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Which game engine to use for this app? (Humanitarian Disaster Relief App)


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My name is Pim, sorry for the long post, but your advise here can literally help save some lives! B)

I'm working with a well-known humanitarian organization on creating an image-swiping app which will let regular people help coordinate disaster response. We are in the SUPER early stages of developing it, and this is by no means a guarantee that this app will ever come out. We decided to go with a HTML5 game engine because we can get great UI transformation gesture performance without the need to re-write our codebase multiple times, it allows us to update on-the-fly, and it also allows for cross-platform distribution to keep the costs low. 

(Press stop reading here, it's not worth writing about at the moment! :P)

Basically the way it works is pretty simple:

  • 1) We have an AOI (Area-of-interest) which we want to map. For example, a remote area in Chad. We have satellite images linked with geographic data, and we want to know where to send troops in a disaster response. Let's say Chad is currently unmapped, meaning that we have no mapping data (house locations, road locations, water wells, etc..) available in that village. 
  • 2) We will distribute map tile images in the shape of a smartphone to users, who will be able to swipe left or right based on whether they see an object in a picture (e.g. swipe RIGHT if they see a house, LEFT if they don't)
  • 3) After enough people have swiped through the pictures, we will know exactly where we have to map, and where the humanitarian agencies have to locate their resources 

I have a quick demo i made in Cocos2d-js here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzW6_U5RX-CRM0F5ZGFMWlc0S3c/view?usp=sharing

Now..... This project will be completely open-source, and we need to pick a gaming engine that fits our needs. I've come to the conclusion that Cocos2d-js is under-used, the community is pretty dead, and even though it works pretty nicely, there's very limited documentation and it's not growing. So.. I'm looking for an alternative engine. Here's the functionality that we need, I would LOVE your feedback.

  • 1) Engine needs to have great performance with full-screen transformations (We're constantly dragging a full-screen image left and right as you can see)
  • 2) Engine needs a really good community behind it
  • 3) Engine needs to be EXTREMELY well documented
  • 4) Engine needs the ability to pre-load and cache a large amount of data offline (preferably with easy access to mobile data stores)
  • 5) We need to be able to easily rewrite modules in C/C++ where necessary (For example, a background cache is constantly running and downloading new images)
  • 6) Since this app will run offline on mobile devices, it needs to be compatible with mobile wrappers such as Cordova/Phonegap.
  • 7) Needs to be completely open-source (MIT Licensed is preferred but not required)

Please let me know which engine you think we should use and why! Also, if you'd like to contribute, shoot me a message!

All the best,





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I would think Ionic or maybe HTML5 + javascript with google maps might be worth a try, but I do not speak from experience with those, only what I have read. As for C/C++ modules, how are you going to compile that? Android uses java, and Apple devices use Objective-C. I suppose there is probably a utility to compile C to javascript if you google it.


For general HTML5 game engine options, check this link: https://html5gameengine.com/

if you just want basic webgl, pixi is one option of many.

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You dont need a game engine, its a terrible idea. Most game engines are designed to render to canvas (infact most require it), and you dont need it.

You're creating a fairly standard app, I love the idea of the app and use of Tinder-like swipes is easily understood, sounds like a great mechanism. But use technologies for building apps, the field is mature and diverse, you will have no problem finding developers to build it and you will understand it.

If you want true offline you have to build this native. Backend resources aside you could hire one good IOS developer (presumably an Android chap/chappette would do the same) to crack that out in a month or so, it sounds like you only have a couple of views and deliberately limited functionality (thats a good thing).

For you info, CSS transformations are GPU accelerated on nearly every device now so UI transitions are easier and about as smooth as they can be.

I guess the question is, would you write Tinder using Phaser, cocos, createJS etc? No, of course not, from your list in your post you have no requirement of a game engine whatsoever. Use the right tech to solve the problem (disclaimer, I've just built something fairly similar for a client but on the web rather than native). Problem with native for you I guess could be delivery, but, if someone has the internet they have the capacity to download an app so I guess that point is moot.

And very very good luck to you, it sounds like an amazing project!

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  • 6 months later...

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