Go Hack Yourself

Table Data

In our latest game dev adventure, we were looking for a way to use our sticker app as a level editor for our upcoming puzzle app that uses the same set of assets.

A little backstory…

Our latest app allows users to pull an image from a tray at the top of the screen and resize it, rotate it, flip it and place it onto a background to build a scene. It’s basically a sticker book, or for those of you over 30, it’s like Colorforms.

Our next app is a jigsaw puzzle that, upon completion, is filled with interactive characters. It also just happens to use the same backgrounds and stickers from the aforementioned project.

…so, as I was saying, we needed an editor that would allow us to place the characters in the puzzle (to avoid painstakingly positioning them a pixel at a time.)

THE HACK

Since the sticker app saves each scene you build in a file called stickerData.txt, and the touchscreen controls work much better on an actual device than our mouse-and-keyboard app simulator, we hacked the app so that we could tap a button on the options menu to email out the stickerData.txt file from the device.

Now I can position the characters anyway I want on the iPad and email that data to my partner without even touching my computer. Here’s to creative solutions *clink!

Student Questions

coders coding
Recently, a student interviewed me for a game development project so I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the more interesting segments. There are so many budding game developers out there; maybe you’ll find this helpful or inspiring.

Also, I’m a total narcissist!

Q: How long have your worked for your organization?

My partner and I started Eggroll Games in October of 2011. I started working for Eggroll Games full time in 2013.

Q: What are your major duties and responsibilities?

I just tell people I do “whatever is necessary” haha. We are currently working on a puzzle game template that we can release with many different themes. I conceived of the visual design and control, and made mockups and documentation. I designed the UI and created the UI assets that will be used in the game. I picked the music and sound effects. I will probably create the description in the various app stores and its promotional screenshots. I’ll be sharing it on social media too. Although I’ve only tweaked code and made suggestions on this particular app, I definitely still program too. Here’s a game I programmed 95% of that we released last year as a fun diversion. It’s our only non-kids app to date: bit.ly/rocketvalet

Q: Who is your immediate supervisor? What is his/her title?

We never established titles here haha. My partner and I both own exactly half of the company so I’m my own boss, he’s my boss and I’m his boss haha. I call myself a developer/producer. It’s intentionally vague because I do whatever has to be done, but I put developer first because I love to create.

Q: What do you perceive to be the major rewards of your job?

Wow, I get to do anything I want anytime I want haha. The job itself is the same thing I’ve done since I was a kid. Dream up games, doodle them, research stuff that could inform me to make the game better, create mockups, art, design documents, etc. I would be doing this in my spare time even if it wasn’t my job.

Q: What do you like most about your work?

My favorite part of the job is when I have a blank slate and I get to create a new experience from scratch. I am always trying to finish up all the projects on my plate so I can get to the next one!

Q: What are the major frustrations in this job?

The tedium of creating hundreds of art assets in different sizes to accommodate all the different screen sizes out there. Also, the waiting. Examples: Waiting for a bug to get fixed so I can keep working on a game, waiting for an app to get approved or waiting to get art back from an artist. Technical changes in the platforms and stores we support. OS changes that break things. We just updated some of our apps on Google Play to fix the IAPs. Our code stopped working because of a change Google made on their end. iOS 8 made one of our app’s text disappear and has thrown off the position of some of the piece slots in some of our puzzle apps. We still haven’t fixed them all haha.

Q: What are the most frequently recurring problems in your position?

Our wall that we have struggled to break through for the past few years is scaling up. We have established a successful business model. We are still trying to get away from working on one project at a time and doing the work ourselves. Our goal is to have teams of people working on several projects at a time.

Q: Is your job better or worse now than it was a few years ago? Why?

No, it’s awesome. There’s more pressure to diversify. The market is changing and we can’t rely on one single platform or store. We used to be on iOS exclusively but we are now on Google Play, Amazon, Samsung and even Ouya! We make a point to support new platforms too-like Fire TV. We want to get on Steam, the Apple Mac store and possibly Windows phone next. In the future we’d like to be in browsers and on Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo’s platforms too.

Q: What job in the organization would you prefer above your own?

None. I have the best job in the world.

Q: Do you have any long-term goals?

To scale up the company and diversify where people can find our games. I’d like to remove myself from the day to day projects so I can concentrate on my personal masterpieces.

Q: How did you become interested in this career?

I played Donkey Kong at the beach a million years ago and haven’t stopped dreaming about games as a medium ever since. I was probably 5 or 6 years old.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for this job? How did your education help?

I prepared mostly by obsessing over gameplay and design my whole life haha. Learning to program so I could actually turn my ideas into reality was definitely a turning point. I taught myself a lot but school helped me devote time and focus on turning it into a career. Your drive is more important than your education. It takes drive turn information into something-it doesn’t happen automatically just because you sat through a lecture. It doesnt matter if you teach yourself or if you learn in a classroom. If you are driven and it’s the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think of at night, then you will figure out how to make it happen one way or another.

Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in this career?

Forget what everyone else has done and what people say online, just make a game. There is no wrong way to do it. If you can finish a game (even a simple 2D one), you are better than 95% of the “developers” out there.

Puzzle UI Work In Progress

Puzzle Options

I’m working on a new puzzle game for touchscreen devices!

