a straightforward language like C+ is always advisable and try your hand in relatively simple projects. This will help you get a basic level of understanding regarding game development.

Start Game App Development

The very next step is to set off the game project. Since development is the core aspect of an app project, you need to be cautious about committing mistakes. Keep things small and start with the core game app idea and a plan for subsequent updates accompanying important value additions and required changes.

This incremental development approach, widely known as Minimum Viable Product (MVP), involves smaller investment at the initial stage due to its elementary focus on the core features and minimalist development. As the feedback rolls in after the first release, developers can incorporate changes and make value additions based on the user feedback.

As for the development steps, you need to decide the game levels first and design each by balancing the difficulties and ease of playing in an even manner. At this stage, you also need to incorporate the rules of gaming. At the next step, you should decide on the game character with meticulous details for each of them. At last, you need to choose and create the user interface attributes such as game controls, settings, game menus, etc.

Build the Graphics

Graphic assets of a game app include all the visual elements ranging from game characters to the game's visual background to all the visual styles. It is always advisable to hire an experienced graphic game designer with a strong command of graphic skills.  

If you are trying your hand on graphics, use robust tools like Photoshop for 2D games. In the case of 3D games, you can always choose any of the leading 3D game design tools such as 3Ds Max or Maya. To achieve the nest results with minor worries, you can always pass the baton to a game development company.

Shape the Gameplay

Now that all the constituent elements are created, and the basic structure of the game project is determined, you need to concentrate on fine-tuning the gaming experience before the app goes live in stores. The ultimate aim is to build a game app that becomes addictive to a certain audience while being popular among many casual game players. For this, you just have to give attention to the gaming experience.

Some of the common steps taken by successful game projects for improving gameplay include the following.

  • Make sure that the graphics of the game remain smooth, supple and frictionless.
  • Ensure delivering easy and simple controls and get rid of all kinds of complicated and effort consuming gaming actions.
  • Give attention to the storyline and make improvements based upon the game players perspectives.
  • Give extreme emphasis on game testing to ensure glitch-free and absolutely robust game performance.

Launch the Game

Now, when everything is in perfect shape, you need to launch the app in the market. It is always advisable to decide on a certain app launch date well in advance so that you can plan and carry out your pre-launch campaign for creating an instant buzz at the time of launch. It is always better to release an elementary game app with many additional materials ready to be updated through subsequent updates based on user feedback.

In this respect, you must pay attention to the complex criteria of submitting apps and getting them approved through the Apple App Store and Google Play. It is always better to submit the app for review at least one month before the declared launch date. This will help you prevent the delay in launching the app in time. On top of everything, you need to have detailed plans ready for pre-launch and post-launch marketing.

Select a Mobile Platform for Your Game App

To help you know how to make a mobile game, first consider the operating system platform for which you will develop the game. Are you going to build an iOS game or an Android game first? For making an Android game, you need to target a larger device ecosystem, and you need a more significant development budget than the budget for an iOS game app.

On the other hand, when you choose a single operating system platform, you launch it for a very limited market. In case you want to target a broader market, you need to opt for cross-platform development.

The best approach to make this choice is to research the market of the target gaming audience and find out the most dominant OS platform of their preference. This will help you choose the target platform easily. If most of the target game players are Android users, you need to build an Android game app. If most of the gaming audience are iPhone users, you need to choose iOS game development first. If you can only afford to build one single game app for all platforms, cross-platform development will be a better choice.

Understanding Platform Limitations and Opportunities: Android vs iOS

It is another crucial consideration for any game app project. As soon as you have decided on the target platform for the upcoming game app project, it would help if you went deeper into the limitations and advantages of both iOS and Android devices and the leading flagship devices corresponding to the gameplay experience of the app. It can be quite possible that a game app provides a better look and gaming experience on Android compared to iOS and vice versa. Your development decision will also rely on these factors.

Rely on Game Developers Instead of DIY Tools

These days you gave an array of no-code development tools for building game apps quickly and involving a low budget. Well, if the game fails to make an impression, what your budget savings will do? Suppose you are a new entrant in the game app business. In that case, it is always advisable to rely on an expert game development company with an experienced and skilled team of developers having a strong portfolio of game projects.

Keep Things Straightforward

Many aspiring new game developers make the blatant mistake of equating complexity with a rich gaming experience. Quite the contrary is the case in the case of mobile game apps. When you inquire how to make a mobile game app that instantly catches your attention, the simplicity and ease of playing a game matter most.

Avoid Too Many Graphics

If you are smart enough as a game app developer, you must understand that the so-called glitz in graphics no longer convinces game players to download an app and start playing a game. On the contrary, too many graphics results in loss of audience simply because of the additional distractions. Since today's audience is already overloaded with graphics and visual treatments of all types, it is always advisable to use them meaningfully and contextually.

Choosing the Game Engine

If you want to know how to make a mobile game by involving appropriate technologies, you first need to know about the most popular game engines used by most successful game app projects. Let's explore them.

Unreal Engine

Created by Epic Games, the Unreal Engine is a widely acclaimed game engine with awesome graphics capabilities. The latest version Unreal Engine 4, comes equipped with advanced dynamic lighting to ensure at least a million particles in every game scene, resulting in bright, high-definition picture quality.

The latest UE4 version also offers a robust tutorial to guide building a mobile game app online. Besides, the game engine also provides a teddy of basic use projects to start with game app development. This aspect helps anyone to make a prototype game without much coding knowledge or technical skills. Lastly, Unreal Engine offers both virtual and augmented reality tools for mobile game projects.

