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Choosing An Engine For Your Mobile Game, AR, Or VR App

Whether you’re making a mobile game, an AR, or a VR app, you’ll need to choose the right tools for the job. You may prefer to develop your own custom tools or opt for off-the-shelf solutions to save money and time. We’ll focus on the latter and reveal the game engines that can bring your app ideas to fruition.

1. Why You Need A Game Engine For Developing Interactive Experiences

Creating interactive experiences such as games, AR, and VR apps is usually a lot harder than developing standard applications. Developers often spend thousands of hours developing, debugging and testing their interactive applications before deployment. With the right tools, they can reduce their costs and time to market (TTM) significantly. And the most suitable tools for making interactive applications are game engines.

What a good game engine brings to the table is a suite of tools that properly integrate with one and another and third-party tools. These tools may include an animator component, audio mixer, content management system, scene graph, shader graph, scripting language, level editor, mesh editor, and tilemap editor, to name a few. While any talented development team can custom develop all these tools themselves, it’s a costly and time-consuming process.

But what makes modern commercial game engines so compelling is their ability to export projects to all the most popular platforms with a single click. Thus, it’s no longer necessary to use multiple programming languages and toolchains when targeting more than one platform.

2. Not All Engines Are Created Equal

The two most popular game engines on the market at the moment are Unity and Unreal Engine. And there’s a good reason for this, as both offer the most comprehensive and robust suite of tools than their competitors. Furthermore, the companies behind these engines, namely, Unity Technologies and Epic Games, are well-funded and invest heavily in their respective flagship tools.

However, the game engine development space doesn’t stand still, and there’s a growing number of alternatives in the market. In recent years, the open-source Godot engine has made significant inroads in this space. It’s a more lightweight alternative to Unity that offers comparable features and tools, especially for developing 2D games. Yet, it doesn’t quite match Unity’s 3D, AR, and VR capabilities and export to as many platforms.

3. Costs Of Using Commercial Engines

The game engine market is incredibly competitive, and that’s forced companies to rethink their pricing policies in recent years. Both Unity and Unreal Engine have a free tier aimed at indie developers that operate on a shoestring budget.

With Unity Personal, an individual or small team development team doesn’t have to pay a cent if they earn less than $ 100,000 in 12 months. And if they make more than that amount, they’ll have to upgrade to the Plus or Pro tier. Unity Plus requires that the developer pay $ 399 per year for one seat, and Unity Pro costs $ 1,800 per year for one seat.

On the other hand, Unreal Engine has an entirely different licensing and pricing model. Developers can choose either the Creators or Publishing License, which are both free to use. Those working on custom, free, internal, or linear projects should choose the Creators License. And for those developing off-the-shelve interactive experiences should opt for the Publishing License. The latter requires that developers pay 5% royalty if their products earn over $ 1 million gross revenue during their lifetime.

4. Cross-Platform Considerations

Most modern game engines make it possible to export to a wide variety of platforms. Both Unity and Unreal Engine development teams work closely with all the leading platform holders. When new game consoles, mobile devices, AR, or VR headsets hit the market, Unity and Unreal Engine will almost always support these from the get-go. So, if you plan to target multiple platforms and future-proof your upcoming project, then you can’t go wrong with either engine.

5. When To Choose An Open Source Engine Over A Commercial Game Engine

In most cases, you’ll want to work with a commercial engine vendor, as they’ll regularly provide the features, updates, and support you’ll need. But an open-source engine could have certain unique features and tooling that’s more suitable for your project. Ultimately, you’ll want to complete your project quickly and efficiently, so choose the right tool for the job.

An open-source engine also allows you to view and change its code, which isn’t possible with most commercial game engines. For example, Unity feels like a black box to most developers because they don’t have access to its source code and can’t comprehend the engine’s inner workings.

6. Why Unity Is The Most Popular Mobile Game Development Tool

Unity has gained a reputation for being a beginner-friendly engine and attracts many would-be mobile game developers. And with the Unity Asset Store, it’s easy for developers to download free and paid 3D models, game kits, sprites, sound clips, scripts, and various other assets to complete their projects quickly and cost-effectively.

