I'd like to see much more documentation and examples of usage. Especially for developer control panel, there is little information regarding how it is used and how to set up certain things. Many things are quite confusing and no information is provided. Guide section is severely lacking even for basic things.
I like the design of the control panel, and I'd really like to use gamesparks for our upcoming game. But it is not enough to justify me choosing gamesparks over say App42, which has an abundance of documentation in its favor.
Examples of difficulties in using gamesparks:
I can't figure out how to use NoSQL part of the control panel to do anything with it. I have used both MongoDB and NoSQL in the past, so that isn't the issue here. Everything I write ends up with a syntax error. Just one example of usage would go a long way.
I get that you are trying to be helpful by giving us different tabs for finding,inserting,updating, etc. But it is not helpful at all if figuring out how to use it is worse than just using raw NoSQL. In fact, I am dying for a nice textbox where I can simply write e.g. db.player.find() to get all players.
Another example, in game configuration there are fields for both facebook and twitter app ids, which naturally makes me think "Ah, so I can authenticate my users via Facebook and Twitter." but then after a while of digging through documentation, there is no sign of twitter anywhere. In fact, searching for twitter gives 0 results.
This is very interesting - I see I hadn't done my homework properly as I was unfamiliar with other BaaS providers like App42 and scoreoid. If you have experience using App42, how does it compare to GameSparks?
I am currently in the process of trying to settle on BaaS provider so I am not overly familiar with any of the providers. However, here is how things look from my perspective.
When I started searching for a provider I concentrated on those that support my software of choice - Unity. That narrowed my search considerably.
I came across scoreoid, gamesparks and App42 (in no particular order). Scoreiod gave me a bad impression via their website - it is too generic and provides no real info. They use many words to say nothing. In the 15 minutes spent going through their site I still didn't learn what EXACTLY they offer and how it differs from their competitors. I also didn't find any Getting Started guides or anything that actually tells me how to set it up for Unity, or even what it is capable of without consulting the script documentation. Since I didn't find scoreoid first and I was already aware of my other options I decided not to go with scoreoid.
So that pretty much narrowed it down to gamesparks vs App42.
On Gamesparks front page there is a section with stigmatization of features offered. Gamesparks managed to state all its features with just few words (Eg. Cross Platform: Leaderboards, Achievements, In-game chat, facebook integration). I liked that, straight to the point.
There is a picture with gamesparks cloud with arrows pointing towards features supported. I liked that a lot. It provided a quick and pleasing overview of exactly what is offered. It should be put somewhere more visible, not on the last slide of dynamic slider.
(Speaking about the slider, it irritated me because it wasn't as responsive as it should be. There is a large delay between showing the picture and showing the text. I am not interested in spending 10 seconds in looking at a basketball player, I am interested in the text that is taking ages to appear on the slide.)
What App42 did good is put what SDKs it supports right on the front page. Just by looking at the amount of different SDKs I could tell they put a lot of effort in making their service available to everyone. They also put a hexagonal grid of tiles representing different features of their service. I liked that because it gave me a quick overview of what they offered - and they do offer a lot of services.
Unlike gamesparks, App42 offered a clear Sign Up button, while with Gamesparks I had to search around to find how to Sign Up to try it. In fact, now that I am searching for it again, I have no idea where I found it in the first place. It's like gamesparks TRIED to hide it. Gamesparks should make a Sign Up, or Apply For Beta, VERY clear.
Secondly, I looked at the pricing. Gamesparks offers a free plan for 10,000 MAU - that's great for start ups, indies and trying to service before actually committing to anything. If there wasn't a good free plan available I wouldn't even consider it as one of my primary choices.
But then I looked at the paid plan. 20$ for 1000 MAU?? It says in the features "GameSparks Basic", does that mean you have to pay only after first 10,000 users, or that you have to pay for every single user but you have all of the features of basic? I thought it means that I have to pay for every user. That is bloody expensive! I really hope I'm wrong and you actually have to pay for every user after 10,000th.
