GameSalad Creator for New Users

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Here is a story of how I found the ultimate point and click programming tool for creating apps for Apple and Android devices. The purpose is to give new GameSalad users an idea of what to expect if he or she is serious about publishing GameSalad apps.

The journey for making GameSalad apps is full of trials and tribulations but I did succeed in making the apps of my own creation and making some pocket money along the way. GameSalad was designed for games but I wanted to use it to make utility apps.

For years, I have been searching for a point and click programming tool for developing apps on a smartphone or tablet(either Android and Apple). Around 2011 a search hit came and GameSalad was discovered. To my horror, the software only worked with Apple Computers and Operating System. I looked for ways to put Apple Operating Systems on a Personal Computer but the instructions configuring for Mac OS X looked way complex and risky and decided against it.

I continued my search for something similar to GameSalad and ran into Google App Inventor and Scratch. I performed some experimenting but was not excited about the tools and gave up. I kept searching and waiting. During this time, there were online discussions from the GameSalad website and elsewhere regarding the release date of a GameSalad for Windows.

Around the Summer of 2012, I discovered that GameSalad for Windows was available. After reading the specifications, I was appalled. The Windows requirement was Windows Vista, Windows 7 or later. All my machines were still running Windows XP and do not meet the requirements for running the new Windows operating systems. In addition, I hated Windows Vista and 7. I had experience with working on other people’s computers with Vista or 7 and did not like the interface. For example, I used to be able to search for files quite easily in Windows XP. With Vista and 7, there was less than intuitive set ups that had to be made in order to find the items you were looking for.

Another showstopper was that of testing and publishing. Even if I had a machine with Windows 7 or Vista, a Mac with a current operating system (OS X 10.7 or better) is required for testing apps on live hardware and for publishing the apps.

It was disheartening. I got what I wished for but it was not enough. GameSalad Creator became available but I could not use it. Even if I did manage to get a new computer to use the GameSalad tool there were some costs that will still set me back. It costs $300 to get the professional version of GameSalad to obtain all the features required for publishing. To publish apps for Apple, an annual $99 fee is required for Apple developers. For publishing Android apps, a lifetime $25 fee is required.

Eventually, I did upgrade my computer and operating system so I can start building apps with GameSalad. I planned on acquiring the Mac hardware with correct operating system at a later date. I was happy with the user interface and designed the app I was going to make. I wrote an outline of what the app was suppose to do and drew rough sketches of the graphical user interface or GUI.

I knew that Apple machines were very expensive. Purchasing a new one was out of the question. Prices of new Macs were in the $1500 to $3500 range. I searched long and hard in eBay and the findings were discouraging. Even broken Macs were expensive. Even if I did find a functional Mac it did not have the most current operating system.

After some persistence, I got lucky. Someone with an old iMac with the minimum Mac OS X version was selling their machine for a very reasonable price. There was a permanent vertical line on the LCD screen that knocked the price down. I was willing to live with that flaw.

Once the iMac was received, I tested it and installed the GameSalad Creator for Macintosh. It was a little slow but GameSalad worked. I did not like the Macintosh version of GameSalad. All my work was going to be done on Windows. Fortunately, GameSalad Creator for Windows has a Macintosh export to allow me to test the work I did on Windows onto a Mac.

The test did not work out so well. For some reason, attributes that used to be on the Windows version of the app, disappeared on the Mac version. Eventually, I got the app to work on the Mac with the built in simulator in GameSalad. However, I knew that the best tests had to be done in live Smartphones, iPhones, tablets and iPads. I did own an Android Smartphone and tablet and an iPhone 3G. There was no cell phone service on the iPhone 3G but it could still connect to WiFi and USB.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 3G did not support current iPhone operating systems. I could not use the iPhone 3G anymore and the only hardware I could test the apps on were Android devices. A month after publishing my first app for Android, my contract with my cell phone service expired and I upgrade my phone to an iPhone 4G.