Nowadays, over 50% of mobile games have been made with Unity, solidifying the engine’s dominance in this market segment. Furthermore, Unity makes it easy to integrate a wide variety of ad APIs and monetization components and distribute Android games worldwide via a single hub.

7. How Unreal Engine Can Bring Your AR & VR Ideas To Life

Now, Unity’s an adequately powerful engine that should meet the needs of most developers. And the Unity development team has made great strides in improving its performance in recent years. However, it doesn’t quite match the performance and visual fidelity of the Unreal Engine, which is used extensively by triple-A game developers.

If you’re planning on developing an AR or VR app that requires photorealistic 3D visuals, then Unreal Engine is your best bet! And since Unreal Engine users have access to the Quixel Megascan library, it’s a relatively quick and painless process to get hold of various high-quality 3D assets. Moreover, the engine’s versatility makes it a great choice for developers working on architectural, automotive, broadcast, film, and simulation projects.

8. What Development Environments Are Available For ARCore?

With the growing popularity of AR, both Apple and Google have released powerful technologies to help developers. In Google’s case, they’ve released ARCore, which facilitates the creation of compelling AR applications. It’s designed so that developers don’t need extensive knowledge of OpenGL or rendering to bring their applications to life. Furthermore, ARCore seamlessly integrates environmental understanding, light estimation, and motion tracking components.

But what’s of great interest to developers is how ARCore works with their favorite development environments. It fully supports Android Studio and Android NDK and interfaces with Apple’s ARKit to provide iOS support via Cloud Anchors and Augmented Faces. Also, Google provides an ARCore plugin and SDK for Unity and an ARCore plugin for Unreal Engine.

9. Why You Should Work With A Development Partner

It’s no easy task creating an engaging mobile game or a trailblazing AR application. Thus, you’ll need the expertise of a development partner that understands the intricacies of custom development. The right partner will choose the right engine and tools to complete your project as efficiently as possible. And advise you throughout the planning, development, and deployment phases of your app to ensure its success. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create exciting interactive experiences using the latest technologies.

Bring it Back To Basics: Making a Splash as An Appreneur

Offering Value As an Appreneur

When it comes to app development, it is one of the most supersaturated markets that exist. This is because of its wide accessibility, and the massive audience pool from which to draw. As an appreneur or aspiring appreneur, it’s important to understand how it is that you or your application are providing value. Because app development is such a competitive market that utilizes technology, it goes to reason that it’s a field that sees an above-average amount of technological advances and evolutions.

However, new technology doesn’t always equate to high-quality applications to which users flock. Creating a truly valuable application that attracts a wide range of users takes a comprehensive approach to app development, which includes utilizing new technology, delivering value to users through optimized user experiences, and offering solutions or utility to the end-user.

The Picasso Effect

Picasso is famous for his abstract approach to art. The way that he depicts people and objects is completely surreal. However, Picasso didn’t start his journey creating brilliant works of abstract and surreal art. Rather, his first education in paints was as traditional and classical as it gets. Before he revamped the art world almost single-handedly, he first mastered the traditional fundamentals of the craft. In other words, he learned how to paint a perfect bowl of fruit, before flipping it on its side and making it something else entirely.

This evolution also occurs in application development. Oftentimes, new developers, programmers, and appreneurs want to jump headfirst off the high-dive and right into the deep end. In other words, appreneurs get so excited about the newest technology and newest features that they start sacrificing fundamentals in order to layer more and more features, without doing the due diligence to fully flush out those features.

This leads to a poorly designed application that feels unfocused and clunky. Worse yet, rushing through the integration process of a new sophisticated technology into your existing applications can lead to bug-ridden applications that are faulty, incomplete, or simply non-fucntional altogether.

This is why Picasso mastered classical painting before branching out and evolving into his legacy of abstract art. By fully understanding the concepts and fundamentals of the classical and traditional form; he was then able to evolve the field entirely.

