Flash has always been a strong suite for me. Even when I first started getting into the program 5 years ago, Flash was as pick-up-and-go as it could get for me. As such, it’s no surprise that my first real planned project using Actionscript 3 would turn out a success.
Fly Smasher is one of the projects that came from my experience over at EDAC's Interaction Design and Game Level Development. The assignment was to develop a simple story driven game that is played through only one player input and that can be developed as quickly as humanly possible. Right out of the gate I had a project document detailing out the of the game as well as a paper prototype.
Let it be known, if you can create a paper prototype of your game prior to actual development, do it! It’s the most effective way to get your idea across visually to both other people in your team as well as possible targets of your demographic. Had it not been for the paper prototype, many of the final ideas that went into Fly Smasher wouldn’t have come to the light of day. On top of that, a prototype should only take a few minutes to and hour at the most.
Development was interesting to say the least. At the time, Actionscript 3 was still rather new to me, with only a small chunk of Red Knight being the only previous experience with the script. As such I used what I knew to come up with an Alpha version quickly, but it was the polish that took it’s time. As I attempted to move on from that version I quickly hit brick walls; I had never really used aspects like XML and Flash, nor had I used AS3 to code priority in a mouse click over other MovieClip collisions. Suffice to say, I eventually got all of that sorted and quickly jumped onto getting as much testing as possible in.
As the walls fell, and the testers’ grins grew more and more, it became apparent I was on to something. When looking for proper art assets, Albert jumped onto that faster then you can say: “You have two weeks!” He had been rather excited about the project since I first brought it up, and was the first to jump in as a tester whenever he could.
In the end this was the big success of my college career. The scope stayed intact, it remained fun and simple, the story-while basic- is enough to get players interested and the art style Albert came up with was brilliant.
What I did right
- Paper Prototype, paper prototype, paper prototype
- Get some testing in whenever possible. This was a huge step into keeping the game interesting and consistent.
- Building the fundamentals before assets became a factor. This allowed for both the concept to be proven, as well as the assets to be designed around the game, not the other way around.
- Simple concept was the right scope for an junior developer like myself.
What I did wrong
- Not enough research into XML and Flash. Relying on PHP to transfer data between the two wasn’t a very elegant solution.
- Took too long trying to bash down the “brick walls” instead of changing focus and coming back to those barriers.