So after making some mockups, I decided to go ahead with the idea of making a title screen for GrandMasterPixel. I’m not a big fan of superfluous title screens, but this one contains some useful information and navigation buttons so it earns it’s pixels.
Also, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, to the people who have been play testing. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to try out the game, even though it is still evolving & a little unpolished at this stage. While I’ve only been given a little bit of feedback so far (* nods to @kelseyhigham *), I’ve seen the pics that a few of you have submitted when I’ve been playing myself. It’s been a great encouragement to keeping banging away at making GrandMasterPixel more playable.
Next on the list is implementing ‘notifications’, so you can easily see when one of your pics has been defeated, or if you have levelled up. And then some optimization of the Arena judging interface, which I don’t think is snappy enough. And then more types of Rankings lists (daily, weekly, all time etc). And then … and then … and then. Lots more to do !
Also, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, to the people who have been play testing. I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to try out the game, even though it is still evolving and a little unpolished at this stage. While I’ve only been given a little bit of feedback so far (nods to @kelseyhigham), I’ve seen (and judged *mwahhahaha*) the pics that a few of you have submitted when I’ve been playing the game myself. It’s been a great encouragement to keeping banging away at making GrandMasterPixel more playable as a social game. I’ve released a new version (1.0.6), and if everything is working as planned. existing users should get an update notification on their mobile device.
Next on the list is implementing ‘notifications’, so you can easily see when one of your pics has been defeated, or if you have levelled up. And then some optimization of the Arena judging interface, which I don’t think is quite snappy enough. And then more types of Rankings lists (daily, weekly, all time etc). And then … and then … and then. Lots more to do !
With the help of Kyle Stewart’s post over at Binary Sheep, I’ve put together a package that contains the Android emulator along with a copy of GrandMasterPixel. This means that if you aren’t one of the lucky people to own an Android device, you can still help test the game by running it in the Android emulator on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop computer. Keep in mind the download is a little hefty (~ 65 Mb and ~ 200 Mb unzipped).
It’s not quite the same as holding the game in the palm of your hand … but if you don’t want to wrestle with Eclipse and the Android SDK to setup your own development environment, or shell out for one of the snazzy new Android phones hitting the market, it’s the next best thing.
To run the emulator, unzip the archive, run the run_emulator.* script appropriate to your platform (eg, run_emulator.linux.sh, run_emulator.osx.sh or run_emulator.bat. You may need to make the script executable first on OS X and Linux).
Part of that philosophy lead me to forgo the customary title screen found in many games. At most, I planned to have the title text “GrandMasterPixel” overlayed on the Drawing screen upon first load, then elegantly fade away. This way the user is thrown straight into one of the two key mechanics – drawing (other being judging). They can immediately poke the screen an start creating some simple pixelart. There isn’t any dire need for a ‘navigation screen’ on the Android version, since all navigation can be accessed in the popup menu, by pressing the Menu button on the device. This is the convention for pretty much every Android app (and is the suggested style in the Android Menu Design Guidelines published by Google).
Recently, however, I’ve have a change of heart on the front page navigation screen idea. Maybe it is required, to better lead new players into the game. Additionally, I’ve also noticed that Android games conventionally seem to have a front page navigation screen, unlike other non-game apps.
Here’s a mockup of one possible front page screen for GrandMasterPixel, made with Mockingbird:
For the last few months I’ve been spending some time developing a game for the Android mobile platform. Up until now, I’ve just eluded to it as my ‘uber-secret Android project’, but it’s time to let the cat out of the proverbial bag.
Introducing …. (drum roll please) … GrandMasterPixel !
GrandMasterPixel is essentially a low-res pixelart competition, with light combat RPG elements.
Draw a pic. Make it look good. Submit the pic to the Arena – this costs ‘submission credits’.
Judge some battles in the Arena between other artists pics by touching the one you think should win – judging one battle costs one ‘judging token’, and earns you one ‘submission credit’.
‘Judging credits’ recharge over time, so if you run out, just come back later.
Pics have ‘hitpoints’. Losing a battle loses the pic hitpoints – when the pics hitpoints reach zero, that pic is dead and can no longer battle.
Artists (that’s you) begin with only limited colors in their palette. You earn more colors based on (a) the number of pics you have submitted (‘leveling up’) and(b) how successful your pics have been in battle (eg, ‘achievements’ earned based on the number of wins before dying).
GrandMasterPixel drawing mode screenshot - me drawing an 8-bit Mario-like guy, with blue skin since that's all the colours I have at this level.
The idea behind this system is that players need to use all their creativity to make interesting pics, even with limited colors. Credits to submit new pics are only earned by judging, and judging is rate limited – this means players should be encouraged put some effort into each pic they submit, since submissions are a somewhat limited resource. In the current design, only half the colors are accessible based on number of submissions (eg, quantity) – the other half can only be earned by submitting pics that are successful in battle (‘quality’, as subjectively judged by other players).
I think some interesting dynamics may emerge here, but I’d rather not speculate too much before letting a bunch of players loose with the game.
There are still lots of features left to implement to make it more game-y, and a few bugs to swat, but I’ve spent a surprising amount of time developing and polishing this little game so far already, so I thought it was time to put something out there and get some feedback.
In future posts I may detail some of the lessons I’ve learned about developing Android applications, social games on Google App Engine and some general game design issues I’ve come up against in this project.