Putting Your Game On OS-X and Linux is Not Enough

In the rapidly evolving game development landscape, the traditional battleground of Windows versus Mac has expanded into a much more varied arena. As game developers, we're no longer just considering how to run our game on OS-X or Linux; we're looking at many platforms, including Flash, browsers, social networks, gaming consoles, mobile devices, and online portals. This shift represents a technical challenge and a strategic opportunity to make our games more accessible and, ultimately, more successful.

The importance of platform accessibility cannot be overstated. In an era where indie developers are constantly battling for visibility, the ability to leverage multiple platforms can be a game-changer. Small IPs, in particular, can benefit from this strategy, reaching previously inaccessible audiences due to platform restrictions. This doesn't mean abandoning the development of traditional operating systems but augmenting it to include a more comprehensive array of platforms.

An iterative development approach has shown to be particularly effective in this new multi-platform landscape. Most game types can benefit from starting with a "light" version that can be easily deployed across various platforms, allowing developers to gather feedback and refine the game. This approach is more than just practical; it must ensure that the game meets players' diverse needs and expectations across different platforms. However, ambitious projects may require adjustments to this strategy, balancing the need for broad accessibility with the demands of developing a complex game.

A case in point is the development of "Grunts: Skirmish," a game initially started as a real-time strategy (RTS) game with a vital community component. The decision to adapt the game into a Flash version exemplifies the iterative development approach. Starting as a light client allowed the team to test the game's core concepts and gather valuable player feedback without the heavy investment required for a full-featured client. This flexibility helped refine the game and maintained the option to develop a more robust version later.

The benefits of a multi-platform release strategy extend beyond mere accessibility. It facilitates easier porting of games to different platforms, significantly broadening the potential audience. Moreover, having a successful light client can be a compelling pitch when approaching platforms that require heavier investment, such as gaming consoles or high-end mobile devices.

In conclusion, the call to develop for OS-X and Linux is just the tip of the iceberg. As game developers, we must embrace the challenge of multi-platform development and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of gaming platforms. By doing so, we not only increase our games' accessibility and potential success but also ensure that we stay at the forefront of the gaming industry's evolution.

First published February 13, 2009 and last updated at February 17, 2024