App stores are currently drowning in endless runners, but perhaps none are as endearing as Sunbreak Games’ Buddy & Me. The title sees players guiding a boy through dreams of an enchanted forest with help from a magical creature named Buddy.
For Sunbreak founder Jason Behr, the game was borne from a long-standing desire to create a game centred around nostalgia for childhood and first pets.
“Think about that best friend or loved pet that you went on adventures with, and moments of discovery while exploring outdoors,” he says.
“Buddy & Me taps into all those themes, things we can all relate to no matter what our age, while also being able to bring innovative gameplay to the endless runner genre.”
The game got off to a healthy start, securing promotions from Amazon and Apple on their respective marketplaces and garnering comparisons to the works of Disney and Studio Ghibli.
This success was due in no small part to the experience of the team. Behr had plenty of big games like Metroid Prime and Halo 4 under his belt. And the talents the team shared with a certain toolset made it simple to decide which technology would power Buddy & Me.
“Our lead engineer, Brennan, had over a year of making projects with Marmalade before working on Buddy & Me,” says Behr. “We also had another Marmalade veteran with a couple of years’ experience.
“The decision to use Marmalade was based on three big factors. Firstly, we wanted a tool that could deploy cross-platform from the same codebase with as little hassle as possible. Secondly, we wanted to leverage our previous C++ experience and make use of all the optimisations that this allows.
“Finally, we already knew that Marmalade was a reliable platform that would deliver solid results in a reasonable amount of time. When compared to months of work from another toolset, we were able to completely rebuild the prototype in a couple of weekends in Marmalade – it kind of spoke for itself.”
As Behr says, cross-platform development was crucial to the Sunbreak team, and this has been one of the key drivers behind Marmalade’s success.
The engine’s accessibility allowed Sunbreak to bring Buddy & Me first to iOS and Kindle. The game has since been released on Google Play and even Amazon’s new Fire TV device in the US, and Behr is exploring the possibilities on other mobile platforms.
“We also have all kinds of ideas for future games, including continuing to expand on the Buddy & Me universe,” Behr says. “For an immediate expansion and sequel, we’ll keep building up our Marmalade toolset.”
Given his experience with Marmalade, lead engineer Brennan McQuerry heartily recommends that new studios consider the technology when making their own games: “As mobile developers, we have the daunting task of being able to craft games that work across a huge landscape of rapidly changing devices. How do you account for all the sound, music, 2D, 3D, video, multi-touch, memory management and everything else of all the different platforms of all the different devices that your customers will be using next year?
“Marmalade cuts through the noise and provides the toolset to focus on building what you want, and then it automatically gets it working on just about every device you could want.”