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Monthly Archives: September 2013

First thing: the fact that I am writing a post-mortem doesn’t mean that the “Starving Artist” game is dead. This is an analysis of what happened in the development process, both good and bad, and how it will help me in my future projects. Below is an image of our analysis: Starving Artist Postmortem

As you can see, a lot good stuff happened (everything above the timeline), while all the bad stuff (everything below the timeline) happened either because of unfamiliarity with MOAI, or because we didn’t prioritize the right things. The former can’t really be helped, as every new platform is unfamiliar in the beginning. However, recognizing the priority issue will definetly help me in the projects to come.

One particular problem I faced during the development of this game was getting the animations to work. The game logic worked beautifully, but that wasn’t really visible to the player, as without animations the game looked…confusing. It was after I had spent 3 days trying everything that I realised that it was the way I had made the game, using a single “prop” to show and manipulate all the paintballs, rather than a seperate “prop” for each paintball, which caused it nearly impossible to have it way animate the I way I wanted it. That and the strange rules MOAI has for re-drawing the screen were the reasons I couldn’t get the animations to work. I could have redone the whole game to get the animations to work, but we had run out of time by then. But fear not, because the Starving Artist has decided that we would love to see the game completed and available for play on smartphones in the near future! Thus, I will continue working on the game and will keep posting my updates here. Ooh and before signing off, here is Starving Artist

Alright, this is gonna be a long one. These last two weeks, our game idea went from an idea to a work in progress, which as I learned the hard way, involves MANY changes. The UI in my last post, which everyone liked, was changed 3 times, the core gameplay changed twice, and even now one feature which is needed to understand the working of the game doesn’t really work. We went from having four colors to six, simple swapping to swapping and mixing, to sliders on top and bottom to finally just slide everything. The UI changed accordingly with each change in the mechanic, but our artist did a terrific job each time. The “final” prototype is a mix of Bejeweled (get four or more of the same color in the same row or coloumn) and Rubik’s Cube (think before sliding). One of the producer’s, Owen, did some awesome sounds and music for the game, which really go well the whole “Starving Artist” theme of the game.

Getting to internal working of the game, we had to make it on MOAI, a platform specifically made for making games for iOS and Android. Using it was quite a task, as I had no experience in MOAI or the scripting language it uses, Lua. The first week went by in just learning how to use it, and writing simple code. Then when I got the hang of it, I started working on the actual game. Getting the mechanics to work (the first time) took about a week, during which my knowledge of MOAI also grew. Then came the day when a man (who-shall-not-be-named-but-you-know-who-you-are) gave us some great feedback on our game, but also ended up completely changing the core gameplay mechanic. So that simply resulted in me starting over on the mechanic, while our other engineer and artist had to redo the whole UI. And we also added the powerup system (which was written from scratch in one day). All in all, it was a good experience, as I got to know how drastically things can change in the prototyping stage, and I ot experience in MOAI and Lua.

As for the one feature that isn’t working, the movement of the balls isn’t animated. As soon as the player makes a move, the balls instantly appear at their new location. This can cause problems with people who aren’t familiar with the game not really understanding what is going on, but I hope to fix atleast part of the problem before the final pitch. Before I leave you, here are a couple of screenshots of what the game looks like now:

Initial game.

Looks…sketchy

 

MAXIMUM POWER!

MAXIMUM POWER!

Hey everybody! This is the first of many posts (atleast 100) that’ll be here documenting my journey in the EAE program at University of Utah (as if you couldn’t tell that from the URL). But with the formal introduction out of the way, we can get down what this blog really is about. I’m a computer engineer, which means I get to write the stuff thats related to the stuff that makes pretty much everything today. Specifically, being part of the EAE program, I’ll be doing the code behind fun (hopefully) and interesting (again – hopefully) video games.

As part of one of my first assignments, I’m a part of a 5 member team (Travis Turner, Owen Peterson, Joe Rozek, Peijun Zhou and yours truly) working on a mobile game, titled “Starving Artist”. It’s a match-3 puzzle game in the vein of Bejeweled and more recently, Candy Crush, but with an interesting theme and some new game play features that aren’t famous in this genre. You can see some of the concept art below, and I’ll update our progress here regularly.

concept_game_inplay concept_power_full_with-_powers

 

 

 

PS: A bit about the part about being regular: I was supposed to have this post up at the end last week, but as you can see, I got a bit “delayed”. I’ll make sure this was the first and last delay, but please don’t kill me if I miss a date 😛