For my mate's class, she has to create a small flash game and a website to go with it. It took me a while to figure out my feelings on this, mainly because I've been trying to finish a computer game for about 24 years now, ever since I started to learn how to program when I was 6. My dad and I started a rouge-like game, but we never really got far into it. Ever since then, I've started a few games (like Dragon's Life), but never finished them.

Naturally, I bemoaned the lack of game writing that I've done for almost two decades now. Then, my wife had to write a game in six weeks. I realized that if she succeeded before me, it would bother me. I'm not prone to jealousy, but I would be afraid that if she did, I would be. So, she told me to just write a computer game before her and not worry about it.

So, I started five days ago. It was a game based on Popcap's Bookworm, but it had some features that I thought were more important and a few things that weren't so important. After this weekend, I have a basic game written. It handles scoring, letter completion, actual dictionary lookup and everything the Bookworm game had, except for polish, sound effects, and stages. I chose to handle the increasing difficulty in a much different manner.

The first screenshot is from when the game starts. All the graphics in the game are SVG files (done in inkscape) and rendered for the window size mostly dynamically. In the second shot, there is a starting game. The main parts are the letters and the red sphere. If you don't remove the letter underneath the red (burning) one, it destroys it and moves everything down.

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To play the game, you click on the letters that spell a word and then click again on the last one. If it is a valid word, it removes the tiles, adds it to the score, and puts new ones on top. There is a little animation code in there to make it look like it's moving.

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If you don't remove the tile underneath the burning one, then it eats it.

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If you can't figure out a word, you can shuffle the board. This adds one additional burning token, but does not change the token type. This means if you shuffle when a burning on the bottom, you're probably screwed. Each additional time, it adds one additional burning token, so two more the second time, three more on the third, etc. This helps create a situation where you will lose eventually, which is the point.

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The game ends when you fail to remove a burning tile on the bottom.

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I'm surprised it took so little effort to make, but I struggled with a couple sprite concepts. I wrote the Moonfire Demos for SDL.NET, of course, but Gtk# has a different "style" of development when it comes to doing sprite animation.

At this point, I really have "polish" left for the game. I have a list of about thirty things I want to do to bring the game to the point where I feel it is done, but at this point, it is a game. It has all the components of a game and the rest is just "nifty."

I also feel pretty good about it.

2006-02-20