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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperBusinessCross-platform, worth it?
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Author Topic: Cross-platform, worth it?  (Read 7211 times)
GlingGling
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« on: June 11, 2008, 11:23:03 AM »

I was bumming around the internet when I came upon this poll about operating systems:
http://www.gamefaqs.com/poll/index.html?poll=3143

The situation seems more one sided then I thought, maybe because of the demographic (gamers).

Is this poll applicable to indie game(s) (development)? If not, is there some alternative data?

I've been experimenting with different frameworks/libraries trying to find something I like. I'm getting along well with XNA which is why I'm interested in this topic.
 
Thanks folk!
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Alec
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2008, 01:21:42 PM »

Even though the Mac and Linux communities are smaller, they're generally more supportive of indie game developers. From what I've heard from other indies who have done it, cross platform is definitely worth it.
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mewse
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2008, 01:51:07 PM »

I should preface this by saying that my only functional computer right now is a Macbook Pro.  Smiley

In the past 24 hours, MMORPG Tycoon has been downloaded:

Win32:  1823 times
OS X:    130 times

That's about a 7% bump in number of viewers, due to having an OS X version available.  I don't have a Linux build as of yet, but going by my web stats, there appears to be far fewer Linux users than Mac users, so you'd get a smaller bump from supporting Linux.


I can't speak to how supportive the Mac and Linux communities are of community games, compared against the Win32 community (if it can be called a community?)  But between Mac and Linux, you can probably get a 10% bump in number of players.  If you can make those versions without too much extra effort, then an extra 10% is nothing to sneeze at.  Smiley
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ColossusEntertainment
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2008, 02:16:34 PM »

From what I've heard, it's well worth it to have a Mac version of the game, as a much higher percentage of Mac users buy games (so even if there's fewer Mac users, the number of sales are significant).

There doesn't appear to be any point making Linux versions though, as it seems like Linux users doesn't really buy many games...
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Alec
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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2008, 03:01:27 PM »

There doesn't appear to be any point making Linux versions though, as it seems like Linux users doesn't really buy many games...

I've heard from a couple developers that the Linux community is very supportive and helps sales too, I guess doing a port would depend on how much work it is for you. If you're already using all cross-platform libraries and it wouldn't be that much more effort to get out a Linux version, it might be worth that bit of time to do it.
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Zaphos
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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2008, 04:56:42 PM »

I've been experimenting with different frameworks/libraries trying to find something I like. I'm getting along well with XNA which is why I'm interested in this topic.
Tangentially, note that XNA games appear to not run on a large number of windows computers.
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moi
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2008, 06:40:51 PM »

I'm getting along well with XNA which is why I'm interested in this topic.

Unless you dream of releasing your game on XBOX360 I don't think it's worth considering XNA. It seems there is a majority of windows computers that can't run it.
JAVA, on the other hand, would automagically resolve all your compatibility problems (and I heard the syntax isn't very much different of C# -which was copied off Java to start with)
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GlingGling
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2008, 08:42:17 PM »

Well, it's never easy. I've found the language/libraries/framework/platform debate to be an entirely draining barrier to actually developing games.

I'm taking in "advice" from different sources. I've found java peddlers, XNA peddlers, dynamic language peddlers, amongst many others. Nobody can agree.

I'm not sure where to go with it all. I guess it is every game developers goal to have other people play your game and enjoy it. Right now I'd be happy if I could play my games (the ones I've designed). And ultimately I may say "screw it," close my eyes , spin around, stop, open my eyes and be happy I'm actually developing a game.
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mewse
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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2008, 10:09:20 PM »

The key thing to remember is that you're only talking about a 10%-20% boost for supporting non-Win32 platforms, so anything that would slow you down by 10-20% (such as changing languages or libraries or whatever) is probably going to be a net loss, at least in the short term.  And possibly also in the long term if you're moving from a language that's easy to use to a more labour-intensive one.

And I say that as someone who only owns a Mac, and who wishes there were more games available for it.  But I can totally see how in many cases it doesn't make economic sense to do so.
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Alec
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« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2008, 01:28:38 AM »

If you're going the SDL/OpenGL route, then porting is pretty trivial. (provided you're also using a cross-platform audio library, like FMod)

But yeah, if you want to focus mainly on making the game and you're more comfortable using non-portable libraries, I'd say go for it.

There are also a variety of ways to play Windows games on Mac and Linux (different versions of Windows emulator "Wine" for example) so its becoming less of an issue.
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Melly
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« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2008, 09:52:22 AM »

Stop worrying, make games.
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GlingGling
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« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2008, 10:01:34 AM »

The key thing to remember is that you're only talking about a 10%-20% boost for supporting non-Win32 platforms, so anything that would slow you down by 10-20% (such as changing languages or libraries or whatever) is probably going to be a net loss, at least in the short term.  And possibly also in the long term if you're moving from a language that's easy to use to a more labour-intensive one.

