Eradicate Week 1: Starting the Project

Today, I am kicking off the development diary for the project that inspired Skejo Studios to get started. We may have a second project in parallel (to fill any down time this project might have), but most of our energy will spent on this project.

I plan on making weekly project updates, at least on any week that I spend work on a particular project. This first update reflects about two weeks of elapsed time, but less than a week's worth of dedicated time. To set expectations, some updates will be technical in nature, where others might focus more on the design, UI or business side of things.

Currently, the in-house name is Outbreak, but that is of course subject to change at any point right up to launch. We are aiming to create an iPad evolution of a table top strategy game concept. A co-operative type game where there are two to four players who are trying to beat back four regional outbreaks. Most likely we will play a zombie theme for these outbreaks, but for now we are just working on the game mechanics. This project is being built on the Cocos2d game platform.

At a developer conference, I heard that a group used a load screen for inspiration, so I grabbed a screen from Neuroshima Hex. This game is listed in Apple's Great Board Game section, a destination we would love to hit, so I figured I should add their load screen as the background for out menus for a while.

Getting to a playable demo is a high priority, so I want to get some early progress nailed down. I figured I should work out the menu system. A Main menu, Options menu, Credits page, and New Game menu screens were all stubbed out. Obviously they need a better look/feel, but the first pass is about functionality. All of these screens use the common design of using CCLabelTTFs, CCMenuItems and a CCMenu. Check Chapter 7 of Learning Cocos2D for a good write up, or read

The game actually saves the states of the Music and SFX on/off switches and such, but w/o sounds they don't do anything. I will also likely redo the Credits screen, but just wanted some stubbed out views to show a least a bit of progress.

The majority of time thus far has been spent on the game setup screen and the playable game. The game options screen lets you choose the game difficulty and the number/composition of the players. That data is then forwarded to the main game playing layer. I have currently implemented a bare bones map about 1/4 the eventual size. You can move you player, see which cities are outbreaking, combat the outbreaks and end your turn. At the end of each turn, new outbreaks pop up.

Thus far, most of the initialization of the game, and a lot of code, is hidden from view, but adding randomized initialization, random propagation of the outbreaks and other mechanics are done, but not well implemented in the UI.

I have also being wiring up some stub animations for when a player is selected on a city, to highlight where they can move to next. As well as some cursory move animations. Learning the Cocos2D animations is rather easy once you dig into it. Chaining and looping animations is super easy. Too lazy to even make some quick Photoshop buttons, hence the lower right icons (grabbed from an example project somewhere).

The next week will be focused on coding some of the end game conditions, both win and lose, implementing switching between players and then there will mostly be a playable game, though shrunk in scope. As I noted at the beginning of the post, having playable snapshots of the game will help with testing, as well as play testing the balance and UI.

For now that is all I have. Most of these dev diaries will just be updates about the progress of the game, though I may dive more deeply into the code if I feel it is needed. Most likely I will make code write ups and how-to's into a generic post, and link to it from the dev diary. But I won't hold myself too strongly to that.

*Side note: Some prior projects were tangled in non-bug resulting warnings from XCode. This project I intend on having no warnings issue ever when compiling. Thus far I am doing well on this front.

This is a dev diary about our Eradicate project (view all posts here). Also visit Skejo Studios to see all we are doing there.