Graeme Devine on what makes a good iPad game – 60 fps and no virtual joysticks

Fri, Mar 11, 2011


Graeme Devine is a programming legend who began working at Atari when he was just 16 and would later go on to help develop popular titles like Quake III Arena and Halo Wars. In 2009, Devine ended up in Cupertino where as a member of Apple’s iPhone Game Technologies division, he was tasked with improving the gaming experience on the iOS platform. After about a year at Apple, Devine decided to leave and devote his energies towards iOS development, and in particular, the iPad.

Last week, Devine spoke at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco where he talked about the ins and outs of iPad development and common traps developers should avoid.

Devine stressed that the iPad is much more than simply a larger iPhone, and cautioned developers not to port iPhone apps over to the iPad. Interestingly, Devine is no fan of the virtual joystick.

IGN recaps:

We all know it. But it’s comforting to hear a respected developer echo our thoughts. The iPad was not designed to be used primarily as a gaming device. It doesn’t have buttons, an external interface device (like a mouse or keyboard) or a joystick. So why are game makers shoehorning virtual directional pads and joysticks into their iPad titles? “When you put dual joysticks on an iPad game, what you’re saying to the user is, ‘my game is better with a joystick,'” Devine said. Couldn’t agree more.

Devine also said that a consistent 60 frames per second is important for every iPad game.

Even if it’s a word game or card game, a slow framerate kills the interaction. Devine’s advice to developers was to make sure iPad games hit a steady 60 frames-per-second when those interactions are happening and then ramp the rate down at other times, to save battery life. Simple and delicious.


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