Ready for Movember?

Two weeks ago I met Syd to talk about some new graphics. He suggested that when things hit the trees we’d just added they should shed some leaves. Obvious, right? Yep! Which means I’ve spent the last week adding leaf scattering on impact and, I’ve got to admit, it looks amazing. Thanks Syd! :)

Last week was also pretty exciting as it’s involved a lot of Tae Kwon Do training, practice and learning theory ready for grading. I went for the Green Tag belt on Thursday and found out Sunday that I’ve passed :D Time to start learning everything for the next belt now.

This week is going to be an interesting one for several reasons. Firstly, I’m redesigning all the game screens. The game play is pretty much sorted now so it’s time to show the user interface some love and tidy things up in preperation for release. Currently the screens are functional but they’re not great, so I’m going to be playing with different layouts and colours until I find something that really fits the style of the game. I’ll post a few screenshots at some point so you can see what I’m talking about.

Secondly, Movember starts this week. While I often turn to the beardy side, I haven’t done the whole lip-slug look before, mainly because I thought I’d look silly. Now, I don’t mind looking or being silly but if I’m going to do it then it better be for a damn good reason (like making people laugh or for free drinks). I figure promoting men’s health is a good enough reason :)

Click the link, read the rules and join in.

Progress and Trees

Good news on the game front, the core software development is pretty much done. The next few weeks are going to focus on improving the in-game graphics and the user interface, as well as yet more rounds of testing and bug fixing. With a bit of luck I’m looking at submitting things to the iPhone app store by mid November which, with a bit more luck, means it should be up for sale in plenty of time for Christmas!

Now I’m going to go play the halloween versions of the games on my iPhone. All in the name of research, you understand. I need update ideas for next year ;)

Until then, here’s a screenshot to keep you going. Look, actual graphics in there – Trees! Still a work in progress but it’s much better than my green splodges :)

October Shmocktober

October is upon us already! After sorting through old game development notes last week I’m forced to admit my original completion estimate of May 2012 was, perhaps, a little optimistic. You’ve got to love the blissful ignorance of having no idea how much work is really involved when starting a new project :)

Progress on my game development last week, though, has been very good. The core gameplay is in place. The levels have all been laid out, tested, tweaked and re-tested. The user interface is also behaving the way I want it to behave. And lastly, work has started on the final round of new graphics. All in all, things are coming together nicely.

This week will be spent tidying up more loose ends, fixing the little niggles and adding features to improve the playing experience. Sometimes this means writing more software, but often it means simply making a choice on a feature that I’ve been putting off making.

One things I’ve found useful at work that I’ve been deliberately bringing to my game development is the simple act of writing things down. Seen a bug? Add it to the list. Did something just do something weird? Yep, make a note. Did you or someone else make a passing comment about an improvement? Definitely make a note! Now I have a list containing everything that has been spotted since the start of the project. Since it’s lasted twice as long as I originally expected, it seems starting the list was a good idea. Some of those bugs and features would definitely have been forgotten by now.

Every month or so I’ve been going through the list and deciding whether each item needs to be there. Every item gets evaluated as either:

  • a bug – will need fixing before release.
  • vital new feature – game isn’t complete without it.
  • nice new feature – game would be better with it, but only if possible and time allows
  • potential feature – haven’t decided yet, come back after later and re-evalute it.
  • rubbish- seemed like a good idea at the time ;)

Some things have been ticked off while the main game development was in progress but now I’m simply working off the list. In true 80/20 style though, I’m still adding new ideas, features and bugs to the list even as I tick things off. The more features you tidy up the more it makes surrounding features look like they need improvement. Also, the more complete the game becomes the more ideas get thought up and added to the list.

I love the simplicity of this approach and it’s effectiveness on small projects with teams of one or two people. It’s possibly even more effective than heavier weight project management strategies (I’m looking at you Prince2). Ticking things off the list is also very satisfying, especially when you starting running out of bugs and vital features. Things are rapidly getting to the point where it’s not development that I need to work on, but avoiding the dreaded Feature Creep :D