BlackBerry Developer Conference Day Two Wrap Up: OpenGL and Game Development

Dev Con

I had the opportunity to attend the DEV09 “Game On: Building High Quality Games for BlackBerry Smartphones” session today, which discussed user expectations for BlackBerry smartphone games and how to implement to meet those expectations. I’m glad I did. Talking game development is always fun, but this session was particularly exciting because it delved deeper into the announced OpenGL ES support and how that supports game development. I had a chance to sit down with Research In Motion Application Developer Consultant Brian Zubert after the session to discuss all this and a little more. Read on!

Talk to me a bit about the OpenGL announcement and how it affects BlackBerry gaming.

I couldn’t be happier about the OpenGL announcement. It’s been a lot of fun over the last few months, working with companies who’ve been my childhood heroes. With the likes of Electronic Arts and Sega bringing Need for Speed Shift and Super Monkey Ball to BlackBerry smartphones respectively, it’s a very exciting time for mobile gaming on the BlackBerry platform.

The best part of it all is that OpenGL benefits more than just game developers. We had one developer here showing a photo viewer in the DEV41 session. With just a couple of weeks worth of effort, these guys were able to build out pieces that will really enhance their applications. I honestly can’t wait to see some of the other uses that people come up with.

Can you sum up how to approach BlackBerry gaming in a nutshell?

Know the device, know the user. Make the user feels like the game was made just for their BlackBerry smartphone and just for their lifestyle. What do I mean by that? Follow the user interaction models of the device (take your lead from existing apps on the device) and know how the user is going to be playing the game. More often than not, it’ll be for a short period of time, multiple times per day.

Can you point developers towards more resources?

The jcp.org website contains the specs for JSR 239 and there are samples all over the web. It’s also worth checking out my blog posts from a month or two ago where I discussed what to expect of a BlackBerry smartphone user and what the user expects of your game.

What do you hope were the key takeaways in your session? Is BlackBerry game development more about design or implementation?

BlackBerry game development is about design and implementation. There was definitely some information about general design guidelines, but there was also a ton of the nitty gritty for optimizing your JSR 239 experience on BlackBerry smartphones, including coverage of some extensions we created to simplify your efforts at implementation.

Talk a bit about the games that you demoed and why you were excited about them.

PBA Bowling from Concrete Software is one of their better selling mobile titles and the transition they made from 2D to 3D just looks incredible. These guys did some fantastic work and when you compare the 2D version to 3D version, it’s just amazing to see the difference.

As for Super Monkey Ball from Sega… well, the title speaks for itself. It’s got to be one of the best selling mobile games of all time; I nearly jumped out of my chair when I heard that they were going to bring it over to the BlackBerry platform.

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