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

4/4/11Follow @curtwoodward

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in a way that threatens the continued employment for those of us who make games for a living.”

Peter Vesterbacka from Angry Birds maker Rovio recently responded with his own tart comment: “If I was trying to sell a $49 pieces of plastic to people then yes, I’d be worried too.”

Zipline’s Hooper and co-founder Patrick Meehan, the company’s chief technology officer, have a pretty nice endorsement for their beta test announcement: Jordan Weisman, the game-industry veteran who once served as creative director for Microsoft Games, is using Moai as the platform for a new “stealth mobile project.” The partnership came pretty quickly after a demonstration from Meehan, while Zipline was shopping the platform to studios.

“Within 48 hours they said, ‘We would like to use Moai,’” Hooper says. “So we said, OK—we’ve got something here.” He says other studios also are using Moai at this point, but declines to name them.

So where’s the money in this? Moai is open-source and will have a free entry tier for the cloud hosting service, but the company plans to make money from successful games by charging for increasing usage on the hosting side. The hoped-for development of a big, active developer base could bring other opportunities to make money.

Zipline also continues to develop games itself—it put together a simple version of Wolf Toss, an Angry Birds-style game, in about five days to use as a demo at the Game Developers Conference. The next offering, still in development, is a time-traipsing dinosaur adventure called Chronosaur. The company is backed by investors including Founders Co-Op and Benaroya Capital.

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

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