Friday, November 19, 2010

Development Diaries - Designer's cut

Two months after the project initial start (28/5) and almost one and a half after the actual kick-off (19/6) the things go smoothly but somehow late. It is not a full-time project nor it could be because all the members should work for a living and fun cannot feed a family.

At least we have a clear plan now, some concepts to start with, a game engine (thanks to Kostas work) and some people to contact for the graphics and sound. I had left the site behind in order to finish the design.

Today, I will rebuild the latest code commit from Kostas since he found the issue that caused troubles to me and finish the latest design documents before I start the level design.

The target is to have some the first levels delivered by the middle August for the artists to start working with and deliver level by level till the middle of September in order to have something playable in October.

Though the first month spent on discussions and organisation issues, the second month can be called the design month (for me) since the game design takes some form at last.

That’s for now, let’s finish some task or Kostas will start crying out loud once again ;-P

The previous weekend (31/7-1/8) I managed to upload a series of files regarding shoot-em-up games including: a. the available smups for iPhone and retro smup games features to consider, b. a document with various internet sources about this kind of games and c. a couple of documents with images from articles and posters of smup games.

Based on the above mentioned research, I finalised the Design overview document and the first Game Levels Design (backbone layout and draft content). I uploaded both documents today and I continue to finish the latter the soonest possible in order artists have something to work with.

Following the given deadlines in Pivotal Tracker it seems I'm somehow behind on schedule but I'm optimistic about that and I will catch-up the artists. Only artists for music and sfx are needed to complete the team.

The following days, I also start uploading some scanned drawings (only those I feel confident with) that cannot be considered as concept art but they give the general notion of the levels. I try hard to put my hand on TileMap editor, too, but I know artists find it more relevant to work with...

I downloaded the latest repository version and build it. Also, I did a 10 minutes sketch based on the game and some more organisation of docs and updates to some of them. That’s all for today ;-)

Hopefully, several issues will be discussed with Kostas tomorrow in person through Skype of-course.

Another full-time job for Space Debris design resulted to the final Design Guide document for artists and designers to start building the game levels, a project that should finish near the middle of September leaving almost a month for putting all together and for tuning.

Nevertheless, I built the latest commit (#16) from Kostas to get an idea of the cocos2d engine limits and have a conversation with Nikos the following we as we agreed. We managed to arrange a Skype conference for Monday night, so, we will see how it will go.

Mike and I had a thorough discussion regarding the game design, too.

Although Kostas criticises publicly my lack of commitment to the project ;-) and still I get no offense on that ;-) I did the following:

First of all I added some more docs like the Common/Sites one for links reference, then I prepared the blog site to start writing about the game. Then, I created a Facebook page and set a twitter account/page, something not difficult but time consuming. Also, I made some extra to Rotten Fish Games site like Facebook “like” button and a “twitter-follow” link icon.

I left the Game Guide and SVN for the second day 14/8 (Saturday morning) whatever time I wake up. I will update the PivotalTracker stories accordingly. Also, a new technical document uploaded in GoogleDocs to offer a more comprehensive view of the iPhone development capabilities and limitations. Finally, I will post something in the blog to start communicating the project.

Yesterday, after a Skype call with Kostas, I started describing weapons and movements to complete the Game Guide in that extend. I bought an iPod Touch 32 for 2 players tests of related code.

I started downloading SDK 4.02 since I updated my iPhone OS and now XCode does not build the project.

I just finished some additional design for weapons and ships including weapons and movements. Now, there seem to be everything to go ahead development. It took me a couple of days among with some TiledMap levels for testing and some code for Facebook and 2-players that I’m going to upload shortly.

I am on vacations mode but I intend to have everything done by tomorrow before I meet with Kostas in-person for a thorough issues discussion for the game. I am also going to build the new commit #31 as Kostas informed me about.

After a short trip to Kerkira[Corfu island] I have some changes to apply to the game design and concept that does not affect the overall effort, though.

I got some keys for FB app and I integrate the FB post code with Graphs API to a single project with a button in order to be inserted in the game. Also, I test a small portion of GameKit p2p code with the two devices. Finally, I apply the agreed chagnes with Kostas the other day about the game.

First of all I tried to catch-up the development I had missed the last few weeks. I had a discussion with Nikos, some documents update, Pivotal Tracker and a new post in the blog site to keep the hype on.

I also submitted game in the GamesCon just in case. IGF will follow shortly and finally IndieFund (so-so). Finally, I will try to upload FB code (already got an AppID) and GameKit implementation.

Because of the latest iOS update I had to download 2.64GB of XCode the we (25-26) and since I use Forthnet as internet provider I had to try more than three times to get a verified and valid package to install... it took me till Monday morning (27/9).

Who said iPhone development is a piece of cake? It reminds me the Java moto: “write once play everywhere” - God saves us!

The whole month was spent discussing issues with Kostas and Nick about the game. No real work by my side except the preparation for the 3rd Hellenic Game Developers Conference (HGDC) and some organisation with the team.

Georgios Chiotis

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