Thursday, May 9, 2013

Idea to App: WORLD 1-1

FEB. 18, 2013
I'd seen a video, and got thinking Monday evening: "Damnit, we can make something like that."

FEB. 19
I sent to Skype to Pete and Shawn.
I saw this video, and thought it woudn't be that hard to do something like that.   
I'd bet with everything from other apps, it's the sort of thing I could do as a personal challenge: can I get this running in a weekend :)  And a really good name that seems to be available:  "WORLD 1-1" ( is available, no trademark results at all--but people will still get the reference.)   A little pixely character running and tap to jump.  Doesn't need much graphic variety--since it's just world 1.
The response was pretty much: Yes, get the .com, lets do it.

I started programming, Shawn started drawing, and Pete started grabbing bits from things we already had to Photoshop together.  Shawn had done a cute alien character when talking about another idea (XXXX); aliens and an alien invasion are a great theme.  Redoing it as a pixelated guy looks sweet.

A potion as the stand-in for the character, start at the ground (re-using the old ground Shawn had done for an unreleased game, but it got used in BounceBash; rescaled and pixelated.)  Ground scrolling and jumping working nicely.

FEB 20.
Actually working well as a game.  Early in the day, with better ground curves and edges that Pete did over night (he's in London, I'm in Seattle and Shawn is in LA.)

I asked Becci what sort of regular person to use for the hero instead of a police man or astronaut.  She said a Pizza Delivery Guy.  Bingo.  "The 30 minutes or less guarantee doesn't make exceptions for alien invasions!"

Late in the day.  Shawn did the awesome little pizza delivery character.  A few frames of animation are all that's needed to match the pixelated style.

I did simple gray rectangles and highlights to make some buildings in the background.

Saucer Shawn had done, small ones are in the background, big ones go past and zap down to destroy sections of the ground.  I adapted the shattering effect to do squares.  Lined up on the pixels, it looks great for breaking apart anything!

I did so both the saucers and buildings in the background could get destroyed--saucers spiraling down, buildings collapsing.  Becci vetoed the buildings collapsing :)

I'm going to say I did complete my "in a weekend" basic challenge.  It works well on the 2nd day after starting.  Still lots of polishing--but now we've got something worth polishing.

FEB 21.

Started working on data files to build obstacles and ground, to make it easier to build a variety of terrain.  And Pete did some blending blocks so the ground can have nice corners.

With pushing from Pete, I think we got the controls:  tap anywhere to jump, tilt to control the speed.  Walk, Run, Sprint for the speeds.  He also automatically slows down when you run into something to give time.  And moved much farther forward on the screen, less time to react, but more time to recover.

FEB 22.

At Pete's suggestion, some better things for the ground level data.  Adding curves automatically as needed, and a nice builder tool so we can make levels much faster.  This will let us build dozens or hundreds of ground sections, that it can append together on the fly to create the levels.

FEB 26.

Lots of work:  Getting the jump height just right, graphics, physics.

Way too busy in the background, we'll see how it gets pared down.  Skyscrapers and treetops are what we've been typing just now in a Skype window.

2 sections so far, the outside and warehouse.  It'll randomly switch so you run thru a warehouse.  All the level designs will work just the same, it just picks the graphics based on the section where you are.  And planning a "shopping mall" for another section to run through.

I adapted some more things from the shattering effect, so it can break the new ones in half, then it keeps breaking the squares into 4 smaller squares.  Turned out very cool for an effect as the big blocky saucer falls.  Though we may do a different alien ship that's more cartoony.

Pete did floating versions of the ground, so there can be sections up in the air.  Same for the bricks in the factory.

MARCH 3, 2013

More work, more graphics.  An in-game tutorial that's working well.

The houses are going to be places you deliver for bonuses.  Regular houses easier to reach; Mansions up high or something so that you'll have to do a series of jumps to reach--but they'll give bigger tips.  And a much improved builder to add all the stuff.

And both types of houses will be upgradeable to increase their tip amount.

So it's a bit more G rated most of the time, we're going to do Alien Invasion with the plain saucers, green trees, nothing getting shot down.  But an upgrade in the app for Alien Apocalypse that has the ominous black ships getting shot down, skyscrapers collapsing, dead trees, flaming barrels, and maybe a whole sepia-toned look to all the graphics.  (Plus a few surprises!)

We did a selection of cars and vehicles as obstacles to jump over;

And storage containers for the similar size things in the warehouse.

Aliens working, moving around and killing you if you bump into one; but as is traditional, you can land on them to squish them.  Put in some of the "strip mall" ones I'd done.  Not sure that's the right ground, it's what earlier ones had in the warehouse.

Working on some status up in the corners, not sure that's right yet...


Yeah, strip mall changed to "Downtown".  Uses the skyscraper images, stretched a lot, and very dark buildings so it's easier to see the foreground.  And a new nice tiled ground for here too, Shawn did the shape and Pete added all the rounding and floating angles.  You can see in this one I got the auto-desaturating to work, for the apocalypse.  I love that the code is filled with checks:
if (apocalypse) {

Watching a few people play, we needed things to keep from just running fast and jumping as high as they could.  Level design will help a lot with that, but some more dangerous flooring and stuff will help too.  So we added spikes and spinning blades :)  (Though we later removed the spikes and just have spinning blades.  The pulsing of the spikes in and out didn't fit as well.)

And fire, can't bump into these black blocks. Before they only burned from the top so you couldn't land on it, but could push against them.  Now flames all around and you can't touch fire blocks at all.  (It's the first easter egg you can see in these screenshots, very subtle upside down Space Invader aliens in the black blobs.)

Lots of fire.  The warehouse can be an inferno!  The red girder platforms in this picture will also move up and down, really hard to keep out of the flames.

