Monday, November 11, 2013

Blobby Volley for Android: Progress Report 3

This week was definitely not a productive one. Neither was it very lucky. But let's start from the beginning.

I only worked for about 3h. I was really busy with other duties and I went for a trip during the weekend. I'm not very proud of this number, but it didn't happen because of my laziness - I honestly had other things to occupy myself with.

Nonetheless, I was able to create a menu screen and an options screen. I also started using the HUD class to display points and FPS. All of those things I learned through the AndEngine Tutorials site. You can take a look at the screenshots below to get a grasp of what I'm talking about or just download the current game apk file.

I'm not very happy with what the menu looks like right now, but it'll do for a while, until I design a better one. You may notice that the FPS rate is quite high and on my Nexus 4 phone it stays close to 60 all the time.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to use the resources from the original game. I found a StackOverflow thread about using GPL-licensed images in your projects that said that it's not legal to do so. However, it also said that I might try to ask the author for permission. So I did, but I got the following answer:
I'm sorry to tell you that we have an Android app of Blobby Volley 2
already in incubation (.etatest) which will be released soon: 30. November ;)
The images and sounds are not OpenSource. So I'm sorry to tell you
that you can't use them. But feel free to use the GPL code for your
stuff under the terms of the GPL.
So not only can't I use the resources, but also they're writing their own Android version of the game. If fact, they've practically finished it. You can imagine that it didn't make me very happy, but after giving it some thought I decided to finish my game anyway. It's a great learning experience and I think it can still be successful. Especially if I make it better or just different from other existing ones. I'll probably be needing a designer though and I'm still not sure how I'm going to find one and how much I'll be willing to pay him.

Other than HUD, menus and legal issues, I was able to enhance the physics a little. Even though I didn't have time to code everything, I'm pretty sure I have it well thought over. If you're observant, you may notice that the ball doesn't influence the blobs' speed anymore (although it was an interesting effect). I transformed the blobs into kinematic bodies and I have a nice plan how to code the rest of the bounce mechanism.

Here's what I want to do in the next 7 days:
  • finish up the game physics so it behaves pretty much like the original game
  • enable the controls to be on both sides of the net (for left handed people and for those who prefer it this way)
  • add other control mechanisms - left/right buttons and possibly gyroscope
  • start working on blob animations
  • perhaps code a very basic AI
This week made me realize why documentation is important and why good code examples are not enough. AndEngine is lacking a manual and JavaDocs and without those two, you have to come up with your own design patterns and good practices. That's why I decided to get the AndEngine for Android Game Development Cookbook. I haven't started reading it yet, but I'll definitely share my impressions of it later. Also, besides regular progress reports, I'll be telling you, how far through the book I managed to get.

As a post scriptum, I want to thank Jeremiah McLeod from XdebugX Games for giving me a tip concerning TexturePacker. He wrote me a comment on the last progress report, indicating that libGDX has it's own TexturePacker which can be used for free, if my trial period expires and it leaves me with insufficient functionality. I didn't have to add any new textures last week, but I'll remember this piece of advice when I have another sprite to add. If you happen to possess a piece of information that might help me with my struggle, please share it as well.

Oh, and one more thing, a lot of people have answered my interview request lately, so you can expect weekly Q&A sessions with various developers. If you have something interesting to say, you can contact me as well at bartas.wesolowski [at] and if you just want to read and learn, come back in a couple of days or even better, sign up for email or RSS updates.

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