Sunday, September 8, 2013

Beginning of the Odyssey

Flight Odyssey began with an app called Finger Hoola, which was the free app of the day on Amazon's Android store one summer day in 2013. It was "Made with Love & Corona SDK," it claimed, and that made me curious.

So I did some research on Corona SDK, and I liked what I saw. It bragged making development 10 times faster than Objective C 2.0 or Java for Android development, the two most popular "native" tools for smartphone app development. That's a bold claim, but from what I could tell, it was true, at least for relatively small programs. My previous attempts at apps had used Objective C 2.0 and ended in disaster.

Not only was Corona SDK less over-engineered, it also boasted that it could be deployed to four different app stores (Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Nook) without rewriting code. That was another impressive claim, considering the vast differences in architecture between Android and iOS (Kindle Fire and Nook are really just forks of Android, but they have their own app stores). The only other tool that I had used that could be compiled for multiple mobile platforms was Adobe Flash Builder (4.5.1+). I'm currently working on a game using Flash Builder as well, but it's indefinitely on hold for several reasons. First of all, the game was begun before Adobe released support for mobile platforms, and Adobe did not make it very easy to migrate the project to the new system. Furthermore, while Flash Builder is definitely easier to work with than Java or Objective C (in my opinion), Corona SDK is even easier for most tasks. The one advantage that Flash Builder does hold is that it supports compilation for Blackberry, while Corona SDK does not.

I'll do more comparisons of Flash Builder and Corona SDK in a future post, but to make a long story short, I was extremely excited to try making an app in Corona SDK, so I started looking around for ideas. I tried to solicit some from my brother, but he was no help. So, I just started experimenting with Corona SDK and waiting for an idea to hit me.

After a few weeks passed, one day I noticed my brother playing a game called Hill Climb Racing, where a player drives a car over 2D hills doing tricks and collecting coins. He seemed to be having fun playing it (he had unlocked almost all of the cars), and when I tried my hand at it I found it relatively amusing. At that point, I thought it was just another free game, but a few hours later, I had an idea: What if I made a similar game, but instead of driving a car you could fly an airplane?

My brother seemed to like the idea, so I commenced development of a prototype and added him to the team. Naturally, we added some twists to make the gameplay totally unique. Players not only control the throttle, but can also tilt the device to control the angle of the plane. Furthermore, instead of starting at the beginning of a scene each time you play, gameplay takes place in one huge world that you are free to slowly explore. Players can complete missions and collect coins - but be sure to land safely or you won't get to keep the money!

My brother and I have been working on the game for several months, and now that it is nearing completion I hope that you will find it enjoyable!

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