It’s been a very (very) long time since I decided to write a quick and simple game to get to grips with iPhone game development. I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson right there, but lets gloss over that for now
After a rather intense last few weeks and some incredibly late nights from both Syd Emmery, working on the graphics, and myself, working on the programming, it was submitted to Apples app store on Sunday night. Now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that it gets reviewed and released in time for Christmas. Why Christmas? Well, apart from being potentially a really good sales period (shiny new Apple toys and kids with loads of time on their hands) I had promised myself I’d get the game done this year. This explains the last minute development rush: the app store is on hold from 21st December to 28th December (no new games or updates in that time) and reviewing can take anywhere up to 14 days. At the moment, the average review time seems to be 6-7 days so unless it gets rejected for any reason we should have scraped in with days to spare.
What Is It?
Loading graphics for Aeolus
For those of you not putting up with me waffling about it for the last year or so, the game is called Aeolus (after Aeolus, Greek God of Winds). You use your powers to push hot air balloons around the screen and try to land them all safely on the handy landing pads provided. Why? Maybe Aeolus doesn’t like the human invaders to his realm. More likely though is he’s bored and just passing time harassing the poor mortals on a Sunday afternoon.
Whatever the reasons for pushing the balloons around, it turns out the game concept is pretty fun and slightly addictive. I got the basic gameplay up and running fairly quickly at the beginning of the year and got various people to try it out. This is always risky as you have to expect a polite “I’ll try it because you’re my friend and tell you it’s good” response. In most cases I found they’d been playing it for 10+ minutes and I had to ask for my phone back. While I knew I liked it, I wasn’t expecting other people to enjoy it as much as they seemed to be. It was especially fun hearing them cursing a difficult level without looking up from the screen or handing the phone back! Thank you to all those people, by the way, that really did help motivate me through the long development process
I thought I’d drop a few screenshots of the different levels and screens so people can see what I’m talking about. I also really love all the graphics that Syd has produced over the last 6 months or so and want to show them off!
The Home Screen
This is the home screen and probably one of the simplest (for a reason). You’re basically playing that little guy in the corner. There’s a few things animating here but, unless your in the list of testers and helpers, it’s probably not that interesting for you.
On release there will be four chapters, two based in the meadows and two based in the desert. Lets just say these graphics blow my original developer art / design way out of the water. Every so often you get reminded me why you use experts: because they can do in a few hours what might take me days (if I ever get there) to produce. When I got these I suddenly realised my game was actually going to be looking quite professional
Each chapter has 9 levels. There was an original reason for this number, which has been lost in the mists of development changes. As you can see, you need to unlock chapters and levels in sequence and there’s a bronze, silver and gold balloon awarded for each level. In most cases you can unlock the next level fairly easily (bronze balloon), though you need a perfect score for a gold balloon.
Next up are a the screenshots I’m currently using on the app store showing a example levels from the chapters.
As you can see, there’s a variety of obstacles and objects across the different chapters to keep things interesting. At least that’s the plan.
The last two screen to show off are the paused and finished screens. They are, also, a lot better looking than the versions I came up with. The paused screen doesn’t need to do much apart from provide the options, but the finished screen has a few animations going on as you get better scores that I’m quite happy with.
There you go, a quick look round Aeolus, the game I’ve been writing for over a year. I’ve already got several little improvements and features I want to add which didn’t quite make the first cut, as well as at least another 4 chapters planned. For now, though, it’s back to keeping my fingers crossed and, hopefully, relaxing over Christmas for a couple of weeks.
Actually, I’ve got another game idea that should be really quick and simple to do like this one was. Think I might start that over the holiday…