With the first week down, I was hoping to have a few more things under way. But of course, development doesn't really work like that. I thought I had fleshed out my game design document as much as I could, but there has been a few hiccups i had never really thought about.
The first hiccup was the controls. I knew I wanted an on screen joystick as the main control, and a 'tap' mechanic which would slide the player to quickly get out of harms way in the direction of travel. Now the tapping mechanic wasn't the problem. That was actually quite simple to set up; basically, I just needed two different ID's for when the player has their fingers down on the screen. The first being the movement, and the second being the tap mechanic, since, well, you need to be moving in order to dive, I figured the movement would be the first ID and the tap being the second. No, the tap mechanic wasn't the problem, the problem was the movement and the joystick configuration.
I initially wanted the joystick to be fully transparent when the player presses the screen. I wanted to have as much game space as possible without crowding the stage up with the controllers. In theory that sounds good, but the problem is that the player would have no clue where they initial pressed when moving the character around. If they wanted to turn the character back in the opposite direction, they would have to essentially 'guess' or 'remember' the initial location of when they first pressed on the screen, which, for a game that requires an incredible amount of concentration, is something you wouldn't want to care about. So, I decided to drop the transparency of the joystick to a point where you can still clearly see it, but not too much that it crowds the game stage.
The second problem I had was deciding whether or not to have the joystick move to the pressed location, or to anchor it to the corner of the screen (either left or right). I thought about this a lot, but ultimately decided to keep it anchored to the bottom corner of the screen. I thought "nobody would really tap in the middle of the screen in order to move the player around right?". Players who have used joysticks in the past are used to having it in one location, whether it be on screen or on a controller, so why change something that ain't broke.
Once I "kind of" sorted out my controls, I decided to move on to implementing a background. Now I know it's way to early to implement a full background at this stage, but there is a reason for this. Since I'm trying to accommodate a number of different devices with a number of different dimensions, I needed to make sure that not only the background was still visible, but the game mechanics weren't out of the screen bounds. So I decided to make the background larger than it needed to be, and center the games camera to the middle of the background. This allowed me to know exactly how much screen space was needed for the smallest screen dimension, and build the background out from that. So far, it seems to be working well, but I need to test this on a number of different devices, so stay tuned, this still could go up in flames.
The last thing I struggled with was the walls of my background. The ground was fairly simple, since I knew the style I wanted. But the walls of an 'orc' arena are actually quite difficult to think about. Not only did I need to consider consistency with the style, but I also had make sure that it wasn't to distracting, nor was it too bland. That it wasn't too dark, or too light, and consider what an actual orc arena would look like. These things were hard to think about, but I eventually found a style of wall which I like. I may change this later down the track, but for now, it's a good placeholder. Handy tip; Referencing is your friend!
Besides these tedious hiccups, I've managed to actually get the ball rolling with this. I hope that in the coming weeks I would gain a little more momentum. The goal next week is to implement the character animations for 8 different directions. Again, ambitious, but do-able. Until then, enjoy!
Over the past few years working on Slidey Feet, I have come to realize a few things. Things in which I never would have considered. Things that most schools or university don't really teach you. Sure, some of these things are quite hard to teach such as self preservation, determination, and any other '-ations' you can think of to get you over that development finishing line. No, the main 'thing' that I had over looked during my development process was a thing called 'community'.
Community is one of the most important aspect of game design. Without a community, your game would most likely fall into the endless void of forgotten games. I know marketing can also play a massive role in bumping up your game's existence, but without your community, your game would get minimum amount of exposure. Not ideal especially for making money.
That's why I have decided to create a Devlog, so that people new or old to the industry can follow my journey through the up's and down's of creating a small mobile game from start to finish. I wish to not only build a community of my own, but to also let other learn and see the inevitable mistakes I make a long the way so that they can avoid them during their development process. I'm hoping this Devlog will be intuitive to a lot of people (including myself), so that I can also learn from my mistakes and grow to become a better game developer.
Your first game is more or less like your first born child; You think that it is the best thing in the world, that nothing else you could produce could ever be as good as the first. Welp, most of the time, it's not the case. Once that second child comes in to the mix, it's down hill for the first one. Sure, you still might care for it and nurture it, but not as much as the second born.
The first idea that you come up with is almost guaranteed not to be your best. Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't work on it -by all means, develop that first idea, it will give you some very good experience- but, you shouldn't just stop there. Be creative, be experienced. Doing this will give you the knowledge and understanding on what you will need to do in order to produce better ideas, and higher quality of work. And yes, there is a point to these ramblings about children and favoritism. The point is that I did exactly that; I thought that Slidey Feet was going to be a big success since it was my first game idea, my first born, but it wasn't, and I know that now. But, it was something that I got off of my chest. Something that I wanted to create, purely for myself, and yet, I can say that I have my first published game out in the real world. So yes, develop that first idea, see where it takes you, but don't just stop there, be creative, be determined.
Now that my self-absorbed ramblings have come to an end, I'll be happy to share my journey of my game development process with you. I hope that this journey will be intuitive not just for me, but for you as well. So to start of, let me share what this game is basically about. The game is called 'Just Survive: Arena'. Hopefully the title alone gives it away. The genre is basically an 'obstacle survivor'. It is a small mobile game designed for the casual audience. You play a dopey orc who has been thrown into an arena. Your job is to avoid all traps and dangers that are presented to him simply by moving him around with the touch screen controls. Now I know that joy-sticks aren't ideal for mobile devices, but I guess that's where testing comes in to it. I hope to keep this game fairly simple and avoid any complex feature creeps, but i'm sure there will be changes. Simplicity is the goal, so hopefully I can stick to that.
I'm hoping to keep these blogs not as long, but as frequent as possible, to keep you up to date with what I have been doing and what I plan to do. I'm hoping to release these roughly once a week, maybe even twice a week. Now, i'm sure life will throw some heavy curve balls at me while developing this game, which is expected, so if I do fall off the radar a bit, it's for a good reason. Regardless, I will try to keep you in the loop with the 'happenings'. Anyway, I feel as if this first Devlog has been rather 'different' than what I actually expected to write, so hopefully I haven't discouraged you from following along. Again, welcome aboard, hopefully this will be as intuitive and exiting for you as it will for me!
Thanks for reading.
Lindsay is a solo game developer, designing and creating games that he hopes all will enjoy.