Sunday 26 May 2013

Street Race Swipe LibGDX Scene2D Tutorial

I have been meaning to write a LibGDX Scene2D tutorial for some time now (ever since my Quack Attack FREE Duck Hunt Game got ridiculously popular). The problem has been finding the time, instead of writing blog entries I've been making games!

I had a great idea for a multitasking game, play four independent games at one time to train your brain and test your ability to multitask. The result was my 4 Games 1 Screen FREE Brain Training Game. I built this game as four separate games from the outset, with the intention of possibly building further on each minigame and releasing as standalone apps. The first of these standalone apps is Street Race Swipe Racing Game, which brings us neatly to the point of this article...

Street Race Swipe Racing Game is such a simple game at its heart that it seems like an excellent candidate for a tutorial article :) I remember being massively impressed by the example SimpleApp on the LibGDX wiki when first starting out, there was so little to it but it touched on all the basics of what is needed to make a game. I'm hoping this mini project will be almost as simple and just as helpful to others!

Wednesday 15 May 2013

4 Games 1 Screen - Musings on mobile game control

So often I hear that players hate onscreen controls on touch devices. No physical button means no tactile feedback to let you know you are 'touching but not pressing' a button. This fundamentally different interface means the traditional joystick / d-pad control scheme can no longer be the de facto standard for gaming controls across all platforms - replicating "up down left right a b start" on a phone or tablet is far from ideal (but an ouya or gamestick is another matter entirely ;)).

In my latest game, 4 Games 1 Screen, I try to make the most of a tricky situation. I've embraced the android mobile platform and the control options it offers. Our phones and tablets have accelerometers and touchscreens, the old nintendo and sega machines did not, it's time to think outside the box and make the most of these features.

4 Games 1 Screen is a challenging brain training game, the aim is to multitask by playing four games at one time, and avoid making too many mistakes. Make too many mistakes and it's game over. Each game is kept relatively simple for two reasons - first the game has to have a single objective and control method, second you have to be able to play four of these things at once so too much complexity would be too distracting for the player.

The mini games are:

  • Asteroid Attack - Tilt to steer your ship, asteroid collisions damage the shields, and when the shields are gone - gameover man, gameover!
  • Tap Jump Cowboy - Classic infinite scroll platform game (like canabalt, and gemserk's excellent vampire runner) tap the screen to jump, save the cowboy from running into the campfires!
  • Speedy Sums Math Master - Fully engage the left side of the brain, evaluate the math problem and mark it as correct or incorrect... You not only lose a life when you get it wrong, but also when you run out of time - so think fast!
  • Street Race Swipe - Swipe up or down to change lanes in this fast and furious racing game, avoid crashing into the other sports cars, too many bumps and your car will explode!

Each game can be played independently (full screen) in practice mode, but the real aim of the game is to play them all at once - the game is called "4 Games 1 Screen" afterall :) I find it fun, addictive, frustrating and challenging. The frustration is what makes it so addictive haha, I see gameover and immediately try again to "do it right this time" :)

No onscreen controls, and a game that would not really be possible on traditional gaming platforms, this is truly a mobile game designed for mobile devices. I hope you go on to check it out (it's FREE, so why not!) and if you also like making your own mobile games that you might consider some of the thought behind the concept - don't lament the lack of physical controls, instead make the most of what is available!

Finally, does this mean that I won't ever release a mobile game with onscreen controls? No. Definitely not. A future project will be a traditional platformer, with android enabled consoles like the ouya and gamestick firmly in mind. I will no doubt make a mobile version of this game with onscreen controls (it would be silly not to). I'm not against onscreen controls, I'm against not thinking up interesting ways to make the most of what the mobile platform offers. I believe a platformer will only work well with traditional controls, but we don't always have to make traditional games :)

Happy gaming boys and girls!