iOS Game X – Game Play

This is part two of a series on making iOS games.

How will I try to entertain the player? What sort of game play will there be?

Here is a list of things that I hope to offer in the game:

  • exploring the environment (people like a tour)
  • discovering all sorts of wierd and wonderful monsters
  • destroying them with a glorious range of weapons
  • having to do all this at speed

Source:  amigan
Remember this one?  My first mac game – I got it along with my first and only mac trojan.

Touching the World

It was tempting at first to try and squeeze this game into something which can be played with one thumb. One thumb games however, grow dull on me quite quickly.

The “Touching the world” meme, in regards to the user interface of a game, is one that Graeme Devine mentions a lot (see his excellent WWDC talks 2010, 2011), referring to the screen of iOS devices being the interface (in contrast to physical joysticks), and how you can/should manipulate the game world through that interface both more directly and more subtly.
I agree this idea has a lot of validity.

However, I think the dynamics of the UI for the sort of game that game X is (2D action), have been well explored. Moving an entity in this 2D world, into position with touch, which requires a lot of touches to get the orientation and speed right, is difficult. Targeting enemies also with touch is problematic – its too easy sometimes. “Touching the world” for this sort of game might work ok on the iPad, but on the iPhone I think your fingers will be in the way all the time, and the interaction will be course grained and slow.

We don’t (the last time I looked) pilot craft and target other enemy craft in real life by touching a screen (unless its fire and forget), and I wonder whether that god like interaction “touching the world” in fact divorces the player from the action, making it not as exciting. I DO have an iPad game on the drawing board which is a “touch the world” type game, its not an action game though. In the case of Game X “Touching the world” doesn’t work for me.

The final UI will be influenced by my informal tester (surfing buddy). It will either be:

  1. A four thumbs interaction. Left and right thumbs on the bottom of the screen rotate the player anti-clockwise and clockwise, left and right thumbs at the top of the screen shoot and move, or
  2. one thumb dials the rotation with a circular motion, the other thumb does the move and shoot as with the first option, or
  3. one thumb dials direction, presses centre of the dial for impulse, other thumb dials weapons, presses centre of the dial for firing.

I reckon it will be the third, but I haven’t tested it much yet.

Yes there is a learning curve for the player, but later game play is quite exciting.
A player quickly gets good at manipulating the player object, much quicker than you might expect.
There is a certain sort of gratification when you can slice through enemy forces wreaking havoc, using newly acquired controller dexterity.


One thing I should have mentioned in the first post in this series, is that everything can and probably will change. The game definitely won’t go 3D in its first incarnation, but other things may change drastically – I have no idea how at this point.


Some other general notes on the game:

  • 2D
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • an orthographic perspective
  • manually generate levels (not computer generated like Tiny Wings)
  • use iOS 5 GLKit
  • use ARC
  • use CoreData
  • use iCloud, so being able to swap to another device and keep playing.
  • the general artistic theme – 2D cell inspired monsters. The 2D part is not obvious given its a 2D game, the images could be 3D like images from photoshop or 3D rendered
  • vector drawings from photoshop
  •  some internal animating mechanisms in the monsters and player
  •  tiles make up the world, to aid building, and optimizing the world

 Coming up iOS Game Technology

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