REALbasic 2009 Release 4 for Macintosh

Joe Flores — Dec 02, 2009

Still a Solid OOP Cross-Platform Rapid IDE

REALbasic users have been creating and compiling applications on the Mac since 1998. iDevGames’ published a review of REALbasic 5 almost six years ago and most of what was reviewed still applies to the current version of REALbasic — it is still a solid OOP cross-platform rapid IDE. However, REALbasic has also grown up over the intervening five years, and now supports Linux builds, native OpenGL, and a variety of new features and improvements. But is it any good for developing games?

A Bevy of Advantages

While many computer science majors today scoff at anything BASIC, REALbasic is far from the procedural cousins that fell out of favor with parachute pants; REALbasic is an OOP language that may not be as full of inhumane syntax and blinding speed as Objective-C, but still manages a fair amount of logical power. Besides, it will compile native apps for Mac, Windows and Linux with the same code quickly, simply, and easily. In addition, it has pre-existing classes for just about everything you would need for a game: timers, OpenGL canvases, network sockets, and database interfaces.

Finding the Perfect Project

I have built a few projects with REALBasic, mostly shorter, more “casual” games. For these types of projects, REALbasic is excellent; I could build a working engine for the game in under an hour, allowing me to focus on tweaking gameplay and graphics instead of worrying about the mechanism of the application itself. Graphics composition is simple, straightforward and natural — a welcome change from the seeming purposeful obtuseness of many languages. The origin is always in the top left corner, colors can be set in RGB, CMY, or hex, meaning I can match fills and scale from my graphics programs easily and quickly, half asleep, without inducing blinding headaches. The same applies to system events, network calls, and just about any other basic functionality that has caused me pain at some time in the past. A nice plus is that I don’t have to re-gnash my teeth when deciding to compile for another platform, or spend hours trying to figure out why my simple input function is no longer simple nor accepting input, REALbasic does all that for me without ever having to touch the code.

The Cutting Edge of Game Development

All those things may be great if I’m making something simple, like a Battleship clone or a puzzle game, but what about if I want to make the next great FPS or MMO game? Well… That’s when you should hire a team or shell out for a heavy-duty engine. The same libraries that give REALbasic the power to cross-compile quick and easy also mean that there is resource overhead that will slow down your 60 frame/sec bloom rendering, or make input sluggish when you’re trying to push full screen refresh and squeeze every high speed packet out of your network.

Conclusion

REALbasic is great for the lone wolf or small team, making games that aren’t pushing visual envelopes, but instead freeing up your creative juices to push intellectual ones. The power in REALbasic is not measured in terms of flops but rather in the ease with which you’ll develop an app, game level editor, the speed of prototyping, and the new markets you’ll open by going cross platform. REALbasic has become an excellent platform for building cross-platform applications, offering a quick and easy solution for someone who needs to deploy an app to more than just the Mac users in the office.

  • Version: 2009 Release 4 Mac
  • Category: Integrated Development Environment
  • Developer: REAL Software
  • Url: http://www.realbasic.com
  • MSRP: Personal $99, Pro $299, Studio $995