Flappy Herbie Saga: Trolls of the Forest

Flappy Herbie: Trolls of the Forest iconFlappy Bird did it. The most simple game ever build at the top of every AppStore. How frustrating can that be to big game development companies that put hundreds of thousands of dollars into developing and marketing their games? It is so funny to follow this industry. You can never predict the future.

I was feeling so psyched about it! I needed to mock it, understand it, troll it, test it, everything at the same time. So my creative juices started boiling again, and I decided that I had to make a game that will express all that. Everything in it should be trolling some part of the situation. The game itself, the gamers, the appstores, the clone haters. So starting from the game name you can begin to understand what is going on. “Flappy Herbie Saga: Trolls of the Forest”. I used to name my games with short names. Not anymore. The game is also SO hard that it provides Zen relaxation services to the gamer for free. Even though I was tempted to make it a paid service at some point just to meta-troll it. When you feel frustrated by the game you can read beatiful Zen calming quotes, while listening to nice relaxing music. I am not going to dive into all satire points in the game as I will ruin it, but you will get the point for sure.

I had to make it in 1-2 days. Continue reading

FlyCraft: The success story

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Back in October 2012 I had the bold idea of taking part in Ludum Dare’s October Challenge. Having done game engine and game development projects in the past I knew what kind of huge challenge this was going to be. Nonetheless I still knew I wanted to do it.

Already being in a game idea research phase, after having completed the circle of my last game Pop Corny, I comforted myself by thinking that this was a cool way to take one of the many ideas in my head and really try it out. The worst thing that could happen was to add one more idea to the “crappy game ideas bin”. Continue reading

Porting your iOS game to Blackberry Playbook (and future BB10 phones)

Continuing after my latest post about porting existing iOS games written in C/C++ to the Android platform, here I am again writing about my latest porting endeavor that brings Pop Corny to the third platform! Ever thought of porting your iOS game to the Blackberry Playbook? Well, here I will share some insight of what to expect.

The basics

If you are like me you will probably think that the Playbook has something to do with the tech that used to run Blackberry’s phones. This misconception was so strong in me that I didn’t even consider a port to it. The truth is however, that the Playbook is based on the new platform that Blackberry is creating based on the QNX operating system, and will also be used on the BB10 phones. Things started to look better on the porting front with these info, but there is always a fear that Blackberry could be Google and force everything to Java and only support native after a long time has passed. It turns out that things are much better than I expected. Not only Blackberry allows you to write native apps, but its Native Development Kit (NDK) is a complete solution for developing on the platform. Not like Android for example, where the NDK is just a crude exposure of the native Android’s build system, supports minimal functionality and requires Java calls for most stuff. On Playbook you can write a full native app and never look at Java again. The NDK will provide C level APIs for all that you are going to need. From screen handling and input, to in-app purchases.

The Blackberry provided development environment is QNX Momentics, which is based on Eclipse, but also you can easily do everything with command line tools if you prefer. I chose to go with Momentics even though I find Eclipse slow and sluggish, because it is very nicely setup for native C/C++ development (with debuggers, profilers, etc) and I wanted to see how far it will get me until I started missing the command line. Surprisingly, it did all the way. Had no problem with it, which is a first for me and Eclipse.

You also get an emulator for trying out your, code which is based on VMWare. This didn’t strike me a good thing because you have to buy VMWare to run it. Sure there is the VMWare Player version that is free, but you can use that only on Windows and Linux. The Mac users, like me, will have to use the 30-day trial of VMWare Fusion, or buy it.

Next I will go through the major porting areas to keep this consistent with my corresponding article for Android. Continue reading

Porting my game engine to the Playbook

The last few days I am a happy owner of a BlackBerry Playbook. The device was offered to me by RIM (thanks to Luca Filigheddu) in order to port Pop Corny to it. To tell you the truth I never owned a Blackberry device before, not to mention develop for it. It was a totally new experience, where I had no idea what to expect.

It turns out RIM has done an awesome job with Playbook and probably with its upcoming phones (just speculating I don’t know for sure). The system is based on the QNX operating system and it has strong support for standards and open libraries. I found myself right at home with it! I am going to come back with more details about the process (probably with an altdevblogaday article), but by cutting the long story short, I was able to port the engine with only native code (no java glue code like on Android) with OpenGL, OpenAL (even ALUT), freetype, etc all coming bundled with the system. Continue reading

Porting your game from iOS to Android

So you created a C/C++ game for iOS that gives joy to iPhone and iPad gamers from around the world. How can you deny this joy from all loyal Android users? I can’t, so I had to port Pop Corny to the Android platform. It was a very interesting experience, full of gain as I say, and I think it would be nice to share some information and knowledge on the subject. Continue reading

Android & Pop Corny == true

Yeap it is true! Pop Corny is finaly available on Android devices. It was a huge effort trying to support all those diverse devices, but it is going better than I expected. Pop Corny is available since yesterday and until now I only had one complaint for not running. I consider this a success. 🙂

The game is a free download available from the Google Play Store. You may also scan this on your Android phone to get it:

Pop Corny QR Code

It is likely that I will blog about my experiences on bringing Sylphis3D and eventualy Pop Corny to Android here and on AltDevBlogADay, so stay tuned. Meanwhile download the game and enjoy it!