Merging The Old with The New

In integrating these hot new technologies as they emerge, an appreneur needs to have a strong sense of vision. I’m not talking about your prescription glasses, rather, the term vision here indicates an ability to see vertical alignment and synchronization. It’s important, of course, to learn and be aware of the new technologies that hit the market place, but on the other hand, integrating them into your current and future projects is another endeavor completely.

The most successful applications find a hole in any of the existing niche-markets of the application development world. By providing a solution to an existing issue that end-users are experiencing, your application begins its journey with an advantage. Furthermore, by continuing to invest into the time that it takes to develop a comprehensive application, your end result is a more thoroughly thought through application that offers users a direct solution and immediate value.

Going beyond the value-proposition and the solutions that applications offer, the next level is both design and user experience based. It’sp important to note that the user experience is often regarded as the most important aspect of any application. Mainly due to the supersaturation of the application markets and the hyper competition that accompanies them.

A Look At The Newest Technology

When it comes to the new technology of applications, the choices range far and wide. One of the fastest growing technologies over the past decade is VR, or virtual reality. Some of the first iterations of VR came through gaming systems, like PS4, or Google Oculus. However, VR has a much deeper practicality than merely the video game market. Virtual reality technology has real life practicality in massive industries like healthcare, mental health, sporting, and even fashion.

By taking the time to learn the ins and outs of VR programming, your team will not only be able to build a quality VR system, but further, they’ll be able to construct a high-quality VR system that offers genuine practicality.

AR, or augmented reality, is next on the list. AR is a type of application that overlays additional imagery or visuals over physical locations. As you can imagine, this type of technology has a ton of potential. However, AR is still even a bit newer than VR, so many developers and programmers are still finding avenues through which to integrate and make use of AR in their application designs.

Finally, another technology that’s generating an incredible amount of buzz is facial recognition software. This software has quite swiftly become a popular feature. Think about the new Iphones and the ability to unlock your screen with a facial scan. On the flip side of this, however, is the dangers that facial recognition software poses to individual privacy. Many are weary that military and police institutions will leverage sophisticated facial recognition software inappropriately.

Value Versus Flash

When you boil it all down, successful applications have one thing in common: a strong and practical value proposition. This value proposition is then flushed out, developed, and used to inspire and create an MVP, or minimum viable product. The MVP leads to investments, funding, and partnership, which leads to a finished application, and finally your product launch.

Keeping that progression in mind, it’s rather clear that an application stuffed full of sophisticated technology is not guaranteed to be a success, nor even fully functional. It’s much more important in application development to focus on a fluid user experience, a strong value proposition, and aligned technology. By focusing on integrating only the modern technology that will benefit or elevate your specific value-propoisition, your application will stay much simpler and much more user-firendly.

Implementing User Feedback as An Appreneur

Once you’ve identified the value proposition and built the app, it’s time for an app launch. This is like cutting the big red ribbon on opening day, and it’s extremely exciting. Yet, the work is far from over. At this point in an applications life, your team needs to ensure that it remains relevant, updated, bug-free, and offers value to the user.

One of the most helpful strategies that appreneurs use is the user feedback in the app store. Paying attention to the app store reviews, and user feedback in general, brings your team better understanding of where they hit the nail on the head; and where their application could use some work.

A Brief Overview On What it Takes To Be an Appreneur

Noone said that being an apprenuer would be easy. And if they did, they lied. However, for the dedicated and committed appreneur, there are resources to help guide you. Do your due diligence, and conduct plenty of market research before jumping down the rabbit hole of your newest application, and consider the Picasso effect before attempting to tackle sophisticated application technologies like AR, VR, and Facial recognition.

For more information on successful appreneurship, or anything app development related, keep browsing NS804. NS804 is the application developer of the everyday appreneur.

Enterprise Mobile App Ideas That Will Boost Your Business In 2021

As a forward-looking business leader, you likely have several app ideas that seem promising. And the right kind of ideas could boost your business in 2021. We delve deeper into this subject and reveal the mobile app development trends that will shape the year and beyond.

