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Daily iPhone App: Sketch Nation Studio opens up game dev on the App Store

Sketch Nation Studio started out as Sketch Nation Shooter last year, a "game" on the App Store that actually let you make your own shooter game by using scanned-in pictures and a few scripted sets of rules. As creator Nitzan Wilnai told me at GDC earlier this year, he heard from a lot of users that they wanted to make games other than just shooters with the engine. And so he's now delivered Sketch Nation Studio, available as a free download on the App Store.

This is a really wild app that you should probably see even if you're not interested in game development. It's almost too complicated to explain in a post like this (there are lots of social virtual currency things set up to make sure you want to trade and play games created with the service), but the basic idea is that there are three ways to make a game: simple, advanced, and standalone. Simple is obviously the easiest, letting you put together a game in one of five genres in just a matter of minutes. Advanced is a little tougher, allowing for more complex scripted sequences and lots more customization (it'll be very interesting to see what comes out of the advanced mode going forward -- this is the kind of thing that very dedicated users will be able to make a lot of magic with).

But standalone is the really interesting one. Games created with the standalone mode (which essentially uses the advanced options) are submitted to Wilnai's servers, and he's got a system set up where any games he and his team feel are worthwhile will eventually get reconfigured as standalone iOS apps. He's already got the engine built and everything, so all his team needs to do is check the games out, tweak them into their own, Sketch Nation-branded apps, and turn them back around in Apple's system. The catch is that Sketch Nation will take 50% of the profits they earn (after Apple's 30% cut), but the creators of those games will get the other 50%, directly from Sketch Nation.

It's pretty revolutionary and lest you think that it's all theoretical, Sketch Nation has actually already released some of these games on the App Store (Draakon, for example, is a standalone game created with the app). I told Wilnai in March that he could really be shaking things up with a system like this, and he just shrugged -- as long as Apple approves the app, he's ready to take the challenge on. Well the app is now out and free on the App Store right now, so would-be game developers, the future is in your hands.