Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Planning an Android Game Project

Back in 2008 when I wasn't feeling particularly engaged with my day job I wrote a Java game called Brick of Destiny. It was one of the most rewarding projects I've worked on and it inspired me to get a job where I could spend more time coding. Two and a bit years down the line and it occurred to me that since I've been a software developer for a living I haven't really done much in the way of coding outside of work, something which I intend to remedy by writing a game. 

I have a few objectives for the project:
  • Simple and self contained as I have a short attention span
  • This isn't an intellectual exercise I wan't to write something people will play
  • I don't want to write something there are a thousand versions of as someone with greater resources will probably have done it better so Pac Man or Space Invaders is out of the question unless I can give it a twist
  • I'm going to document the development process on my blog 
I have an Android phone and my Java is getting a little rusty so I'm going to write the game for Android as it's interesting to work within the constraints of a limited device. The Android Market also gives me the opportunity to get the game out to lots of people rather than the handful who played my last game.

I have the platform and the language so now all I need is an idea. I think a simple puzzle type game would be the easiest thing to implement as it can take place within a single screen and shouldn't require too much effort. 

I've tried to think back to games I enjoyed from the 8 bit and 16 bit eras for inspiration and so far I've had a few Ideas, but I don't have my heart set on any one thing yet.
So far my ideas include:

An implementation of the card game Stress. It's an interesting card game because it's real time so you don't play in turns which makes it more of an action title compared to your average card game. I was all set to get started with this until I realised that there is already a version of it on the Android market (This surprised me because it's an obscure enough game that Wikipedia doesn't know about it ). Having installed the existing game on my phone it's not the most impressive implementation so I'm pretty sure I could create something better. 

Jumping Based Platform Puzzle
My first computer was an Amstrad CPC 464 which came with a game called Roland In The Caves.
It was a really original if somewhat frustrating game in which you played as a flea trying to escape from a cave with the twist being that you could only move by jumping. I love physics based games and I think there is something very satisfying about games that involve objects moving with parabolic motion (For example Worms) 
The game I have in mind would be a series of puzzle rooms filled with obstacles that can only be overcome with precision jumping. I would also probably include some elements from Bill's Tomato Game which was an Amiga game I really enjoyed in which you had to place objects (springs, fans, etc)  to ensure the safe passage of a particularly squashy tomato through a level filled with hazards. 
I am quite taken with this idea, but it is definitely the most challenging game idea I have thought of and the Android Market is awash with high quality physics based puzzle games. 

Number Game 
Number based puzzles are always popular and it should be fairly easy to implement a single screen game. 
So far the best idea I have had is for a bejewelled style clear the balls from a grid type game using numbers rather than colours.
The objective would be to find lines of numbers within the grid which fulfilled certain criterion for example where the first two add up to the third, or where they are in ascending order. When these were found the numbers would explode and more numbers would fall into the grid. 
This is the front runner so far, but I need to think about the game mechanics a little more to make sure that it won't be trivial or impossible to play!

If anyone out there has a genius idea for a game but lacks the coding skills to bring it to life give me a shout also anyone who fancies doing some graphics for a game get in touch if you want to collaborate.

Hopefully I will have chosen an idea for my next post so there should be some more detailed design for the selected idea.

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