Corona is good, but Marmalade Quick is better, says CTO Closs

Corona is good, but Marmalade Quick is better, says CTO Closs
Earlier this week, cross-platform framework creator Marmalade unveiled its new rapid application development tool – Marmalade Quick.

The open source utility enables the rapid creation of 2D games and apps, making use of components such as Cocos2d-x, Box2D and the Lua scripting language to help developers rapidly iterate on their projects.

Interested parties can test out the tool right now via its GitHub page, or through Marmalade's website.

Those who find themselves on the fence, meanwhile, will be able to see exactly what the tool is capable of once Marmalade's in-house development studio launches Signal to the Stars – the first game developed exclusively using Quick.

So, in order to find out more about Marmalade Quick's capabilities, its future and its benefits over the tools already available, we caught up with Marmalade CTO Tim Closs.

Pocket Gamer: What is Marmalade Quick?

Tim Closs: Marmalade Quick is the new flavour of our award-winning SDK, that enables Rapid Application Development (RAD) of 2D games and app using Lua.

It's entirely open source (MIT licence), and built on top of familiar best-in-class open source components like Cocos2d-x and Box2D.

The Marmalade SDK grew originally up as a C++ tool for developers looking to get maximum performance out of their apps and games. However, not every developer wants to build their native 2D games and apps using C++.

While C++ is 'fast' in the sense of being high-performance, for many developers it's often not 'fast' in the sense of developers' time.

For developers choosing not to use C++, we wanted to provide a super-RAD programming environment that still gives access to Marmalade's uniquely powerful desktop tools and cross-platform reach. The solution is Marmalade Quick.

What prompted the decision to move from cross-platform development tool to RAD programming tool?

Marmalade Quick is both, really – it's a cross-platform RAD tool.

All of our supported platforms work just as well with Marmalade Quick as they do with our C++ version. That includes iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Mac and Windows desktop as well as selected smart TVs.

I don't think there's a faster way to develop an app or game and make it available on so many devices.

How does Marmalade Quick compare to existing solutions? Corona Labs has a similar offering, for instance.

Corona is a good product, but Marmalade Quick is differentiated in three key ways. Firstly, it's entirely open source, so developers can extend and modify it at will.

Secondly, it's based upon great open-source solutions like Cococs2d-x and Box2D, meaning developers are already working in familiar paradigms; they can use all of the third-party tools associated with those components, and if they 'open the box' they'll find familiar code.

Thirdly and critically, Marmalade Quick supports way more platforms than Corona.

OpenQuick can be found on GitHub and used independently of the Marmalade SDK. Are you concerned that people will just use this version of the tool rather than paying for a Marmalade licence?

We're not concerned, and we're expecting some developers to do that! The existence of the OpenQuick core engine is evidence of how genuine we are about the open source nature of Quick.

We'd rather have a ton of developers start working with OpenQuick, than try to force every single one to be using the Marmalade Quick superset.

However, we believe any developer looking seriously at Marmalade Quick will soon see how much additional value Marmalade is providing in our tools and extended cross-platform reach.

Marmalade Quick also features an integration with the great ZeroBrane Studio Lua IDE, for Lua authoring and debugging.

Can you tell us a little about Signal to the Stars and the work of Marmalade's in-house development team?

Our in-house studio built Signal to the Stars as a way of driving the development of Marmalade Quick, and ensuring it's ready for prime-time.

It's a really fun 2D game that uses a good chunk of the Marmalade Quick APIs, including things like the cross-platform In-App Purchase API.

We'll be pushing the game out on as any platforms as we can... we like eating our own dog food!

What plans do you have for the future of Marmalade Quick?

Marmalade Quick is open source, so in some ways it will take on a life of its own.

But we have a solid roadmap of additions coming over the next few months – exposing the remaining Cocos2d-x features like particles and tilemaps, but also offering easy access to a load of connected APIs like ads, analytics and social gaming services.

More than anything, we'll be listening carefully to developer feedback and making sure we're responsive to their needs.
Thanks to Tim for his time.

You can find out more about Marmalade Quick here

Staff Writer's news editor 2012-2013


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Jerry Howard
So far Corona has been great for me. I went from no experience with Corona or Lua to a completed/published app with ads and in-app purchases for both the Apple store and Google Play- all within 2 months. My app is "Birdy Brain" on both stores if you want to give it a whirl.
Hello! Tim, what do you think about Quick perfomance? I just tried to run Collision Events example on Nexus 7. I created 15 objects and got many lags.
Walter Luh
Gosh, truthiness makes a comeback! That's what makes Corona so great. Even the few detractors we have are passionate and follow us off site. Great to see you here too, Rob!
Rob Lucifer
Well really Walter, I think the actual issue here is that Corona has been systematically shredded from what it was even a year ago.

