Development Diaries, Volume 15

Posted by Alex Jordan on

The Olympics is a great morale-booster. It allows you to exercise like crazy at the gym when it's on in the background, and it inspires you to achieve great(er) things for yourself. It provided a lovely push for me to get yet more accomplished on Around The World.

The most notable additions to this video are the Round End menu (which also shows off how you unlock Screen Saver pictures while playing the game) and some new selection sound effects, so turn on your speakers or plug in your headphones. I've turned off music for the time-being, as it's ridiculously aggravating to hear the same damn song when you run a debug build ever 2.5 minutes.

Creating a new class for ingame menus proved especially beneficial, as some handy plug-and-play aspects made it easy to adapt the Round End menu into a Pause menu, an Out of Time menu, and (shortly) a Game Over menu. These are incredibly important, as their addition to the game signals that, yes, you can now play a full, functional game of Around The World as it's meant to be played.

Of course, there's so much more to do. I appear to be entering the endgame phase of development, meaning that most of my time will be spent running through checklists: features to finish off, features to discard, bugs that need fixing, graphics that need tweaking, gameplay that needs polishing, and so on. Some major features still need to be completed, such as the Leaderboard, the Tutorial system, and the Screen Saver, but those are peripheral to the game itself.

Still, a couple of time-consuming challenges have arisen during this period. The first lies with matters of using artwork that I myself cannot supply: sounds, music, and Screen Saver pictures. I don't have the ability to make my own sounds and music, and I haven't traveled nearly enough to populate the Screen Saver with only my own pictures. So, I have to troll the intertubes and make sure that I acquire only Public Domain works or freeware/royalty free works. There are numerous repositories for these things online, but I still cannot just frivolously download them and distribute them. I need to record where I got each item and who from, so that credit can be given where credit is due. That means that I'm not going to add any more sound or music to the game until I have the spare time to record every last bit that I add. (Pictures are less of a problem, as I'm only going to be using Public Domain images for the Screen Saver.)

And speaking of Screen Saver pictures, there we have the second challenge. Much like the full list of locations in the game, I am going to end up with a tremendous array of pictures. The difference is that the locations are completely plug-and-play. The locations' XML database contains everything the game needs to know about the locations: city, country, region, Difficulty Level, GPS coordinates, etc. Once the game loads a location from the XML database, the game has everything on hand that it needs, with no more fuss. Any XML database of the Screen Saver pictures would face a big issue... since those pictures are unlocked during gameplay, the game itself needs to know which pictures get unlocked for which accomplishments. Score 10,000 points in a round? That might unlock a picture of the U.S. Capitol Building. Get to Round 20 for the first time? A picture of the Sydney Opera House. I'll have to enumerate exactly which pictures are available to be unlocked, and what actions unlock them.

That might prove painful. I'm going to think hard and see if there's a good way to automate at least part of the process.

On the other hand, I guess I should be thankful. Bug hunting, polishing, and tweaking is a seemingly unending process of dealing with minutiae. There are worse things to do than grappling with a large system that has obvious issues. Still, I know it's gonna drive me crazy.