Building an iPad game with Adobe AIR in a week

Radu Ticiu of Timisoara Mobile Development Group invited me to speak at their August event about Adobe’s solutions for mobile development. And I must say I’m glad I accepted. Not only because the event and the people were great but because the other speaker was quite interesting.

Stefan is his name and he runs one of the most creative companies in this part of the world. Just to give you some context: they’ve won three FWA awards so far. His presentation was about the making off of an iPad game using Adobe AIR and Flash Builder 4.5. So far nothing new or extraordinary. isn’t it?

Well what really caught my attention were these facts:

  • While they had great expertise in building Flash applications for the desktop, this was the first project they’ve done for mobile.
  • They completed the game from concept to final IPA file ready for publishing in a week.
  • The team who built this consisted of one designer, one developer, and Stefan.

Here are some screen shots of their game – called Chemistry Brothers:

During the presentation (and after while we enjoyed some beer and food) I learned more about this project and the company. And I think this project and the way they approached it is a good example of how you can get into mobile development if you are a web or desktop developer.

These were Stefan’s challenges before deciding to start the project:

  • no expertise in mobile development
  • no expertise in Flash and AIR mobile development
  • no expertise in selling an application on Apple’s app store

Though these challenges were quite big he had something to rely on:

  • tons of creativity
  • great expertise in desktop and web development including Flash and Adobe AIR
  • a plan

The plan he had was as important as the skills of his team. First of all, he decided to spend a week for building the game, from nothing to the polished “thing” you can find in app store. It was an all-or-nothing kind of bet. And to increase the chances of success he took his team out of the town to a remote town with nothing to distract them. They did a sort of software bootcamp.

Second, from the beginning he didn’t want to have anything less than great performances. To ensure this they used a first generation iPad for testing the code and they targeted 30 frames per second for their game. Anything less was not accepted.

Third, they struck a fine balance between the “features” of this game. They spent a lot of time on the graphics and game story but they didn’t spend much time on building lots of levels. It would have been impossible to do all those things with such restrictions (three people and one week).

And finally, they did a kind of agile development not for the code but for the product (game). Remember that I said they didn’t have any prior experience in building and selling mobile applications. So their plan was to build the game in one week and then ship it. If it had success then they would continue to develop as they already had the game story and lots of ideas. Guess what? They are happy with how the game is selling so far. Stefan told me that they will continue this project.

If you are one of the people who couldn’t find time for trying mobile development so far you are not alone. And more importantly, it is not so difficult to make your first move. Just think of an application that you’d like to build and make sure you allocate time for this. It could be a series of weekends during a month or three days of your vacation. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is to be focused and work on this fully committed. Chances are that you’d be surprised by yourself and what you can do.

In the end I just want to share some pictures from their office. Some say that having a creative environment stimulates creativity. After talking to Stefan and seeing his company’s work I’m not sure about this anymore. It looks like creative people change ordinary things into something to remember.

A wall built out of books

A wall built out of books

Playing around with Dark Vader's helmet

Playing around with Darth Vader's helmet

Another inspirational wall closely guarded by a she-clone

Another inspirational wall closely guarded by a she-clone

Rest room guardian!

Rest room guardian!

Taking a break or having a meeting in a cozy space

Taking a break or having a meeting in a cozy space

If you have similar stories or just want to talk back, don’t hesitate to use the comments :). All I can say is: Bravo Stefan & Company!

6 thoughts on “Building an iPad game with Adobe AIR in a week

  1. Thank you for the great review, Mihai! You’re welcome to stop by anytime you’re in Timisoara again :)

  2. I’m really proud I was able to generate this encounter and thankful for sacrificing your weekend for coming to Timisoara, Mihai. Looking forward to see you again, here or elsewhere!

  3. @Radu Ticiu

    I had lots of fun in Timisoara so thanks for “conving” me to join your events :)

    Looking forward to visit you again!

    cheers,
    Mihai

  4. Possibly a question for the author of the game, but will there be an Android version of the same app as well? I’ve been doing a bit of work with deploying a single code base across Andoid, iOS, desktop and web recently and was wondering whether there was any technical reasons that was preventing them from putting the site on the Android Marketplace…?

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