Fast Gets Faster: Zipline’s Moai Seeks to Speed Up Mobile Game Development by Knocking Down Language Barriers

4/4/11Follow @curtwoodward

It seems like the pace of mobile and casual game development is already pretty fast. But the folks at Seattle’s Zipline Games think it could be faster.

Today, the startup is unveiling the beta version of its new Moai mobile-game development platform. The idea is to take friction out of game-building by offering a single open-source platform that will allow developers to produce both the front-end elements seen by consumers and the back-end infrastructure by using a single familiar coding language. And after the game’s deployed, Moai offers cloud hosting to keep everything running.

Why is this noteworthy? As CEO and co-founder Todd Hooper put it, publishing a game can require mastery of separate coding languages for iPhones, Android devices, and the back-end architecture. Moai’s open-source platform is based on Lua, a common gaming language, allowing it to serve as a digital translator between all the other languages.

That could speed up game development by allowing even small companies to deliver their product without having to find someone with different coding skills to do the translating for another device or the cloud-based hosting portion.

Zipline’s attempt to help make game development even quicker comes at an interesting time in the growth of mobile, casual, and social games. There’s a bit of tension in the gaming world between bigger console producers and the smaller, startup-oriented mobile and social developers.

This was embodied by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata’s recent keynote speech at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March, where he questioned whether cheap, simple games would erode the ability of higher-end games to charge premium retail prices. Among his notable quotes: “Our industry has certainly expanded, but it also gives me concern because I feel our business is devalued … Next Page »

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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  • Ed

    Middleware tools companies whose primary value proposition is to allow cross-platform publishing to be a little easier have generally failed in the marketplace. Name one that has built a successful revenue-generating, profitable business?

    The fact that none on their team has actually done mobile gaming before is also a redflag… I give them 1 year before they’re deadpool.