UPDATE: We’ve updated this list for 2015. Find the latest version here.
Smartphones and tablets are arguably the most popular platforms in the UK right now for developers.
To help with your game development needs, we’ve rounded up a host of key tools to ensure you can get the most out of your game.
But of course, there are a variety of other mobile game development tools just as good as the ones already listed. Let us know what you’re using and we’ll add them to the list and create a more complete resource for developers.
Unreal Engine 4
Company: Epic Games
Epic Games has been keen to show off Unreal Engine 4 as not just a powerful engine for new-gen consoles and PC, but also as high-end tech. The stunning Rivalry demo (pictured) was originally built for a DirectX 11-class PC, but was run on the new Nvidia Tegra K1 mobile processor.
The firm’s latest engine can also be used for less graphics-intensive applications too, as shown with the free Tappy Chicken game, based on the simple yet popular Flappy Bird by Dong Nguyen.
Company: Unity Technologies
Unity’s offerings are well known, from its animation tech Mecanim to its new suite of 2D tools. The firm has also been busy expanding its offerings, with the acquisition of Tsugi bringing with it a new cloud-based development service, which will work with another Unity purchase, predictive analytics outfit Playnomics.
Rather than just a simple engine, Unity now offers an increasing selection of services making it a near one-stop shop for all your games development needs.
App Game Kit
Company: The Game Creators
The Game Creators’ App Game Kit is built to enable developers to program their game once, and deploy it across the myriad of mobile devices on the market today.
The tool comes with its own BASIC script language making the engine easy to use for both experienced and amateur developers, though users can also code in C++ if they wish.
App Game Kit 2, which raised £33,026 on Kickstarter, is still in alpha, and is currently being prepped for a Steam Greenlight campaign.
Company: Corona Labs
Cross-platform development toolkit Corona SDK is used by more than 300,000 developers to build 2D games and apps for mobile.
The firm offers an extensive library of over 500 APIs, enabling features from animation to networking. The platform is built on the likes of OpenGL, OpenAL, Box2D, Facebook, SQLite, and uses the Lua coding language for development.
The Basic version of the SDK is available for $16 a month, while the Pro version costs $49 a month.
Marmalade’s suite of tools covers much of the games development and porting processes. Now available for free, developers can use the SDK to code in C++, while users also have access to its other tools, such as Juice, which helps simplify the porting of iOS apps and games to Android.
Project Anarchy is Havok’s end-to-end game engine built mainly for mobile devices, and what’s more, it comes with a free licence for shipping games on iOS, Android and Tizen.
The tool suite features the Havok Vision Engine and development tools including Physics, Animation Studio and AI. New updates include adding FBX files as assets to the asset manager, automatic script validation, particle lighting support for PC and mobile and improved integration for Scaleform and FMOD.
Wwise is one of the leading audio tools in the industry, used by the likes of PopCap to mix unique sounds. It can be integrated into development tech such as Unity, Unreal Engine 4 and Marmalade.
Numerous plug-ins are also available for Wwise to meet the unique needs of sound designers, including Convolution, which lets users create reverberation based on samples of real acoustical spaces, and SoundSeed, a family of interactive sound generators.
Company: Firelight Technologies
Though known for use in triple-A console games, including Xbox One launch title Forza Motorsport 5, FMOD Studio is proving increasingly popular with iOS and Android developers.
The recent release of FMOD Studio 1.4 features profiler enhancements for live game output recording, and was updated to boost mixing and decoding performance by up to 30 per cent.
Earlier this year, the tool suite was made available at no cost to devs with game budgets under $100,000.
Multiplayer social SDK NextPeer is designed to solve the issue of multiplayer gaming on mobile, supporting synchronous and asynchronous gameplay.
The firm aims to help games developers increase player engagement and retention through supporting real-time interactions, live rankings and a delayed synchronous technology that lets users play against past sessions of other players to maintain a game’s competitive edge.
The tool supports Android and iOS on native, Unity and Cocos2d-X, and is used in thousands of mobile titles such as Demons and Dungeons, Tippy Tap and 2048.
Upsight is an analytics and marketing toolset, the result of the merger of PlayHaven and Kontagent.
The suite offers access to core acquisition, engagement and revenue metrics, unlimited data storage and options for mining out specific data based on player behaviour.
Developers can sign up to a free account, which supports up to 250,000 push notifications to users per month. Other tiers, from Core and Pro to Enterprise, are also available, starting at $500 a month and rising depending on usage.
The Lite version is available for free to developers with less than 500,000 monthly average users.
DeltaDNA is the new name for the company behind GamesAnalytics. The firm offers a suite of data mining, A/B testing and 3D segmentation tools that have been used by the likes of Sony, Sega and Ubisoft.
It claims its SDK can be integrated into a game within two minutes, and allows developers to create and collect events as well as access various data mining and personalisation tools within the platform.
The Lite version is available free for use with games under 500,000 monthly average users, with fees applicable to the on-demand version from $600 per month, depending on the number of players.
PowerVR Graphics SDK
Company: Imagination Technologies
Imagination’s PowerVR Graphics SDK offers a framework made up of PVRSHell, which helps streamline the process of writing cross-platform graphics applications, and PVRTools, a tools library containing the most commonly used funationality in a 3D graphics application.
The tool can be used to render simple shapes to complex scenes that feature numerous objects, animations and shader effects. To help devs get to grips with the tool, the SDK contains various manuals, whitepapers and training materials.
The SDK, which supports iOS and Android, is available for free.
ARM Mali GPU software development tools
ARM actually offers numerous tools compatible with its ARM Mali GPU, designed to squeeze every last bit of power out of mobile devices using its tech.
Development tools available include the Mali GPU Texture Compression Tool to compress individual textures, the Mali Graphics debugger, an OpenGL ES 3.0 emulator, a shader library and Mali GPU User Interface Engine.
Software development kits are also available for Android and Linux, offering a collection of resources for building OpenGL ES 2.0 applications on Mali platforms.
CocoonJS lets developers test, deploy and monetise their HTML5 games across all mobile platforms.
The cloud compiler allows users to select and configure their title to various different platforms to ensure their app runs on all target platforms.
CocoonJS’s testing and debugging tools also make sure developers know their games will run smoothly on different hardware, while It also supports in-app purchases and user engagement APIs.
On top of this, the tool offers a built-in analytics service to measure player activity, while developers can increase user engagement by sending local and remote push notifications.
Company: Haxe Foundation
Supporting both iOS and Android, Haxe is an open-source, multi-platform programming language. The toolkit features the Haxe programming language, which its creators say is easy to learn for those already familiar with either Java, C++, PHP or AS3, and is designed to allow efficient cross-platform development.
The programming language is used by the Haxe compiler to produce cross-platform native code, and can compile thousands of classes in seconds. Also included in the toolkit is the Haxe standard library, providing a common set of APIs and further frameworks that can be used to develop additional tools.
Company: Mario Zechner
An open-source tool licensed under Apache 2.0, libGDX is a Java games development framework that enables users to create 2D and 3D games that can then be deployed across a plethora of mobile platforms via a unified API.
As well as letting developers test and debug their games, numerous tools and APIs are available to support games development. Useful tools, complete with Github pages, include a particle editor, texture packer and bitmap font generator Hiero.
Libgdx can also be integrated into third-party tools including 2D skeletal animation tool Spine and multiplayer social SDK Nextpeer, to name a few.