The screen above is a mockup of the latest puzzle options screen. This UI will slide out over your selected puzzle image (chosen on the previous “puzzle select” screen.) Here’s how it works:

The Background tile is touchable and will toggle between showing or hiding the pattern background.

  • When the pattern is turned off, the player will be able to see the puzzle image underneath the piece slots. This makes the game much easier.
  • When the pattern is turned on, the puzzle is hidden (you cannot see the puzzle under the piece slots) so you must rely on shape recognition or memory to figure out where each piece goes.

The Outline tile toggles between showing or hiding an outline of the piece slots.

  • If turned on, the player can see an outline of each piece in the puzzle, making it easier to identify and match the piece to its slot.
  • When off, there are no outlines for slots-more difficult.

The pieces slider lets you choose more or less pieces for the puzzle. By default, it’s set to 6 pieces (for kids.) It can be decreased to 4 and increased to 24.

The play button starts the puzzle!

The back button in the upper left takes you back to the puzzle select screen where you can choose a different puzzle.

This is the current project. If you’re interested in this or our other kids apps, like Eggroll Games on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for updates.

My OUYA!

In an attempt to blog more, I am going to keep it short and simple (the less work, the easier-right?) Disclaimer: forgive my errors and poor grammar.

OUYA-Console-set-h (1)

When Ouya happened I was excited. It was new, it was a market disruptor, and it was another opportunity for me make games that used a controller just like the games that have influenced me over the years (my company focuses mostly on touchscreen devices.)

…and then Ouya became a popular target to slam, slander, make fun of, poo poo and spit upon.

This didn’t deter me. I’m just busy-and I never bought one. However, a month or so ago, I saw an Ouya on the shelf at Target and I got excited all over again.

The reasons were two-fold (keywords: “two-fold” check,) It’s on the shelf at Target-a major retail store-cool! That almost guarantees a certain number of users-possibly enough to sustain a teeny indie game community of players and makers. The second reason? Corona SDK, my game development platform of choice supports Ouya development.

I bought it on sale for $69.99 (thank you Father Christmas!)

Getting to point one, the controller is great. No latency issues in my opinion-and I’m a latency snob. The selection is so, so, so, so indie. It’s crazy. There is no platform out there that has a more indie vibe. Within two days I had enough fun to validate the purchase. So now what?

Hey! I’m an indie dev! Why not put a game in the Ouya store? There’s a kids section and everything (with no actual apps made for kids that I can see.)

Point two: A weekend later, we were ready to submit. The folks at Ouya were more than happy to feature it on the console and post about it across their social networks. They were so easy to reach and SO easy to talk to. True indies.

I started a thread about it in an Indie Game Dev Facebook group. It went crazy.

The game went live for $2.99 on November 25th and has sold 12 copies so far. We are porting all the apps in the same series (educational preschool and math games) to Ouya. I’m proud to say that we broke new ground on Ouya by offering the first educational game designed specifically for kids in that store.

I just submitted an update for that lets players press “A” to exit levels and press “Y” to replay the current challenge instructions.

We are submitting our next title today. It’s called 123 Animal Preschool Games for Kids. If I’m a good blogger, I’ll keep you posted.

A Completely Unedited List of Zingers Written for Rocket Valet!

Zingers

Zingers are the messages that appear when you explode in Rocket Valet (formerly known as Tappy Lander, but more on that later.) This is a completely unedited list I created while brainstorming ideas for zingers. Some were used and others weren’t.

Gravity can be a real pill sometimes.
Are you gonna eat that?
Cleanup on isle six.
Practice makes perfect.
What happened?
Smooth move Ex-Lax.
Don’t quit your day job.
Mama said there’d be days like this.
I hope you had insurance.
Slippery screen?
Your brain is dry as the Sapara desert.
What has two thumbs and loves physics?
Them’s the breaks.
Did you hear that Elizabeth?
Rocket for sale, slightly used.
Back to the drawing board.
Remember the good times.
That’s rough.
You look like you were rode hard and put up wet.
Better luck next time.
Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.
Catch you on the flip side!
Mien Liben!
Game over, man.
I’m finished!
A glorious death!
Well, I’m depressed.
I hate that for you.
It could be worse.
I can’t drive… fifteh fiiiiiiiiiiiive!
The devil made me do it.
It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.
“A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.”
– Mary Lou Retton
“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.”
Never give up, never give in
handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss
“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.”
– Marv Levy
Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”
“If you can’t outplay them, outwork them.”
– Ben Hogan
“If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average.”
– M.H. Alderson
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.”
– Billie Jean King
“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”
“What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.”
“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”
– Pele
“Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.”
– George Halas
“When you win, say nothing, when you lose, say less.”
– Paul Brown
“Your biggest opponent isn’t the other guy. It’s human nature.”
– Bobby Knight
“Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.”
– Lou Holtz
“Make each day your masterpiece.”
– John Wooden
“Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.”
“Win If You Can, Lose If You Must, But NEVER QUIT!”
– Cameron Trammell
“What do do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”
“If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?”
– Joe Namath
‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion
“You’re never a loser until you quit trying.”
– Mike Ditka
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”
– Vince Lombardi