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Game dev post #1 – State of the project

It’s been a while since my last update. I’ve been extremely busy with the project and I have to say that the game is shaping up nicely and soon I’ll be in a position to reveal its title and some new art. I’m also thinking about creating product’s dedicated website – I want to make it nice and simple without sacrificing too much time towards producing it, especially when there is still game to finish. I hope I can still hit the deadline and release it in June, but this could be tricky without cutting out some features. If it comes to this – I promise to add them after release as a free update.

I have to say that I underestimated amount of coding and optimizations that I had to do on the game. Since I’ve added Box2D physics module I had to review collisions system and drastically decrease number of callbacks that are happening in response to those actions. I wasn’t happy with 40 FPS I wanted full 60. I started optimizing game code very early on so I could avoid surprises later. I’m maintaining performance wise attitude which means that before I even write a line of code I think what kind of an impact on CPU this could have. I also wanted to have game running smoothly on 2nd generation iPod touches. I resigned from using Objective-C’s NSArrays and NSDictionaries in places where it could really hurt the performance. I’m using standard C arrays instead. I’m also using objects pooling, which means that all objects are created and in memory before level loads (this also prevents memory fragmentation). Objects are never allocated/deallocated “on the fly” – they get activated/deactivated instead and sure I know that this approach uses up more memory but the performance that game receives in return is just priceless, especially for such a dynamic gameplay. I think that the game framework I’m creating will be future proof and will allow me to create games even quicker. I’m really happy with the result i got so far – this will definitely help me in my future projects.

So… how the game looks and what’s in it so far? Well I can say that nearly all interactive elements are in, but game is missing story mode and of course it hasn’t been balanced in terms of gameplay. I think I could release it without the story mode leaving it just with the endless mode instead and add story mode later on as an update, but that just wouldn’t be me. Since this is my flagship product I want to make it perfect. I just need to figure out what level of perfect is sufficient for the game to be released, otherwise I could end up “gold plating” it which is a bad thing when comes to releasing game on time. I don’t want that!

As for balancing the gameplay – I think this is the most important ingredient of any game. As a developer I have to allocate substantial amount of time for testing and balancing all of its elements. This is the “glue” that makes it “sticky” and fun to play. This is where beta testers come in and thanks to their feedback I can make adjustments. The tricky part is to figure out the difficulty level that is just right for that type of game and target audience that will play it. Make it too easy and it’s going to be boring, make it too hard and it’s not going to be fun to play.

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