However, if I am not wrong, it means I have to pay 200$ a month to just get what I already get for free in the Basic plan.
Scoreoid is much cheaper.
Gamesparks has a better free plan and I think it is a great offer, it is attractive and it is what got me interested in the first place. But for paid plans - scoreoid beats gamesparks hands down. They offer 3 different plans and if you pass the MAU of your plans you pay either for the upgrade plan or current plan's price * your current MAU/plans limit MAU - whichever is lower. They also offer a plan for 100,000 MAUs for $330. With your plan that would cost $2000. So from the start GameSparks worries me - if the game doesn't succeed I have a problem because of the money put in developing it. But if my game does succeed and I have a relatively large amount of MAUs, gamespark might drain me dry. It is difficult to predict how many MAUs the game might have, but too low doesn't look good, too high doesn't look good. This is especially the problem for free to play games because the game might have a large amount of nonpaying users. So gamesparks might cost more than it is worth.
App42 has another problem altogether. They charge based on API calls. What is considered an API call is vague, but you would think they mean each time I use any of their services = 1 API call. Even if the game doesn't use multiplayer just one player might cause a huge number of API calls just in one day of playing the game - especially if the game saves progress to the cloud. If it is a multiplayer game and you need to pass the events around, that is a huge amount of API calls for small amount of players. I don't like this method of charging at all. It is hard for me to even predict how many API calls an average user might produce. Their pricing seems cheap on first glance, but I can't really say before I actually find out how many API calls on average one user might cause. What worries me even more is the bandwidth and storage - they charge for both. They even charge for push notifications. They charge for everything! It leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. It feels like they are trying to wriggle money out of me at every corner. I want to choose a provider that I will stick with, so I want to choose a reliable one that isn't trying to rip me off. A provider that cares about his customers instead of trying to wriggle money out for every single thing. So App42 doesn't leave me with that impression.
Once signed up I was presented with the control panel. I really liked the appearance of gamesparks control panel. While I didn't quite like App42 one. I like how gamesparks control panel provides short summaries of each tab so you know what you can do in it. And finding the right tab is quite easy. App42 control panel isn't aesthetically pleasing and while it does seem to offer a lot of functionality it is littered with numerous tabs and you have no idea where to do what. It is not intuitive and doesn't offer much help on how to use the interface. And even though you have the impression of it offering a lot more, you realise that it is not actually as much as you hoped. For example, it seems like adding a simple user can't be done with the interface but needs to be done via API. Is that a ploy for administrators to cause additional API calls? Everything seems to be designed to annoy you, first it looks bad, secondly you can't even find the right tab for doing what you want to do. Thirdly, when you DO find the right tab you keep searching around on how to do something simple with it - like adding a user. Only to get frustrated because there is no evident way to do it. Things have a lot of options that are not explained so you have no idea what to choose and what to do. I don't like App42 control panel AT All.
Gamesparks has a much better and more intuitive interface in my opinion. However, even gamesparks has certain parts of the interface that are not entirely clear how to use. Quick tutorials on what each tab offers would be much appreciated. Or even better, providing descriptions and examples in tooltips like gamesparks already does for some things. That would be better because users wouldn't need to check the documentation - they would already get the help from the UI itself.
While at the first glance App42 looked like it has much more to offer than Gamesparks, looking at the api it seems like it is more rigid than gamesparks. For example, user management requires users to have an user name. Why? Why am I required to have an username? Why can't I just have an email address?
However, App42 is component based so at least you can include or exclude usage of components.
Gamesparks also has some weird notions, like having 6 currencies that don't have a name. But it feels more flexible than App42.
Where the difference really becomes very evident is in the amount of documentation. App42 has a neatly organized dev centre (http://api.shephertz.com/app42-dev.php) where you can browse documentation by component. It even has a section with links to blog posts about App42 that come from users. It has nice getting started tutorials. It has more examples. That might mean you will need to spend less time trying to figure out how things work than some other providers.
Documentation and examples are very important! In fact, it is one of the main things developers look at before trying to choose which service/software to use. The software can be truly incredible but if no one knows how to use it no one will.
