Can you please provide a brief description of your company and the role that you play there?
I’m an educator in the San Francisco Bay area. I’m also the IT [information technology] specialist for the school. I use GameSalad with my students.
What is the name of your application and what is its main purpose?
That’s difficult for me to answer, in the sense that I don’t do a lot of publishing of apps. More so, I assist my students with building apps for various school projects.
How would you describe your app development skill level, such as beginner, some coding experience, expert, and so on?
My level of technical expertise is moderate. I do work in IT, so I’m very familiar with different software programs, hardware platforms, and things like that. I have a small amount of application programming experience from college. I’ve done some piecemeal programming here and there.
I was new to the drag-and-drop aspects. I think my coding background helped me understand the logic and flow of it, but I was new to learning how to program with GameSalad.
What was the business challenge your company was facing that incited the need for a mobile application and what was the business goal that you were hoping to accomplish?
In my role as a teacher and a technology integrator at my school, I’m always looking for the best tools for my students, and for people in general, to learn how to code and understand computer science concepts. We’ve used a lot of tools, from scratch to online programming tutorials and engines, and nothing quite fit or worked for our students.
It’s not that hard to find software that is easy to use for programming, but those can’t do much. It’s not hard to find very powerful software for game design, but they are extremely difficult and have huge learning curves. I needed powerful software but with a small learning curve. I figured it was an impossible task to find something that was both. Then, when I stumbled across GameSalad, I actually had a colleague suggest that I check it out, I was really pleased and excited. It was something where you could sit for an hour and actually make something work. You could make something interactive, something you could play on a mobile device. It was a natural fit for my students, and they do really well with it. They enjoy it, and they don’t find it too challenging. They can make something they’re proud of, and that resembles some of their favorite games. It’s been a great tool.
What app platforms did you want to build an app for? Did it matter to your business whether the app was a hybrid or native app?
We build games for iOS.
Did you initially begin with the software’s free version or trial period? What pricing plan does your company currently utilize?
I use the pro version as an instructor, and I’ve taken advantage of the educator discounts, which have been great. The students use the free version, and the games don’t ultimately get published. It’s more of a learning process for them.
About how long in terms of hours would you approximate it initially took to have an app ready for publication?
I teach a class that runs for 14 class periods, roughly 12 hours. In that time, the students can make a game that is ready to be published.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Can you share any success, metrics, or overall results of your application since publication?
For me, it’s a tool that combines really easy-to-use features with a lot of powerful features. The developers update it quite frequently, so there are a lot of new features that come into it. There’s an incredible community of users that fill the forms with both questions and answers, demonstration files, templates, and feature requests. It’s very active and supportive. For new users who are just using it for the first time, they’re able to get a lot of information quickly and get up to speed because of that.
You can’t underestimate the value of the support community and what it brings to the product. It’s a great product, but it also has a wealth of support and resources available to people. I know that I can just jump right on this tool and prototype or build the game that I have in my imagination quickly, and that’s really exciting, to see something in play that I just dreamed up. Through the years, I’ve found that with other tools development takes a long time. With GameSalad, it comes pretty easily, it’s comfortable, and has a lot of different feature sets. I can make what I want out of it, and have it be something I’m proud of.
Were there any software features or tools that you were really impressed by and of which potential buyers should be aware?
GameSalad is coming out with a new cross-platform product that will have a lot more sophisticated and powerful features, as well as support for direct scripting. That’s something I’m looking forward to, and something that new and experienced users of Game Salad would be likely to use because of its mix of ease of use and the power of more sophisticated features that people want.
Looking back, were there any areas of the software that you felt were not intuitive or that you feel could be improved upon?
There’s not a lot that my students find consistently challenging with Game Salad. Like any other product, there is a learning curve certainly, but that learning curve tends to be a lot shorter and less steep than other tools and products. I think there are advanced features that users have asked for, for some time, and they haven’t been added most likely because they’re hard to implement. I can understand why they’re not part of the product yet, but I think some users get frustrated by having to wait for those things when they see them in other tools.
Can you speak to the available development tools, such as templates or drag and drop? Were they intuitive and easy to use?
GameSalad has built-in templates, and they’re useful for learning basic things like platformer movement, targeting systems, or different types of basic games. The community itself provides a ton of different templates and demos that are often free and also available for purchase. These are a great way to learn some very powerful things very quickly. The fact that it’s drag and drop can turn people off in the sense that they think it will be simple and limited, and it’s not at all. It’s not a limiting software. Many times on the forums, people will ask, "Can you make this type of game with it?" The answer is pretty much always yes. There’s a lot of help from the community on the forums to help people figure it out. If you can dream it you can pretty much make it with GameSalad.
Although it’s drag and drop, there’s a lot of openness to the product. You can do a lot of things with variables, database structures, loops, if/then statements like with any programming language. But, the upside of GameSalad is, there is no scripting. It’s all self-contained in the things you drag in, and the ways you set up the order of your rules, and the layers, and so forth. It stays easy even when it gets complex, and that’s something I really like about it.
Can you speak to the content management system, how do you upload new data or make changes? Have you found the process simple and accessible?
When users want to publish their games, there’s a publishing server that’s basically built into the software. So you’re literally just clicking the publish button when you’re ready. When you’re ready, you download the file you need to upload to Apple, and it makes it on to the iOS App Store. It’s a pretty smooth process.
We have a few quick questions, and for each question we ask you to rate the software on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. What you give the software for ease of use in the development process?
Four and a half.
What would you give the software for quality of features available?
For support, as in responsiveness, communication, and resources available?
For overall usability and satisfaction with the software?
Four and a half.
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague?