What Makes a Built For BlackBerry Game

Game Development

As a BlackBerry employee, I have the lucky privilege of using BlackBerry hardware and software before the general public. Case in point: I have been on BlackBerry 10 for over three months and loving every minute of it! But don’t fret, with the launch event on January 30th, soon you too will be in the incredibly groovy world of BlackBerry 10 – and when you get there, you’re going to be looking to download apps and games. So let me share my new addiction: Sparkle.

The goal of Sparkle is to “embark on an extraordinary journey to uncover the secrets of Crowberry Woods. Banish the darkness with your Orb Slinger and reclaim your land!” The game play is brilliant in its simplicity; you use your Orb Slinger to throw colored orbs at a line of moving orbs. When your orb hits the line, if it makes a string of at least three of the same color, those orbs are banished. You keep throwing orbs until all the moving orbs are banished or until an orb falls in the hole at the end.

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There is also a fun storyline, power-ups, and secret amulets that keeps the game interesting and engaging. Another big feature of the game is it is also a Built For BlackBerry game.

What is Built For BlackBerry?

If you’re a frequent follower of this blog or BlackBerry development in general, then you probably already know about Built For BlackBerry and can skip to the next section. :) If not, here’s a quick overview of Built For BlackBerry:

The Built For BlackBerry program was designed to allow end users of BlackBerry 10 applications to identify the truly high-quality, cream of the crop application and games. These applications and games went above and beyond just developing for the platform – they embraced the ideas and philosophies behind the BlackBerry 10 platform. There are five key areas where the application must excel: User Benefits, User Experience, Performance, Service Integration, and Security. It is not easy to become a Built For BlackBerry application or game, so let’s look at how Sparkle did it.

User Benefits

Clearly almost every application or game made must provide some level of user benefit; if it didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have made the application. To qualify for Built For BlackBerry, the bar is set higher. Your application or game has to provide genuine entertainment value, enhanced productivity, and/or enriched communication. Looking at Sparkle, it provides genuine entertainment value beyond a basic game. A basic game might just allow you clear the orbs level after level of monotonous orb banishing. But in Sparkle, there is genuine long-term entertainment with the addition of a storyline, power-ups, and mysterious quests.

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User Experience

The User Experience area for Built For BlackBerry is about providing the user with a pleasing experience and an easy-to-navigate application or game. It is about taking advantage of the form factor and using it to your advantage. Sparkle runs in landscape mode only and it utilizes the maximum amount of screen real estate. The application navigation is simple and user friendly. Simple taps launch the orbs and swipes move the aim. There is also a nice background soundtrack and theme feedback sounds on button clicks. Familiar gestures are used, like swipe down from the top to pause the game and reach the options menu, and the animation is ridiculously smooth and pleasing.

Performance

The performance criteria are about how the application uses the system resources including CPU, memory, network, battery, etc. It is difficult to see this criterion when running the application except to know that I can play for a very, very, very long time before the battery dies. :)

Service Integration

To qualify for Built For BlackBerry, an application must integrate with the system in some way. Games are not required to integrate with the system, but are encouraged to do so. Sparkle integrates with Scoreloop, the social gaming component of BlackBerry 10. Scoreloop allows a game to post achievements, awards, leaderboards, and challenges.

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Security

To qualify in the Security criteria, you need to do a couple things. First, you need to be good to your users. Don’t send passwords in clear text; don’t make any monetary transactions without asking permission; and don’t use the user’s data in a malicious way. You want your users to trust you so they will buy more of your applications or games. The second thing you must do is provide a link to your privacy policy in the vendor portal of BlackBerry World.

Conclusion

When building your application or game, I encourage you to utilize the guidelines and create a Built For BlackBerry application or game. It isn’t easy, as the Built For BlackBerry logo is not awarded to just any application or game – it must be earned. The Built For BlackBerry logo will identify your application or game as cream of the crop and that, I feel, will lead to more downloads and happier customers. And who knows, your application or game may get featured in a blog post like this one!

About Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson – Senior BlackBerry Developer Evangelist – Tom started his career in 1986 with Microsoft Corporation where he was a Program Manager on such products as Windows 3.11, Windows for Workgroups, Windows 95, and Internet Explorer. He was also the creator of the Windows Resource Kit which began that product line. In addition, Tom presented at many trade shows and gave technical presentations with the Microsoft Executive Staff. He left Microsoft in 1995 to form Three Points Consulting with Marianne Reid Anderson and Bob Taniguchi. Three Points focused on bringing the power of the emerging internet technology to everyday life. Tom’s innovative technology solutions played a key role in the successful acquisition of Three Points by TechRx. At TechRx, he acted in the role of CTO until it was acquired by NDC Health of Atlanta, Georgia. In 2004, Tom decided to become a High School Teacher as his primary method of giving back to the community. In 2005 he joined the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA CYBER) where he was awarded the Keystone Award for Innovative Use of Technology in the Class Room. During this time, he also earned a Master’s degree in Software Design through Capella University. In 2009, in addition to teaching, Tom returned to software development creating various web and mobile applications.

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