Monday, January 15, 2018


Another lifetime ago in the App Store in 2010, I had an idea for a game.  It still isn't done, but is likely what I will do next.  It is a matching game, but is far from what DragonBreak turned out to be.

I worked on it a bit, and really liked it, but decided the graphic drawing requirements were too high, so put it aside.  I kept going back to it over the years.

Eventually, again years ago in 2014, when SpriteKit came out, I updated the game prototype to use Apple's new-at-the-time API.  I added some new ideas to it like the physics so for the "rubble" that fell as you made matches.  (Years of working on it, I still get a kick out of how the bits fall and bounce and sometimes blast back up by the falling tiles.)

Trying variations on it, something clicked.


Another idea for another game in 2012.  DragonBreak.  This one got farther along, but ran into both the whole "fuck we all have to get jobs" and being a Breakout style game, the difficulty was very hard to adjust.
Either too slow and easy, or impossibly fast--with little room in the middle.

This picture is probably all that anyone but Pete, Shawn and I will ever see of it.  It got pretty far along, and looked very cool.
  • Little bouncing dragon egg with the knight as the paddle.  
  • Bricks and chests got pushed around with physics as the ball bounced.  
  • Moved continuously.  It would slow at an obstacle like this, but still crept forward.  Getting the dragon past would scroll ahead to the next obstacle.
  • There were a lot of obstacles made, spiders and doors and more...and nobody will see it.

So I'll surely never finish that, but I really liked the DragonBreak name.

Combined with a re-themed branch of that earlier idea, it could work.


So I took what I had started as the other game, branched it to SKDragonBreak (SpriteKit DragonBreak) and went from there.

I knew I could do the programming, but needed graphics.

I made a video in 2015 of the game at that point, to send to a couple graphic designers I found in game forums.  Placeholder cartoon images and pieces from the other DragonBreak.

I had each of them do a set of tiles.  Not bad, the 2 different styles below.  But either would take a lot more graphics for the rest of the game with dragons and backgrounds everything else.  I decided to draw them myself.  

It is all code-based drawing using PaintCode.  

This lets it automatically generate images of different sizes as needed for different devices. 

Dragon wings can be very random.  As I did each I would figure the range that control points could move and still look good, so a huge variety with dragon wings.  New wing designs are just setting the color or image to use for the wing texture.  (With a few exceptions like speckled that draw so they are random too.)

Shawn did do a head for the earlier DragonBreak dragons, the the old breakout game didn't use it while playing, but they would appear when clearing a level.  Drawing heads is harder, so I stuck to just wings :)  

Eggs have random dots.

Gives me enough confidence that with the right style I can go back and finish that original game idea too...

Blah, blah, blah.  

That's where it started.  There is lots of work in the middle.

  • Simple level designer.
  • AI so I can make a level and let the AI play it a hundred+ times to figure out the correct number of moves.
  • All those other pages, "you won." "you lost." "you are out of eggs."
  • Endless tweaking.  Picking just the right colors, just the right bounce, just the right animation.

In the meantime, I have worked at Microsoft for 3 1/2 years on various of their iPhone apps.  But evenings and weekends I would find a bit of time and slowly go work on my game.

Today, January 15, 2018 I submitted DragonBreak to the App Store.

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