“What would you want to be when you grow up?” — Someone asked me when I was a kid — An inventor! — I always answered. I was obsessed with the idea of having the power to create things that can have an impact in the world; because my heroes were people that made it, from Da Vince until Wozniak/Jobs.
Is not easy to follow that goals when you are 16 and live in a far away country with economic limitations and with poor educative systems; you have to take hard decisions like giving up the university (years later) to start learning by yourself, learning things that make you feel passion but don’t fit into any career, but only that way you can meet the freedom to choose what type of future you want to have. For example, without going to any classroom, at 13 years I started to learn Digital Music Production by myself and it was a really creative stage, at 16 years I started to learn design by the same way and with effort, years ago, I gave myself a way to life. Whether designing a web or producing any soundtrack, somehow leads to the same goal: create things.
But sometimes when you get older, you start to settle down and have more responsibilities, that’s when the fear of going out of your confort zone appears.Some people call it maturing, but I call it resignation. The 2014 was a year when I realized that I started to resign about keep learning new things. That is how I gave myself a personal challenge: Going out of my confort zone to learn a programming language and launch a small game for iOs in 3 months. The result is Autumn’s Song.
I’m not a good seller, so I will start saying that this adventure is something really simple and technically humble, but inside of all the limitations of developing, I tried to make something consistent. I have no experience in developing process to produce videogames, so I had to make my own method that basically consist in 3 steps:
The design lasted a little more than 3 weeks. The most difficult part was to raise an original idea from simple mechanics that I was supposed to develop, a underestimation because the developing was much more complex to what it was supposed to be. After some options, I chose to follow on something that seemed very interesting to me; Chinese art.
Before even starting to think in the game, I gave a lot of hours to investigation, reviewing the oriental’s history, appreciating the way their culture embodied art, etc. With all of this in my head I had made a fast mock up to define some compatible elements with the mechanics, and giving a reason to each one of them, because behind every interaction there must be an story.
Two weeks after the design’s concept was finished and consisted of a scene with several layers that would give parallax effect at the bottom and above it all the elements previously defined in the draft with their respective interactions.
The next step was the main challenge; transferring all of the theory to practice. Even considering the limited information available about Swift, I decided that Swift would be my first language, partly because of the ease of learning compared to Objetive C, and partly for the future that awaits the language within the Apple environment.
The history of this period is long and full of moments: exciting, frustrating, feeling glory, filled with hours and hours learning the most effective way possible; directly from the practice. The good thing about being a designer and “programmer” is that while knowing in depth development, one can implement things that the design does not consider to be this static, such as the use of particles or how to how to program movements . Knowledge of both worlds greatly improves control over product improvement, and that for something as organic as a game, is invaluable.
Music & Stories
After testing with a code to a 90% then begins the stage of composing all sounds. This stage is where I lived Steve Jobs’s famous speech at Stanford about connecting points.Thanks to everything I’ve learned years before I could compose an original main theme that would serve as background for the scene, and other sounds to show new scenes or interactions.The music follows the same guideline the original concept of oriental art.The main theme was composed of a base of piano chords that were repeated constantly, under a chello playing a melody to support and on it a guitar to play the main melody. Quite enough to acclimate the scene.
As I said earlier, the game was not simply a set of interacting entities without cause, by giving a concept to the game makes it have a deeper meaning, somehow, explain the place and motivation of each item.The game consists of a bird that must collect petals, but why it does? What is your motivation? Why does at this time of year ?.All this explanation is by way of subtitles in the bottom of the screen where the player can read as you progress in the game.I will not make any spoiler but I can say that the story is a beautiful little poem.
After nine weeks from the start of the project, I sent the game to Apple for review. I had to anxiously wait two more weeks until they can give me approval, Then I finally saw the product for sale in the app store. A Unblocked achievement in my life.
I write this story as a testimony for those designers or professionals that feel afraid of learning new things in some stage of their career, whether the sacrifice involved commit to something as complex as programming, or simply because they are afraid to leave your comfort zone. I have no idea if this game or any other will be a commercial success, but I prefer the great satisfaction of being able to follow my childhood dream of creating things that people can use and enjoy. This is the best motivation you can have in life and transforms what most called work on an exciting adventure.
PD 1 : I have a personal rule to be always grateful, so I want to do an important mention for Ray Wenderlich and his incredible courses and tutorials. Jared Davidson for his tutorials in his Youtube channel, very useful and didactic. And in general to all the people who gave me support at different stages of the project.
PD 2 : Next week I start working on my next game, it's something much more ambitious and will take several months of development. I'm excited and terrified. Wish me luck!