Friday, 30 December 2011

Time for reflection

Since I started this project back in October there have certainly been some challenges both related to this and those of my day to day life.

However, as I explained in my initial project kick off there is a goal to all this and setting myself a target of at least 3 hours a day for 6 days a week has certainly given me the impetus to ensure this keeps ticking along.

The more I get involved with Corona SDK by Ansca the more I feel I have made the right decision. Of course I would say that but the more I dig, the support of the community and the 3rd party applications has made this a voyage of discovery.

What I haven't mentioned to date is that I am a reasonably experienced developer having spent some 15 years within the IT industry but probably the last 8 or so have been in management so getting back to my first love of coding and being creative while solving problems is my expertise and this has certainly set me up well on this project.

Reading the game design book The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses was again a better decision than I knew at the time. This taught me to be iterative and thoughtful and not get carried away by shiny new toys as well as consider my audience / customers. That coupled with my over ambition to achieve the next AAA game or Angry Birds rival on first attempt has seen me move from game idea to a simpler game idea a few times to one I am happy to proceed with.

The real proof of this came when I handed my wife the first alpha release of my game (copious amounts of bugs) of which she continually played it over and over for some 20 minutes. The feeling of satisfaction to not only get to grips with the Corona SDK to actually produce something that worked but so a completed non gamer (casual gamer if you like) and interact in how you intended with little instructions is the motivator for the next 200 hours, 1000 hours, hell why not the whole 10000.

The turning point was certainly this week. I was struggling. I had spent an inordinate amount of time getting pretty much no where. I had been using the Corona SDK trial version which is some builds behind the indie license and of course the daily builds. I upgraded to the stable paid version and this was when the light bulb moment happened.

I had been struggling with device performance issues. Like the XCode simulator the Corona one doesn't bottleneck performance relative to a device but instead is happy to consume most of my Mac Book Pro's power to make me think all was well. Compiling to the device pretty much rendered it useless.

I had been using the Director Class by Ricardo Rauber to control scenes while within the trial and while excellent Ansca had released their own supported version called Storyboard. Once I had paid for the indie license the layout of Storyboard just seemed to open my eyes up to how it should all hang together. As a result I have completed rewritten my game with 48 hours, achieving 55 to 60 fps and half way to integrating open feint into the game.

I also found an excellent tool called Physics Editor by Code 'n' Web which has greatly improved my collision detection mapping. A tool that only costs $20, allows you to import your images and then hit auto trace. Output to Corona and you have the physics data you need to provide accurate collision mapping. This alone has saved me hours but given a far greater polish to the experience.

So in summary feeling pretty confident about getting the game out into the app store and android market and the benefit that Corona SDK gives me is that I can target iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android devices, Nook and Amazon Fire with very little to worry about. Also with a greatly improved advertising network which on first sight looks far better than iAd (click rates to be verified) a multi device app should be available early 2012.

And this is good as it brings me back on schedule for releasing 3 games within the first year as part of my project.

It should be a happy new year and I wish you the same


Unknown said...

Cool blog post. This is the first post I've read of your blog, but I'm going to read more. About a year ago I set out on a similar journey of becoming an app developer with the goal of becoming self employeed after two years. I'm one year in and have just decided to use Corona for my first game. It'll be interesting to see what your experiences have been. Thanks for the post.

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