Saturday, August 14, 2010

Space Debris, the beginning...

During an e-mail discussion in late May with Kostas Anagnostou, who is an active video-games blogger and book-writer among others, he came up with an idea: What about developing a game together. That's all it took to start working together for this iPhone game. Kostas has a deep knowledge but Apple's iPhone(tm) platform was something new to him and I had almost a year of sporadic development in that platform but nothing published yet. So, it was just the right opportunity something nice to be made and for me something to finish at last.

We started from the basics studying a series of game ideas we both had and soon we decided where we wanted to go as a concept. Then we organised the matter further in regards to documentation (GoogleDocs), tasks management (Pivotal Tracker), code synchronisation (Beanstalk), meeting arrangements (TimeBridge) and communication (Skype & IMs). In 2010, with all this technology in our disposal and all those great applications (and more others we simply do not know that exist - sorry guys!) the distance is not a problem, though, Kostas and I live in different places some hundred Km away each other. 

The only drawback with the selected platform was the initial investment in new hardware like MacOS PCs and a couple of iPhone devices. Programming SDK comes free to download and it's pretty sure we could avoid considerable expenses using a variety of graphics & sound software being available out there like GIMP, GraphicsGale, Audacity to name a few. It was something the other team members would have to worry about and we went further with the heart of our development a month later.

After a thoughtful consideration cocos2d selected as the game's engine and Tiled Map editor seemed ideal for the level design and all that. Surprising enough, both the engine and the editor matched like a charm. Nevertheless, It took another whole month to finish the design, have some technical specifications to go with and conclude the idea and the gameplay. In the mean time, we get experienced with the platform and made some more phone calls and contact friends. It looks like a small, easy to develop game but when it is appropriate to publish some more info you are going to find out a whole new experience of shoot-em-up kind.

Allow me a short paragraph before describe the last two weeks of this project. People of my age have in mind game-development stars and glorious moments of great developers that were able to write excellent code and at the same time produce marvelous graphics for their games. Nowadays, even in small & limited devices like mobiles and smartphones few people are capable of producing whatever it takes for a great game. That's only what I believe and I cannot name any of them because this era ended a decade or so ago. One-man-show is not sufficient anymore for game development, so, a team formation is the best choice. That's what we did! Not a huge team for multimillion AAA game title but small enough to be flexible and deliverables oriented. Professionalism is all about after all.

But, Kostas and I are basically coders and no matter how confident we are for our graphics and sound skills we decided to go partner with professionals ;-) Two months were more than enough to set the whole thing working and now, two weeks later, the team is full and we go for the first real game graphics and what else is missing to have something playable to showcase. There is a plan to have a version in the first couple weeks of September. Be patient since only few days are left to release this game's alpha ;-)

Stay tuned for the game's progress and support us in Facebook and Twitter (or wherever you want)!

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