And something when you die.  Bec said smoke (since I was showing the fire and dying over and over) but Pizza slices fit with any of the death types and not just fire.

Getting the powerups working nicely too.  And as in many of these type games, having a powerup and hitting the fire or other bad obstacles won't kill you instantly.  Lose the powerup and get a bounce as if you'd jumped.


Lots more stuff working, upgrading things, bank, some in-app purchases.

We needed more drama and danger, so added so things that move and fall.  And also bombs we can position around the levels to explode and give things a push.  Now we have lots of options for traps to avoid, such as blocks falling like dominos.

And the increasingly complex Builder.  We can set 3 screen positions for where the bomb blocks go off, to time things either blowing up ahead or behind the guy as needed.

Stuff falling, feels much more precarious if you're jumping off blocks that are falling away!

Littler change, but we can tell it to do "inside ground" things, so circles look right without green grass edges on the curves on the interior.

The bigger alien that you can't land on top of.  Also shows the physics edges in this: the little guy is built up from a lot of shapes to get all the detection needed.  And gravestone where you had died before.

I did a few Skype video chats, showing niece Hope (9) how to use the builder, and she's made a few levels.  Some crazy things the rest of us wouldn't have done, like a row of a bunch of red bouncy balls. And she obviously loves the fire!  We'll need to pare hers down, they're filled with fire and pizza slices, but some great ideas too.

Upgradeable powerups...

Upgrade to the Apocalypse!


More polishing.  The "Game Over" screen for resuming.  Maybe some more background, and bank info, but I think it's getting close.

We did a few big machine things for in the factory.  Equivalents of the big blocks of ground that can fall with gravity and explosions.

Should be very close.  The beginning screen, text fades and goes right into the game.

We decided you needed some more incentive to run, so added a clock.  Get there while it's in the white and you get tips.  Let it get into the red and no tips--and run out of time means only 1/2 price for delivering.

Maybe close to the final status UI at the top.

Getting SO close now.  Been using this site to make sound effects, the ones we've got all sound pretty great so that may be it.


Fun bugs sometimes become a real thing.  We had a slice doubler powerup, that just gave you x2 when you picked up a slice.  When adding so some random blocks you smash could shoot out a slice, it was doing it for every slice.  And it was cool and funny, so changing to have the slice doubler do that--every one you catch shoots out another two to chase.


Keep getting closer.  There are less visible changes in the game play itself, and many of the other pieces are working.

Updated intro screen, to use consistent colors and buttons.  (And easy to change from Invasion to Apocalypse if you've got that upgrade.)

The settings to let you adjust.  The Joystick is newer, it was surprising how many people were turned off when we posted about the game because of the tilt controls.  Too many games doing it badly I guess.  As Pete said, "Doodle Jump would suck with buttons."  So we tried doing a joystick and it turned out very good.  On the full size iPad it works even better than tilting since it's a big device to tip :)

The Joystick and jump button in-game.  Not pixelated to look cooler and different.  Also shows some extra particle effects when you have the magnet.

The Paused screen while playing.  Much the same as the settings...

And the store is looking done.  We did a "Ken Burns" background for the store and some other places where it shows terrain from the game, slowly panning and zooming.

We're working on a new set of Intro screens after the app is started, to tell our basic story and introduce the "hero" with a couple quick pages of animation/images.  In what is likely to be our oldest graphic re-use ever, the earth is from a GetRight splash screen from back in 1999.  We could do much better now; I didn't even tweak the obvious parts of the globe that could be improved.

The first page is working well, and uses the Pixel Coalesce effect that looks so good for the text.


The basic idea for page 2 of the intro looks really great too.  Pete did some background layers, and Shawn separated the foreground head and box, so the whole thing can do an interesting zoom...

Hope's level in the builder, before I cleaned it up and removed most of the fire...

And another, after a few tweaks to remove more fire and stuff.  She was the first one to do the single-block tunnel shapes.  We might have done them too, but after seeing hers, I copied the idea for quite a few!


Yesterday, we decided we needed some sort of real ending.  And it turned out really nice!  We had a couple ideas: one that gave some dark twist ending, one that added a serious depth to the game, but in the end picked a sillier and more mysterious end that also sets up a possible sequel.  Only have to get to the 33rd house to see it!   (No pictures, no spoilers, but the rejected ending ideas are at the end of the post.)

Winning will unlock the Apocalypse if you hadn't gotten it already.

Down to tiny little tweaks and improvements.  The very first game, and when doing the Help, it asks about your control preference.  With animated tilting and moving back and forth.

Moving around things on the Store and Settings.

Trying to look at every little thing to make sure it's as perfect as we can get it!  We took out a couple stages in the tutorial to get you into the game faster.


Submitted to Apple!  Just a bit over 2 months from start to finish.

The very last thing done was to add so the timer does the appearance at the end of the first tutorial to show itself in the center and then move to its spot in the status.  Lets you see that there is a clock, but quick and minimal.

Pete made some cool comparison shots between the original sketches Shawn did, and the final characters. They are in the iTunes screenshots at least in this first version, but here as well in case we change that.  I love the Standard vs Retina comparison!  (But look at the eye, there's more detail on Retina; and likely the retina iPad will be double again and may get an extra 1 pixel twinkle in his eye!)

Some "Posters"...

After a bit of a scare, getting the dreaded "Your app requires additional review time" email, we got the second "Approved" email about 3 hours later.

Everything is good for the May 9th release!

Available now in the App Store.


Our rejected ending ideas....

The dark twist ending:  You'd deliver to the aliens at the end, who'd berate you for having squished other aliens along the way.  "FML" was Becci's suggestion for the text.

And the serious depth:  You'd arrive at a refugee camp filled with kids.

We went for something more mysterious...  We may post a video eventually--if nobody completes it and posts it themselves.

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