The challenge to configure my Mac to create a publishing environment for Android and Apple apps is another story for another article. The initial trials and errors to create a Google Developer keystore was difficult and I was ready to give up. The keystore is like a certificate that authenticates the owner of the app and allows the owner to update the app. The keystore also allows you to release the app to the consumer. Hopefully, I have all may notes to describe the process because the instructions provided by GameSalad and by Google were not that good.

The process to create development and distribution certificates for publishing apps on the Apple store was about 10 times worse that Android’s. The Android publishing became like child’s play compared to the Byzantine publishing process of Apple’s. This too is another subject that is too long to discuss here.

I have the advantage of having several apps published and updated. This makes me more comfortable with the process which seems trivial now.

Other challenges have come my way, most notably, the in-app purchase functions and the apps requirements after an app rejection by the Apple reviewers. There are features of my app that I wanted to include but are too difficult. I decided to publish the app anyway and defer the new or hard features on a future update just like many developers do, no matter how big or how small the company.

The next challenge was to get people to buy my app. On the Google Play Store, I put some effort into marketing but virtually no one is buying my apps on Google Play. On the Apple Store I put no effort on marketing but many people are buying the Apple iPhone, iPod or iPad version compared to Android users. Although I have cursed Apple for having a very difficult publishing process, I take it all back. I am happy many people are buying my scoreboard apps and hope I can increase sales with some real effort. There is just too little time. I have a full time job, a family and lots of things to maintain around the house.

My app may not be the next Angry Birds but even if my apps are sold at the fraction of the number of Angry Birds sold, I could still make a small fortune and maybe start a serious business with a staff and budget to make a killer app as popular as Angry Birds.

In summary, the new GameSalad user should be prepared to shell out some serious bucks when entering this endeavor of app publishing. Here is a basic list of cost if the items are not owned already:

- Macintosh with OS X 10.7 or later ($200 for used and up to $3500 for new)

- PC with Windows 7 ($500 to $1000). This is optional if you are comfortable with the Macintosh version.

- GameSalad Creator ($300)

- Apple Developer fee ($99 annual)

- Android Developer fee ($25 lifetime)

All this will only get you started. If you want a legitimate business there are other costs like building a website and marketing.

Making apps requires excellent artwork for the most part. Apple will reject your app if they see low quality in any graphics. For example, jagged edges on graphics or text have to be smooth.

If you don’t like to do the art maybe a buddy can do it for free. Otherwise, hiring an artist will be another expense.

Don’t be discouraged. There are lots of GameSalad support out there if you know where to look.

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Comments 6 comments

MysticPrince profile image

MysticPrince 3 years ago from The Source Code

On their website, it says Windows Platform as well. You could have made Games for Windows. Or you wanted to target all platforms?


Romian1 profile image

Romian1 3 years ago Author

I was focused on the Apple and Android platforms only. I believe the apps will work on Windows 8 only. The alternative is HTML5 which allows the app to work with any browser that supports HTML5 and that browser could be on any platform.


MysticPrince profile image

MysticPrince 3 years ago from The Source Code

From the costs you incurred, I think its better to write code. You could make an app, virtually free of cost, using open-source tools & Platform SDKs.


Romian1 profile image

Romian1 3 years ago Author

True. But point and click programming allows me to produce and test apps quickly. There are limitations with the tool. For example, There is no API to hardware functions but the apps GameSalad create can be impressive.


MysticPrince profile image

MysticPrince 3 years ago from The Source Code

Hmm I see your point. But I still go with Coding, you could come up with your own Game Design software. There's another point-n-click tool, you might find interesting (and maybe you have already used..), Game Maker Studio, http://www.yoyogames.com/gamemaker/studio . used it long back, with Windows. But it had limitations, I understand now.

And you mentioned limitations, unless you program at low level, directly as with Visual C++ in Windows, Symbian C++, Android SDK, Cocoa Framework in Mac, or use a standard compiler or an IDE which can map to platform APIs, as QT Creator IDE does, there is no way to access platform APIs.


Romian1 profile image

Romian1 3 years ago Author

Thank you for the information on yoyogames. I like programming but I would rather design and farm out the work to someone else now.

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