Appcelerator Funds Startup Lanica For Better Mobile Games

Best known for business apps, Appcelerator supports Lanica's bid to help Titanium SDK developers create high-performance games more easily.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

October 3, 2012

3 Min Read

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Mobile development platform Appcelerator is expanding the reach of its Titanium SDK to encompass game creation. The company on Wednesday said that it has invested an undisclosed amount in mobile gaming startup Lanica through its Innovation Fund.

Lanica is developing a JavaScript-based tool set called Platino that will allow Titanium SDK developers to create high-performance games more easily. To date, developers have tended to use Titanium to create business-oriented or informational apps. Although the software can be used for game development, it doesn't come with features that are designed specifically for game development or that help ensure adequate performance for graphics-intensive apps.

"We want to be basically a one-stop solution for gamers, from creation to back-end management," said Carlos Icaza, CEO and co-founder of Lanica, in a phone interview.

Icaza previously co-founded another mobile game development platform company, Ansca Mobile, which earlier this year changed its name to Corona Labs following Icaza's departure. That company's Corona SDK has similarities to Appcelerator's Titanium, but differs in that it requires developers to program in Lua rather than JavaScript.

There are dozens of game engines, free and paid, open source and closed source, each suited for specific types of development and developer skill levels. Many of the mobile development tools like Lanica have arisen to allow developers to use languages other than Objective-C or Java and to fill the void left by Adobe Flash, once the leading choice for cross-platform game development. In 2010, Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, declared Flash unfit for iOS devices.

[ Read Apple's Top 20 Public Apologies. ]

Developers continue to create Flash games for the Web and desktop computers, but Adobe has abandoned Flash for mobile devices and is focusing on HTML5-based content creation software.

Although Web-based games have yet to prove that they can outperform native mobile applications, the technologies employed to create those games--HTML, CSS, and JavaScript--are nonetheless widely employed for developing applications that get converted to native mobile apps. Beyond Appcelerator, Adobe's PhoneGap takes this approach. For many developers, focusing on open Web technologies that they already know makes more sense than learning Objective-C, which isn't very useful outside of the Apple environment.

When Lanica releases its Platino plug-in for the Titanium SDK later this year, the company says it will include Open GL ES 2.0 support; an isometric tile engine; a sprite engine; the Box2D physics engine; a particle engine and particle design plug-in; Open GL shaders; 2.5D support for pseudo 3D effects; and access to native interface APIs. Pricing has not been announced.

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About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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