Monthly Archives: May 2010

The organization of a game app

The central-most Objective-C class in this game I’m developing is called “HBDGame”. The main source file has gone beyond the previously-mentioned 6000 lines and is now over 7200 lines. It seems a lot (for my own records).

Now I want to make a quick post because I will forget if I don’t… and because I do not want to write about this in detail right now.

There is a difficulty in maintaining strong organization when I have over 40 classes and dozens or hundreds of images, giant world map files (around 10/25 made so far) with dozens of configured elements within each, and a handful of soundeffects.

So I have probably 100+ pages of hand-written notes and diagrams and pencil illustrations, plus all the source mockup files for the computer graphics, and e-documents typed to keep myself organized.

And it’s becoming very challenging. I make constant use of text-based two-way references. That’s one of the best helps for me to keep track of execution paths in the program. blah. Now this is really starting to sound technical.. hah.

The major point of this post is simply this: the source-code and information hierarchy model I’ve found myself using (and pretty comfortable with) is something like this:

  1. Main game class is HBDGame, and it is the ultimate boss, next to the app delegate itself.
  2. There is a layer of persistent data (game settings that are important to keep the same for every game-session, like music volume and choice of accelerometer control versus touch-screen control). This persistent data is saved and loaded by 3 different simple functions.  The HBDGame controls these, and every class that wants stuff saved goes through the boss class.
  3. Significant game components, including the GamePlayer, menu systems (main menu, pause menu, quick popup menus) and other significant game objects.
  4. Interaction layer which handles the inputs to affect the game.  Some of this goes through the boss, and the boss passes off the inputs to the proper recipient.  Other times it goes directly to the recipient (specifically in the case of menus).
  5. Finally, the graphics themselves.  The graphics are controlled almost all completely through the main game components.

Probably doesn’t qualify as a model-view-controller layout.  More like a Global support-storage-model-controller-view.  I think the model-view-controller is a great model for software, but it seems complex projects have blurry lines of communication between the three concepts.

Perhaps there is a better way to organize what I’m doing, but right now I’m still finishing up the core of the game.

I’ll try to write more about this, with concise details, later on.

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Custom rotation/orientation, and almost too much code

I have my major iPhone project game-app organized in this manner:

Custom class for appplication delegate class (as all apps have)

it has a generic UIWindow as the view property.

To this window, I add a background wood image.

Then the app delegate creates an instance from a nib, of my main game object view-controller-subclass.  I actually use this view controller subclass as the main model of the game, instead of separating it out to form a more appropriate model-view-controller relationship model.

The game object has a custom UIView subclass, NOT the one for the OpenGL view.

This view is permanently in UIInterfaceOrientationLandscapeRight (the default orientation set in the Info.plist).
Extra trivia: when an orientation change occurs, I manually rotate subviews of the main game view individually.  This is done by  picking one of my five global CGAffineTransform variables created with assigned values

CGAffineTransform transRot0 = CGAffineTransformMakeRotation( 0 );
CGAffineTransform transRotMinus90 = CGAffineTransformMakeRotation( – M_PI / 2 );
CGAffineTransform transRot90 = CGAffineTransformMakeRotation( M_PI / 2 );
CGAffineTransform transRotMinus180 = CGAffineTransformMakeRotation( – M_PI );
CGAffineTransform transRot180 = CGAffineTransformMakeRotation( M_PI );

The two 180s are very important, only if using animations to transition with style.  And that’s what I am doing (in some cases).
The UIInterfaceOrientationLandscapeRight is the same thing as UIDeviceOrientationLandscapeLeft (when you rotate the iPhone or iPod touch from having the home-button down = portrait, to having it on the right-side = device landscape left, the interface must rotate the opposite direction = landscape right, to maintain the same upward direction so you don’t have to tilt your head).  The direction of positive rotation is clockwise,  so if someone starts the app and has the home button down = device/interface portrait, the interface must rotate counter-clockwise 90 degrees, thus I assign transRotMinus90.
NOW IF the device is rotated again to device-landscape-right/interface-landscape-left, all my subviews including the play-screen and main menu will need to be rotated to a 180 degree transform rotation. But because the view was previously a Minus-90 degree, the next rotation should be a Minus-180 degree.  If using animations and assigning all subviews a 180 degree rotation from minus-90 degrees, rotating from portrait to device-landscape-right will have a terrible looking 270 degree opposite rotation.  Again, it isn’t important to do minus-180 if there is no animation.

That’s a long-winded orientation discussion.