Unity

Unity is a leading mobile game development engine offering a robust set of cross-platform development tools and a built-in editor for editing the visuals and particle systems. This game engine also offers a dedicated camera to help navigate easily within the game environment.

Unity comes as the leading contender simply because of its versatile game development capabilities and a bucket of advanced features when you want to know how to make a mobile game by using the best game development technologies. Apart from helping you build visually stunning 2D games, Unity also helps develop addictive 3D games.

Unity offers comprehensive support for 3D gaming platforms such as Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema4D, Softimage, etc. With such a robust range of features, there is hardly any surprise that Unity is used by around half of the game developers in the world.

Construct 2

If you want to know about the easiest use of a mobile game engine, there is hardly any better alternative than Construct 2. By allowing you to use a drag-and-drop game development interface, this awesome game engine can easily help you create the core game logic. There are several useful pre-made scripts that you can use for building the game.

Construct 2 uses HTML5 code and gives you complete freedom from coding. If you want to build a versatile game app that equally works well on the web and mobile platforms, this game development engine comes as the ideal choice.

The real downside of the Construct 2 game engine is that it doesn't allow custom-coding the entire game app, and you only need to rely upon whatever code is provided with the platform. You can only add additional features and functionalities by using plugins. If the developer within you wants to code a game from scratch, this will not be a great solution.

GameMaker

GameMaker is a robust and tremendously powerful 2D game development platform with a great track record for building an array of successful and feature-rich indie games such as Spelunky and Hotline Miami. The platform is equally great for beginner level game development and certain game projects needing intermediate-level skills.

With a drag and drop interface, GameMaker is extremely easy to use for beginners. On the other hand, for seasoned and experienced developers, the platform also provides an inbuilt programming language called GameMaker Language (GML). The best thing about the language is that it is based on C, and it can be used by any developer knowing C#, C, Java or JavaScript.

According to some game developers, the platform's User Interface may take a bit longer to be familiar with. On the other hand, with aspects both appropriate for beginners and intermediate level developers, it is a great platform that can allow building games for multiple platforms and devices such as desktop, mobile, and web.

Cocos 2D-x

Cocos is a widely acclaimed open-source game development tool that makes things further easier for game developers by offering very detailed and meticulous development instructions and robust global community support. As we can easily understand from the engine's name, it can only help build 2D games. This game development tool also comes equipped with OpenGL to ensure delivering optimized graphics for game app projects. Over the years, Cocos2D has been used across too many successful 2D game projects.

If you think Cocos2D is a basic game engine for simple game projects, you are still misinformed. This excellent toolset helped develop leading games such as Clash of Kings and Contra: Evolution. Cocos 2D-x is also a game app development tool that can keep the game size as small as just a few MBs.

Corona SDK

Corona is completely free of cost game development protocol created and launched by Corona Labs. You can use this toolset and build awesome 2D games for several platforms. The best thing about the platform is its exceptional ease of use, besides a rich reserve of inbuilt resources and tutorials to help aspiring new developers.

According to many, Corona SDK offers the OpenGL rendering engine, which many other apps use. On top of that, Corona also helps with a robust library for managing transitions and scenes, several great test plugins, an editor tool and a few others. For scripting, Corona makes use of the Lua programming language.

Fortunately, Corona has a very down to earth approach and offers a bounty of features that can be used for free.

The Do's and Don'ts You Need to Take Care of for a Mobile Game App

Based on the experience and setbacks of thousands of game developers and based on best practices and well-acclaimed protocols, we are going to discuss here a few do's and don'ts for a mobile game app project.

Don't Expect Your Game to be Next PubG Overnight

Let's be honest that every mobile game is not going to be as successful as PubG or Pokemon Go. Despite not being as phenomenally popular as these games, you can still carve out a decent space for your game and be successful. Remember, not all games become viral and getting viral is not the only criterion for game development success.

Unique and Exceptional Game Ideas

Just consider your game idea and find out any similarities with other apps. Just brainstorm every game idea that comes to your mind and find out the pros and cons of every one of them. Eventually, this research will lead you to a success-probe game app idea that you can shape your success upon. Remember, every successful game app result from years of brainstorming and experimental thinking.

Address the Audience Interest and Trending Aspects

A great game app requires extensive audience and market research for validating the game idea. Any game app not addressing the wants and demands of the game players is bound to face failure. On the other hand, prevent the temptation of following the footsteps of all those popular games that are slowly going past their prime days. The gaming industry is tremendously dynamic, and the biggest thing that sells here is the unique gaming experience. What additional controls and UI attributes your audience prefers? Do they like a chatbot to inquire about the gaming actions? It would help if you asked a lot of questions to validate the app idea.

Conclusion

Do you want to make a great gaming app that keeps your business growing over the years? Do you want to register a success story with a unique gaming app that others will be zealous about for years? Achieving such feats is not impossible if you follow the best practices and principles, as we mentioned before.

A game app will not remain popular for years and decades unless you have made something of a phenomenon. Since there are hundreds of games across every niche and category, you need to focus on a type of game that has the least competition among the target audience.

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Written by
CEO
Juned Ghachi is the CEO of IndianAppDevelopers, a professional mobile app development company in India for full-cycle mobility solutions. Having 10+ years of experience in the digital marketing field, he excels at offering the best technical advice to clients.

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