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Learn Android Game Programming with this Easy and Fun Guide

Android Game Programming for Dummies: A Beginner's Guide

Have you ever dreamed of creating your own Android games? Do you love playing games on your smartphone or tablet and wonder how they are made? If so, this article is for you.

android game programming for dummies pdf

Android game programming is the process of creating games that run on Android devices, such as phones, tablets, smartwatches, and TVs. Android games can be developed using various tools and languages, such as Java, Kotlin, C++, Unity, Unreal Engine, and more.

Learning Android game programming can be fun and rewarding. You can unleash your creativity and imagination, express yourself through your games, and share them with millions of users around the world. You can also make money from your games by selling them or displaying ads.

But how do you get started with Android game programming? What do you need to know and do to create your first Android game? And how do you improve your skills and make better games?

In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will guide you through the basics of Android game development, the key concepts of Android game programming, the best practices of Android game programming, and the next steps of Android game programming. We will also provide you with some useful resources and tips along the way.

By the end of this article, you will have a solid foundation of Android game programming and be ready to create your own games for Android devices.

The basics of Android game development

Before you start coding your first Android game, you need to understand some basic concepts and terms related to Android game development. These include:

Setting up your development environment

A development environment is a set of tools and software that you use to create, test, and debug your games. To develop games for Android devices, you need to install the following components on your computer:

  • Android Studio: This is the official integrated development environment (IDE) for Android development. It provides a code editor, a debugger, a simulator, a project manager, and many other features that help you write and run your code.

  • Android SDK: This is a collection of libraries and tools that provide the functionality and APIs (application programming interfaces) that you need to access the features and services of Android devices.

  • Android NDK: This is an optional component that allows you to use native code (such as C or C++) in your Android projects. This can improve the performance and compatibility of your games, especially if you use a game engine or framework that supports native code.

  • JDK: This is the Java Development Kit, which is required to compile and run Java code on your computer. Java is the primary programming language for Android development, although you can also use Kotlin, which is a newer and more concise language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

You can download and install Android Studio from the official website: Android Studio will also prompt you to install the Android SDK, the Android NDK, and the JDK during the setup process.

Choosing a game engine or framework

A game engine or framework is a software platform that provides a set of tools and features that simplify and speed up the game development process. A game engine or framework typically handles the common tasks and challenges of game programming, such as rendering, physics, collision detection, sound, input, networking, and more. It also provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to design and edit your game scenes, assets, and logic without writing code.

There are many game engines and frameworks available for Android game development, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Unity: This is a cross-platform game engine that supports 2D and 3D graphics, physics, animation, scripting, UI, audio, and more. It uses C# as the main programming language, but you can also use other languages such as JavaScript or Boo. Unity has a large and active community of developers and users, and offers a free version for personal and educational use. You can download Unity from the official website:

  • Unreal Engine: This is another cross-platform game engine that supports 2D and 3D graphics, physics, animation, scripting, UI, audio, and more. It uses C++ as the main programming language, but you can also use a visual scripting system called Blueprint. Unreal Engine is known for its high-quality graphics and performance, and offers a free version for personal and educational use. You can download Unreal Engine from the official website:

  • LibGDX: This is a cross-platform game framework that supports 2D and 3D graphics, physics, animation, input, audio, and more. It uses Java as the main programming language, but you can also use other languages such as Kotlin or Scala. LibGDX is lightweight and flexible, and offers a low-level access to the Android APIs. You can download LibGDX from the official website:

  • Cocos2d-x: This is a cross-platform game framework that supports 2D graphics, physics, animation, input, audio, and more. It uses C++ as the main programming language, but you can also use other languages such as Lua or JavaScript. Cocos2d-x is easy to use and has a large and active community of developers and users. You can download Cocos2d-x from the official website:

The choice of a game engine or framework depends on your personal preference, your project requirements, your budget, your skill level, and your learning goals. You can try different options and see which one suits you best.

Creating your first Android game project

After you have installed your development environment and chosen your game engine or framework, you are ready to create your first Android game project. A project is a collection of files and folders that contain your game code, assets (such as images, sounds, fonts), settings (such as screen resolution), libraries (such as SDKs), and other resources.

