Archive for January, 2013

Tablet gaming – Cyclone Voyager 7

January 20, 2013 3 comments

After my daughter received a Nexus 7 for Christmas, and my wife received a Kindle Fire, I was quite excited to see how good tablet PCs actually were for playing games. I rarely have much time to play games on my PC or games consoles, so tend to resort to stealing some gaming time at lunchbreaks or playing games on my phone. I’m more of a mid-core gamer than casual gamer, so decided a tablet would be a better option for me than a phone for playing games. Frugal as I am, I looked around for something inexpensive, but reasonably powered. I finally settled on the Sumvision Cyclone Voyager, a seven inch tablet PC.

Not as powerful as the Nexus 7 with its Tegra 3 processor, the Cyclone Voyager does boast a dual core Arm 9 processor and a quad core Mali graphics processor. It has 16GB of storage and 1GB of RAM. The tablet has a mini SD card slot and also a mini HDMI port for connection to a TV or monitor. A front facing camera allows video conferencing with Google Hangouts or Skype. One downside is a fairly low 800px x 400px resolution screen. The big upside, however, is the price – only £79.99! There is also a 10 inch version with the same specification retailing around £140, and a forthcoming 8 inch version too.

So far I’m very impressed by the tablet. It works well, responds quickly and smoothly, and runs most of the apps and games I’ve tried so far. Battery life is quite good – probably about 5 hours before charging (depending on what you’re doing).

The Sumvision Cyclone Voyager runs 3D games such as Dead Trigger very well. Indeed, plugging the tablet into the TV allows you to use the tablet as a controller whilst viewing the game on the big screen. This works really well, and the games really look like they’re running on a dedicated games console.

More basic games such as Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, etc work well too, and I’ve only had one game fail to run, which was a 3D racing game.

At the request of Neil Waterman (see comments), I downloaded Epic Citadel and ran the benchmarks – here’s the results which were much better than I expected:

Epic Citadel benchmarks

Epic Citadel benchmarks


Warwolf completed!

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Screenshot of Warwolf video game

My first game for One Game A Month is complete!

Actually, the game isn’t quite complete, but it is in a playable state. I plan to add additional levels and features when I get time.

Warwolf is a medieval catapult game where the aim is to destroy Stirling Castle in the First Wars of Scottish Independence.

The game was created with Adobe Flash. The graphics were edited in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Flash, and the audio was manipulated with Adobe Audition.

I started work on the game in December and finished today. It took well under a month, working every few days on bits of the game. The most time consuming part was making the graphics. The coding was fairly straightforward, apart from working out the angle of the catapult and translating it to the projectile. It took me a couple of days just to work out this part. Once I had a working game I shared it on Facebook with my game-design students and they did some playtesting for me. The playtesting helped to identify some rough areas in the game mechanics and also suggest some features I hadn’t thought of.

I had the idea for a game like this a while ago, and started some draft designs in my sketchbook sometime last year. I already had some ideas for a castle as I’d been working on designs for a different game and had already done some research. You can see from the sketches below that I drew out some plans for the graphics in the game and also sketched out some ideas for the game mechanics. You might spot Pythagoras Theorem being used to work out the angles for the catapult.

Designs for Warwolf

Sketches for Warwolf game

January’s game update

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

My Catapult game is working nicely, and although I’ll be submitting it to One Game a Month very soon, I plan to continue to add extra features to the game over the next few months.

Thanks to Karl Barrs, who suggested I add upgrades such as different ammo types – dead sheep, fireballs and severed heads. He thinks kids would love this stuff as it could be in the style of the ‘Horrible Histories’ TV show and books.

I’m currently working on the intro sequence for the game which features an opening portcullis. I have been trying to find a suitable sound effect of a portcullis opening (for free), but have had to resort to recording some foley effects by myself. The following sound clip was made by dragging a chain across the rung of a ladder and recording it on my phone.

Download Portcullis sound effect (mp3)

This sound is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 attribution license. Please feel free to use it as long as you attribute it to Colin Maxwell, @camaxwell.


