See what's in store for the free game making toolkit that's empowering users

Interview: GameSalad

GameSalad is helping more game players become game designers.

This free software is the brainchild of Michael Agustin, who wanted to give less technical users the ability to realise their game design dreams without learning how to programme.

With this vision, he joined up with co-founders Tan Tran and Dan Treiman to create the GameSalad Creator, a visual drag-and-drop toolkit for game creation.

Following our piece on GameSalad as a starting point for entry-level developers, the company’s director of community relations, Jonathan Hunt, talks about GameSalad’s successes and its future.

How strongly is GameSalad intended as a tool for novice game creators?
GameSalad is really intended for everyone. We offer benefits for game development, whether you’re someone who’s never seen a line of code before in your life, or you’re an ex-Flash programmer with 20+ years of software development experience.

How would you say your pro version compares to another design tool such as Gamemaker (by YoYo Games) or even Unity?
Gamemaker’s business model goes completely against everything we’re about. If you want to put a game on the App Store using Gamemaker, you have to submit through YoYo, have your game be approved by YoYo (they pick and choose which titles to publish) and then do a 50/50 revenue share split with them. We enable users to build for iOS for free. In our pro version, we enable extra monetization features, such as iAds and promotional links. Professional members also receive priority technical support.

Unity is a great engine ­ it’s powerful, it’s well put together, and it can do pretty much anything – if you’re an experienced software engineer. Also, it’s really useful for 3D but is a bit too much if you’re only trying to build a 2D casual game.

What features/improvements do users want to see you address in GameSalad?
Well, we’re still in beta. We’re always looking to better performance, stability, and resource management ­ like all game engines. Social features like Facebook/Twitter integration, Game Center and others certainly seem to be on the forefront of people’s minds. We’re also always looking to improve our range of game mechanics and make the development process easier and faster. We’re even looking to explore other possible target platforms, providing an even bigger market for our developers’ games.

What support services do you offer developers?
We have a thriving and vocal community. They’re not afraid to tell us what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. We love that. Honest feedback from the community is the best advice we can receive. We also produce a series of tutorial videos called GameSalad Cookbook, designed to help people both new and experienced with GameSalad. In addition, we have a feedback button embedded into the tool itself, so developers can let us know of issues or concerns, even if that user is not active on our forums.

What are your ambitions for GameSalad in the next 12 months?
More features, more platforms, more games. In just over a year, we’ve seen GameSalad users publish more than 1500 games to App Store, accounting for more than three per cent of games on iOS devices. Initial numbers for January 2011 point to GameSalad-built games accounting for more than 10 per cent of all game submissions for the month.

Games are a powerful means of human communication, a unique form of interactive expression that should be democratised so that anyone from any age or culture can participate. GameSalad looks to take part in the mobile computing revolution, as five billion cell phones across the world are replaced with a new generation of intelligent mobile devices. These devices will change the way people learn, consume and play.

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