Whether it makes a buck is up to you, I guess.
Technology: Flash / Air for Android
Started: 18 months ago
Launched: 12 Hours ago
Android Play Market Link:
Free Demo on the Android Play Market:
Mallow Drop is a unique puzzle-platformer for mobile that draws its inspiration from the sliding-across-ice puzzles found in many classic games, and ‘traffic jam’ style sliding block puzzles.
Mallow Drop started as the physics sandbox for Gritfish’s game engine, ‘Boxy2D’. As more objects and physics ideas were toyed with, the sandbox became more game-like, and was eventually given sprite-based graphics and adapted into a larger mobile puzzle game based around altering the gravity of the game by rotating the phone.
SCOPE CREEP AND TIMELINES
Mallow Drop suffered from the ‘first game syndrome’ of a scope that was way outside my ability to produce. The actual production occurred in several jam-like bursts of energy spread out weeks and sometimes months apart. The lack of continuity led to needing to re-aquaint myself with the code base several times. The level design stage (which I had wrongly thought would be simple and quick, once the engine worked) took about 3/4 of the total time, including several rewrites of the game engine in order to make the game work better with the eccentricities of the level design needs (the way the game plays requires large amounts of level geometry to be interesting, which quickly hits some performance problems on low-end devices. This is why I’m not going with iOS just yet). In the end there were about 115 working levels, which were culled down to 100 for the final game.
THE RENDERING ENGINE
Prior to Mallow Drop, I’d never worked with sprite sheets, tile maps, or really any kind of graphics in flash beyond basic MovieClips. I started by making one big spritesheet with basic artwork, and copying regions of that into the MovieClips on the stage. Later I added in functions to draw larger objects, and adapted the rendering class to even parse CSV data taken out of the tile maps I made with Tiled. When we did Lighthouse for LD #23, we even plugged in 3D transformations and re-rendering separate to the objects the sprites were attached to.
THE SOUND AND MUSIC
Mallow Drop’s sound and music were provided by my colleague and collaborator Matt Hamm (@brainfed). I think he did a great job, but I know he had difficulty ‘letting go’ of the tracks, and letting them be ‘finished’. His words below:
I started with mostly “chiptune” tracks but as the game, and the art specifically, evolved so did the music. The only track that’s remained relatively unchanged is “Beep Boop”, which is the music for the science levels and I always liked, even though it’s quite short. The others were all slowly expanded upon until they became what they are now. I think Trees best represents what I was trying to do, blending chip arpeggios with recorded and sampled instruments.
GETTING IT DONE
I think the biggest challenge in getting the game done in time for the October Challenge was the huge amount of dev time that’d already gone into the project. The scope was far too big, and took long for a first game. But the rewards have been worth the investment. The 18 months I worked on this game now and then in my spare time have left me with:
A working, stable engine that has been used for 5 game jams so far in puzzles, platformers, and top-down zelda-likes.
A sprite rendering system that has allowed me to make flash games that’ll run on a phone.
Knowledge of tools and techniques that were way outside my previous experience like tile maps, quad-trees and object pooling
A massive lesson in scope and project management, both in terms of taking an axe to dream features in order to make it polished and stable for release, and in terms of stepping back, and seeing where the real problems that need addressing are.
Most importantly, learning that you meet the best people making games. I can honestly say that no group of people I’ve met is more interested in each others work, or more honest critics, as game designers and developers.
Well, in addition to making Mallow Drop, I’ve also started doing some rough video game reviews at http://www.treadmillgamer.net (My xbox and pc are hooked up to a treadmill, and it kinda changes the way you play games a bit – you can read all about that on the site). Game-wise, we’re looking at taking ‘A Theft of Colours’, the game we did for the ‘contrast’ mini LD game, to a full release.