After careful study of the iTunes App Store, I think I have a better understanding on how to build successful games. I’ve started work on a rather ambitious project. I’m building a role-playing game called “BOT” — my most advanced game ever. In order to find success on the iTunes App Store, I believe it is necessary to build a high-quality game. Otherwise, my apps will drown in a sea of mediocrity. I’m aiming to take down Angry Birds and build the best iPhone app. This lofty goal is to ensure that my game is great.
Will I actually build the #1 app? That’s not actually the point. The point is that I’m going to try. Previously, I had the wrong mindset. I was building candy-bar apps. Most of the top games on the iTunes App Store are sold for 99¢. Realizing that $10-$20 apps would not sell, I built apps that I felt were worth about $2. I found some success with this approach, but my games didn’t achieve the success of Angry Birds or Cut the Rope. These games have a ridiculous amount of content for a 99¢ game. I realized that the standard is much higher for iOS games. With that understanding, I started to create the requirements for BOT.
The goal for BOT is to build a game with a lot of content, but it should also easy to play. And while it’s an RPG, I don’t want it to be boring. This isn’t Guild Wars or World of Warcraft. This project is more like The Legend of Zelda and Phantasy Star II. I haven’t quite figured out the combat scheme yet, but I’m thinking real-time is better.
The tricky part is to get it working with single touches. I hate on-screen controllers. So, everything has to be accomplished with just the touch of a finger. The game’s overall perspective is top-down. I’ve already got movement working and I think it’s phenomenal. I like how TANK (that’s the name of the main character) follows the finger. It’s smooth, animated and fun.
I’ve decided that this should be an iPhone game instead of an iPad game. With Verizon getting the iPhone, that’s a lot of new customers. Also, an iPhone game can run on an iPad, but the reverse does not work. A universal binary would be ideal, but that’s not yet supported in GameSalad. I’m using GameSalad to shorten development time. This is a one-man mission, so the speed and ease of GameSalad makes sense. If this project is successful, perhaps mobile developers will have greater respect for GameSalad. It’s not just a toy. It’s a powerful SDK.
In The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook, one of the central themes is taking a game idea from start to finish. TANK is the personification of this process. He starts out in the book as nothing more than a square. Yet, the process isn’t complete. I have all the pieces for a great game. I just need to put them together. The old saying, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.” By completing this project, I can show that it’s possible to be a teacher and a doer!
There are some other requirements for BOT…
- Retina Display
- No written words – so that the entire world can play. (Considering the complexity of the lore, this is an incredibly difficult requirement.)
- Mini Games – (Especially pinball)
- Traditional RPG elements – The game should feel alive, busy and exciting. That means the inclusion of NPCs, shops and quests.
If you’re interested in following the development of BOT, progress reports will be posted in the comments section.
Side Note: This project originally started with my “Back to the Drawing Board” designs. Instead of using a fantasy theme, I’m using a sci-fi theme.
15 thoughts on “BOT – Game Design and Progress Reports”
Since BOT is something of a traditional RPG, I’m planning to add shops to the main city. The problem was creating transitions from the town to the shops.
I started using scene cuts, but that was heavy on the loading times. So, I tried GameSalad’s new pause feature. It overlays a selected above the frozen one. The result was great. The loading times are almost non-existent now.
However, I would soon realize that it’s harder to restart a scene than stopping it. I was fading two music tracks and the second track wouldn’t replay. It was a glitch with one of the Rules. I had to wrap it with a Timer to make sure the music would play properly.
Progress today was slow, but it helped set the foundation for the rest of the game.
I love this coming soon game
Can’t wait to see something more intelligent than throwing birds to crush buildings! Keep developing Photics! It will be a very successful new game
I’m starting to enjoy the progress that I’m making on this game. I built two of the shops, an equipment shop and a repair shop. It’s really sweet. The game’s style is starting to take shape. The game is looking fun and memorable. I like this game.
I figured out a new way to handle parallax scrolling. The result was insane. BOT is starting to get that dystopian future feel. I like to have an optimistic view of the future. But for this game, wow, I was staring at my screen… mesmerized… lost in the visions of what I had created. I could feel it. I could feel the loss of hope, the desperation of a barren world. I also felt a sense of exploration and the controls are smooth. Even though the lore is starting to go a little serious, the game feels fun.
There’s still a lot of work to do. In retina display, this game is 146,800,640 pixels of exploration… and that’s not counting if I add dungeons.
