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Morsel

By Oli Wilkinson | Published Oct 15 2009 09:39 AM in Interviews

game play build xna dream games development framework team
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Matthew Stenback talks about the development of Kaleidoscope, a top 6 finalist in this year’s "http://www.dreambuildplay.com/main/default.aspx">Dream Build Play competition.

A video of Kaleidoscope is available on YouTube



How many people in your team and what role did they play
in the development of your game?


There are currently 3 people on our team: I am the lead designer and programmer, Sang Han is our talented artist, and Mattias Häggström Gerdt is our creative musician.




Describe your game to someone who hasn't played it
before?


Kaleidoscope is an adventure platformer set in a world shrouded by darkness. You must help Tint traverse through the surreal environments collecting color pigments to restore life and color to the
world.




What inspired the idea behind your game?


I wanted to make a game that was lighthearted and didn’t rely on violence to drive a satisfying experience. To capture this lighthearted feel I referenced what kids did for fun. Instantly a
coloring book popped into my head and I loved the idea of a world that evolved through coloring. After a lot of pondering about how to transfer that elegantly into a video game, Kaleidoscope was
born.




What type of game development team would you class
yourself as?


I would classify Morsel as an independent development team. We take it more seriously than just a hobby, however we are just starting out so it’s not a full time endeavour yet.




How long have you (and your team) been programming?


I am the only programmer on the team and I have been programming in C# for about 5 months. I have been familiar with other types of computer scripting languages like HTML, CSS, and Javascript for
several years however C# is the first real programming language I’ve learned. When I was starting out I got a lot of help from online resources and of course the XNA community.




How do you feel about being one of the top games in the
Dream Build Play 2009 competition?


I’m ecstatic that Kaleidoscope was chosen as one of the top games for Dream Build Play 2009. It’s such an uplifting feeling to know that people really appreciate what you’ve
created.




What does Dream Build Play mean to you, personally, as a
development team?


We feel that it represents the opportunity to shine among the top talent in the indie game scene.




Have you ever entered Dream Build Play before?


This is the first time I’ve entered Dream Build Play, however I thought it would be a great way to get more people looking at the game and hopefully playing it too!




Would you enter another Dream Build Play
competition?


Of course!




What do you feel that participating in Dream Build Play
provides for the game development community?


It’s quite hard for indie developers to make a name for themselves in this highly competitive industry. Participating in Dream Build Play gives indies a chance to get the kind of exposure
they really need for their games to be noticed.





Describe the process that you and your team took from idea
to finished game


I had started a design document even before I met Mattias or Sang, however the document mainly consisted of how I wanted to flesh out the coloring concept and had little to do with game mechanics.
Most of the mechanics and storyline evolved naturally over the course of developing the game. Personally, the designing and brainstorming sessions were the most interesting parts of the process to
me. On the other hand, I was new to programming so every technical difficulty I ran into required research on how to solve it. This was both time consuming and not very much fun.




Did you have enough time to complete your entry?


Kaleidoscope has four distinct worlds to play through to keep the game feeling fresh and fun. Each world has its own unique art style, music, and gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, we didn’t
have enough time to include all of these features in the build for Dream Build Play. Needless to say, we will be adding a considerable amount of content and polish to the game before it‘s
released.




If you were writing your game again, what would you do
differently next time?


I would map out all of the main systems that the game required on paper to make sure I had a clear vision of what the framework would look like before I started programming.




And what would you do the same way?


I really like the process of prototyping, testing, and tweaking so I would certainly do that again.




Have you ever used the XNA Framework before?


This is my first experience with the XNA Framework. The idea of being able to create games for the Xbox 360 myself was what really influenced me to try out XNA Game Studio. There wasn’t one
specific resource I used when trying to learn the framework. I found that some concepts are easier to learn through samples, while others are easier to learn through tutorials, so it’s best to
tap into as many different resources as you can.





When developing your game did you use any third party
components?


I implemented the Farseer Physics Engine into my framework and for the most part it went quite smoothly. They also have a knowledgeable community that’s always willing to help. I believe in
giving back to the community so I wouldn’t hesitate to make any of my code public if it would help somebody.




What did you feel, if anything, XNA Game Studio enabled
you to do well when working on your game?


XNA Game Studio is an excellent framework to start programming games on. It has many useful libraries that take care of low level tasks which enable you to really focus on the actual game
programming.




Did you have any particular challenges to overcome when it
came to running your game on the Xbox 360?


It was actually a breeze to get the game up and running on the Xbox 360… at 2 frames per second. Using the profiling monitors included in XNA Game Studio, I found out very quickly that the
Xbox 360 doesn’t like intensive math and it requires you to be somewhat crafty with your code to avoid such bottlenecks.




Which XNA Framework version did you end up targeting (3.0
or 3.1?)


While I started the project using XNA 3.0, I switched over to 3.1 mid way through development. I took advantage of the new sound effect API and video player features as a result of the
upgrade.




If you were to offer some advice to other game
developers, what would you say to them?


It’s going to take longer than you think.




Will you use XNA Game Studio to make another game?


We will definitely consider using XNA Game Studio to make another game in the future.




Now that you've got a completed game, what are you
planning to do next?


We will still be working on Kaleidoscope for a little while yet, however our team works very well together and we are always bouncing new ideas off of one another so expect many more games from us
in the future!




Would you create any further games for the Indie Game
portal?


It is quite likely that we will create more games for the Indie Game portal for a few reasons: We are familiar with XNA Game Studio, the development costs are relatively low, and it’s the
easiest way to get our games onto the Xbox 360.




Finally, do you have any other comments you wish to make
about your game, your team, the XNA Framework, Dream Build Play or game development?


Making games takes a lot of hard work but you feel an indescribable sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when all the pieces fit together in the end. I am so grateful to be making games with
two phenomenally talented people. I’d also like to thank the people behind Dream Build Play for this wonderful opportunity.










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