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AGameAWeek 2008-2009 : Part Five
7th August 2009  

The AGameAWeek 2008-2009 Retrospective

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

The Home Stretch

Week Forty Three - More Phone games - Link

Just like a few weeks earlier, I spent a while working away at a batch of games for my phone. For the most part, each was still a test engine, to see if I could really achieve a bunch of things without hitting any limitations of the phone. The first, Ball Push, was what happened to my game from a few weeks ago. Rather than have pieces of paper to push into a circle, I made it into balls that you would push down a hole. With a limited number of turns, and more balls each level, the game turned out to be a nice playable phone game. It's a shame that, once I tried adding half decent pool physics, the phone started to get a little too stressed! I released the game with kiddie physics, in a still playable state.


For Tic-Tac-Toe, I wrote a complete three part tutorial, and posted it over at I detailed most of the important stuff. Drawing sprites, stylus input, sound and vibrate, and even tackled basic AI to boot. As it stands, this could be quite a useful tutorial. But, I've really no idea, since I can't imagine not knowing that, and found it hard to put myself into that frame of mind to write it well. A few people managed to figure things out, though, so I guess it wasn't completely useless!

The third game was mostly just for fun. The Java emulator runs about 50 times better than the actual phone's java, so trying to guesstimate how a game will run on the phone tends to take a little practice. Matrix Blaster is a good example of trying to guess the phone's limitations, as I tried to throw hundreds of sprites around the screen in a MatrixCode style. I think managed it rather well, although I'm a little disappointed that the game will be virtually unplayable if your phone plays it at full speed!

Week Forty Four - JNKPlat3D09 Trial - Link

The most depressingly dissapointing week EVER.

Having spent a couple of weeks working on this new super edition of JNKPlat, I released a demo version. Up it went to a couple of sites, expecting one or two moans about the Two-Button Jump, as per usual. I also expected a bunch of people to recognise the spirit of JNKPlat, and enjoy it.

But they didn't. And for the next couple of days I got more and more ranting complaints about the two-button jump. People on the DS had grown to love it, people on the PC whinged and moaned and complained.

JNKPlat is my alltime favourite game that I make, and to see it being picked apart because of something people didn't even bother to try was really hard to watch. I cancelled JNKPlat3D09. I'll just play the thing myself.

Week Forty Five - Games they couldn't play - Link

Since I was still more than a little peeved about the whole JNKPlat thing, I decided to throw out a couple of games that the moaning minnies couldn't play. So first off, I released the version of Blockman that I'd previously made for the Platdude Retro Collection. I took out the menu from the collection, and compiled it. The game jumps straight to Blockman without letting you pick the other games, but I'm sure if you hacked away at it, you could actually play the others! Nobody appeared to bother to attempt that, but there you go. If anyone does, there's a pacman clone, and a shoot-em-up in there!

The phone is rather limited, as I've said earlier. To draw a nice hilly landscape, like on Scorched Earth, you'd probably need to spend about 10 frames. It's not really much fun if the floor's mid-destruction. You'd have to cheat it, and it'd look terrible.

Instead, for Raining Bombs, I opted to go for something less CPU intensive. In Paintshop Pro, I drew a batch of building images, and underneath in a seperate layer, a mangled mesh of metal. With no destruction for image one, more destruction of the building on image two, and complete destruction leaving on the metal mesh on image three, I saved the images ready for the game. Simply popping them into the engine, and choosing to show image 1/2/3 depending on the surrounding destruction, I was able to come up with a really nice looking effect. The game plays great, and it even looks good too!

Week Forty Six - Atoms - Link

After the success of Raining Bombs, I sat trying to come up with more games that could be multiplayer on a single phone, with only Tapping as the input. After a while, I remembered one! Atoms was there to fill in the void.

Taking the sprites from the lost/found edition in Green's 16-bit Collection, I put together a version of Atoms in next to no time. Since the atoms typically stay put, I was able to limit the screen to redraw only when needed, which helped the speed immensely. I even added random-plodding for the AI, since this game is very much random based skill! Or at least, I've never figured out a proper skill to it, anyway!

Without any real scores, or winners or losers, it's probably true that I left this game half finished, but the way I saw it, any player can make a tremendous comeback in Atoms. All it takes is a single pop, and all of a sudden all the colours on the board are being flipped over. Is it fair? Probably not, but it is incredibly fun to watch, when you accidentally trigger a crazily chaotic path of destruction. If only all games could do that!

Week Forty Seven - Crazy week, no work... - Link

The week started off nice and productively, with a new logo for Socoder, and plenty of work on Patent Wars. uhoh, I haven't mention Patent Wars yet, and I actually started that a couple of weeks earlier. No matter, it's still not done yet, so let's skip over it!

Anyhoo, lots of work being done, and things whirring away nice and fast. And then, all of a sudden, for no real valid reason, my phone died. Kaput, gone.. The thing had lasted about 4 months, and actually died from overheating whilst using the Internet. Way to go LG, you made yet another crappy assed phone. *sigh*

So, annoyed about the lack of phone, and still kind of annoyed about the whole JNKPlat thing, I opted to instead go out into town, pick up a new Scrabble set, and come home and play that for a while. Because, let's face it, there are NO good video games left on the market, right now. Standing in Game with ??50 in my hand was a complete disappointment. Nothing good. Nothing at all..

