Angle brackets guy builds a game for Windows 8

Angle brackets guy builds a game for Windows 8

A little background

It’s safe to say that my career has been primarily focused on the web. From “webmaster” in 1995 to the Chief Technology Officer position at a .com to more recent gigs in software development consulting, much of the software I’ve been involved in building has been web focused. I had taken a few detours along the way, such as the Windows Phone weather app that I discussed on this blog but never released and some Silverlight projects that I did on the side but everything else was angle brackets.

So perhaps it was a little arrogant? foolish? naïve? of me to just decide a few months back that I was going to build a game for the Windows 8 store.  Microsoft had announced that the Windows 8 development experience was going to be great for anyone who had working knowledge of HTML/CSS/JavaScript OR XAML/C# OR C++. I figured I fell into at least two of those camps so why not give it a whirl. The question came down to should I use HTML/CSS/JavaScript or XAML?

I suspect that like many of you, I’m not a web designer. Oh sure, I can wear turtle neck sweaters or a nice v-neck and I know a nice looking design when I see one but don’t ask me to create one. That being the case, I needed to enlist the assistance of a designer so that my new game would not only be fun to play but would be visually appealing as well.  Presented with this dilemma and considering the pool of folks I’d worked with over the years on web stuff, I decided to take the HTML/CSS route to gamedom.

On to Game Design and Development

When I started this process, I did some googling on Bing to find out how one goes about creating a game. I read many blogs and even picked up a few dead tree books in my quest for game dev knowledge. I knew my platform would be HTML/CSS and JavaScript so I focused on that and the canvas. Having never worked with the canvas before, I decided to pull in a 3rd party library from createjs.com called EaselJS. That would give me a nicer API to write against.  After a few days of reading, hacking some test code together and a couple of bad pencil drawings depicting my game screen in all its glory, it was time to start coding.

FNF_pencil

My mad design skills at work

Looking back now it was nowhere near the right time to start coding but….

After a couple of weeks I had the game mechanics functioning correctly so I brought in the designer to make this thing look like something someone would want to play. Early on, I had hired a cartoonist to do the original drawings for me and create the sprite frames (I used Adobe Fireworks to create the actual sprites). Next, I needed the designer to bring it all together.

The Final Product

After working with the designer for a bit, the game was ready to be submitted to the Windows Store.

a

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All in all I’m pleased with the results and the user feedback has been good. The whole process was a good learning experience and Ill continue to improve the game and add features as time goes on.

You can check it out in the Windows Store if you search for FinsNFeathers or for those of you who do not have a Windows 8 machine, you can check it out here.  And if all of that is just too much trouble, here is a quick video look at the game.

In summation, I would say that if you have an itch to try your hand at casual game development, build a game for Windows 8. Microsoft does provide a really nice platform to get started and, as usual, their tools are fantastic.  And who know, you just might create the next Angy Birds.

Until next time….Thanks for visiting.

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