Monkey saves time for game developers

Programming language runs on multiple platforms

Auckland-based Blitz Research has released Monkey – a new programming language that allows users to easily create apps on multiple platforms.

Monkey aims to be a simple game programming language that is flexible and can run on many platforms, such as HTML5, Native OpenGL/OpenAL, Android, Flash, iOS and Microsoft XNA, says company founder Mark Sibly. Monkey translates “Monkey code” to one of five different languages at compile time – C++, C#, Java, Javascript and Actionscript.

“You think up your program, type it in and [Monkey] converts your programming language to one of five other languages,” says Sibly. “It then compiles each of those to whatever platform you wrote your program for.”

So, you could write a program and compile to a website, a Flash program or a C++ application, for example. Games in Monkey code can then be run on a range of different devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, desktops and videogame consoles, says Sibly. This can save game developers precious time, as well as allowing them to release their apps to multiple markets and different app stores at once.

Monkey is the natural evolution of his earlier inventions, a range of game programming-oriented languages under the umbrella name of Blitz, he says.

Monkey was released in March and, so far, sales are looking good. He won’t disclose volume of sales but says: “It’s looking promising. It looks like sales are gradually increasing as time goes by and people hear about it and things are written in it.”

About half of the customers are based in Europe and half in the US. The full version of Monkey is priced at US$120.

Sibly has been working on the multi-platform language for just over a year. It is still early days for Monkey and he is still adding features to it.

To have a shot at the global market the trick is to offer something that differentiates you from your competitors, he says.

“You are a small New Zealand company up against big overseas companies, so you have got to have a twist to your product.”

Sibly has been a self-employed programmer and entrepreneur for more than 20 years, first in the gaming space and for the last decade in programming languages and compilers.

His operation is small – in addition to Sibly, one team member in the UK maintains the website and takes care of support, and one other person in Auckland helps with sales.

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