31 Mar iPhone game: deadline is closing in
When we decided that we would try to build an iPhone game in two weeks, we knew it would be tough. We knew it would involve doing a lot of technical research, creating a lot of designs and making a lot of tough decisions. Lukas already talked about a big cut we made, which resulted in a more focused game experience. Today we sat down to review our progress, painfully aware of the impending deadline in just two days.
The good news is that we are well on our way. The central gameplay mechanic, dodging blades by tilting the iDevice, works nicely. In fact, both our own team members and outside testers enjoy the thrill of falling down and dashing sideways to avoid serious injury. We’ve been experimenting with speed and blade spawning frequency. We’re testing all these different stages, and keep those that work best. The latest incarnations are actually quite demanding – average playtime is now 30 to 60 seconds, which is exactly what we’re aiming for.
Regarding visuals, the team is producing a lot of great assets. We are lucky to get a bit of outside help from Bang Phan, a veteran concept artist. He’s working on the background image and cloud textures.
We’re also gathering a small group of dedicated testers, which is fantastic. It’s so rewarding to get honest and constructive feedback. Personally I am looking forward to improving our quality assurance and user testing efforts in the upcoming months. It makes sense to have an external focus: we want to make games people want to play.
The not so good news is, time is really running out. We have so many wonderful ideas but not enough manpower to get it in. While we have solid artwork, implementation into the game takes longer than expected. For the past few days, we’ve been playing a promise. Even if we did manage to work more hours, every new feature and every new asset potentially introduces bugs. Adding new mechanics means we’ll have to test everything again from scratch, as we basically have a whole new game.
That’s why today has been about cutting stuff from an already lean design. It’s about making things work, dumping excess bagage where-ever possible. We won’t have power-ups, we’ll keep sounds to a minimum, we’ll have to be strict about animations.
On the other hand, we’re still definitely ambitious. We do want exciting gameplay, we do want Twitter support, we would love to give Jimmy a voice. With two days left on the clock, we’ll do whatever it takes to make our Friday deadline. And that’s not even the end of the road yet: we’ll have to submit the game to Apple, get it reviewed, and hopefully approved. If all goes well, we’ll have an iPhone game in the App Store sometime next week!