Wow, I added an enemy spider and it’s a bit creepy. When non-aggressive, the spider roams around randomly. When the hero is in range, the spider will pursue the hero. The artificial intelligence is working as expected, but it’s something else to see it in action. I actually felt bad, as if I unleashed something evil into the world. But the greater the villain, the more valiant the hero.
To combat these robotic enemies, I’m starting to create power-up. Since the aggression is based on the hero’s range, I started working on a cloaking device. The idea – when activated, the enemy detection is minimized.
I’m still deciding if the effect should be constant, or if it should disappear when the hero is hit or runs out of energy. Another way to balance this feature is to add cloaking devices for the enemies too. That’s a good way to excite the player… a giant spider that randomly appears from seemingly nowhere.
“Guns, lots of guns!”
I am so happy. If you were sitting in the next room, you might think I’ve gone mad. I was laughing with the cackle of a mad scientist. I’m making TANK shoot. It’s an incredible control system. One finger does everything… move, shoot… and I’m even thinking about making the sword work too. TANK has a big gun in his right hand and a sword in his left. I figure that I should make that sword do something, or I might get a lot of complaints. HA HA! This creates lots of possibilities, as two weapons means more places to put power-ups.
I’m almost done with the equipment menu and the shops. There are just a few more items to make — not counting quest items. There was a delay in production because of a design decision. Four-way auto-rotational support was added. This means the game can be played in Landscape or Portrait. Adding this feature created a lot work for the equipment menu and the shops, but I’m really happy with the results. I think it gives the game a professional feel. Heh, I just kept spinning the screen like a happy child. It’s lots of fun. When I can feel the enjoyment, that’s how I know I’m moving in the right direction.
The game is still moving along.
Here’s the schedule for the remaining work to be done…
So, it’s looking like a late April / early May launch.
Hm… When I was reading first post about the BOT, I thought it will take minimum a year to be made.
Those are impressive numbers! Quests and quest characters — 3 days <– mind-blowing!
Heh, I’m a bit behind schedule… but yeah, that’s about how long it takes. With the software I’m using, and since it’s a 2D game, the development process is quite accelerated. The quests are not at the level of World of Warcraft level either. It’s just some basic stuff to give players a reason to explore.
The hardest part of the game right now is the level design. I’m trying to build an attractive world. I think the level of quality is something in-between Final Fantasy VI and VII. I think my characters are closer to Final Fantasy VII than VI, while my backgrounds are closer to Final Fantasy VI. That’s because I’m using licensed artwork for the characters, while I’m taking a hybrid approach to level design — modified licensed material. I’m really pushing my artistic abilities to build a great looking game.
BOT is a Sci-Fi game, so this is not a Final Fantasy clone. And while it’s inspired by lots of great games — like Zelda, Gauntlet, Super Metroid, World of Warcraft — it’s something else. I’m trying to add unique elements to the game… something that would be difficult outside iOS, like four-way auto-rotation, nice control scheme and international friendly gaming.
There are four bird games perched at the top of the paid iTunes App Store apps.
I better get moving on BOT. I’m in the mood for bird hunting. The iTunes App Store needs population control. The birds are over breeding.
Do you have anyone beta testing for you? I would be glad to help you out with that. Partially as a thanks for the book from your contest and partially as a I really wanna see what you have cooked up. Let me know man have a second gen device and several 4th gen devices I could test on for you.
I’m still hard at work on the game.
Here’s the revised schedule…
Testing is being handled in-house.
I’m almost done with the explorable areas. There’s only two left. I’ve also made significant optimizations to the project and I’ve started Game Center testing. You can read more about Game Center here…
I’m a bit behind schedule, but I think the cavernous area has been dramatically improved. Here’s a list of the various types of areas in the game…
It’s taking far longer than I anticipated to complete the 146,800,640 square pixel explorable area. Yet, I think the extra effort resulted in better quality. The game has the look I was aiming for. Some areas turned out better than I expected.
Yet, the next part is to put the backgrounds where they belong — in the background! There’s combat in this game. It’s not just about sightseeing. Once I finish the next two areas, I can start focusing on enemies and quests.
Screenshots of the game are now available…
The response to the screenshots has been great. The overwhelming majority is pleased with the way BOT looks. This makes me want to hurry and finish up the game. Yet, there still some more work to do before the game can launch. I’m working on enemies, game optimization and quests. I’m in a great mood, as the app is almost ready to send to Apple and it seems that lots of people are waiting to play the game. It’s exciting!
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