And as mentioned, the game-viewcontroller has a custom subclass UIView.  It has two primary views added as subviews (there are other subviews which are not important for discussion).  The first primary view is a view from a custom subclass of UIViewController controlling the main menu, and the second of the two primary views is a custom subclass of UIView which is for the OpenGL graphics.

And I haven’t been working on this today, but I mentioned all of my game’s orientation methods are contained within the main game class, not the custom subview class.

All of this orientation code, and much more (multiple levels of initializing and setup, haha) combine to a pretty large line count – today I went over 6000 lines in this one file.

Everything is very well organized still, so I have no problem navigating or finding things.  Woohoo.  Otherwise, it would be a colossal nightmare.

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What should be paid-for, and what should be free?

Here are two reviews of an iPhone app on the Apple App Store, copied mostly word-for-word

Fantastic game 🙂 ***** (5/5 stars rated)
Awesome music soundtrack, great gameplay, just pure love.  I agree that the update should be free, but I still bought the map pack because at least my money goes to the developer who really deserves it.

Pay for new content  *  (1/5 stars rated)
Game is good but having to pay for new maps is ridiculous.  Also saying 5 star rating will keep updates coming.  If I have to pay for updates, what’s the point.

Here I have discovered two immediately accessible cases of opposing attitudes of rating, but similar attitudes about product expectation. Myself, I found the game as a free promotional offer.  I assume it is normally a paid-for app.

I’ll say person A is the 5 star rating, and person B is the 1 star rating.

Person A has a good attitude.  There are a lot of apps out there that are good for fun or for usefulness and should be paid for, or tolerate any advertising that is present in the app to cover some costs of development or maintenance.

Person B expects too much.  What is the point of getting a game if expansions must be paid for?  Sounds like someone who might pay 200 dollars for the Nintendo Wii, or 300-400 for the Sony PS3 but expect 10 games to come with the console, or a full party-pack of controllers instead of the single ones that come packaged.

Maybe lots of people have expectations.  But when they’re very harsh opinions that get tossed into the public domain where anyone can be influenced, the problem that I recognize isn’t the unreasonable harshness or the 1/5 rating despite the first few words being “Game is good”… The real problem is the cultural expectation of what should be free and what should be paid-for.

This is something I’ve been thinking about recently, relating to my own project.

Personally, I think the paid-for content should be anything that is above and beyond the original scope of the project, unless it is an enhancement to the product that actually fits within the original scope.

Now I have been thinking of a number of specific examples of this idea.

When I submit the first release of this product to Apple for approval to the App Store, I am going to make it either free or paid.  My general desire is paid.  This way, NO one tries the app unless it is paid for, and my personal expectation is that only people who really like the app will pay for it because I’m going to have appropriate (but very limited) marketing- good example screen shots of gameplay, not just menus.  Also I plan on marketing a few videos on Youtube.  So it can be known what the game is like and people who want it will buy it, and those who wouldn’t like to pay will just go get something else, for free.  This is my reasoning.  More info follows.

Any app that has better performance developed, say bringing a game from 20 frames-per-second to 30 or 40 fps, is a great development upgrade, and that should be included for free.  It is something that is contained within the original scope because it has no extension to the project.  It is an enhancement of the product but not a true extension/expansion.

Any new artwork that replaces original artwork is also enhancement, but not expansions/extensions.

But any new levels that are adding to gameplay that are not included in the original app are extensions.  It is a good thing for the developer/publisher to have a price set, or make it free if they want.

Another expansion/extension is multiplayer.  This is one of the most significant aspects of a game.  But when is it appropriate to charge for multiplayer?  Seems like it’s always free!

Well, I would say if an app is released as single-player on the app sore, and is FREE, then the multiplayer should be a paid-for extension because the original app is already free for everyone to enjoy.  Adding multiplayer support within a game can be very complicated, and take many hours/days/weeks to setup and polish.  It is in so many games already for free, but most of these games are paid-for and so the consumer may expect multiplayer feature to be free.  I know I would.

So now for any free app, any extension is reasonable to be a paid extension, and even upgrades may be chargable.

The point of a free game is to have a free game.   Can it be any more obvious?  There should be no high expectations.

A paid-for game should have far more content than a free game.  extensions may be free, and some may be paid.  Deciding to make extensions free will be a very welcome thing to anyone who has paid for your app.  Making extensions paid must mean the extensions should be very, very good, sort of like the quality of a whole new app.  Something that adds new vibrancy to the game.

In my case, I am thinking of making large environments in the future, and will try selling them with a custom pricing model (say 1 sub environment for $1, 5 sub environments for $2, 10 sub environments for $5, and so on.

There are many different influencing factors, but one of the biggest influences is whether the app is free on the app store, or paid.

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