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Postmortem: Adam Jones Productions’ Word Builder

A Postmortem on the recently developed Flash project from Adam Jones Productions.

Introduction

With the recent release of the Flash game Sandbagz: Medeval! here at Adam JonesProductions we want to keep the momentum going by releasing another game wedeveloped. This brings us to the game WordBuilder and in many ways it is largely different from Sandbagz. Even though WordBuilder has little in common with our previous game it was still done bythe same team that worked on Sandbagz;with exception of the artist. At Adam Jones Productions we like to makeourselves varied in the genres we tackle from action, puzzle, adventure, and soon. The company wants to show that we are capable of going from one side of thespectrum to the other without any hiccups. Without further ado, here is asummary of development of Word Builder.

 

What Went Right?

ActionScript Programming

Jordan was the lead, main,and only programmer on Word Builder’s development time. Overall the developmentof Word Builder went smoothly. Since the game takes place by dropping tiles onto a grid, Jordan startedby building a functional grid system for the each wordblock’s placement. Also he was able to gothrough and build the overallfunctionality of the game with moderate ease. While he did hit some bumps inthe road he was able to solve the problem quickly and move on to the next partof the project.

The Audio & Art Assets

Here at Adam JonesProductions we pride ourselves on the quality of the games we release for eachgame we produce. When programming a sophisticatedpuzzle game we in turn want art and an interface that reflected that look. Incomes Roa to design and create all the art assets for the game. Roa has hasa unique style that sets himapart from other artists. Every piece of art asset was able to reflect thesophistication of Word Builder’s persona.

Since Word Builder wasdifferent from Sandbagz the music had to reflect that idea; ergo no beatboxingfor the soundtrack. As much as we wanted it this game had to contain an audiotrack that would let the player think calmly to execute words in Word Builder.Dieppa, who did the audio for Sandbagz, came onto the project with an audiotrack that was a good fit into Word Builder. Using Sony Acid Pro Dieppa wasable to engineer an audio track that featured pianos playing in the background.A looping song with a nice, smooth, calming air aimed to encourage the playerto slow down and think while creating words.

 

 

What Went Wrong?

Functionality in ActionScript

At first we created a grid and then created the tiles, and originally wewould have the tiles drag-and-dropped onto the grid itself. However, twoproblems arose.  One: having the tilesreference the grid location was a challenge. Two: the layering itself with sometitles appearing behind other tiles regardless of the z-loc. The way we fixedthis problem was by using a sleight of hand technique where the tiles wouldrepresent a trigger that would change the grid square from being an emptysquare to a square with a letter in it according to the tile dropped. Thissolved the layering issue as well as the referencing problem.

The Differences from Sandbagz and Word Builder

It is quite obvious that WordBuilder is on the opposite side of spectrum from Sandbagz as a game.  Sandbagz was an action game and WordBuilder being a puzzle game, respectively. Programming a straight forwardsimple action game can coincide with how a programmer can code the base syntaxlogic. However, programming a puzzle game brings a lot more complexity to thelogic; e.g. as we stated before referencing the grid locations was a difficultfeat to overcome.

 

Conclusion

Overall, working on WordBuilder was a different experience for the team at Adam Jones Productions.The approach to programming the game was more complex, and the music was a bitmore sophisticated. Here at Adam Jones Productions we believe we were able toshow off that we are not just programming action games all the time; we candefinitely develop a variety of genres.

Credits

Programmer – Jordan Card

Artist – Michael Roa

Audio – Andrew Dieppa

QA Lead – Andrew Dieppa

QA Testers – Matthew Santiago, Mike Albanese, Claudia Rolle

Producer/Game Designer – Adam Jones

Programs Used

Adobe Flash 4

Sony Acid Pro

Adobe Photoshop 4

Links

http://www.adamjonesproductions.com

http://www.andrewdieppa.blogspot.com

http://www.mochimedia.com/games/word-builder/

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