Go beyond yourself.

Why I Switched from GameSalad to Corona

The following message was something I posted on the GameSalad forums a while back, but I felt it was important to repeat here. What is funny was that before I posted this, my Sous-Chef status simply disappeared without warning or notice, which only reaffirms my personal thoughts regarding their handling of issues.

I’m going to have to chime in here. It’s been a while for me here because I’ve simply moved on to Corona, but I check back to see if there has been any decent progress on GameSalad’s front. But, I agree with Jon in that fair comparison without posting videos or recruiting should be the limit of these posts.

So, here’s my take:

As a Sous-Chef, I supposedly had an inside track to the dev cycle and better contact with people inside the GameSalad company. When I was occasionally able to get the momentary attention of an actual person, I felt there was way too much red tape and closed doors for it to be useful. There’s not much more I can say without violating NDA, so I’ll leave it at that.

I bought Corona over six months ago, but I actually shelved it for a while because I was both very hopeful for GameSalad and because I felt that I had a “programmer’s block,” especially with a “new” language like Lua. However, once I started playing around, I was determined to take it on, full-speed ahead.

Forgive my memory, but it may have been Photics who mentioned that it’s been six months since GameSalad issued an update to their game development kit (GDK). For those doing their math, that’s half the length of your paid subscription. If you still feel comfortable in coughing upwards of $499 a few months from now with little new to show for it, other than a new GUI, a new logo, pause, and a few other tidbits, well, then, more power to you. My situation is unique where my family and financial situation is involved, and I couldn’t wait any longer.

Mind you, I used to be loyal to the point where I wasn’t loyal to myself. Not that I’m hating on GameSalad, but I do have one goal: to get out of a failing full-time job and freelance instead. The company I am working for full-time, has just been acquired, and I am due to lose my job within three months. But the idea of freelancing and the booming careers in mobile development have shifted my sails to end the rat race once and for all.

Like a few of you, I, too, have been approached by publishing companies, financiers, and just people with ideas, but the limit I had was the tools I was working with, particularly GameSalad. As I stated before, I even applied to GameSalad in the dual hope that I could make a difference in the company for the direction and speed of the platform, and also to land a stable job. Yes, that would have included uprooting my entire family, wife and three kids, as far away from New Jersey to Austin, TX, because I believed. But, like many correspondences to and from GameSalad, even talks with executive members just fell by the wayside without nary a word. If I got as high as that and still couldn’t get any headway, I had to seriously rethink my future with GameSalad as a developer and paid subscriber.

So, I dusted off that purchase of Corona and played with it for the last two months. My previous coding experience was many flavors of BASIC: QBASIC, QuickBASIC/QBX, NS/BASIC, Visual BASIC, and then I ventured off with C in Game Editor, and into TorqueScript in iTorque 2D. In honesty, Lua didn’t seem that far off from what I already knew, and the rest is just syntax. The juices started flowing, and with the sample code, I was off and running.

But, as I inevitably hit a few roadblocks on the way, I reached out to Ansca, the people behind Corona. To my surprise, I was able to speak with the support team directly! From group webcasts, to email correspondences, to private Skype chats for hours at a time, I never felt that they were more than arms-length away to assist me. That doesn’t even include the active forum and often updated code exchange section, where lots of bits of goodies are just waiting to be used. While that’s the tip of the iceberg…

  • There’s also a bug tracker database.
  • There’s a detailed roadmap.
  • There’s a blog.
  • There’s tweets of progress, teasers, snapshots, and the like.
  • Lastly, there are daily builds of the engine. Daily. And their development methods are smooth enough that adding or fixing one thing doesn’t end up breaking another.

But, as it’s been debated above, it’s not *just* the number of features that a game development platform has. It’s also the content of your game. You can’t blame the dancing shoes if you’ve got two left feet. But, I also know that some core features are required if you’re going to compete with the big boys.

So, I started with a simple premise for a game about a month ago, and all the coding is basically done. Now, all I’m doing is levels and tweaking. But, I’ve got a ton of features that I’ve always wanted to incorporate into a game, nearly all of which cannot be done with the current GameSalad engine. Sometimes, I felt like I kept tacking on these features almost out of spite that I couldn’t do it before, but as I stated, I want these features, not as a developer, but as a gamer. Thankfully, Corona’s SDK allowed me to do that, and with Game Center on the horizon, that’s just another valuable bullet point on my product page on the App Store.

I will always have a cozy place for GameSalad in my heart, and it will be interesting to see what has come about in a few months’ time. I’ve given my remaining GameSalad Pro license to my daughter so she can learn basic game development and programming logic, but as for me, it’s been quite an interesting ride here, and I do wish the best for the folks behind the engine, as well as those who continue to use the engine to the best of its abilities.

5 Comments

  1. April 14, 2011    

    GameCenter support in Corona … Check! (as of Build 484 just released yesterday)

    Great write-up, I really enjoyed reading it :-)

  2. April 15, 2011    

    wow! -

    You think that as a business dev situation that @gamesalad would chime in here.

    It’s always hard to please everyone – awesome blog post.

    thnks for helping me make a choice about the 2 platforms :)

    keep me posted – just added you on twitter!

  3. Mek's Gravatar Mek
    September 23, 2011    

    cocos2d rules!

  4. Jacob's Gravatar Jacob
    April 20, 2012    

    I’m an Artist and Game designer, with NO coding background at ALL. I just started with GameSalad a few days ago, to create prototypes of my designs for the real coders at my studio, and I’m really loving it. Not much sleep, but I have 2 prototypes pretty much complete. (as complete as a prototype can be) While i hope to be as adept to this coding thing as you (i know GS isn’t really coding) I think it’s a great place to start learning the basics of logic and how things talk to each other in a game environment.

    If you have any insight to an easy way to start learning an actual language, I would love to get your opinion. Where does one start? Logic? syntax? vocabulary? lol I really don’t know, which is why GS attracted me.

  5. May 23, 2013    

    Great write up :)

    I’m currently using GameSalad for prototyping with clients and then using Corona for the full build…

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