The steps to create an Android game project vary depending on the tool that you use. For example:

  • If you use Android Studio without a game engine or framework, you can create an Android project by selecting File > New > New Project from the menu bar. Then you can choose an activity template (such as Empty Activity) that defines the layout and behavior of your main screen. You can also specify the name of your application (such as MyGame), the package name (such as com.example.mygame), the minimum SDK version (such as API 21), and other options.

Holder holder) // Start the game thread gameThread.start(); @Override public void surfaceChanged(SurfaceHolder holder, int format, int width, int height) // Handle surface changes if needed @Override public void surfaceDestroyed(SurfaceHolder holder) // Stop the game thread gameThread.stop(); public void update() // Update the game logic here public void draw() // Lock the surface and get the canvas Canvas canvas = surfaceHolder.lockCanvas(); if (canvas != null) // Draw the game graphics here // Unlock and post the surface surfaceHolder.unlockCanvasAndPost(canvas); } public class GameThread extends Thread // Declare variables private GameView gameView; private boolean running; private long targetFPS = 60; private long targetTime = 1000 / targetFPS; public GameThread(GameView gameView) // Initialize variables this.gameView = gameView; running = false; @Override public void run() // Initialize variables for timing long startTime; long endTime; long deltaTime; long sleepTime; // Start the game loop while (running) // Get the current time in milliseconds startTime = System.currentTimeMillis(); // Update and draw the game gameView.update(); gameView.draw(); // Get the end time in milliseconds endTime = System.currentTimeMillis(); // Calculate the delta time and sleep time in milliseconds deltaTime = endTime - startTime; sleepTime = targetTime - deltaTime; // Sleep if needed to maintain a constant frame rate if (sleepTime > 0) try Thread.sleep(sleepTime); catch (InterruptedException e) e.printStackTrace(); public void resume() // Resume the game thread running = true; public void pause() // Pause the game thread running = false; public void stop() // Stop the game thread running = false; // Wait for the thread to finish try join(); catch (InterruptedException e) e.printStackTrace();

Handling user input and touch events

User input is one of the most important aspects of game programming. It allows the user to interact with your game and control its behavior. User input can come from various sources, such as keyboard, mouse, joystick, accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone, camera, and more. However, for Android games, the most common source of user input is touch.

Touch events are events that occur when the user touches the screen of an Android device. There are three main types of touch events: ACTION_DOWN, ACTION_MOVE, and ACTION_UP. ACTION_DOWN occurs when the user first touches the screen. ACTION_MOVE occurs when the user moves his or her finger on the screen. ACTION_UP occurs when the user lifts his or her finger from the screen.

To handle touch events in your Android game, you need to override the onTouchEvent() method in your view class and return true to indicate that you have handled the event. You can then use a MotionEvent object to get information about the touch event, such as its type, its coordinates, its pointer id, and so on. For example:

public class GameView extends SurfaceView implements SurfaceHolder.Callback // Declare variables @Override public boolean onTouchEvent(MotionEvent event) // Get the action type of the touch event int action = event.getActionMasked(); switch (action) case MotionEvent.ACTION_DOWN: // Handle touch down event here break; case MotionEvent.ACTION_MOVE: // Handle touch move event here break; case MotionEvent.ACTION_UP: // Handle touch up event here break; default: // Ignore other touch events break; return true; // Indicate that we have handled the event

Working with graphics and animations

Graphics and animations are essential for creating engaging and immersive games. Graphics are visual elements that represent your game world, such as images, sprites, text, shapes, and so on. Animations are changes in the graphics over time, such as movement, rotation, scaling, fading, and so on.

To work with graphics and animations in your Android game, you need to use a Canvas object and a Paint object. A Canvas object is a surface that you can draw on using various methods, such as drawBitmap(), drawText(), drawRect(), and so on. A Paint object is a tool that defines how to draw on a canvas, such as the color, the style, the font, the alpha, and so on.

You can create a Canvas object by locking the surface of your view using lockCanvas(), and then unlock and post it using unlockCanvasAndPost(). You can create a Paint object by instantiating it and setting its properties using various methods, such as setColor(), setStyle(), setTextSize(), and so on.

To animate your graphics, you need to update their properties (such as position, angle, size, opacity) in each frame of your game loop, and then redraw them on the canvas. You can use various techniques and formulas to create different types of animations, such as linear, quadratic, cubic, sinusoidal, and so on.