Bruce Van Horn has been working on a game that just released on the Google Play Store and the Apple platform.
Thanks for taking the time in your busy schedule to answer these questions.
Can you tell me more about the games you make?
I’ve recently started focusing on creating educational games for young children. The impetus for me is straightforward; I have a daughter in first grade and another in pre-K4. My older daughter was struggling with her math speed tests, and it was really difficult to get her to practice. I know from my own teaching experience that students can get frustrated, and with simple addition, it just takes practice under time pressure so that you learn to figure the answer in your head instead of counting on your fingers.
So I made the Hungry Fox game. Suddenly math practice is a video game, and the arguments about getting my kids to practice for their tests went out the window. Not to be outdone, my younger daughter gave me an idea for another game, which I just finished last week but have yet to publish.
I have an advantage in that I can code and produce decent-looking art and animation without outside help, and my specialty has recently become games that I can produce in a few weeks, by myself, with a production budget under $300.
What do you think about mobile development?
Mobile development is potentially the most important platform right now for gaming. According to a study by Newzoo in 2016, mobile game revenue surpassed both console and PC game sales, generating $36.9 billion, versus $31.9 billion for PCs and $29 billion for consoles. The market for games is expected to rise to $99.6 billion in 2017, with projections for game revenue being about 37 percent of that number
You wouldn’t think it, because the console games get all the big press; they’ve become akin to movie releases, and studios spend as much making a game as Hollywood does to produce a movie. But if you think about it, mobile devices are much cheaper and virtually ubiquitous. Given their prevalence, and their continued boost in capability, it’s a sure bet that nearly everybody can play a well-written mobile game. If you want to play on a PC, you have to buy a PC capable of playing the games, which is far more expensive than one you’d use for business or school. Consoles aren’t terribly cheap either, and when you also factor in the cost of a TV, it’s easy to see that a device you probably already have in your pocket that can take pictures, surf the web, connect you to friends and family
and play games is they easy winner.
With Samsung and Google introducing VR capabilities into their phones, I think you’ll see better and more sophisticated titles on the smaller screens first, and more often. We’re already seeing this with the game Mobile Strike, which I suspect is the first mobile title to have a commercial aired during the Super Bowl.
I’d like to mention at the end of the discussion on mobile games that I do teach students how to build, optimize and publish mobile games in the advanced Unity class.
What advice do you have for other mobile developers or any developers?
Aside from “Take my class”? There are a few pointers, no pun intended, that I’d share. In my course, I teach that the primary goal of a software developer is to ship product. Programming doesn’t make anybody any money, garner any fame or produce any measure of success. It’s only when your program gets out in the world that those things happen. Keep that as your first goal. Learn as many different languages and styles as you can, and don’t fall into the fanboy/fangirl trap where you think language or platform X is better than Y. They’re all just tools. Nobody cares what brand name is on their hammer, so long as it drives nails. Be curious, and be prepared for a lifetime of learning, because our industry changes rapidly and often.
You can find more of Bruce’s creations in the
Unity Asset Store. Bruce also has a new project for mobile devices in beta called "Bubbles: Letter Ordering Workshop," where Elly the Elephant challenges pre-K through first-graders to master their understanding of letter order. Random sequences of letters are generated inside of bubbles. Pop the bubbles in order as fast as you can. Find out more on Bruce’s website.
Bruce also has a
video course on Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning. This course will cover Unity 5 Network Game Development, which is covered in Game/Simulation Programming II.