Around these parts it feels as if we've been reporting more on the Unity game engine than any other game engine out there. There's certainly no doubt that the folks at Unity Technologies have really gone out of their way to secure an established relationship with lots of developers and platforms out there, and they've done so with the aim of making portability and functionality their top priority.

Technically, we can't give all the credit to Unity in this case, because the folks over at the BlackBerry camp have gone out of their way to turn a mobile, executive enterprise, handheld workstation into a multimedia entertainment handset. In order to accomplish this, the BlackBerry 10 was designed from the ground up to work with a number of open and closed platforms, as well as multiple design languages and creative tools – so much so that porting can be as quick as moving code from one device to the Blackberry in just under a day.

Following up on the recent Unity and BlackBerry announcement earlier today, Alec Saunders, Vice President of Developer Relations and Ecosystems at BlackBerry talked briefly about the functionality and openness of the B10, explaining how the actual mobile ecosystem of the BlackBerry can be utilized to get high-quality games from one platform to the next with ease, saying...
You look at a developer who is developing on a particular framework like Unity, and the appeal is that you can sit there and go 'Well I should be able to build an application in this framework and move it from platform to platform'.

Certainly with the other frameworks we've been working with we've seen that game ports are being done in as little as a day. There are some tweaks for the platform you're targeting, but at the end of the day everybody is looking for portable code.

Blackberry 10 isn't the only device aiming for this kind of coding affability. We've reached a threshold in the digital entertainment arena where a lot of hardware players are trying to get in on the gaming space by making their devices as developer-friendly as possible. This is the complete opposite end of the spectrum to how Sony originally made the PlayStation 3, as well as a few of the PSP renditions that managed to keep a lot of games off the platform and sales somewhat stale as well.

The Blackberry 10 is being optimized for a number of coding frameworks so that the device will literally become a competitive force to be reckoned with in the smartphone gaming ring.

Saunders went on to say that...
“Speaking more in general about the Blackberry 10 developer strategy, we've gone out of our way to enable that kind of portability. So you can build an application in C# or C++ any number of different frameworks like QT or our own Cascades; you can build an application in HTML 5, which is portable almost by definition using frameworks like Sencha. You can [even] bring an Android application onto the platform, you can bring an Adobe Air application on to the platform, you can [also] use any number of open-source building blocks.

“A core design principle for us is that the platform should be as open as possible so that we can bring as many community of developers as quickly as possible, and with the highest return on investment for those developers, because it's not difficult to port.”

But what good is porting if you can't get the game certified? As many of you know, one of the big things that Microsoft started in the early life-cycle of the Xbox 360 was the XNA development and design suite, aimed to help get independent developers up and off the ground and designing games exclusively for the Xbox 360 with ease and convenience.

The XNA tool suite proved to be somewhat successful but developers soon ran into a new hurdle: you couldn't get your game on to the Live Arcade without proper certification and worse yet, you either needed a lengthy distribution agreement or you had to sign in under a publisher and hop through some hoops to get your game certified on Microsoft's platform. Unfortunately, the certification hoop-jumping is still in grave effect for Microsoft's console(s).
Microsoft isn't alone in their walled-garden approach to content curation. As many people know, Apple is also notoriously stringent when it comes to getting games up and out for their platforms as well, though, they're not quite as strict as Microsoft.

The Blackberry group is going about their platform in a completely different way, taking a page out of the Google Play and PSN playbook by enabling developers to become certified and allowing them to get their content published with ease.

Even more than that, the new Blackberry enables quick and free access to development kits, just about equivalent to what Nintendo has been doing lately in order to boost community interest and expand their platform to interested developers. Saunders went on to explain how a developer gets tools and gets their game onto a B10, saying...
“You'll need a [BlackBerry] development kit, which you can download for free from You'll need to register as a BlackBerry developer on our vendor portal... again, there's no charge associated with doing that. And when you finish building your game then you make the submission to the vetting portal – and there's some very clear rules on what is allowed and what's not allowed and how you have to rate them.

But pretty much anything goes except for culturally sensitive topics, like you can't depict games selling alcohol in Muslim countries – we just don't do that – [and] no hardcore pornography. Other than that, if your game works and it doesn't do egregious things like jolt the battery and that kind of stuff, it's a pretty easy process to get through.

I think that where we are in the vetting process – if you think about our competitors in this space Apple – is pretty strict and Google is pretty loose and we're somewhere in the middle.

Saunders goes on to say that they wanted to sure that they had a “curated store” and that they wanted to ensure that the market was the one doing the judging and “dictating what is and is not acceptable”.

This isn't just PR talk either, because Animation Xpress recently talked with the team at Nautilus who is releasing their upcoming game, Song of Swords (pictured above), a neat beat 'em up title for the Blackberry 10 this August, and they specifically went with the new high-end handset for the purpose of avoiding the strict nature of Apple and the over-saturated and abundantly crowded space offered by Google. Depending on how things go the team may port the game over to other platforms.

It will be a fascinating landscape to see unfold as more developers catch wind of BlackBerry 10's dev-friendly ecosystem and whether they will make use of the new device to push for bigger and more original content in the coming months.
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