1. Why Mobile App Development Still Makes Sense In 2021

While the App Store and Google Play are inundated with apps, this doesn’t mean that mobile app development will go away. Quite the opposite, the app market is maturing and evolving and opening up new opportunities. There’s a growing demand for innovative apps that offer augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) experiences.

As a post-COVID world gradually emerges, enterprises and users will be looking for the most sustainable solutions. Enterprises will want to offer AR & VR-based training simulations since many of their employees now work remotely. And users will want more virtual concerts and tours, knowing that this is a far more convenient and safer way to enjoy their favorite pastimes.

2. App Ideas That Enhance Business Processes

With almost 80% of the global population owning a smartphone, enterprises need to take advantage of this phenomenon. As a business leader, it’s no use standing on the sidelines if you want to add value and grow your enterprise.

Enhance and restructure your existing business processes by utilizing emerging digital ecosystems. Furthermore, create apps that enhance customer loyalty, improve external and internal processes, and streamline communication between employees and clients.

3. Break Down The Barriers Between Your Staff And Clients

Take the time to assess how your staff and clients interact with each other. Are you happy with the results, or is the room for improvement? In a competitive market, you’ll likely need to tweak and improve your communication channels.

You may need to develop a business app that makes it easy for staff and clients to contact each other while keeping track of all communications. Furthermore, you’ll want to collect data and receive feedback from both staff and users to ascertain how well they’re engaging with each other and the app.

4. An Effective Business App Improves Productivity

Focus your mobile app development endeavors on creating apps that increase employee productivity and communications. And ensure that every business app you develop integrates with all your existing systems. Moreover, implement analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in your apps so that you can assess all data points effectively.

Similarly to many companies, you’re probably sitting on a ton of unstructured data that’s making your business processes inefficient. But if you organize and analyze this data, you’ll discover ways to improve productivity in your enterprise.

5. Work With A Partner That Will Bring Your App Ideas To Life

Mobile app development is a lot harder than it seems, especially if you’re new to this field. And there are many vital aspects that you could overlook, such as eschewing the latest design trends, ignoring compatibility across devices, not integrating with existing solutions, or offering an offline mode.

However, if you work with an experienced development partner, you’ll be able to bring your app ideas to fruition. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you create innovative enterprise mobile apps that will engage users in 2021 and beyond!

An AR Case Study – NS804’s First AR Venture

Takeaways From NS804’s First AR Venture – An AR Case Study

Augmented reality (AR), is still being mastered by tech and software professionals alike. While there have been bounds and leaps made in the pursuit of developing more complex and more robust AR technology. These advances support the delivery of more immersive, realistic, and functional AR applications. NS804’s introduction to building an AR application came a few years ago and was mostly accomplished using the antiquated AR Kit 2. While there have been major advances in the software available to building AR, a lot of the core-concepts NS804 learned through this build apply, and will continue to apply to all AR applications now and in the future. This AR case study will evaluate and address some of the issues and complications that arose through the duration of this AR project. Then, the AR case study will detail some of the main lessons and takeaways from the project.

The Ask

The client in this instance was asking for an AR application that would relay data from machinery and equipment to a collector, without the need for the collector to ever come within eyesight of physical contact of the machine from which they’re pulling data. This data refers to the ‘vitals’ of the machinery and included aspects like temperature, pressure, load capacity, and other integral information regarding the machines maintenance and operational efficiency. This was a complicated project because it involved using coordinates and GPS navigation to pinpoint the equipment location, and feed that information into the AR apps map.

The Obstacles

In approaching this complication there were multiple hurdles that needed to be addressed. Firstly, there was an issue with accuracy. As even the most powerful satellite mapping can only provide an accuracy of five meters, give or take, pinpointing the exact location of the machinery became difficult. What added to this difficulty was the equipments proximity to itself. Oftentimes, different machines would be less than 100 yards away from one another. This accentuates the accuracy issue, providing another obstacle NS804 needed to work around.

In addition to the accuracy being an issue for the machines themselves and their placement on the AR interface, the tags that were required to populate also ran into a proximity issue. The tags would populate overlaying one another, or start to flicker instead of hold solid when appearing in AR.

