Game development has come a long way from the days of Activision and the Atari 2600. The world of game development was shaken to its core with the release of Dragon’s Lair by Don Bluth in 1983. Utilizing the then-revolutionary LaserDisc format, Bluth made a game with jaw-dropping graphics and minimal gameplay. It was an acquired taste as gamers had to move their joysticks and hit certain buttons when instructed to do so at the precise time on-screen. One thing is for certain, the game was beautiful to look at as it was akin to directing your own animated feature.
Fast forward 30 years, and we are on the cusp of another revolution in game development and that is AR or Augmented Reality. Game developers are just scratching the surface on what AR can do for games and applications. The technology is ever-changing and it’s never static, so devising a strategy on how to create augmented reality apps is a tricky one. Today’s best ways may not be relevant in a year’s time, that’s how fast technology moves these days. But we can devise the best ways at this moment in time to create augmented reality apps for Android.
There are many software packages that will help you in AR development for Android. We will start with the first one, Android Studio. Android Studio is your home base, it’s where you will do all your testing of the application. It houses an APK analyzer to shore up your created software packages and tighten them up to a decent size download.
It also features an emulator to see how your developed games and applications look like on a myriad of Android phones and tablets with configurable settings (more RAM, more GPU, etc.). If it looks good on the emulator, it should look good on someone’s actual phone. Android Studio also comes with a great layout editor and a code editor to work on your applications.
The next piece of the AR development puzzle is Unity, which is one of the most popular packages for game developers around. Unity can be used with either minimal code or a lot of code, it’s easy to use for rookies in the development game. There are a lot of tutorials and information included with Unity to get the ball rolling.
Another piece of the AR puzzle is to get Vuforia, which is a marker-based AR development tool. Marker-based in its simplest form is the viewing of an image through a smartphone camera and having a digital image appear over that image. Vuforia can help you get that part of the AR development down with their tools to develop marker images.
To check your work and converse with other developers and see if the problems (and you WILL run into a problem sooner or later in application development) you have are unique, you can check with Stack Overflow which is a developers exchange of information and advice. The information there can help you out greatly if you find yourself stuck on something during the process.
The last piece of AR development that can help you make a killer application is ARCore. ARCore is a development toolkit by Google to help developers in making augmented reality apps. This toolkit doesn’t need markers to develop its’ images, you just need to find a flat surface to work with and you’re off and running. All these software kits run from Android Studio as your home base to develop, test, and refine your applications or games that you’re working on. Utilize all these wonderful tools in AR development to create something magical and useful!