Treemaker now available on the AppStore: http://itunes.com/apps/treemaker
Now that the first version of the game is released, we explored the project archives a bit and found some behind-the-scenes material. I’ll give some explanation (mainly from technical point of view) to the different aspects of the development accompanied with images and videos.
Game concept and early prototypes
One of the main features we wanted was some kind of realistic rope physics and a game idea that would utilize that. Other main decision was to make an easy to approach game in the casual category. With these broad and simple ideas we started to do some quick programming tests.
Here is actually the earliest video that I found in my Treemaker project folder. Still looks like a prototype? =)
In this video we have already established a well working rope, but it still misses the important feature: it is not elastic. It was quite quick job to make a stiff rope but adding the elastic property was a bit tricky. It was an important feature for the game, because the “jump” of the character is actually made by the force the elastic rope causes.
Integrating 2d-physics and 3d-engine
As Treemaker’s 3d-engine we have used Capsule 3d engine from SVS Innovations Ltd. SVSi is actually a partner company of ours and we have been involved in implementing the cross-platform Capsule 3d -engine right from the start. 3d-engine served really well in this the game project, I guess the biggest job was to integrate it with 2d-physics engine in the start. But after that was done, 3d-engine side worked smooth for us.
Next video is the first version of 2d-physics integrated to 3d-engine with placeholder gfx and sounds from Super Mario. Some glimpses of the game concept are already there, but ropes are still not elastic in this version and player can’t cast new ropes.
After the early prototypes and tests made by a programmer-only team we moved on to bit more serious designing of the game and graphics artists also joined the team.
This might one of the most important parts in the design, as the Treemaker character is in key role in almost all the material there is about the game. We worked quite a while before getting the final version of the character done. Here is an image collage showing some of the ideas that we thought of.
Level style design
Another important part of course was to get the level style designed. The process in this one was quite similar to character design; we tested out many different styles and slowly evolved towards the final style seen in the game.
Maybe the most interesting and challenging part of the project ( as a programmer ) was the design and implementation of the tree algorithm that generates all the tree and plant animations you see during the game. Idea to do something like this came out of some sketches by the graphics artist, who had drawn some kind of wine ropes at first. Then we started to thing would there be a way to present those as animation during the game play.
After about 10 hours of tweaking we managed to get some complex sinus/cosine algorithm running that made lines that remotely resembled trees. Then we tweaked that even more and started to get some nice looking results. Below you can see one of the first images of the tree algorithm test bench.
In the video there is an example of two random tree grow animations from the early version of the algorithm.
Finishing for the mobile
We did most of the game development in desktop environment and just tested on mobile regularly. In the end of the project about a month was reserved to polish each mobile build. Most challenging was to make the application installation package small enough. iOS universal build is about 18 megabytes at the moment – and that is quite an achievement because for example only one tree animation generates about 4 megabytes of 3d-polygon data. Here you can see a couple of images from the final game running on different platforms.
Finally thanks for reading. Feel free to send us comments or question! You can find more info on the Treemaker game in http://www.mikrotie.fi/games/treemaker