IN-DEPTH 15 July 2016
Keeping up with hardware developments
Mobile hardware is improving at an exponential rate, which means game creators need to keep up, says Betsoft Head of Product Development Stephen Jackman
By Stephen Jackman
The mobile i-gaming market is expanding at an exponential rate, with popularity levels continuing to rise as more and better handheld devices are invented. As these devices evolve, so too must game creators who, in the process of developing new and exciting content for the industry, must learn to push hard against the current limits of technology in order to deliver. Betsoft Gaming, the creators of the popular ToGo™ collection of true 3D cinematic mobile slots, have tackled the challenges presented by mobile gaming in a number of ways.
There are many obstacles to overcome in the development of a mobile game. I-gaming creators are working against very tight limits of capabilities from device to device, and must take all of those limitations into consideration during the initial design process. An i-gaming engineer must be aware of the ever-broadening variations in hardware as this evolves with such rapid frequency, and decide which platforms to cover by studying the industry’s trends for popularity and number of potential users on those different platforms.
To that end, Betsoft performs rigorous market research in order to choose the path that will reach the largest range of players. All demographics are clamouring for more mobile entertainment; the field is wide and the possibilities are endless.
Load times for games is another concern. Players have extremely busy lives, and so do not wish to waste a lot of time while a game loads – they just want to play. And players may have their own limitations to consider, such as reaching their data caps. Asset optimisation is key in the effort to keep load times to a minimum.
A modern mobile i-gaming title will have many assets in order to bring the complete game experience to the end user. Most of these assets are graphical, of course, but the accompanying audio and sound effects cannot be ignored. All of these elements are required for a proper – and fun – i-gaming experience.
A particular limitation is the lack of better support for audio. Audio is an often overlooked aspect of the overall gaming experience, but it is vital to creating an immersive, enjoyable time for the player.
For example, HTML5, the current standard mark-up language, cannot play more than one sound at any given time, in contrast with games based on the Flash standard where many audio effects can occur at once. It is important to create soundtracks that comfortably support the theme of the game, including win celebration sound effects to keep the player excited about their own progress while they are playing.
The goal for a well-designed mobile game is to provide the best experience while at the same time not requiring tremendous resources to run it. As the demand for more intricate i-gaming titles grows, designers must make the most of modern compression technologies. This becomes a significant challenge when the demand is there for console-quality animations and detail on a hand-held device, phone or tablet. Betsoft has harnessed the power of HTML5 to meet this challenge. HTML5 provides support for the latest in multimedia developments while being consistently and clearly understood by humans and computers alike. Many features of HTML5 have been designed in reaction to the specific needs of mobile devices. This powerful mark-up language is giving game designers and engineers an edge in the endless race to create solid, thrilling games.
But it’s not just the industry that needs to improve the business of building compelling games. The gatekeepers of the standards that are used, such as HTML5, need to expand upon what they have done and agree upon better, more efficient tools which will support a limitless vision. A creator is often defined by the tools they use to produce their craft, and the i-gaming industry is no exception.
When a developer of games is provided with streamlined tools and clearly defined computer languages, they are able to build the games that lead the industry in popularity among players and income generated by those players.
With the current generation of mobile i-gaming, there is a sharp upward trend in the maturation of mobile platforms, leading Betsoft to keep a focussed eye on future standards and plan how best to utilise them in the name of creating exceptional i-gaming content.
Stephen Jackman has extensive experience at senior executive level in digital interactive product development, marketing, business development and operations across all platforms. He has a proven track record in the development and execution of commercial strategies, marketing campaigns and product roadmaps that have resulted in revenue generating content, third party partnerships and joint ventures