A world record-breaking game jam was the catalyst for a Windows 8 game engine

Microsoft Spotlight: Rapid2D

[This feature was published in the April edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]

Developer: Rapid2D
Who are they? A team of virtual reality design and coding experts that decided to create a games engine for Windows 8 last autumn
What is it? A low-cost game engine that allows developers to deploy games to Windows desktops, tablets and mobiles

It’s fitting that an engine spearheading indie and first-time games development on Windows 8 was first conceived at a game jam.

Rapid2D is billed as an affordable answer for both budding and established developers to produce high quality apps for Windows 8.

The duo behind the engine, Myra Smallman and David Fletcher, wanted to create an engine suitable for novices through up to advanced developers. Smallman is a lecturer for Train2Game, while Fletcher is an award-winning expert in virtual reality design and coding, and the lead programmer for Rapid2D.

“It’s been an intensive and highly demanding road to bring this flexible, adaptive and advanced engine to market, but already we have seen hundreds of games published using the Rapid2D engine,” Smallman tells Develop.

An early version of Rapid2D was originally developed for use at a world record-breaking game jam in September 2012. During the 48-hour game jam, which was held at Bedfordshire University in Luton, all the teams used Rapid2D and published over 40 games to the Windows Store. Some of the games created include Goblin Guts, London Breaker, Captain Proud and Royal Pigeon.
The game jam was organised by Train2Game, and Smallman explains that Microsoft played a crucial part its success.

“Microsoft worked with us throughout the preparation and during the game jam. Their staff stayed awake, along with Rapid2D staff, for the entire 48 hours. We achieved the official Guinness World Record for the largest game jam in a single location. Two hundred and ninety-nine people used the Rapid2D engine to produce over 40 games, all of which have been published to the Windows 8 Store,” she says.

“With the huge success of the engine at the game jam we decided to develop it further.”

Launch pad

Rapid2D is specially designed for the production of games and apps for Windows 8 – its arrival on the indie scene and its early success were part of reason for its inclusion in Develop’s engines special in issue #136.

The engine itself produces one set of code for desktop, tablet and mobile. There’s an editor which is used to generate code using C++. It’s fully integrated with XAML and Blend, and produces Visual Studio projects.

The engine’s user interface has been designed to make it easy for developers of any persuasion, and is broken down neatly into a series of boxes that allow you to edit layers, textures, objects and so on.

By linking into the Windows operating system, all the features of Windows 8 are available to users from within the engine.

The engine’s ability to assign classes for any objects required by developers significantly speeds up development time, all the while allowing multiple developers to work on the same project, Fletcher offers.

Since September, there have been two later releases of the free version and the company has also developed a pro version, which is due for release via its website on April 22nd, 2013. The pro version has a one-click deployment into Windows 8 desktop, tablet and Windows 8 Phone.

Rapid by name…

So far, Rapid2D doesn’t have the cache of other indie engines. It’s an engine in its infancy, still awaiting its tipping point. But when that point comes, it has the potential to be a reliable entry point for those looking to build and deploy apps for Windows systems.

What’s more, impressed by this home-grown development solution, Microsoft backed a competition tasking entrants to make a number of apps for the Windows Store using the Rapid2D engine. More than 150 teams entered, which is some reflection on the rate of the engine’s adaptation.

The decision to develop for Windows 8 is one that Fletcher feels has been hugely beneficial, and he’s enthusiastic to see what developers can create using their engine.

“We love Windows 8. The live tiles and the ease of operation makes it a magical operating system to work with,” he says.

“We are extremely proud of the Rapid2D engine and want as many developers, both professional and novice, to discover all the benefits of using it. We are pleased that we dedicated to bring our engine to Windows 8. Microsoft has sold 40 million Windows 8 licences since October 26th, but that’s just the beginning. There’s an estimated 500 million Windows 7 PCs out there just waiting for Windows 8, and our engine.”

To read all of Develop’s Microsoft Spotlights, visit our archive

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