MakeGamesWithUs is a new iOS game publishing company with a twist: its focus is on helping high school and college students to build games. MakeGamesWithUs us will take the kids’ creations, provide professional graphics and art and publish them in the App Store. The kids will own the code, and the company will own the graphics and take a cut of the sales. The company already has a few games built by students available, including Elemental Fury.
Co-founder Ashutosh Desai, creator of the iPhone game Helicopter, says that one thing that’s been missing from the code literacy movement up til now is help in making the jump from knowing some code to actually building something with your knowledge. “There’s a huge number of kids out there with the potential to make games, but they get held up in the process,” Desai explains.
MakeGamesWithUs is trying to bridge that gap by offering tutorials, tools and a forum for developers. The game builders are assumed to already have some object-oriented programming experience, specifically in Java. Desai says the team chose Java because it’s what the AP Computer Science class uses, and it’s common in introductory computer science classes at universities as well.
The tutorials teach programmers to use Objective-C, the programming language for building native OSX and iOS games, for building games. A Mac is required. The lessons begin with downloading and installing Apple’s development environment Xcode and the game development framework Kobold2D. Developers are shown how to build Conway’s Game of Life clone and can work their way up to building an Angry Birds clone. There are other tips and tutorials as well, including an overview of doing version control with Git.
“We wanted to use native Objective-C because we didn’t want to limit the potential of the games kids are developing,” Desai explains “Currently we still feel HTML5 has limitations on mobile devices and HTML5 performance is nowhere near native OpenGL performance.” Desai says that the company may branch out into other languages and platforms, but for now it’s focused entirely on Objective-C and iOS.
Desai says the company has also built its own asynchronous multiplayer framework for building games like Words With Friends without needing any back-end development knowledge. Other tools the company provides include analytics and crash reporting, and Desai says more frameworks and tools are in the works.
Besides training, tools and community what MakeGamesWithUs brings to the table is its team’s experience in packaging and publishing games. MakeGamesWithUs will provide professional art, graphics and music for the games and handle the process of publishing games in the App Store. In exchange, the company will take all profits from the game until the cost of hiring artists for the graphics is payed off, after that the developers get 70% and MakeGamesWithUs will take 30%.
Although the company is focused on high school and college kids, anyone could use the tools and submit games. Desai and the other co-founder, Jeremy Rossmann, are focusing on high school kids because they know that market well – they’re 19 and 20 years told respectively.
Desai says he started making iPhone games in high school and made about $35,000 from Helicopter. He went on to UCLA while Rossmann, a long time friend, went to MIT. The two kept working on projects while in college and decided to take a semester or year off to build a game together. But while working on it they thought of a different idea: what if they built a publishing platform for young developers? They pitched the idea to Y Combinator, and after being accepted dropped out of college to focus on MakeGamesWithUs full-time. The duo graduated from the Winter 2012 Y Combinator class.