So Scrabble it was..

Week Forty Eight - Microbes - Link

Without a phone to work with, it was time to get back to the PC again. A quick idea, based on the Bullet Time suggestion of the 207th Wednesday Workshop, and a quick suggestion from JL235 over on Socoder. He suggested, instead of taking a game and making it slow down for Bullet Time, that it might be fun to make a game too fast, and then slow it down to normal speed when the player enters Bullet Time.

With that in mind, and plenty of Amiga games rolling around in my head due to having just done Atoms, I opted to remake Microbes. The original game was rather complex in it's growth generating methods, so instead I stuck to the tried and true AGameAWeek spirit of "Just make stuff happen", and got the little microbes to randomly sprout out from each other. It worked well enough, and with a couple of different coloured microbes, each with their own set of rules, the game seemed to work well enough.

Within just a few hours I had the basic gameplay up and running. After that I spent the next day or so tweaking the balance, updating the surrounding graphics, and adding on the highscore table. This was probably one of the quickest games I'd done in a while, and as it turned out, it's also one of my best.

There's that nagging voice again! "Keep it Simple!!"

Week Forty Nine - Raining Bombs PC - Link

I really loved the graphical effect that I made for Raining Bombs, so I decided to remake it on the PC. I redrew bits of the graphics, and bulked them up a bit for the higher resolution, but other than that this was pretty much the exact same game as the phone version.

There's a lot more I can do with this game. I could add more players, do some landscape scrolling, add lots of different weapons, shove it online, make it fantastic.

I posted it online, and asked for some motivation to help build up the game. I got one comment. So, there goes that game. Left in the dust like all the rest. Sometimes, AGameAWeek has it's drawbacks, and having to leave this game is one of them. Next!!

Week Fifty - Gravity Bob - Link

Knowing that this would be week 50, I thought I'd come up with something a little bit special. I opted to make a nice animated puzzle game, much like my previous Munky Blocks game. In my head, I considered making it full of movable gravity, so that you would have to align the blocks just the right way, in order to trigger their deletion.

So off I went drawing some graphics, and building up a nice gameplay framework. I should've considered early on that this wasn't really working out. I should've given up, and tried something else, but I carried on expecting the game to magically click into place, like it usually does.

It didn't. No matter how much I tried to tweak the game, it never really worked. It's one of those things that happens all too often. You think an idea makes sense, but when you try to play it, it all becomes a jumbled mess. I'm still not really sure what happened. It might've just been too complicated to work, needed simplifying a little more. Who knows!

Week Fifty One - Scrabble Scoreboard - Link

Having recently bought a new Scrabble board, which cost ??40, and didn't even come with a score pad, or even a bloody pencil.... .. I decided to create a sort of scoreboard on my phone. Rather than having racks and tiles, because you can't really see your opponents tiles, I shoved the keyboard I'd made for Hangman onto the thing. You simply input the word played, and the program tallies up the score the player would have received.

The program works exactly as intended, but unfortunately it has one slight drawback that I still haven't quite bothered to fix. Without an Undo button, it's really easy to put the wrong word down! Especially with those dang blank tiles! You have to be really careful what you input, so you don't go and break the scores!

Other than that one glaring omission, the program works as intended. Although it could probably do with having a word list, I've found that the physical Scrabble Dictionary is usually a much better judge. And has more words in it

Week Fifty Two - Get the Greens - Link

Week Thirteen was a simple snake, get the objects, type of game. I must admit, I'm quite surprised that it took me this long before I started repeating myself. Still, here's the first repeat. Just roll around the maze, and touch the green pads. As you touch them, they fall away.

It's not really much of a game, at all, and I could've done better. But by week fifty two, I'd really started to struggle to come up with new game ideas. I posted the game, as repetitively dull as it is, and requested some new ideas on the website. I even built a little suggestion box into the top right of the site, for folk to pop in their ideas.

So far there's been two suggestions posted. Well done, troops!

The Science style Conclusion bit / Future plans..

Fifty two weeks, a whole year of making games, and the idea pool has run dry. Having taken this week off, to write up the whole thing, there's a few new ideas stirring.

Over the past year, I've made a dozen or so fantastic games. Sure, there's been some garbage, too, but on the whole I think it was a success. I also added all kinds of new elements to my games that I probably wouldn't have done otherwise. Badges, Online Highscores, things like that.

I wonder what will happen in Year Two. Right now I'm considering making Year Two a year for Flash, because.. really.. that's probably where this oughta be! Thing is, though, I don't know anything about Flash, and I'm not exactly the greatest artist in the world, either!

There's also a couple of AGameAWeek games that would look great on the Xbox, so I should really get to building some XNA stuff, some time. .. Actually, I tried making Centipong on there about a year ago, but the thing didn't play too well with the joypad. meh, what can you do!?

One year down, more to come. If you have any game ideas, pop them in the suggestion box. That's what it's there for!

The AGameAWeek 2008-2009 Retrospective

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

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