Posted on June 1st, 2008 in Comments Off
From 2003 to 2005 I was a director and lead developer at Gameonthego Ltd. We were a small company producing mobile games for the Microsoft Windows CE based Smartphone.
I was involved in all aspects of development including programming, art and design. All our games were written in C++ using Microsoft Embedded Visual Tools. Here are the games I worked on as lead developer. All game screenshots are actual size.
It is the distant future, and the Earth has finally been destroyed. The remnants of humanity have fled the expanding sun in a great fleet of starships and begun their search for a new home.
Adrift in the vastness of space, the last children of the Earth wandered for a century, until by chance, they discovered a new planet beyond a great asteroid field. As a pilot of the elite Praetorian squadron, your task is to fly ahead of the human fleet and clear a path to their new world.
Starblaster was our first published game, a fast paced Asteroids update. The game has 30 scripted levels, three controllable ships, enemies with state-based AI, visual effects including alpha blending, and probably the first real-time bitmap displacement effects in mobile gaming.
The colourful backgrounds were inspired by pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope and have a jewel-like glow when viewed on a phone. I wanted to make the game as vivid as possible. The planets in the backgrounds were rendered in the late, lamented BMRT using custom written Renderman shaders. Probably overkill for a mobile game!
Unfortunately, time constraints meant there was a lot that had to be left out. There were meant to be astronauts floating around that had to be rescued, several powerups, and crystal asteroids that reflected the background. Each of the ships was supposed to have a character associated with it.
I even came up with this idea of the game protagonists being members of a futuristic space-faring Roman empire. I designed several “futurised” Roman elements including the space helmet below, but in the end we only used the latin ship names. I probably did way too much design work for what was essentially a good-looking but simple shooter on a marginal platform. I guess I wished I was working on a AAA project:)
Smart pool was an eight-ball pool simulation. I built it using a nice physics engine written by Ian Hickman for an unreleased pinball game. I’m particularly proud of the titlescreen as it was my first attempt with monte-carlo global illumination, and I learned a lot about mathematics from writing the AI.
It was during the development of Smartpool that we realised our days were numbered. Despite being by far the best mobile platform of the time, the smartphone was selling in very small numbers compared to the numerous Java based phones, and mostly to business users.
There were a couple of projects in the pipeline when we called it a day, including a shoot-em-up called Toxin, and a very silly arcade puzzle game codenamed “Go Go Hamiko!” that I might do something with on the PC soon…