It is done. I’ve clicked the button and now Head Spin is officially available through Google Play.
So, a bit about Head Spin. Being still quite new to game developing I wanted to keep things simple for my second game. Space Surfer was very simple indeed so for this one I decided to try something a little more complicated but still something that I could finish in a sensible time frame. After all, I only have evenings and weekends (some anyway) to do this, so even something relatively simple takes a while to put together.
I love platform games and it’s a well defined genre that people are familiar with, so I was hoping that something along those lines would find a slightly larger audience than the rather small niche Space Surfer found for itself. I realised, however, that I’d have to put in quite a bit more work to build a framework capable of supporting a platform game. Then I discovered AndEngine.
AndEngine is a free, open source 2D game engine for Android and it looked like it was just perfect for what I wanted to do. I no longer had to worry about all the framework code that would be required as AndEngine supplied the lot. It even had an implementation of the amazing physics engine Box2D. And to cap it all it provided a simple way of loading in tile based game levels that I could build using the free tool Tiled. Of course, there was still the matter of designing all the tiles, the rest of the graphics, sound effects, game-play mechanics etc. as well as actually building the levels and UI, so it wasn’t as if the game would magically appear out of thin air. Still, a huge amount of the groundwork was in place and I could concentrate on the important bits of building a working game.
Head Spin started as a very different game. My original idea was to make a game based around balancing a unicycle as it rode over various obstacles and terrain but it became very clear, very quickly that it was more or less unplayable. I’d already learnt that lesson from Space Surfer so the idea was ditched immediately. It was still an interesting demo though and it provided the starting point for what came next. Rather than a unicycle the character became just a head that could be rolled around using the tilt functionality that all Android devices have. Tapping the screen provided a simple method for jumping and that’s as complicated as the controls got. Apart from double jumping, which every self-respecting platform game should have.
I had decided very early on that I didn’t want any death in Head Spin. I’d been playing a lot of Cordy (which is just beautiful, everyone should play it) and noticed that it managed to be really fun and challenging but without any death, or annoying restarts. I realised that challenge could come from many things, it didn’t have to involve the prospect of getting killed by something, be it falling on spikes or shot by an enemy. So I tried to give my game that same fun challenge by making interesting levels that tested the player’s coordination and skill at using the momentum of the rolling head to the best advantage. Hopefully I’ve succeeded at least partially.
I’ve already talked about the art style in a previous post and how my wife’s craft skills were used to give life to the world of Head Spin. Everything is home-made, even the sound effects. With a budget of precisely zero I think I’ve made a fun little platform game that although doesn’t push too many boundaries it at least provides a bit of enjoyment for whomever decides to download it.