Interview: The Multimedia Fusion 2 iOS Exporter

Let’s start out by getting some background on what Multimedia Fusion 2 does, exactly. What features give the user control over every aspect of game design without having to learn one or more programming languages?

Simply put, Multimedia Fusion 2 can create any kind of 2D game or App. At its core it is basically its own programming language with syntax removed — syntax being that mysterious hand-typed code that traditional programmers employ. With MMF2 we have eliminated the need for that. In other words, users only need to think of how the game would work, create the in-game objects, and port in their own graphics. Then they use an amazingly simple mouse-driven interface to “click” out their events, which become the equivalent of lines of code. Ninety percent of programming in MMF2 is done with only the mouse and requires no knowledge of syntax. It is truly programming for the rest of us!

To the layman who secretly yearns to become a game designer, it sounds like a dream come true! But are there certain background skills and experiences a potential user should have before jumping in?

Let me put it to you this way. I am in the process of publishing several iOS mini games developed in only a couple of weeks by students who attended a game making camp here in Atlanta. The camp itself was a week long, and they got literally two hours of instruction on how to use the tool from me. These high schoolers were able to pick up the basics of how it works and run with it. All that is required is bit of logical thinking and some creativity. If you have a solid idea and it’s 2D, MMF2 is the easiest and quickest solution to making it a reality.

From your experience so far, would you say MMF2 is particularly suited to some genres, but not others? For example, would it be just as useful in creating an RPG or an RTS as it is for creating a platformer or physics puzzle game?

Initially, new users will find it easier to make platformers, horizontal and vertical shooters, or scrolling games. But the tool is so versatile you can make anything out of it as long as it’s 2D. To prove this point we hold an annual competition we call “The Twenty Event.” Participants have to build any game they want but limit it to only Twenty Events or lines of code. One year a user submitted a fully functional RTS within these Twenty Events. I mean, amazing — a functional RTS with pathfinding and basic AI, and all in twenty lines. Of course the user was advanced, but it easily proves the point that anything 2D can be made with MMF2.

How about 2D versus 3D? How far into the third dimension can MMF2 users take their creations, currently?

Many MMF2 games fake 3D, but true 3D has been something Clickteam wants for MMF2. Only if it fits within the ease of use ideal, of course. Ease of use is the cornerstone of our product, so we don’t want to bring forth some difficult-to-use and hard-to-understand plugin. The exciting thing is, plans are in motion to bring 3D functionality to MMF2 that won’t over complicate it. You can see a peek of it if you watch the video stream for this year’s Click Convention that happened earlier in Cambridge, UK!

Moving on to Clickteam’s iOS Export Module for MMF2, how much work did the Gamesare team have to do to adapt Vincere Totus Astrum and Solar Rescue Densetsu for iOS?

Vincere Totus Astrum was programmed again from the ground up for iOS. The only thing ported was the concept from the original Flash version, also done in MMF2 the year before. I redid it because we had plans for multiple races and better play flow. From scratch to finish was about three months’ worth of work between two guys: myself, who came up with the concept, IP and programmed in MMF, and Ilker, who did all the art. I think two guys coming up with a fresh 4X IP for iOS in three months speaks volumes for MMF2.

As for Solar Rescue Densetsu, it was originally made in MMF 1.5 as a freeware PC game in 2002, at my personal studio, Gamesare. I thought it would make an excellent iOS game so I attempted to convert it; within an hour I had a basic level playing on my device. Amazing! This means users are able to – with one source file and careful planning – port to Windows, Mac, Java, Flash, iOS, Android and soon XNA, just by flipping a property in MMF2.

What’s the current status of MMF2 support for Game Center, OpenFeint, and in-app purchasing functions?

Game Center will be available in the first update to the exporter. In fact, Solar Rescue Densetsu uses the beta test version of it to submit high scores in Game Center. We are looking at OpenFeint with our army of third party extension developers for inclusion. When it comes to IAP, it is already available in the exporter in MMF2!

How many other iOS developers have taken advantage of this tool, as far as you’re aware? Do you plan to port more titles from Gamesare’s catalogue to iOS?

We have sold hundreds of the exporter thus far. You can visit Clickteam’s forums to see a list of released games with the tool. My favorite (besides my own, *wink*) would be Megacity HD, that game is genius. We hope to have a strong showing at this year’s GDC with some high-end iOS games by some of our long time salty users!

It’s exciting to think of developing iOS games on Windows PCs, but it looks like the MMF2 user still needs a Mac handy to compile, test, and submit to the App Store. Do you foresee any services popping up in the near future that could open the iOS market to developers who have only a Windows PC and a copy of MMF2? What barriers exist to prevent this from happening?

We have discussed some sort of compiling service, and we may still do that. As it stands, you would need to build your game in MMF2 on a Windows machine, or on a Wine emulated Mac. Then, with the generated Xcode project, compile on the Mac to your device for testing as well as submission to iTunes. Understandably, Apple’s mission is to sell hardware, so for now that is the sacrifice that has to be made to publish to iOS.

Finally, where should budding developers go to learn more about the nitty-gritty details of operating MMF2, and where should they seek help when they run into game design roadblocks?

Check out our pages at Clickteam, and PM Kisguri (Me) on our forums with any questions you may have. Clickteam is very hands on with its users and we like to handle each question personally. Something we are very proud of!

iFanzine’s thanks goes to Chris Carson for taking the time out to give us the lowdown on MMF2 and the new iOS Exporter. The game images that appear in this article show The Rewop Crew, Vincere Totus Astrum, and Megacity HD respectively. Let’s leave you with a look at what MMF2 is capable of and some links after the jump!

For all the latest Multimedia Fusion 2 news, keep an eye on Clickteam’s Facebook page! Also check out their iOS Exporter web page for all the specs.