Categories: OneGameAMonth Tags:

One Game a Month

January 7, 2013 1 comment

This is probably madness as I’ll never keep up the pace, but I’ve signed up to One Game A Month – a challenge set for game designers to make 12 games in 2013.

You can check out my progress on my profile page and eventually try out my games as I post them.

Of course, my first game will be the Catapult game I posted about earlier this month, which happens to (almost) tie in with the suggested theme for January which is ‘portcullis’.

I already have the makings of a few more games that I started in the past, but never finished. We’ll see if it happens this time!

Follow the chat on Twitter with the hashtag #1GAM.

Game Testing

January 6, 2013 1 comment

‘Game tester’ is typically an entry-level job in the games industry. It sounds great – playing games all day, but the fault logging and repetition can be soul destroying.

Here is an opportunity to get involved in some testing. I’m making a game which involves destroying a castle with a catapult. The upper level of the castle must be destroyed (lower level can’t be destroyed). A minimum of 12 hits is required to destroy the castle which is in 3 sections, left tower, mid section and right tower.

I already tested an earlier protoype with some of my students. They fed back via Facebook.

Game testing feedback

I’d appreciate any comments on the game on each of the following topics.

  1. bugs & things that don’t seem to work
  2. graphics and sound – are they appropriate, what would make them better?
  3. game features – what else could be in the game?


Please try the catapult game here, and leave any comments below.


Categories: Information

Phone games

January 2, 2013 Leave a comment

I haven’t been a big phone-game player, finding the screen and controls tend to be too small and fiddly for me to use, but during the Christmas break I took a chance to try out a few new games and found a couple that have really caught my attention. I should also add that my phone is a Sony Xperia U – so it’s not massive or top of the range.

Army of Darkness Defense (Backflip Studios Inc)

Based on the movie of the same name, you play the chainsaw wielding hero who battles against the evil Deadites to protect the Necronomicon book. Basically a castle-defense game, you ‘build’ army units to defend the castle/book, choosing from archers, swordmen, knights, etc. During the game you collect points to spend on weapon and spell upgrades and the ability to ‘build’ new types of units such as wise men and cavalry.

Brainsss (Lonely Few)

In this game you take on the role of a zombie horde taking over a city block by block. As you catch humans they mutate into zombies and you increase the size of your horde. Along the way you encounter policemen, auto-cannons and other obstacles to overcome. The game makes good use of touch-gestures for control, such as pinch & spread gestures to zoom in and out of the 3D map, and two fingered swipes to scroll the play area.

Categories: Information Tags: , , , ,

The Nexus 7 for gaming

January 2, 2013 Leave a comment

I got a Asus Nexus 7 tablet for Christmas (actually my daughter did, and I use it when she’s asleep, please don’t tell her).

The official Google tablet is very well specified for gaming, featuring a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor which has been designed for 3D gaming. In fact the tablet is probably as powerful as a PS Vita or other recent handheld consoles. Indeed there’s a whole range of games designed to run on the Tegra processor (download the TegraZone app for quick access).

So far I’ve played a lot of generic Android games on the tablet and most have worked very smoothly. A few haven’t worked at all, but I’ve experienced that on my Android phone too.

My gaming highlights so far on the Nexus have been Shadowgun:Deadzone and Galaxy on Fire 2.

Shadowgun: Deadzone (Madfinger) is a multiplayer, third-person, sci-fi shooter. It has two modes, deathmatch and zone control. which should be familiar to any frequent gamer. Controls are via on-screen buttons and control stick. These aren’t as good as using a real controller, but they work very well on the 7 inch tablet and don’t take up too much screen real-estate. The game is very simplistic – running around shooting, but the graphics and sound are good.

Galaxy on Fire 2 (Fish Labs) reminds me of playing Elite when I had a Sinclair Spectrum in the 1980’s. A bit like Buck Rogers, the main character is transported in time and space due to a ship malfunction and awakes in the future at the opposite end of the galaxy. Starting off as an asteroid miner he improves his ship and skills by taking on missions which usually involve shooting enemy spaceships. This game features lovely graphics and gameplay similar to that found on a PC or full-size console. I might even consider paying for the full game!

Categories: Information Tags: , , , ,