Made with Marmalade: Marmalade Juice

Made with Marmalade: Marmalade Juice
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

April 16th 2013 at 11:30AM

How Marmalade Juice took Tap Paradise Cove to Android from iOS

[This feature was published in the April edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]

Game software company Marmalade is renowned for its cross-platform SDK, which has attracted a devoted following with its powerful single code base development offering.

But now the potential of the outfit’s prolific technology has been taken to a new high with the recent unveiling of Marmalade Juice; a unique porting solution that redefines the process of reworking iOS games for other game platforms.

Before Marmalade Juice, porting from iOS demanded a convoluted process of brute-forcing the work, typically wholly rewriting a given game, meaning a huge sink of man-hours and money, laying the groundwork for increased effort in future game updates.

That has all changed with Marmalade Juice, which dismantles the barriers for iOS developers looking to target other ecosystems by allowing them to recompile Objective-C and native OS APIs, formerly only usable on iOS and Mac, within the Marmalade SDK.

Those applications can then be deployed directly to Android, as well as many other Marmalade-supported platforms including BlackBerry, Mac desktop, and selected smart TVs, using the original iOS code, rather than rewritten source code. Furthermore, optimisations for the target platforms can be made within the original Objective-C codebase, while source-level debugging with the Marmalade simulator is supported.

That’s a vital detail for games like Pocket Gems’ Tap Paradise Cove, which stands as the first title to harness Marmalade Juice’s power. Like all microtransaction-monetised games, Tap Paradise Cove needs to constantly update to continue to satisfy paying customers, and Marmalade Juice lets it do just that with a single effort. The ability to manage a single code base and deploy to multiple platforms is very powerful. It saves engineering time.

What’s more, iOS API calls remained intact after the Tap Paradise Cove port, and Xcode UI files were able to adapt to address Android screen resolutions.

PARADISE FOUND

As it happens, the porting from iOS to Android of Tap Paradise Cove was handled by Marmalade itself, allowing the company to carry out its first ‘live fire’ use of Marmalade Juice. That process saw Marmalade applying the technology to a real published game, as such debugging both Marmalade Juice and Tap Paradise Cove simultaneously.

“Pocket Gems worked closely with the Marmalade team to build, test, and release the first version of Tap Paradise Cove on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore,” explains Arjun Dayal, Pocket Gems Android product lead.

“We were able to bring our highly successful iOS game to Android so that more of our fans could enjoy it. Pocket Gems was also able to improve the Marmalade Juice product by providing a highly monetising and complex code base as the first trial of the new technology.”

And, with the porting completed with minimal effort, Dayal is clearly besotted with Marmalade Juice.

“The ability to manage a single code base and deploy to multiple platforms is very powerful,” says Dayal. “It saves engineering time, debugging time, and allows developers to focus more on the overall player experience instead of bug and feature differences between the platforms. Cross-platform development is an important step for the industry.”

Put like that, it’s hard to imagine why a developer looking to port from iOS would consider any other approach than using Marmalade Juice.

GIVING IT SOME JUICE

For now, the tech’s creator is handling porting via Marmalade Juice itself. However, as the year progresses, Marmalade Juice is going to be integrated into the main Marmalade SDK, and at that point developers that use the development platform will get the chance to exploit Marmalade Juice’s power directly.

Once that happens, Objective-C will effectively stand as an extra language that Marmalade supports for cross-platform development, on top of the existing trifecta of C++, HTML5 and Lua.

In short, Marmalade Juice has remapped the native iOS APIs from Objective-C to something Marmalade SDK ‘understands’, making it more powerful than ever.

“With our mantra of ‘more platforms, more possibilities’, we were frustrated by how many great games are locked exclusively into the iOS ecosystem,” concludes Marmalade chief executive officer Harvey Elliott.

“Historically, porting games from iOS to other platforms has involved a large amount of resource-heavy recoding from Objective-C to other languages. Marmalade Juice entirely removes this stage, making it more cost-effective for developers to reach even more consumers.”

Marmalade is now working with a number of high-profile developers and IP owners to bring their existing iOS games to Android users.

To find out more about how Marmalade can help you or your studio, contact hello@marmalademail.com to discuss availability and licensing.

www.madewithmarmalade.com