Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How it all started...

It all started a couple of years ago when a good friend insisted that we learn iOS dev. This same friend got me running a few miles, then 10 miles, then half marathons, then marathons. He has a good track record of getting me hooked on constructive hobbies. I bought a Macbook Pro and the rest is history.

At one point I decided to make my own game. It seemed simple enough. I soon learned that making a game by yourself, from scratch, while learning a new programming language is really hard.

I wanted the game to be simple. Something that wasn't going to bait someone into getting addicted to it and causing issues with their family because they played too much. It had to be something that you could pull out and play quickly with one hand while you wait in line. It also had to be a little silly. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a weirdo. Just ask my wife about the songs and dances performed daily by me at home (sorry, no public performances). The idea came to base it on the game play of existing traffic directing games. To me, directing traffic with your finger was fun but lacked game play depth. The game needed more than just a fender bender to be great.

I took the idea to space and added meteors. Saving astronauts for extra points added yet another dimension to the game. Now the player would have to make sure that traffic flowed well, avoid or destroy flaming balls of fire, save falling astronauts and earn combo bonuses.

Creating a game alone is hard, especially when you don't know the platform well. I was able to get the basic game play done pretty quick (objects flying across the screen from random directions). I would go down a road and then have to redo sections of the game because I didn't consider performance. I had to draw some of the artwork from scratch in Illustrator and modify stock images for everything else. I would add a new flying object and get it all done and then realize that it doesn't look good and completely take it out. I had to find music and sound effects that worked and really pay through the nose for some of them. I had originally planned to only integrate Cocos Live for high scores but then realized that OpenFeint and Game Center integration was the way to go. I also realized that making the game free and adding ads and in-app purchases was the best plan. There were several times that I was thinking that I was close to done, only to end up integrating a new third party service or finding that I needed to rewrite something. The hardest part was only being able to work on it for a couple hours a day. The only time I had was in my car and late at night after the kids had gone to bed. This caused a standard week of work to stretch out over a month. At times it got really hard. I have a wonderful wife and 4 great kids which are always first on the priority list, a full time job, church responsibilities and marathon training to balance. I was starting to realize why there really aren't many others in my situation that write their own iOS games. It's really, really hard!

Some of my best ideas came to me during the day and I sometimes spent my lunch time, crammed in the shotgun seat of my Honda Accord, with my laptop on my lap. This became the inspiration for the name of my company 'Out of the Gun'.

Making Warp Jam was a great experience. The whole process was a great learning experience and I am glad to have a great family who supports me in whatever I do. I hope that everyone will enjoy it!