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Postmortem: Adam Jones Productions’ Word Builder: Pro

A postmortem for the recently released Word Builder: Pro by Adam Jones Productions.

Introduction

Adam Jones Productions announced the release of a new game, Word Builder:  Pro.  This sequel to the popular Word Builder game was developed with the intent to build upon the design that made the original game fun, while at the same time adding a few key features for added gameplay complexity.

 

The Learning Curve

            The programmer working on this project was a graduate student named Jamie.  Having not previously worked in ActionScript 3.0 it was necessary for him to pick up the Flash IDE and FlashDevelop for this project.

 

 

There was a deadline that needed to be met, so Jamie had to learn three development environments on the fly during development of Word Builder: Pro.  There was a bit of a learning curve as the syntax for AS3 is strikingly different from C++ and XNA.  Actionscript as a system is much more restrictive in what it allows a programmer to do, a difficult adaptation for a trained programmer.  Additionally, the Flash IDE was designed primarily for artists; presenting another barrier to understanding for a programmer.

 

Conversions Between IDEs

When taking the code from the Flash IDE version of Word Builder and importing it to the FlashDevelop environment a number of problems arose.  Several of the original commands written for WB used the Flash IDE’s built in functionality, something that doesn’t exist in the FlashDevelop environment.  As a result these basic functions had to be rewritten for the new studio, many of which appeared at multiple levels in the code.

 

            Another issue came when exporting assets in the form of SWC files.  Jamie, being new to the Flash IDE, needed time to explore why there was trouble with exported SWC files which were being sent incorrectly. During development slow time Jamie came up and took the time to learn how to properly convert SWC files. Once done Jamie received the assets for Word Builder: Pro and was able to import them quickly and efficiently

 

Art Assets

Previous Flash games under the AJP logo featured art work done by the company’s artist, who has a knack for using gradients with a sleek look that give WBP  a more modernized feel. Even though the artist was capable and had a solid art style, complications in his workflow delayed delivery of art assets. In the end, the art assets were delivered after the game had all main functionality coded. Integration proceeded from there unhindered.

 

Utilizing the Framework

It is important to remember that whenever building a project using a development framework to use it from start to finish. Early development of WBP was started without the framework and then migrated into it. The functionality did not mesh smoothly. These were simple problems that would have been avoided had the entire project been built with the framework from the beginning; a valuable lesson learned.

             

Conclusion

            Overall, Jamie had to deal with the learning curve of AS3.0 while developing WBP, but the game was completed before its deadline. The game is available on Mochi Games and will soon be released on Facebook through the Mindjolt Application.

 

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