Why I Quit Flash Game Development for Mobile (Corona SDK)

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I know it was just a few days ago I wrote that I was so excited about the introduction of Flashbuilder 4.5 and how I was redeveloping my once Android only game (written in Java) to AS3 so that I can publish across multiple platforms.  Just days ago, I was going ALL IN to develop some sweetness in AS3.

24 hours into the project when I had already put in the time ahead of the fun stuff to build my product store, stat system, multi-player with Smartfox Server connections (basically all the tedious stuff that you HAVE to program but is not as fun), I hit a roadblock.

Correct me if I am wrong, but Adobe Flash performance on any mobile device is horrible.   It’s like if you try to do anything remotely cool then FPS bogs down to unusable rates.  Very depressing.  Being the local Flash guy in my town for years, anyone who knows me can attest to my love of Actionscript.  I have been the goto guy for most local web agencies.  I have appeared as a guest in college classes.   While I would never claim to be awesome, I do know enough to do some good things.  I could not be doing things so horribly wrong.

With that love and excitement in mind, I stayed on course.  I was already making strong headway converting my Java game written for Android SDK to AS3 just by the nature of the two languages being so close.  Things were moving quick enough.  So I would not give up.

As with all roadblocks, I began Googling like crazy for answers.  What I found was basically that I would have to spend an incredible amount of time performance tuning.   I would have to be completely conscious of my display list.  I would have to watch everything I did, even garbage collecting… it was going to be a super cumbersome task.   Now I deal with this crap all the time with my normal job and it’s all good.  I could spend the time needed to do this, but the job demanded to make a game for fun in my spare time with this process immediately sucked the fun right out of it.

Then, while reading a StackOverflow post about AS3 performance for mobile, someone suggested Corona SDK.  I clicked on the link and my life changed.

Ansca provides their system for free to learn and test it out.  Only commit when you are ready to publish.

It took me less than an hour to figure out that Corona SDK was what I needed.   80% of the stuff I would need to write custom classes for in AS3 was already included in Corona and after spending an evening playing with the free version, I fell in love.

The following links explain it pretty clearly.

http://www.anscamobile.com/corona/comparison/flash/features/

http://www.anscamobile.com/corona/comparison/flash/side-by-side/

Some could say the feature comparison is off now that CS5.5 was released, but I was using Flashbuilder 4.5 and it is not that far off.

The list is actually humorous after fighting through the AS3 stuff for a few days and the difference in ease of use is ridiculous.  A few quick searches will show you how rapidly people are building games with Corona SDK.

Having never touched Corona SDK or Lua before, I was able to convert 90% of my game in under a week . This is including switching to an all new multi-player system and many many other improvements I have made along the way (Not to mention the hours I have wasted chatting in the Corona IRC channel).

Speaking of the IRC channel, it is also worth mentioning the community behind Corona.  It is simply one of the most awesome and sharing I have met.  Even the Ansca CEO, Carlos is an active member in the community.  There is nothing like being able to go straight to the source with questions about the system.   So the support system there alone is reason to give Corona SDK a shot.

There is really not much else to say without turning this into a love letter.  I see myself as a long term community member and supporter of Ansca Mobile for a long time going forward.  I easily spent the $349.00 for the full year licensing to publish on iOS and Android.  I am hoping to be a contributor to the community and have my games featured when released.

If you are an Actionscript programmer, then I highly suggest you look at Corona SDK.  I have no doubt you will find all the above points true and find yourself head over heals for the amazing cross platform publishing solution.

If you have anything to add or if you somehow disagree, feel free to comment below.

To find out more about Corona SDK you can visit their site here.

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