When you’re watching a movie and the music starts getting scary sounding, and building and building…
…you know something bad is coming right around the corner.
In the game dev world I hear the music building right now, and while the script is still being written, I’m going to guess what’s coming.
But first, a small disclaimer.
The conclusions in this article are guesses. And while they’re based on 20+ years experience in the development world, I could be completely wrong. In fact, I’d *love* to be wrong. Because I love Corona SDK and (spoiler alert!) I’m afraid what’s coming around the corner has the potential to kill it.
Here Be The Monster
In August during the Unite game dev conference the Unity company pre-announced version 4.3 of their game development tool and it includes making 2D a first-class citizen. While people have used Unity (often called Unity 3D) to make 2D games, that’s not what the tool was designed for. It was designed to make 3D games and a lot (understatement) of people have used it for that.
I’ve played with Unity for years — every so often I’d download the latest trial version and poke at it. But I don’t really enjoy making 3D games — I’m a 2D kind of guy. (Which is weird, because look at me sideways and you can’t get much more 3D than me.)
There’s a LOT more to making a 3D game than coding, and I’m a coder. That’s one of the reasons I never got into Unity — I don’t want to have to learn how to do 3D modeling, etc. Also, the learning curve for the software seemed needlessly steep. And it was not a cheap piece of software to buy.
With the release of version 4.3 Unity will be able to handle 2D games much more easily than it has in the past. And Unity also dropped the price of the indie version to $0. And that includes the ability to build for Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop as well as all popular mobile devices.
Here’s a look at what the 2D version of Unity will bring:
But still there was the “how do you actually use this?! ^%#$^%$@!!!” issue to deal with.
Jazon to the Rescue!
A couple months ago I met a guy who uses Unity professionally and asked him to “show me the ropes.” In about 15 minutes I knew enough to start making a 3D scene and realized that while the UI is complex, you don’t have to know it all to get started. (And it also made me realize the need for some “me style” tutorials.)
With the upcoming release of “Unity 2D” I started thinking about the main reasons I use Corona SDK for my games:
• Very quick development.
The Corona API makes doing mundane tasks quick and easy. There’s almost nothing that beats one line of code to show an object on they screen and one more line of code to animate it.
• Uses Lua as the language.
This is a weird one because before Corona I’d never used Lua. Now I hate the idea of programming in anything else.
I’m sitting here thrashing around in my head for other major advantages that are unique to Corona SDK but I’m having a hard time.
There are two things I dislike about Corona SDK (maybe more than two, but these are the biggest):
• No desktop deployment.
While mobile devices are my main focus, I’d really like to have the ability to distribute my games to desktops. While that may come at some point, I no longer think it’s right around the corner.
• No visual editor.
It’s 2013 for freak’s sake, why should I have to write code for something that could just as easily be done by dragging and dropping? While there are 3rd-party options, none are as good as they should be. (Partly because they’re not tied tightly to Corona itself, and partly because they try to do too much. There can be power in simplicity.)
That Corona SDK didn’t initially ship with a visual editor was fine. Get it out the door, get people using it, etc. Sure, I get that. But it’s been a few years now and while the Corona SDK framework has gotten better, the fact that they don’t think a visual editor is important is worrisome.
I’ve been one of the biggest cheerleaders Corona Labs has. Even to the point of being called a “lap dog” and other less flattering names by other people. I paid cash money for the SDK before I ever started thinking about writing tools and tutorials for it.
I have more tutorials planned (both mini tutorials and full courses) and they’ll be rolling out over the next few months.
But I’m lying if I say Unity isn’t starting to interest me more and more. And if someone who makes their living via Corona SDK (and loves the framework) can be swayed by the new 2D version of Unity, I think it’s bad news for Corona Labs.
Maybe I’m just being tempted because it’s new and shiny. We programmers are like that. 🙂
But what do you think are the main advantages that Corona SDK brings to the table? And does the upcoming version of Unity entice you at all?