What Have We Done So Far?

Hmmm, good question. The answer is so much, yet not NEARLY enough. We’ve managed to do a lot of work, but unfortunately we made the mistake of not having a clear plan in place before we started. This has caused us to constantly double back on our design efforts to change things that we decided didn’t fit or just didn’t look right. I’ll go back to the beginning and try to capture some of the major hurdles we’ve had to overcome.

The first major hurdle was that neither of us knew jack about Android development, or Java for that matter. This wasn’t as big of a deal for Ryan (he just has to worry about the art), but I needed to know this stuff if I wanted to have any shot at making a game. So, two weeks before we started I took an Eclipse and Java for Total Beginners online class. (I wasn’t exactly a total beginner, but this class was great for brushing up on the syntax and I highly recommend it)  After I freshened up on Java, I started reading through a couple of Android development books I picked up. Ryan and I both got about half way through Beginning Android Games before we decided we couldn’t wait anymore and had to start making our a game right away. That was the first major mistake. (The framework from this book gave us a good starting point for our game and is a great reference)

As soon as I finished working through the first sample game in the book, I decided that I wanted to test out what I learned. I told Ryan to draw me up some quick art and that I would code it in when I got home just to see if I could get it to work. That night I stayed up till about 230 coding and, when I was done, UPSAT had been born. In case you’re wondering, it looked a little something like this:

Shield you eyes!

Our initial design idea


Hideous, I know. The UI elements didn’t come until the next day, but you get the gist of where we were going. (Note: the game looks nothing like this anymore, as you’ll see in the next Post) Excited from our victory, we did a quick assessment to rule out needing to continue on with the book and learn Open GL since our game is not animation heavy. We spent some time thinking about game play and how we wanted it to look, but pressed on coding and drawing as fast as our fingers would allow.  

This is about when we ran into our second hurdle. We spent so little time planning out the end product that we were doing things we would later decide we didn’t like at all. Sometime last week we realized that when you played the game on different sized screens it looked horrible. I won’t bore you with the technical details, but basically we were either stretching or squishing the game to fit the screen instead of maintaining a constant aspect ratio. It took me about 2 days to think through this problem and figure out what the best solution was for our particular purpose. What a setback!

After that fiasco Ryan and I decided it was time to have a little Skype session to really talk through our game ideas and flesh out the design. (Everything we’d done up till this point had been via Chat or Email) We spent hours discussing everything from art style to the scoring system and when we were done we had a new vision and a more comprehensive design strategy. We’ve still encountered a few bumps since then, but things are a lot smoother now that we know where we’re headed. I guess the moral of the story is “Look before you leap!”

And that brings us up to today. In the next post you’ll finally get to see the huge changes we’ve made since our little pow-wow.  BUM BUM BUMMMMM (dramatic reverb)