Friday, March 5, 2010

Doodle Blast! - Day 5 - Menus and Scores

Stats: 60 code files, 5323 lines of code, 3 textures, 21 sounds

I’ve been checking to see how many views there are of each of the videos I post here and here is an interesting statistic:
Day 1 – prototype: 74 views
Day 2 – collisions: 105 views
Day 4 – flicks: 11 views
What’s up kids? Wanna know more about collisions or is it just the teenagers out there searching for YouTube videos that contain explosions and crashes? Flicks, on the other hand, not very popular. And here I thought that that post would be a hit. Oh well, I hope you are ready for some serious excitement, because on Day 5 I tackled the menu system!

Okay, okay, so maybe the menus are not that exciting, but they are still very important and based on some feedback, I still didn’t get it quite right. There were two big complaints. One, the game generates a random name for you to use for score keeping (picking one randomly out of a hat of about ten). That’s all nice, but it turns out that most people post their first global score without realizing that they need to change their name first, otherwise they will just end up posting their score with this generic name. And two, some people score a particular score they are proud of, but they happen to be out of WiFi / cell-phone range when that happens and can’t submit their victorious number at the time. Since there is no “post your high score later” feature, they forever lose the ability to gloat about their achievement in public leader boards. I’ll try to address both of these in the next update.

BTW, in case you were interested, all the scores are kept using the CocosLive service, which is a really nice addition to the Cocos2D library. Also, Doodle Blast is using the free Twitter access libraries published by Matt Gemmell. Thanks Matt!

Besides menus, I’ve added an About page for those 3 seconds of fame, tweaked how multi-touch fire works, and baked score markers into the game itself for extra motivation. The game currently only displays top 100 global scores as little ticks that scroll by in the background (along with top 100 local scores). However, the more people play the game and post their scores, the more out of reach these top 100 scores are getting. For example, Nino and Robin B scored 8561 and 5130 respectively. I don’t know how these guys did it, but I’m seriously impressed. My personal best is about 950. However, the point is that fewer and fewer people actually see score markers in the game any more. So, for the next update, I’m thinking of showing the top 100 scores along with the bottom 100 scores, just to give people who are still trying some hope.

And one more thing – updated gun behavior. Test players suggested to me that if you have guns that fire continuously and if you pick up a new gun by tapping on the falling bonus crate, that new gun should automatically join the continuous fire effort as soon as it’s able, without the user having to lift their fingers of the screen to engage it. Among the changes I’ve made today, I implemented that behavior. Also, I’ve added logic to monitor how many fingers are continuously pressed against the screen. When that number changes, I scan through all the guns that can fire continuously and redirect them such that each continuous touch gets its fair share of continuous gun fire, without the user having to do anything besides worry about catching all enemies. Try it out next time you play the game (but beware that not all guns fire continuously).

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