Monday, 12 December 2016

TappyRun - infinite runner with cute voxel graphics!

I decided to spend November revisiting Unity3D, and this time I wanted to give it a proper shot. The aim was to publish a game in the first week of December... and I made it! TappyRun was released on the 4th December :)

TappyRun is a simple but fun infinite scrolling endless runner. Super simple gameplay with one tap controls, tap the left side of the screen to move left, tap the right side of the screen to move right. Avoid crashing head on into stuff or you land in the drink, at which point it's game over man, game over! It's fun to play, infuriating when you make a mistake and splash into the river, and awesome when you beat your friends highscores and share the screenshot on social media to rub their noses in it :) The closest comparisons that come to mind are subway surfers style gameplay - running in lanes collecting coins and avoiding obstacles, with a minecraft or crossy road graphical style - blocky voxel graphics, and flappy bird esque replayability and social friend baiting - quite short game sessions with the constant temptation to have "one more game" to try beating a highscore.

I intend to keep coming back to this game for the purposes of mini tutorials in the future. One month was barely enough time to scratch the surface of what Unity3D has to offer, but on the other hand it was enough to get a complete game published, so there's bound to be a handy tip or trick or two lodged in my brain worth sharing with the wider world. Interesting tutorial worthy features of this game include unlockable characters, in game currency (not purchased using real money, totally free to play), rewarded video ads, achievements, global social leaderboards, cloud saving and loading, tiles that link to my other apps formed from json retrieved from the internet, social screenshot sharing, level styling seasonal cycles, and so on. Plenty to talk about. I reckon a youtube video or two on creating cute voxel characters could be fun too! If you install TappyRun and find there's a particular feature you'd like to learn about, give me a shout in the comments and I'll see what I can do :)

Alongside creating this game I spent some time in November making a small web app with a public API that serves up useful information relating to my games and apps. Currently it just offers up information on my apps ( and web presences ( The plan is for all my games and applications to retrieve this information over the intertubes rather than have it hardcoded in each app, meaning all my apps should always be up to date. I like the idea of extending this further to help cross promote new apps to existing players, but am taking care not to rush this as it must not be annoying. I guess this isn't particularly exciting if you're just interested in playing games, but quite interesting if you're into making your own! Also, while I was at it, I couldn't resist giving the webapp a slightly prettier face than application/json text, so if you visit you should now see my fully responsive self promotional website :)

As for Unity3D vs LibGDX, well, that's a whole blog post of it's own just waiting to happen... Suffice to say they both have their pros and cons, and I will most likely be using both in future, it seems it's all about using the right tool for the job at hand.

In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Go and grab TappyRun for free from Google Play, and let me know what you think in the comments (or on facebook or twitter)!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Count 1 to 10

Wow... Nearly two years have passed since my last blog post! I've been busy in that time, just not publishing. Time to fix that!

My last blog post introduced sensory, a very simple cause and effect light show app. I created it for TheInvaderOne (my now two and a half year old daughter), and decided to share it with the world. It's not some groundbreaking app, it's a simple "fireworks display" that reacts to touch input - something to entertain young children and those with certain special needs (particularly children with autism). I expected maybe a couple of hundred installs and a low star rating, it was a pleasant surprise to see it at 37,000+ installs and an average rating of 4.1 out of 5!

As TheInvaderOne grows, her taste in apps becomes a little more demanding. A couple of months ago I created a simple "Count 1 to 10" app for us to play together. Last weekend I cleaned it up a little, added a few extra languages (we concentrate on English and Welsh, but I figured a few other languages like French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese could be of interest to other users, and to us a little later on) and finally got round to publishing it!

The app has been kept as simple as possible so that a child can play without accidentally exiting too easily or getting bogged down in menus. It is a simple app that uses android immersive mode, and has no menu or options screens - just start the app and you're straight in. Along the bottom of the screen you'll find the number buttons 1 to 10, tap a number button to display that amount of items in the middle of the screen, hear the number spoken aloud in the chosen language, and see the number symbol overlay the item table in a large clear font. Top left is the language select button, tap to cycle through the available languages. Top centre is a volume control slider, slide left to reduce/mute the sound, and right to increase volume (note you need your device volume to be on too!). Top right is a small close button, tap this to exit the app. All settings are saved, so the next time you open the count from one to ten app your preferred language and volume settings will be set automatically.

Count 1 to 10 is a very simple app designed for young children, the main aim being to help teach early years numeracy - linking together numeric symbols, the spoken word for that number in the chosen language, and the quantity of items represented by that number. The way we use it, it also helps teach various first words relating to colours, animals, fruits, and vegetables. I don't start the app and hand the device over to TheInvaderOne to entertain herself, we sit together, tap a number button, then when a randomly generated scene matching that number appears we discuss what we see. So, say we tap "3", and as a result the word "three" is spoken aloud by the app, and three red tomatoes are displayed on screen, we'll both repeat the word "three" aloud, and she might shout out "three tomatoes!", I'd then congratulate her on getting the number and item correct, and ask for more information - what colour are the tomatoes? Does she like tomatoes? In this case the answer would be along the lines of "Mmmmmm! Three big red tomatoes! I like tomatoes! Yummy!". At this point we might go off on a tangent and talk about what we might eat with tomatoes, or maybe I'd pose a simple math question along the lines of how many tomatoes would there be if I took one away, or maybe we'd just hit another number button and start discussing the two big brown horseys, or the four little white ducks, or the eight orange carrots... This all boils down to the app being better used as a jumping off point for collaborative play/learning than a standalone toy for the child to play with on their own, though that is another valid use case for it.

I've made this app available for free on google play. Hopefully some of you out there will find it of value and leave a nice rating and review :)

I hope to be back soon with news of some more games!