Fresh off claiming the inaugural win in our new App of the Week contest, Brock Henderson of Crawl Space Games shares with us why the Chicago-based studio decided to go with Corona despite already creating an excellent game without it before.

Zombies Ala Mode is now available at the App Store in all its dairy-slinging glory.


Brock Henderson, Crawl Space Games

The development of Zombies Ala Mode is kind of a crazy story that the world ought to know.

When we started building the game many months ago, we were still using Unity3D. We published our first game, Knife Toss, using that engine. So naturally, we thought that making our second game in it was the best option, since we had experience using it and its ability to do cross-platform publishing. Cross-platform development is the Holy Grail for developers, right?

I know some developers are perfectly happy being locked into a single platform. And certain unnamed companies would like to see developers only using their tools to take full advantage of the platform’s features, but that is unrealistic. No developer wants to rewrite their game multiple times to get it on the major platforms. The ability to write once and publish to multiple platforms increases a developer’s revenue potential, productivity, and lowers their risk.

Now, some of you may be thinking that our choice of using a 3D engine to make a 2D game is a bit like driving a nail in with a wrench, and I wouldn’t argue with you. It was a major hassle!There were all kinds of little rendering issues and tedious tasks like relinking textures.

We’re not completely crazy though, we thoroughly researched at a lot of the 2D frameworks like cocos2d — we went through tutorials and even bought an example game to look at source code. But at the end of the day, the other solutions didn’t allow us to do cross platform publishing. So, we lowered our heads and kept going with Unity clear up to our initial submission to the iTunes app store.

Right around the time we submitted our first version of the game, Corona was coming out of beta. Corona definitely piqued our interests because it seemed to have everything we were looking for in a framework.

I did not mention it before, but our team comes from the web world. Many of us have years of Flash/AS3 experience — and when I read on Twitter that Corona has a 10x performance advantage over the Flash Packager, Ansca convinced me to take a look.

The team fell in love with Corona almost right away. Lua was very easy to pick up with our AS3 experience and, once we got familiar with the subtle differences, we found that we’d actually get more programming done faster because Lua is a dynamic language. The [Corona] Simulator is fantastic. It’s amazing how quickly you can test changes and switch between views to see what it will look like on multiple devices. And I can’t speak for the whole team, but I suspect that the Textmate Bundle sealed the deal for at least half of our team.

The punchline to our story is that in the time it took Apple to approve the Unity version of our game, we were able to completely rebuild the game in Corona. The Corona version uses less than half the memory and takes up less than half the file size. In addition, load times between screens are nearly non existent and we were able to easily add all kinds of little polish that proved time consuming in the previous version.

We are honored to be chosen as Ansca’s App of the Week, and we look forward to watching Corona mature. If anyone in the community has any questions or would like to get a hold of us don’t hesitate to email us at heyyou[at]crawlspacegames.com.

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