The first mobile game that Robinson X – better known as RXCodes – ever created looked a little something like Minecraft.
Back then, he was simply curious about how games work, and grid-based levels were easy to create and easy to understand as a 10-year-old exploring game development for the first time. But over the years that followed, the senior high school student and the freelance programmer have discovered a lot more.
For example, colors. “I didn't know that colors can be represented by only red, blue, and green! It was surprising to me because I had no clue how colors worked on electronic screens,” he said. “I learned how every single value in a color represented in [hexadecimal] works and even programmed a color picker from scratch.”
Pursuing that path of discovery, he enrolled in computer science classes in high school, where he impressed teachers with his problem-solving skills and programming knowledge, even earning a spot in an advanced class.
And he’s laser-focused on his future. “I know what career field to partake in and the job I want to strive for: game programmer!”
Drag, Drop, and Play
HyperPad, for anyone wondering, is a visual development app that makes creating games and rich media apps like interactive books and prototypes on the iPad as easy as drag, drop and play.
“Typically, you’d need some computer science or engineering background with years of experience programming and writing actual code to create things like this,” said Murtaza Saadat, co-founder, and CEO of hyperPad. Even a quick game can take hours upon hours of coding to set up a scene – never mind add characters or music.
That’s a big barrier to overcome for many creators who don’t have that coding experience, he explained. “Our main focus is to democratize mobile development and empower people who are more creative rather than technical to create interactive apps and bring their dreams to life.”
At first, quick and easy game development was their raison d’être. For example, a user could create an Angry Birds clone from scratch in roughly 30 minutes with an interface that Saadat likens to finger painting. Instead of typing line after line of code, all users have to do is tap and drag, manipulating each element with their hands. “It feels like you’re building something, which is a unique experience,” he said – an approach that made the iPad the perfect development tool.
It didn’t take long for hyperPad to start gaining momentum, grabbing the attention of startup accelerators like New York’s DreamIt Ventures and Y Combinator – Saadat and his team graduated from both, by the way.
But more importantly, it grabbed the attention of a wide range of developers, artists, musicians, and creators.
A Blank Canvas for Creators
One user, in particular, Saadat remembered, was a gifted artist who discovered a passion for creating graphics through the platform. “Now he’s in university for art. He still uses our platform now and then in between classes and assignments. We actually sent him an iPad and the Apple Pencil at one point to support him.”
Others, like Robinson X, discovered a new direction for their lives through the platform. Take Hakan, for example. Though he’s a teacher by trade, Hakan now considers himself to be primarily a game developer after discovering he had a passion – and a knack – for it. So two months after searching the App Store for game development software, he launched his first game, Adventure Mine, using hyperPad.
“In the first days, I was trying to move objects around the screen. Then, in a couple of weeks, I decided to make a full game as I was really wondering how games were performing on the App Store,” he said.
What started as curiosity years ago became like an addiction, he recalled. “I found it quite easy to make games and release them to the App Store,” he said. Plus, he found developing on an iPad was quite intuitive, with a full-screen view free from complicated bars and windows and the ability to test the game as it’s meant to be played on a real device.
Now, “After so many game releases, I feel like I am a game developer,” he added. “Game development is becoming a serious part of my life … most of my earnings come from games I made with hyperPad.”
His current project – which is nearly ready to publish – is a flight-based platformer game, and he’s preparing an update to one of his already available games to add racing events to make it more fun for players.
For Saadat, watching users take the first steps, discover what they’re passionate about and grow their skills across the board has been unexpected – and highly rewarding.
“Early on, they usually start with the very basics of adding a graphic or adding a picture that's not even cropped,” he said. “They go from that to drawing something themselves and animating something themselves. And then they need sound effects and music. As you watch this progression, as they move on from the basic behaviors to the more advanced stuff, it just sorts of snowballs.
“Maybe they're not an amazing graphics artist, but they can make music, and they didn't know they can make music until they need music for their game.”
Robinson X, meanwhile, is working on two things: a multiplayer player-vs-player game with randomly generated maps and loot and persuading others to give hyperPad a try themselves. “During my sophomore year in high school, I was assigned a project in English class to create a presentation to persuade an audience. I immediately knew what topic to talk about: hyperPad,” he said.
“I persuaded my whole class to try it out, and I actually got some of them to use it. My teacher was pleased. My final grade? A+!”