And I say that as someone who only owns a Mac, and who wishes there were more games available for it.  But I can totally see how in many cases it doesn't make economic sense to do so.

At the moment it's not about economy. I love the indie gaming community and am exploring avenues for making indie games. I think I have the patience and drive to develop some simpler games using different libraries. If I'm going to have a well informed opinion I think it will eventually have to come for experience rather than research.

Stop worrying, make games.

Thank you. I agree. It reminds me of Dr. Strangelove's alternate title: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. I needed to learn to stop worrying. It's nice to have support.
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Chris P
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2008, 08:38:57 PM »

Less worrying, more Beer!!

By the way GlingGling, I like your avatar. That was a funny episode...
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GlingGling
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« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2008, 11:02:30 PM »

Less worrying, more Beer!!

By the way GlingGling, I like your avatar. That was a funny episode...

Thanks. That ep is one of the best and Shego is such a great character.
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Sar
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2008, 04:36:56 AM »

Unless you dream of releasing your game on XBOX360 I don't think it's worth considering XNA. It seems there is a majority of windows computers that can't run it.

This isn't really true at all; most Windows computers can run XNA, it's just that it's hard to configure XNA to run properly. There's no reason to say that those computers absolutely can't run XNA games, just that they can't currently run XNA games and need some configuration work.


I seem to recall that a lot of people had trouble getting DirectX working when that was first released, but these days it's considered practically ubiquitous. The question, I expect, is how serious Microsoft are going to be about making XNA available to Windows users. Their community-games thing hasn't launched yet, so it could be that they're still considering the whole of XNA a hobbyist-developer thing rather than a mainstream thing.
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GlingGling
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« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2008, 11:30:37 AM »

Unless you dream of releasing your game on XBOX360 I don't think it's worth considering XNA. It seems there is a majority of windows computers that can't run it.

This isn't really true at all; most Windows computers can run XNA, it's just that it's hard to configure XNA to run properly. There's no reason to say that those computers absolutely can't run XNA games, just that they can't currently run XNA games and need some configuration work.


I seem to recall that a lot of people had trouble getting DirectX working when that was first released, but these days it's considered practically ubiquitous. The question, I expect, is how serious Microsoft are going to be about making XNA available to Windows users. Their community-games thing hasn't launched yet, so it could be that they're still considering the whole of XNA a hobbyist-developer thing rather than a mainstream thing.

From what I've read I agree with this. XNA is a cross-platform development environment. The games run on Windows machines by default anyway. It's like Sar said, will MS get more serious about tightening things up for Windows. Let's hope they work out some bugs in XNA 3.0.
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Elmernite
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« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2008, 01:29:17 PM »

I think it would be worth it. While both sets of communities are small, (In comparison to Windows) there is a limited number of games for those systems. So fun high quality games should gain extra attention.
Grant it, I'm no pro at this or anything.
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princec
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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2008, 04:28:14 AM »

My 2p... we make about 50% of our sales to Mac, and it didn't cost us a bean to port.

Cas Smiley
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PHeMoX
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2008, 12:00:46 PM »

My 2p... we make about 50% of our sales to Mac, and it didn't cost us a bean to port.

Cas Smiley

Even though 50% is a lot more than I expected, it does seem like the Mac gamers are often more serious about actually buying the games. One 3rd party project I worked on sold about 30% Mac and 70% Windows, it was worth the effort though, especially as the total amount of sales weren't exactly higher than sky high (reasonable amount of sales, but nothing too incredible). Still, in absolute sense it made a whole lot of a difference!

So... to be really honest, I don't really get the question. If the total amount of effort and time put into porting a game is a bit more, but as a result you also support another platform with more potential buyers.. then why even worry about the net loss? There are two things inevitable about porting to a second platform; a. you will have to invest even more time making your game and b. you will end up with more sales. I haven't come across a developer yet that made a Mac version and did not sell at least 1% more.

Sure, you might in the end have technically earned 'less per hour' or so, but in absolute terms it's incredibly likely that you will sell more, not less.

The whole thing about not being economically worth it, only matters when your game sells like 100.000 and Mac sales would only reach about 1000 or so, but even then I would probably look into porting it anyways as there aren't many games out for Mac and thus demo to sales ratios are likely to be high(er).

It may sound greedy from a developer's point of view, but I can't tell you how many times I had hoped that a game could also run on my Mac.
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2008, 12:08:10 PM »

Related to this, for the 4E6 contest, I did offer to put up a prize for the best game that ran on Linux, Mac, and Windows. Sadly, it didn't work out but it is one of those issues I think is a Good Thing (tm), not only for my Mac-obsessed wife but also because I think there needs to be more good Linux games. Smiley
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