Comparing it to back then, you see how much buggier it is, it crashes far more frequently, enterprise is being shoved down everyone's throats more than ever, premium support for bugs that shouldn't exist to begin with and staff just constantly trying to make everyone use the feature request form and gather votes despite the fact half of your staff have already publicly said that it is useless anyway as there is no commitment to implement what we most want from that list, unless it's easy.

You promised an official level editor and Mac apps, two things many people wanted and still do want, but this was bait and switch. We were told these things were coming soon and they never arrived.

Your recent name calling blog was also very disappointing. Seeing you insulting former staff members who have left gave me the impression you were bitter, which is a shame because there is already growing disdain for other executives at your company, such as your coo who takes to calling anyone who has a complaint a troll on twitter.

The forum is much quieter than it was even 6 months ago and the staff provide mostly useless answers or links to bug forms, feature forms, or enterprise.

It is sad to see a product I once enjoyed using become such a chore. For now I have to use Corona for work but my personal licence has lapsed and I can't imagine ever renewing it.
Gaz Deaves PR Manager at Marmalade
Hi Walter

Great to get your input. By the way, we'll have to forgive the writers at PG their artistic license, as I never used the word "better", instead I was asked to draw objective comparisons between our two products.

It's true that many developers don't want to be messing with the internals of an engine. But the trouble with making a product a 'take it or leave it' proposition is that, if a developer likes 95% but can't get that last 5%, they still might need to choose another solution, even if that's just using the individual platform SDKs.

That's why from the start we architected Marmalade SDK as strictly layered, supporting open standards, and therefore embracing a world of additional open source modules and 3rd party extensions. We think that world should be open to all developers; some may explore it just a little, some may exploit it fully. Therefore we don't charge extra for that openness and ecosystem of extensions; even developers paying $149 for our Community license can target all iOS and Android devices and use any Marmalade extension or 3rd party service they choose.

I think the whole RAD space is really interesting, there's a lot of innovation happening. When designing Quick we looked at a large number of products and tools, and we were certainly very interested in some of the things Corona has done. I think we share some of the same DNA - whilst Marmalade has traditionally been known for C++, our goal has always been to simplify the complex. First and foremost that has been about simplifying platform fragmentation, and now we're also taking strides to simplify the development workflow.

Certainly iOS and Android are our core platforms - that's where we continue to invest most heavily. But ultimately we want to enable developers to make their own choices. We've found that savvy developers can find great opportunities on other platforms including BlackBerry, Windows Phone 8, and desktop Windows and Mac. For example, we recently ran a promotion with BlackBerry that had a phenomenal response for our community, and delivered over 1,000 apps and games to BlackBerry World.

We're looking forward to seeing how you guys develop your product, especially with the GameMinion acquisition. We'll be continuing to innovate with Marmalade Quick, and curating the OpenQuick project. I think between us we'll be offering some great choices for games and apps developers."

jon jordan
Thanks for the commetns Walter!
Walter Luh
Hey guys, Walter Luh, CEO of Corona Labs here. Thanks for the mention, and congrats to Tim/Marmalade on the launch of Quick. Its great that other folks are starting to see the value in the kinds of products we pioneered back in 2008.

We certainly agree that Lua is a great language. We believe developers of all levels want to build beautiful games/apps quickly and easily. This approach has been fully proven as Corona is now a very mature platform, with over 200k developers worldwide and over 25k live apps across all the app stores.

As for Tim's points about Corona and Marmalade, I'd like to respectfully make a couple of quick comments:

1) Open source: there is a lot of value in open source and we are big believers ourselves. However, we also have seen that the vast majority of developers want to focus their energy on building their apps/games, not mess with the internals of an engine. So that's why our devs tell us they love how Corona is actively maintained and that, for example, we delivered an update for iOS 6 the day it was released.

2) Underlying technologies: We agree - building on industry standards is important. That's why Corona SDK is also built on Box2D, SQLite, OpenAL and more. With Corona, we give developers access to the power of these technologies, but we also know how to make them extremely easy to use – it's in our DNA.

3) Platforms: We have purposely focused Corona on providing developers with the best way to build for iOS, Android, Kindle and Nook. These are where developers are making 99% of the money. As other platforms emerge, we will have no problems extending coverage. But I've personally seen what happened to Flash and it wasn't pretty ;)

Thanks again for the mention. All the best!
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