Moai

Ever since Crimson Steam Pirates came to ios and I took the time to look up the details of the developers from this company known as Hairbrained Schemes, a cadre of microsoft and industry veterans. They used a development tool called Moai which attempts to unify mobile and web platforms into one conhesive devloper environment. At the time a signed up as a developer and took a look under the hood at their offering. All the different platforms used a separate codebase that allowed for a single, streamlined central game engine on top. Developers worked in lua instead of native Flash/Javascript/Java/Objective-C. The game engine itself allowed for universal application to things like sound and 2d effects while pushing all of the game elements and objects into a universal scripting language. I hadn’t considered this toolset until recently learning that the folks over at doublefine have adopted the platoform and are extending it to produce their kickstarter-funded adventure game project–which by the way succeeded its 400k goal reaching 3M. The reason is simple: support all platforms especially mobile with the greatest amount of code reuse and portaiblity.

But what does Moai offer and what kind of developer experience does it give? I must admit my first bout with Moai left me wanting to touch and build more natively. Coding in Lua doesn’t serve as the best experience for becoming more fluent in Objective-C–especially when ios project simply serve as the launching pad for lua-directed applications. I saw a company pushing their own networking solutions making money more from their cloud-based servies than giving back extensibly to the developer community. To top things off, gotos, tutorials, and the wiki were fairly sparsely populated at the time–so I was less than motivated to port everything over. With DoubleFine’s announcement to build their gaming engine on this platform, I have been Moai another shot. DoubleFine mentioned that basing their game on this technology and extending the base as needed. Moai changed their sound engine to something called Untz, which for the life of me I can’t get to play ogg, wav, or aac in the ios simulator. Something as fundamental as sound should just work. If these types of projects become more useful–I could be convinced to use Moai as a development tool–but for a project meant to run on everything can’t be as considerate about specific features.

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