After all the hard works, finally I am able to release my (first) mini game. It is called Swing Cordelia. In the beginning, my prototype used motion sensor for moving the character (Cordelia). The name swing is related to this, since you have to sort of swinging(moving) your phone to the left and right to move Cordelia. Cordelia is a dragonfly. The species is called Cordulia Aenea or Downy emerald. But I prefer to called the dragonfly ‘Cordelia’. Hence the game title name become ‘Swing Cordelia’. Along the production process, I drop the motion sensor control and choose to use swipe control instead. During testing, using motion control make the game too difficult to handle.
In this game you need to ‘delicately’ swipe your way to avoid obstacles (branches and beans). There are also winds (pushing Cordelia to the left or right) that is randomly generated following certain rule, making your way slightly more difficult. It is following a certain rule, since I am not allowing opposite wind to occur after one another. For example, if a wind goes to the right and after that to the left, the instantaneous change will surprise the player and make the game impossible to beat. Thus, after a wind goes to the right or to the left the next state will always be ‘no wind’. After a ‘no wind’ state a new wind to the left or right will be randomly generated. The beans will be thrown toward Cordelia from certain point with random speed. A proper strategy is to move Cordelia to a certain ‘fake position’, creating a beans trajectory that can be easily avoided later on. If for example you put Cordelia in a space between the branch, the resulting beans trajectory will make it hard for you to get pass the branches.
Another optional strategy is to use the ‘hover’ skill. You can hover Cordelia in certain spot to fool the ‘beans thrower’. While hovering, the branches stop moving, making it easy for you to choose the ‘fake position’. But the hovering skill is limited. After you use it, you have to wait a while until you can use it again. An indicator in the top-left board shows the hovering skill availability. Hovering skill ability is also useful, whenever you almost hit a branch, to re-position Cordelia. During my test play, most of the time I did not use hovering skill. If you are skilled in swiping, using hovering skill is optional. For beginner, I recommend to use it often.
The game is hard to master, but rewarding. I also put a nice music, to relax your mind and the fingers of course! I did not expect much from my first release. For me, this is just the beginning in my journey as an indie game developer. I will make more games and I hope one day one of you will stumble on one of them and receive the fun and love that I put into them. If you manage to read this post to the end, please download and try Swing Cordelia. Thank you.
Finally, my first mini game is roughly finished!
- The gameplay design is set with all the balancing and tweaking. The first time I played the prototype it was a very difficult game (almost impossible to beat. LOL). Along the way, I try to reduce the difficulty by changing the parameters in the program and adjusting some features. Actually, it is still a hard game to beat but along the way you will learn and adjust your play style. After several tries, I finally get the hang of it. In order to beat the game, you need to ‘delicately’ master your ‘swipe’ sense of control. Relax your thumbs and you will soar!
- I have tested the game on several of my friends. Some of them did not find it interesting enough but there is this one girl that keeps playing the game for more than half an hour until I said to her to quit the game. She said that she feel challenged to get a better score. I do not expect anything from this mini game. I just want to release it and see how it goes.
- I have done all the sound effects, the main character dead animation, game over windows, option buttons to retry or quit the game, option setting to turn on/off sound effects and background music, crushing new bugs, etc.
- I still need to make a different background music version for the main gameplay event, to add game over music background, to make program code of leaderboard and achievement features for Android and iOS devices, to incorporate interstitial ads into my game and to create an option to remove the ads for each related devices.
- I plan to use AdMob for android target and iAd for iOS release. I do not have time to research other advertisement providers. For the time being, I just want to get experience of using those two ads providers.
That’s all for this month. Now, I need to get back to Ableton and my mini MIDI keyboard controller to create two fine musical pieces.
P.S: I haven’t touch the textbook draft until now. It is very likely that the book draft will not finish in time by the time I get back to Indonesia. I will re-plan this matter later.
I have just realized that the state of my game now is actually a bit different from my early design plan. The main idea is still intact, but the overall design has gone through an ‘evolution’. After playing the prototype of the mini game over and over again, and changing the parameters numerous times, I felt the necessity to add some features and of course crushing the bugs.
I decide it to add some features into the game to make it ‘more challenging’. Before adding these feature I have already found some small bugs in the prototype but nothing major. I ignore the bugs temporarily since it did not disrupt the testing process. But, after I add the new features into the game it creates some problems. One of the features requires four days of coding. Well, actually it is a small program since it is only a mini games. But, it took me three days to solve the coding problem in order to ‘smooth’ the new feature. Also, by adding this new features I found some major bugs in the prototype. After understanding the bugs, I realized that it actually come from my lack of coding skill and experience. Now, I understand that by adding a feature, you need to somehow ‘synchronize’ it with other related codes. If you unforeseen the conflict of the new feature with other instances within the game, it will break the flow of the gameplay.
Some other features are relatively easy to code and as time goes by I feel more confident to do the ‘proper coding’. In the process, these features compete with each other. The superior features are the outcome from ‘survival of the fittest’ criteria. The shape of my new mini game has becoming much better.
Also, there is a small bug that come from the game engine. I try to find a solution in their forum but no one seems to care since it is treated as a ‘very minor’ bug. Although considered to be ‘minor’, it still annoys me very much. After a series of ‘trial and error’, I finally come up with my own coding solution. I do not know if it is the proper way to work around the bug, but I do not care as long as it works perfectly.
It seems my plan to publish the game at the end of this month is going to fail again. I am very sorry for those who are waiting. I want to make this first mini game as good as it can be. I will write a more detailed progress report at the end of this month. Stay tuned!
As you already know, recently I make a short announcement that I will be making mini games. Actually, this plan has been in my head for quite some time. The reason is simple, I want to produce ‘light’ casual video games apart from the one I have been working now. I notice that there is a large demand for this kind of game (for example flappy bird). Honestly, I also need the experience in publishing a game. Even though I already pick a small project for my first main game, it turns out it needs a lot of work. Especially for a one-man developer. I intend to produce these mini games with a very short production cycle (2-3 months) with very simple gameplay. I plan to produce most of my mini games by using a one-touch or one-swipe input system. In special cases, I will use at most two touches or swipes to play the game.
Although I have some original gameplay ideas, the mini games could also be an ‘improved clone’ of other games. Actually, flappy bird has inspired the gameplay for my first two mini games. Of course it will not be exactly the same as flappy bird since I will greatly modify the gameplay and ‘tone’ of the game. I choose to do these two mini games first since it is simple to make while I also have to learn how to integrate user scores with Google leaderboards service and to incorporate ads that will not disturb the user experience. I also need to subscribe with the respective ads networks and learn how to integrate them into my mini games. All of my mini games will come with an option to remove the ads. If all goes well and I have gained sufficient knowledge in building and publishing those two mini games, I will start making other mini games with my original ideas.
I intend to try continuously make this mini games every 2-3 months, even if I get my daily job back in the future. I hope the stream of ideas for this mini games will not run dry. I have added a new section called minis on this website. You will find my mini games there, when they become available.
I decided to make mini games along the main ones that I have been working on. I hope I can release the mini games every two or three months. The faster the better. All my mini games will be free with ads with the option to remove the ads completely.