Shaq chooses Corona to battle mutant zombies

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After releasing the blockbuster Go Ninja, Hiptic Games relied on their game development expertise to create ShaqDown. As a sequel to ShaqFu, a console-based fighting game, Hiptic Games used Corona SDK to offer simplified game controls, one of a kind graphics, and a range of fighting techniques for players to enjoy on their mobile devices.

What’s the background of Hiptic Studios?

We’re quite new to the mobile space, but we have a lot of background in producing high quality games. As the Creative and Art Director, I have over 12 years of experience working on multimedia, branding and developing games for companies like Disney, Marvel, DC, Warner Bros, Capcom and Gaia Online. George, our CTO and Lead Programmer is not only an experienced tech entrepreneur, but an award winning hacker. Both of us are avid gamers, and have spent many lifetimes in front of a screen, much to the detriment of our health.

Your first Corona SDK game was the action-packed Go Ninja. Can you tell us about the success of the game?

Go Ninja was received very well among critics. It currently has a 5 star rating on iTunes and has been downloaded globally over 1.8 million times. A lot of our users are super hardcore, and we’re grateful for their fan mail and feedback! We’re very happy that our first effort was so well received and we hope to continue to wow people with future titles.

This time, you used Corona Enterprise to develop ShaqDown. Can you tell us about that experience?

At least for this initial version of the game, we did not end up using any features of Corona Enterprise. We did experiment with integrating the new Facebook SDK and integrating the API, both of which were easy to get working. Ultimately, we found that using the built-in GameCenter and Push Notification functionality in Corona SDK made using Corona Enterprise unnecessary for our development.

The original ShaqFu was a console-based fighting game. How did you go about designing and building ShaqDown?

We think we can all agree that fighting games on mobile just don’t work well. We respect the efforts that developers have put into making them on the platform, but the reality is that touchscreen devices just don’t cut it when it comes to fighting games. With ShaqDown, we wanted to instill that sense of rhythm you get when playing a fighting game and tie it to your motions with touch. We simplified the controls to basically three actions that require good judgment of spatial position on the screen and timing, which lets Shaq defeat his enemies. We think we’ve found a good balance of rhythm and variety of actions to really give you the “combo” flavor of a fighting game, without the complexity of it. In truth, ShaqDown is not a fighting game, more so an action game, but with the flavor of a fighting game.

How does Corona compare to other development platforms that you’ve worked with?

Prior to using Corona SDK, we had some experience working with Unity for mobile games, and we evaluated several 2D game platforms including Moai and Adobe AIR. We had also worked a bit with PhoneGap, Appcelerator, and Sencha for mobile applications. When it comes to writing 2D mobile games, we found that nothing comes close to being as feature-filled, reliable, and easy to use as Corona SDK.

Perhaps our biggest concern when picking a framework was whether it would be stable and allow us to focus on building games, rather than reporting framework bugs. As most developers know, any kind of crashing bugs can make an otherwise 5-star app end up with a 2-star average rating. When we browsed through the app showcases of various 2D game frameworks, Corona was the only one we found that was filled with apps that consistently had 4+ star average ratings on both Android and iOS. Unity was another possible option and we found many promising games built with it. However, after some research, it became clear that Unity was not intended to be a good 2D game framework, and we didn’t want to waste time trying to adapt it to work in unintended ways.

Overall, we’ve been very pleased with Corona SDK’s excellent performance and stability. During development, we spent nearly 100% of our time building and tweaking the game, and very little time chasing after bugs or running into barriers. We’ve struggled to find examples of 2D games that couldn’t have been written in Corona and had all the same features while running just as smoothly.

Would you recommend Corona to independent developers?

We would definitely recommend Corona to other developers. We’re actually a bit shocked when we hear of newer indie developers building games using native frameworks like Cocos2D or similar. In our experience, everything you build in Cocos2D can be built not only faster and more easily with Corona SDK, but also cross-platform. The only previous limitation was integrating with 3rd party frameworks, but now that Corona Enterprise is available, even that barrier no longer exists.

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Long!

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