Another complication occurred in building the perspective of the AR interface. Since there is a specific aspect to positioning in AR, and since AR was still brand new at the time; there was a lot of learning and trial by error conducted. Luckily for you, NS804 has done the work of pioneering, so they’re in a position to help design, consult, and guide on the most sophisticated and robust AR apps on the market.

Solutions

The solutions for the main obstacles above were all integrated and related. The first aspect of the comprehensive solution to these problems revolving around positioning and placement had to do with orientation. In AR, everything has to be oriented to true north – it’s how the position of virtually everything is calculated. This anchors the AR interface which was the first step to solving these issues.

Once the app was oriented toward true north, the next step was creating a more user-friendly perspective. In the first iterations, the perspective was delivered through a sort of cone-view. This was disorienting and hard to use. Instead, the app was designed to place the user in the middle of area they were surveying. This allowed the user to then use the AR app as a sort of lens, and as they moved it along their survey-area, different tags would populate.

This leads to the next issue that NS804 needed to address in order to deliver a functional, and user-friendly experience to the client. As the user viewed their survey area, and information tags began to populate; the info-tags would begin to flicker in and out. It was soon discovered that these info-tags would flicker if they were set to the same depth. Setting the tags to varying depths solved this issue, making it possible to keep the tags from overlapping and flickering in and out.

All-in-all the bulk of the complications that arose during this build were involved with the visual aspect and perspective in one way or another. NS804 was able to successfully deliver the client-ready version in about 60 days and after around 25 iterations. Being at the onset of the AR-era, NS804 could build an app of similar capability today in 2-3 weeks and more than half the iterations. This is massive jump in efficiency stems from more advanced and more robust AR design software available, as well as the experience involved in building this AR app and learning a lot of the core theories of AR design.

Key Takeaways From the AR Case Study

This AR case study should highlight a variety of important lessons regarding the development of AR applications, the trial-and-error process, and knowledge that comes with experiencing an AR design and build firsthand.

True North: In designing an AR application NS804’s first big-lesson was in orientation. Orienting everything that renders within the AR universe to true-north is how the entirety of an AR application locates everything. This enables other functionality of the AR like mapping, and positional population – as was necessary in this design.

Centered Perspective: This was another positional setting that NS804 learned in regards to creating AR applications. Centering the user perspective within the AR universe allows an expanded and more user-friendly visual field. Rather than viewing the world through a distorted “cone-view”, centering the user allows for a more comfortable user experience, plus it’s less straining on the eyes.

Layering: The third lesson related to positioning and orientation, as well as the visual experience – had to do with layering the environment successfully. This involved placing information-tags that carried the sought-after data at different depths within the AR environment. This eliminated the issues that were posed by overlapping tags that had a bad habit of flickering.

Prepared to Pivot: The final takeaway from this client project was be flexible and capable of pivots. After the successful delivery of this build; the client immediately began discovering additional uses for the software that would require additional builds and versions. These future visions revolved around converting the AR application into a marketing and sales tool. While these iterations have yet to be realized, the ability to adapt, evolve, and improve should always be the foremost priority of software developers and mobile app designers.

This AR case study illuminated a lot of knowledge into AR design for NS804, and it’s our hope that it acts as a good guide for other industry professionals looking for documentation on developing an AR application.

A similar project undertaken by NS804, today, could be accomplished in a fraction of the time. Rather than a two-month turnaround with over 25 reiterations, and a prolonged testing period, NS804 could deliver the same level of an AR application in a 2-week-timeframe. This is capable today because of learned knowledge from the original project, an upgrade in AR building software available, and more accessible and comprehensive information regarding AR that is also available.

NS804 is dedicated to making mobile app development services of any scale, available to anybody. Armed with years of experience across industries, softwares, and platforms NS804 is an excellent choice for appreneurs looking for assistance designing their next mobile-app venture. Get in touch with NS804 today to start the design-discussion, and receive expert-level guidance on your mobile-app venture.