Best iPhone Game Frameworks

Do you have a general knowledge of programming and want to learn how to create iPhone, iPad, or mobile games? If you are unfamiliar with Objective-C or Cocoa; you still have many alternatives. There are several great game frameworks available for download. Some of these frameworks require little to no programming experience and, best of all, some of them are free. In this article you will find a list of the best to date iPhone and mobile game development frameworks:


CORONA MOBILE DEVELOPMENT PLATFORM

Skill Level: Intermediate (Basic knowledge of programming techniques)

Corona, as it claims, is one of the world’s most advanced mobile development platform. Built by Anscamobile, Corona makes it easy for any user with little programming knowledge to create full featured mobile applications. Corona abstracts Objective-C from mobile development and brings to life the ease of the LUA programming language. Using Corona and LUA, you can easily create a ‘Hello World’ application in one line of code, or easily implement physics in only 5 lines. Creating mobile games has never been easier. Corona has a fantastic built-in mobile simulator, so you can test and build everything out without having to use Xcode.

Unfortunately, in order to distribute your game using the Corona SDK, you will need a license, which will cost as follows:

iOS developer: $199/yr

iOS+ Android developer: $349/yr

The trade off for the price and the Corona SDK is well worth it. So, be sure to head over to Ansamobile’s site and begin learning and creating. Click here to go to the Corona Framework site.


COCOS 2D

Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced (basic programming knowledge and basic understanding of the C-programming language)

Cocos2d for iPhone is a framework for creating 2d games, demos, and interactive interfaces. Cocos2d is an open source Objective-C library. Using Cocos2D, you will need a basic understanding of the C-language. The libraries and API’s for Cocos2d allow developers to easily use scene management, sprites, effects, particles, menus, and much much more. If you would like to start creating 2d games for your iPhone and have a basic understanding of the C-language, then Cocos2D is the framework for you.

Best of all this Application is Open Source and available for:

FREE

Cocos2D has a great library of functions and API’s that will have you creating the next popular iPhone 2d game in no time. So head on over to Cocos 2D and start creating your 2D game.


GAME SALAD

Skill Level: Beginner

GameSalad is an excellent tool/framework for creating iPhone games. It’s not only for beginners, even if you are an advanced game developer you will still be able to take advantage of some of the awesome features that GameSalad has to offer. GameSalad has a WYSIWYG creator where you can literally drag and drop images and objects onto the creator. Then you can assign specific attributes to these objects and images such as collision detection, gravity, animation, and much more. You don’t need to have any programming experience to develop your iPhone game masterpiece. Mmmm… Salad never tasted so good :)

And fortunately enough the cost for this download is… Drum-roll please…

FREE

What more could you ask for in an application. So, break out the spoons and forks with a side of ground-breaking ideas and put them together with GameSalad, click here to begin your iPhone Game journey!


iTorque 2D

Skill Level: Beginner/Intermediate (A little knowledge of C++ would be helpful)

Torque Game Builder is one of the worlds easiest to use 2d game creator. GarageGames has now created a branch of the Torque 2D game builder which is called iTorque2D.  iTorque2D has a WYSIWYG interface which allows users to drag and drop elements onto the interface and add functionality to each object through a simple to use interface. There may be some portions of this engine that may require a user to manipulate a little C++ code; however, the engine is very intuitive to new game creators.

Torque is known for having great documentation and delivering good products, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that iTorque2D can be purchased for a small price of:

$99

If you have ever used any of GarageGames engines, you will be certain to get the same great experience with iTorque2D, so open up the hood and head over to GarageGames to start constructing, click here to checkout iTorque2D.


Sparrow Framework

Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced (You will need knowledge of basic C-programming techniques)

Sparrow Framework is an open-source project which eliminates the need for any OpenGL code. Sparrow Framework allows developers to write clean C-code which blends seamlessly with Cocoa. Additionally, Sparrow allows users to leverage their Flash and Flex skills with no need to learn a new API. If you consider yourself a good C-programmer and would like to leverage features that cut your development time in half, you may want to check out the Sparrow Framework.

This excellent framework is also offered as open-source and:

FREE

Head on over to the Sparrow Framework website and find out if this is the right framework for you. Check out the features they offer, and soon you can start creating your game in less time. Click here to head over to the Sparrow Framework site.


Unity 3D Game Development Tool

Skill Level: Advanced (You will need basic programming knowledge as well as 3d knowledge)

Unity 3D has the all-in-one programming and graphic creation tools for mobile, console, and desktop game publishing. If you are familiar with 3D rendering tools and have a basic knowledge of programming and scripting, you are well on your way to create your first 3D mobile game. The easy-to-use tools by Unity 3D integrate easily and seamlessly with each other.

Unity is offered as two different types of licenses. Unity and Unity Pro. If you are a company that turned over more than $100,000 for the previous fiscal year you must purchase Unity Pro. Otherwise, as a small indie developer you can have the license for free:

Unity Pro: $1500

Unity: FREE

Unity 3D is one of the greatest 3d Game platform tools. If you have a craving to create the next 3D hit game for the mobile platform (or even the computer platform) head on over to Unity 3D and get your game on. Click here to visit the Unity 3D site to begin.

Lastly, there is a similar framework to Unity is called Shiva, which may be worth taking a look into. With Shiva, you can develop games for the computer platform, console platform (such as the Nintendo Wii), and the mobile platform.

So there ya go!

You should have more than enough resources to begin your iPhone game creation journey. Simply select the framework that works best for you and get your creative juices flowing ;)

9 Comments

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  1. Wow! This is a great roundup of what’s out there for creating games for mobile. I’ll definitely be referring everyone I meet to come to this page to check it out. Thanks! ;)

  2. Thanks Gilbert :) And thanks for the tweet. I plan to write some more posts about the Corona Framework. I think your framework and tools are great, you guys rock ;)

  3. Good roundup.
    How about Shiva3D from StoneTrip? Would you consider it as one of the best also?

  4. What about SIO2? Seems that you elaborate more on 2D engines than 3D engines… If your title is “Best iPhone Game Frameworks”, you gotta go for them all, both 2D and 3D ;)

  5. Hi,

    Thanks for the nice summary of the frameworks available. I am looking for ways to build simple ebooks apps or something like mini apps with website look alike?

  6. Thanks for the summary! It was very helpful. I didn’t know about some of the free engines.

    By the way, Shiva 3d is also another choice (I would put it around the same level as Unity 3d), http://www.stonetrip.com/what-is-shiva-3d.html

    And, talking about Unity 3d — the price is a little difficult to understand, but this is how it breaks down. You could go either of these two routes:

    free unity engine + IOS = $400
    Unity Pro + IOS Pro = $3000

    (so the cheapest option to develop for iOS is $400)

  7. Thanks alot man that was very helpful I was searching the internet for a while now and that was the first useful information I found…

    Greate work.

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