Yard Sale Junkie coming to a portal near you!
by Deborah M. Fike · 05/13/2008 (1:47 pm) · 5 comments
Although there are certainly a wide variety of personalities here in the GG community, we do share a common trait. No, it's not that we love Fridays (although many of us do), but that we all love great games and we want to make ones of our own.
Because I am the librarian of all things Torque, I am in the fortunate position to be one of the first people to hear our community's success stories. For instance, last week, Eyal Erez of Sudden Games used TGB to publish his first casual game called Yard Sale Junkie on Reflexive Arcade, where it's currently getting a lot of love and attention. In the spirit of sharing his success with the rest of you, I conducted an e-mail interview with him about his experiences developing Yard Sale Junkie. Below are his replies. Enjoy!
1. What makes your game unique?
* Usually hidden object games have a static background image in which you need to find a list of objects. YSJ features a dynamic background in which every object can be moved around from place to place. The feature makes the player look for objects that are hiding behind other objects.
* The list of objects you need to find is also dynamic and works on a timer. Instead of a static list there are customers that are looking for items in a yard sale. If you don't get them the item in time, they leave and a new customer arrives looking for a different item.
* Some of the small items (watches, rings, earrings, etc) are located on boards in which you need to zoom into these boards to find the items and zoom back in order to find other items in the yard sale.
* Some items are sold in pairs (shoes, gloves, speakers, rollerblades, etc). You have to find both items and pair them together before selling them to the customer.
* There is a matching element in the game. Some of the jewelry is inside jewelry boxes. In order to see what's inside the box you need to click on it. This makes for a fun memory game since you need to remember which box has the jewelry you are looking for.
2. Where did your inspiration come from?
The inspiration came from watching my fiance playing hidden object games. The movable objects idea came from her laughing about me not being able to find anything in our house that is located behind something else. Apparently, men in general suffer from the same syndrome?
3. What was your development process like? Do you follow any strict principles or methods (SCRUM, etc.)?
Since I was the only programmer on this project, I didn't. Originally I only wanted to do a prototype to quickly figure out if the gameplay would work. I kept adding up features to see if they would be fun and ended up with a game.
4. What appealed to you about Torque? Did you consider other technologies?
I did look at other available tools and even tested some of them. I started the project using C++ and SDL since I wanted to make it multiplatform. When I realized that TGB supports all platforms including Wii and Xbox, I decided to at least prototype with it. However, once I started using it there was no way I would go back to C++. It was just way too easy to finish the game in Torque. The scripting language was as easy to learn as python so I picked it up fairly quickly. And the graphical level editor is definitely one of the biggest advantages. When I was done writing all the features, I was able to design 2-3 levels a day, just dragging and dropping the items into the level. I wrote an automated sorting mechanism to place the items into layers based on fake perspective distance from the camera.
5. How many people worked on the game team? How did you work together?
I did the programming, level design, sound and GUI. I hired several freelance artists for the music and 2d artwork which includes the comics, GUI artwork and characters.
6. What were a few major development challenges you encountered? How did you overcome them?
There wasn't really any major challenge, just a ton of minor questions which are engine related. Fortunately, one of the main strengths of GarageGames products is the community. When I encountered a problem, I would post a question in the forum and move on to progress on something else. In a matter of hours, I would receive several responses to my problems usually with a few different workarounds or solutions. It really felt like you are working with a big team. This made a huge difference for me. Now that I'm familiar with Torquescript I hardly run into any problems.
7. How long did it take to create the game?
Three months of full time work, and full time meaning working your life away. Of course, this time included learning a new language.
8. How did you test your game prior to release?
I sent it to everyone I know and asked them to play it and fill a feedback form with related questions. I also wrote a script that spits out important data that I needed like how long it took to finish every level and what kind of score the player received. When I could, I would look at people playing while taking notes. You definitely get the best feedback from watching someone else play the game.
9. Did you come away from the project with any lessons for the next one?
Definitely! I knew exactly the type of game I wanted to write so I jumped right in and started coding in a language I wasn't familiar with. I should have done more tutorials and learn Torquescript better.
10. What's next? Can we expect to see more development on this game or will you move right on to a new project?
Well... Definitely I'd like to capitalize on TGB's code once feature and make a Mac version. And I do have many ideas for a sequel so definitely starting a new project. This next one should be much easier, although I probably shouldn't say that?
Congrats again, Eyal, and hope to see more of your work in the near future!
For more stories like this, check out GarageGames' Developer Interview series.