Book Review: Beginning Android Games – Mario Zechner

To get started quickly on “Simon Says”, I decided to buy a book on Android game development. A quick Internet search seemed to consistently bring up “Beginning Android Games” by Mario Zechner as the guide of choice.

Beginning Android Games 2nd Edition It would seem that I’ve made a good choice and that the reviews have been pretty accurate:

The book is an easy read and doesn’t sound overly dry and formal by using a pompous writing style. Instead, it gives you an easy-flowing read that feeds you the information you need and lets you know that it will cross the more complicated bridges later on when you NEED to know that information. In doing so, it allows you to get the perspective you need on Android development AND game development quickly, and then combines the two; constantly building on what you’ve learned.

The book includes a great introduction/refresher on Eclipse (along the way), video and image programming, audio programming, and the game cycle.

Thus far I have no complaints (except for a lack of time), and would definitely recommend this book to beginners and intermediate developers.

Drawing Up Screens

screensThere’s not much, but I’ve started drawing up screens for the game. It’s easy to start adding features that we think are “simple”, but in actuality, they add in a decent amount of work. Now I have to track high-scores and code an entirely new screen.

I might drop the high-scores screen for the very initial version, but add it in immediately after.

Getting Started

For the Simon Says project, I’ve decided to go with the AndEngine. I also bought “Beginning Android Games – 2nd Edition” on Amazon.

Project: Ducati Empire

Ducati Empire is currently just a news aggregate for all things related to the motorcycle brand. It pulls in RSS feeds from multiple news sources and compiles them in one location for easy consumption. The direction of this project is something truly unique, though. Unfortunately, time restrictions have kept me from moving this project forward since around April. I’m expecting to have more time once I complete Simon Says.

Simon Says ‘Start Small’

One of the more valuable lessons I’ve learned is that you should never bite off more than you can chew. It sounds simple when you read it, but many still don’t apply the common principal. I’ve had many pitfalls due to this simple mistake: You have a fun idea, you’re excited about it, and the more you think about it, the more you think about how to expand and enhance it. Before you know it, you’re working on what could realistically be a full year project.

The OUYA console launched earlier this year. I picked one up a little late (post-KickStarter) and bought a new, mini-TV to go with it (22″, 1080p Insignia). It’s perfect for development and having the OUYA set up at my work-desk.

ouya

I would really like to build retro-platformer-like games, but that’s a huge undertaking. You need characters, a story, levels, enemies, items, graphics, animations, music, sound effects, a game engine, and a way to script it all together. Think about it; there’s really quite a lot that goes into a game, and most developers do NOT have the skill to do it all.

So I’ve decided to start small. Very small. Small and simple: “Simon”. Remember that electronic memory game? It was actually released in the late ’70′s (yes, we’re old). I’m basically going to recreate it for the OUYA. I’m hoping that will be simple and small enough to get me going, build it, design it, and release it –without getting demotivated. No characters to create, no story, barely any graphics, music, or sounds, and I can use any game engine to get the job done. What’s more is it’s an idea I CAN expand on; different game modes to increase difficulty, Internet meme integration for accomplishments and amusement, and finally leaderboards to spur competition.

Time to hunt for a game engine…