The Challenge

Hello dear friends. January came and went, we’ve all hopefully survived the “post Christmas” period and are already questioning our sanity on how it can be February already.

I’m finding it very hard to keep my blog up to date with my happenings. Maybe there is a lot happening and I’m just not getting to it or my time management isn’t what is should be. January saw a whole host of changes to my development process and truth be told, I don’t know what to make of it just yet. One of my friends brought forth the prospect of a partnership idea. In this idea he and I will be the programmers and then he re-introduced me to a 3D artist, who also brought a colleague into the picture. For me, he brings valuable business experience and 3D Artists. I don’t mean to play down his skill as developer, but I’m looking to areas where I am lacking and highlighting them.

So one could become 4 really. Listening to my universe could mean that I no longer have to draw graphics pixel by pixel, so it is surely a path I need to explore if I have it available. We started off by throwing ideas around and I soon re-learnt that this is by no means an easy process when you can’t just do what you want to do or if you have a a raw idea. Zombie would simply take to long to re-work considering it has roughly 2500 images already.

In the end we came up with a pretty interesting concept and really started throwing ideas around. This would be a project of a few months and if done right, could work technically. We still had a lot of ground to cover to make up the concept to be sure that it will be fun yet challenging. I spent a great deal of time in front of my white board and we had quite a few long sessions of sharing ideas.

We tested our idea with everyone who wanted to listen and it turns out, everything we’re doing is adding complexity to an idea that is already fairly complex. So John and I challenged each other, could we each come up with a game in just a few days.

The challenge was simple enough: Create a one screen game that works with one finger input. It must be finished by Sunday. We had 5 days. It’s worth mentioning here that we are part time game designers, we have full time jobs at a large blue chip, so our time is very much limited. That means, we don’t have 5 days of 16 hours a day, or even 8. At best, we had about 2 to 6 hours a day to realistically work with. Of course Saturday and Sunday could be full days.

So on the Thursday, I started on a game concept I’d like to call “Stray Cat”. Our challenge was to have the game completed by the Sunday and then we could start the work with the artists to get the graphics out. My wife and I had plans to visit friends on the Sunday, so I had to finish by Sunday morning. Less time for me…

I did it though, I finished at about 9am on the Sunday morning. My game was fully playable, had fairly useful graphics and the sound I must admit is very cute. Since then, we’ve not grown the game that much, in fact, the only things we’ve been doing is test playing it and toying with the interface to make sure you can pick up and play without learning a whole host of fancy gestures. We’ve also been testing it on a variety of devices. I managed to talk Game into selling me a 7-inch “Me” Android tablet for the same price the sold it in December, which was R200 below the current listed price. To be fair, that was how much they said it was when I asked.

How this will turn out, I can’t really say. I’m hopeful that we can have nice and colorful cartoon graphics, make the game come alive in a way that would appeal to a younger audience as well.

Would anyone like to test it, if so let me know 🙂

And then came Flappy Bird…

This wasn’t the end of it though. Making small games turns out to be lots of fun and I can quite a lot in very little time. You’ve heard about Flappy Bird, it’s removal from the app stores and all the clones that popped up? Well, my wife really wanted me to make a true to the original clone, not some shoddy game that looks like the graphics came out of Microsoft Word. While I was waiting for my Stray Cat graphics to arrive I started working on a game I’d rather not name just yet, but it’s engine meant I could do a Flappy Bird clone rather quickly.

The creator of Flappy Bird openly stated he wouldn’t object to clones or sue anyone for cloning it. Or course, Flappy Bird is also gone forever. I would never dream to make a clone of a game that’s available.

So the Flappy Bird story being so unique and after some deliberation I submitted my version to the App stores last week and we’ll see what happens. I’m a little nervous about it, not because it’s a clone, it clearly is and I’m not hiding or denying that fact. Interesting fact though, Flappy Bird is not an original game either, it’s a clone of Flappo Bird for the Atari 2600 see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEi7_4FTG18. No my friends, I am nervous because it allows me to learn how the submission processes work for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. It’s the starting blocks for me, whether they accept it or not and lets not forget, the engine that runs it, was made for another [unrelated] game that I am working on.

a Clone, yes I know. This might sound strange if taken out of context, but I really do believe that the creator of a game needs to receive the benefit of it. Not the clones. In this case, the creator stepped away, played the clones and said he liked them. While we’re on the subject I’m also of the belief that games should be fun first and foremost. My daughter constantly cries when she plays The Sims or Theme Park on the iPad because she hits pay-walls that frustrates her game-play. In addition to that, as a parent I don’t want my kids playing games that run the risk of them clicking ads or buying in-app stuff without my consent (which happens, by the way). a Good friend of ours walked into her daughter playing talking Tom cat, except she clicked some link and now hard core pornography was showing on their tablet. I don’t want my games doing that, exposing kids to things they shouldn’t be. This also fits my model of 99c buys you everything. I am looking at a free model with ads too, and in that I might even include in app purchases as well, but if you buy my game outright, you have it all and no ads. I think that’s fair. I’m still busy with the ads though, so my Clappy Bird clone, if accepted will be 99c [US].

So lets see how this turns out. For the first time ever, my blog is up to date with where I am. That took some doing but hopefully I can keep it more up to date now and post more frequent “smaller” updates.