Native Tongue Teaches Languages with Mobile Games

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Native Tongue successfully combines education and fun to help users learn new words in Mandarin, Spanish and English. The studio utilized Corona’s cross-platform capabilities to create two popular educational games, ‘Mandarin Madness’ and ‘Spanish Smash,’ for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. Native Tongue’s newest project, ‘English Eruption,’ is available for iOS and is a fast paced arcade game that teaches beginner and intermediate speakers hundreds of English words.

We interviewed James Drucza, Co-founder and CTO of Native Tongue, about his experience using Corona to create high quality educational apps.

Please share a bit of background on Native Tongue.

We began working on the idea in May 2011 and created the company in September 2011. We have a team of three full time and five part time employees.

What type of apps does your studio specialize in?

We build games that help people learn another language. We’ve developed both Mandarin Madness and Spanish Smash with Corona for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire.

How did you first hear about Corona, and what made you ultimately decide to use it?

I have been involved with software development in both the web and mobile space for many years and have been tracking various cross-platform options for mobile development. When I started working on my first mobile title, Corona definitely seemed the easiest to get started with and having a scripting language such as Lua was very appealing. I was confident there would be far fewer lines of code and the cross-platform support was a big plus. It took two days of actual app development with Corona to make the final decision to use it and we haven’t looked back. Previously, I worked with PhoneGap and native iOS/Android development approaches.

How has Corona improved your workflow and business?

We simply would not have two apps on both Android and iOS in the same timeframe with limited resources, had we not used Corona. Unfortunately, there is one area in which Corona has actually degraded our workflow and that is in the building of the apps: having to use the GUI to perform a build is time consuming and error prone.

How has Corona sped up the development process to help you churn out games at a faster rate?

I don’t have specific metrics but I am confident using Corona has resulted in much less than half the lines of native code. Given that we are able to develop for both platforms from one codebase, that is already a quarter of the number of lines of code required. I strongly suspect it is even less than that.
The ability to edit a Lua file, save it and immediately see the results in the simulator, makes for very rapid experimentation. This really helped us when we were fine-tuning the timing and level increase in difficulty settings. Likewise, it was a cinch to evaluate alternative animation styles in some areas. The only fly in the ointment is, as mentioned above, the need to manually build packages via the GUI for deployment for on-device testing. This is a serious speed bump in our production cycle that I hope is addressed soon.

Would you recommend Corona to others?

Yes, I definitely recommend considering Corona for any app. However, if you are looking for a specific feature not supported by Corona, you may hit a roadblock. Even in this case, I would ask whether that feature is immediately essential, as the company has proven they are committed to adding features that developers need.

Editor’s note: Corona Enterprise allows developers to call any native library from within Corona.

Which features would you highlight when recommending Corona to businesses?

I would highlight the rapid prototyping, ability to develop with significantly fewer lines of code, cross-platform deployment, the growing Corona community and the library of open source modules. I strongly recommend Corona for 2D game development.

We’re glad you’ve had an overall positive experience with the platform! What’s your next project with Corona?

We’re working to develop more language learning games. Currently our apps have a vocabulary training focus and we plan to develop apps that teach verbs and grammar.

Thank you!

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