Documentation also gives a clear view of what the software is capable of, so software without documentation is like uncharted territory - you don't know if there is a hidden treasure or human eating monsters waiting for you.
Gamesparks API documentation is separated into cloud code, request and message. It should be separated into different functionalities, such as user authorization, events, notifications, etc. Each time I am interested in a feature I have to search for it in those three APIs because I have no idea where it is. When I want to use a feature I think about what I want to do (eg. user authorization via facebook) not whether what I am trying to do is a part of cloud code API, request API or maybe message API.
Overall, I like Gamesparks and would like to use it, but lack of documentation is really pushing me towards other options.
Thank you very much for your comments - they really are very helpful.
With respect to documentation, you are not the only person to have raised this. GameSparks has signed up over 200 studios during the Beta phase and documentation is one of the most cited issues. You will be pleased to hear that we are addressing this as a matter of priority and you will see a stepped improvement in this over the next few weeks.
It is our policy not to comment too much on our competitors in these forums, but I would like to say that your observations on the overall comprehensiveness of the GameSparks offering compared to our competitors are correct - our team has many years of designing and building large backend platforms and this engineering talent should be apparent when you do a detailed comparison.
With respect to our pricing, we are going to update the website to make it more clear following your comments. We have decided to price by MAU because API call pricing is much more complicated. On GameSparks, you will always get the first 10,000 MAUs for free and we are open to agreeing a more bespoke pricing model with you based on the particular characteristics of your game. You can contact me directly to discuss this further at email@example.com In fact, as a thank you for your contribution in these forums we will increase your free threshold to 15,000 MAUs per month.
We will be launching a new version of our website in early summer and will be sure to address your very helpful comments about what works and what does not with this.
Once again - thank you so much for you contribution. Input like this is invaluable to us. Please let us know if there is anything more we can do to help you at this time - we really hope you stick with us.
Thank you for your response!
And thank you for extra MAUs. I'll be using gamesparks backend services from now on so I'll be sure to put them to good use. :)
Your service is very well designed, your customer care is superb and it is evident you love gamesparks and want to make it the best it can be. So I am confident in my choice to stick to your service.
I don't often take the time to share my feedback. When I do it is for things that I like and want to see become even better - like gamesparks. I am glad you encourage user feedback - it is a clear sign that you value your customers and want to "grow". I've seen too many companies who don't seem to care at all about what their users want so I am very pleased that that is not the case with gamesparks.
Looking forward to the documentation. :)
P.S. I like how you have a blog on your site with news and interesting articles. News let us see that you are still active and let us glimpse at what you are up to. The articles about games as a service and similar topics are also interesting, would love to see more.
Ana - great news. Delighted to have you as a customer and we will keep doing everything we can to get even better and better.
It would be awesome if you put a few code examples along with the cloud code or JSON example
Following the cloud code tutorial, I saved some custom data against a player and tried to retrieve it with AccountDetailsRequest, but keep getting null under script data.
It would be awesome if you put some major languages examples (C# for unity, obj-c for iOS and Java for android) along with the Test harness JSON example.
Hello GS Team,
I like the admin panel and even the pricing scheme. The documentation provided can be useful but it has to be more detailed. Currently I am not understanding how to create tables in it and even how retrieve it using the Unity SDK provided
Thanks Kumar for your comment. Understand what you mean. Can you mail firstname.lastname@example.org with details of what you are trying to do and someone from customer support will pick it up and respond to you with an example.
Agree, more code samples for each client SDK would be good.
Is GameSpark still a viable option?
Seems like most conversations on this forum are years old (months in the best cases), the documentation is still vague sometimes and seems like new messages directed to support are pending for days before being published.
Should i look at other providers?
If you have an urgent issue please log a ticket. I can see you logged one an hour ago and it has already been answered. We are constantly working on improving our documentation. We're also revamping our community set up which will improve the forums quite a bit. This will be in the next few months. If you unsure about anything please get in touch and we'll be happy to assist you.