By John Moore
Construct 2 is an HTML5 game engine and the product of Scirra, a London-based software firm launched in June 2011. The software provides a boost to beginning game-makers, as the engine does not require programming experience. But the company says Construct 2 has sufficient power to “let experts work even quicker than by coding.”
Scirra provides a free edition of Construct 2, a standard edition that offers more features, and a business edition aimed at for-profit ventures. Construct 2 has rapidly attracted a global following, with Brazilian, Czech, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and Taiwanese Construct 2 communities forming in addition to Scirra’s official community. We recently talked to Ashley Gullen, a director at Scirra, who provided a few tips on working with Construct 2.
There’s lots of interest in publishing games on mobile devices, given the burgeoning market for Android and iOS games. Is there a preferred way of doing that with Construct 2? What about using PhoneGap in conjunction with Construct 2?
Ashley Gullen: We support PhoneGap and appMobi, which are native-app wrappers around HTML5 games for mobile. This allows publishing HTML5 games to the app store for various phones. However, performance is still a work in progress on mobile browsers, which is why we’ve been working with appMobi on their hardware-accelerated directCanvas HTML5 engine. This will bring native, hardware-accelerated performance to our games. We’re hoping that will be released in the near future, and it will make appMobi the preferable way to publish HTML5 games.
In general, do you have any tips for creating games on Construct 2 that are destined for mobile devices?
AG: We sure do! We’ve written a whole manual entry on the subject, which you can find here.
The most important point is to always test on mobile devices from the very beginning of your project. Lots of people are caught out by the fact that their PCs are 10-100 times more powerful than their phones. So a common mistake is to design a game entirely on PC, using all its raw computing power, then right at the end run it on a phone and wonder why it’s slow. Don’t forget mobile devices run off a battery and are designed to be low-power. Test on mobile from the start so you see when you’re stretching performance. Our preview-over-Wi-Fi feature can help make mobile testing really quick and easy.
As you see it, what advantages does HTML5 have over Flash, and how does it lend itself to gaming and gaming engines?
AG: Well, HTML5 runs on mobile, which is a good start. Adobe has stopped developing Flash for mobile. HTML5 isn’t designed by one corporation; it’s designed for the benefit of the industry as a whole. It also has many big players supporting it, including Google, Mozilla and to some extent Apple and Microsoft, which puts a lot more resources behind its development. Many browsers now also use hardware acceleration (using the graphics card to speed up drawing), which makes the games significantly faster, whereas Flash was software-rendered for many years.
There are a number of detailed tutorials available for Construct 2. Besides reading those, would you suggest any other steps people can take, or resources they can take advantage of, to get the most out of Construct 2?
AG: Apart from relying on the tutorials and manual when you get stuck, just play! Experiment, have fun, break things then fix them again. It’s important to mix that with the tutorials and documentation to help you get a more intuitive feel for how things work.
Any plans for vector support?
AG: Not right now, but we have a long to-do list with loads of cool features we want to add, so this might turn up eventually.