There’s a maxim in software development that goes something like this:
If you have a great idea, someone is already working on it.
For me, the “great idea” was a simple, easy-to-use online game service (preferably free). For me, the “someone” is Parse. Given the amount of research I do into all things gaming, its a wonder I didn’t know about these guys before. They’re awesome.
You could wander over to their site to see why, but let me highlight a few of the more important things here. First off, they’ve created a system far better than I could have ever managed with either Gemini or Sagittarius. Parse is powered by Amazon EC2, comparable to Google App Engine in performance. And they have a pretty crazy database setup that focuses on MongoDB — what I would use for Sagittarius if I had a choice — but also includes MySQL, Cassandra, and Redis.
One thing I’m wary of about third-party services is that they usually kill on pricing or membership. For example, Steamworks is notoriously hard to get into for the average weekend game developer, and most other existing backend services offer pay-as-you-use, meaning nothing is free. But Parse offers one million request ops per month free. To put that in perspective, that’s about what Gemini clocks in at (it gets around 30000 hits a day at peak), and I’m servicing over 200 regularly active users. For someone just demoing a game or even sharing it with friends, Parse is perfect.
Just make sure you don’t go over 1 million though…$199 a month is steep. On the other hand, I always say that if your game does become that popular you probably wouldn’t worry too much about $199.
I got set up with a Parse backend and SDK in a little over 1 minute. I have been playing with it for a few days now and it does everything I’d want a game service to do. I’m planning to rewrite Dave Likes Pizza to use Parse as a better test of the backend, but from what I’ve seen it’s great.
At this point you might be wondering, “well what about Sagittarius?” In truth I have no idea. I was running into the proverbial brick wall in many ways with Sagittarius, and have spent a good part of the last month searching near and far for solutions. That’s how I found Parse. But now that I have this solution, I don’t know what’s going to become of my own service. Maybe I can turn Sagittarius into an UnrealScript/UE4 SDK for Parse?