Writing portable code: A process full of gain

Lately I am spending some of my time into porting my game engine to the Android platform. It is a rather refreshing, interesting, rewarding and also frustrating experience. All at the same time. The process helped me learn new lessons and remember some old ones I had forgot.

Getting confortable

First of all I realized once again that we people get comfortable. And oh boy we get comfortable! I remember myself a few weeks back being frustrated with XCode 4 and how it was slow and sluggish compared to XCode 3, how I don’t like the new environment, etc. Well, no more! All it took was a few days in Eclipse. Dialog windows popping up behind the main window, >500ms on most clicks on files, kitchen & sink user interface, can go on forever, and all you really basically get at the end of the day is just a smart editor and debugger that only works for the Java part. Compare that to XCode with its memory profilers, time profiles, filesystem profilers, network profilers, battery optimizers, the very helpful OpenGL state inspector and logger, there is really no relation. I had forgot how it was to develop on other platforms, and how amazed I was initially with the special treatment that Apple gives to developers with its tools. What amazed me more is that I don’t come from such a “comfy“ background. The initial version of Sylphis3D was developed in parallel on Linux and Windows, mostly using no IDE at all, and I never found the tools a problem. As it turns out hardship builds character, while comfortness breaks it.

Portable software is good for you

Building portable software is highly valued in my mind, because it helps you be a better software engineer while making better quality software at the same time. You get to learn many different development environments, understand their design decisions, workaround platform differences, think further ahead, etc. All these require you to get a deeper understanding of your code and your dependencies. Always pushes towards a more organized code structure and reveals bugs that would otherwise go unnoticed until Murphy’s laws decides it is the worst time to trigger.

So if you are a software engineer, don’t get too comfortable with your development and target environment. No matter how attractive that environment makes it! Make your code portable, to keep yourself and the code in better shape. After all wouldn’t it be cool to run your code on a future toaster?!

Launching on the AppStore in the year 2012

[Also posted on AltDevBlogADay]

Today is somewhat an important day, as it is exactly 60 days since the day I can officially call myself a published indie game developer! It was February 3rd when Mr. Pop Corny rushed (actually it crawled thanks to Apple, but I will get to that below) into the AppStore after an 8 month development time, and the dream came true. So it seems now it is a good time to share some of my experiences regarding launching on the AppStore. I will try to provide some insight that I wish I had from other projects prior to launching my own. Continue reading

My game design hat

One of the main traits that an indie developer must cultivate is that of wearing many hats. All indie game develepers will tell you about it, and it is the first thing you will realise when going indie. Wearing many hats is usually the result of small budgets. Small budgets mean less heads, but equal amount of hats. What I learned through the course of developing my indie game is that your success depends on how well your head fits those hats. Your game will simply be as good as the worst fit.

One of the hats I had to wear for the development of “Pop Corny” was that of the game designer. The closer I had ever come to game design before this, was playing games with a little more inquiring spirit than most players do. This can definitely be interpreted as a bad hat fit. It was clear that in order to have a successful game, I had to find clever ways to improve the fit. This of course could be done by adjusting the head (becoming a better game designer) or by adjusting the hat (adjusting the problem itself to something that I would handle). It was obvious that I had to do the first as much as possible, but without the later I was not going to go far. Continue reading

Unveiling Pop Corny

Honestly I can’t really describe how excited I am to finally be able to announce my first game! Since the first line of code I ever typed in a programming language, all I wanted to build was a game. It turns out that only many years later the timing would be right for it to become a reality. Some of you might already knew that this was coming if you had read my last #altdevblogaday post. A few days ago I unveiled the game’s icon to the game’s Facebook page. If you like it please like the page and share it as I am certainly going to need the word of mouth in promoting it.

I will not yet go into details about what the game is about (apart from obviously being about a popcorn loving crazy looking monster!), I will save this a for few days later when the AppStore review process will be coming to an end. A teaser video will also be released so keep an eye open for it.

Also if any of you happen to write for a game review website or you know a friend who knows a friend that has a cousin that got married to a girl that reviews games, please let them know I would be glad to send then the game!

CU!

p.s. If you are not a Facebook guy you can follow the game’s twitter account for updates: @MrPopCorny