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Postmortem: Magnin & Associates' Skittleball
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Postmortem: Magnin & Associates' Skittleball

April 27, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

3. Getting 2D and 3D to coexist

Our game is built in a 3D world, but some of our biggest problems came from 2D. More to the point, we had trouble writing in different layers and getting out GUI to work properly.

We studied all the example programs we could find on Apple's forums or elsewhere. We found great sample code for separate 3D apps and 2D apps and even some GUI examples, but we had a really hard time finding a simple example of the two working together.

After going though many websites and some video tutorials we found a way to patch the two sections of code together. Who would have thought a simple problem like putting a 2D sprite, or timer, on the screen in front of 3D OpenGL models would be such a problem?

4. Running into a wall

There is always going to be times when a team runs into those problems where they just can't seem to find the right solution. Running into the wall is always a problem, but we allowed it to stall the momentum of work on more than one occasion. We would come together as a group and pound on the problem from every possible angle until we cracked the problem.

While this did end up solving the problem over time, it also threw us off our rhythm and kept us from working on other areas of the project where we could have actually made some progress. In the future, we should probably have one or two programmers focus on the problem and allow the others to continue to make progress in other areas.

5. Racing the clock

Football is played for an hour on a 100-yard field, but near the end becomes a game of seconds and inches. That last weekend we were constantly aware of our 5 PM deadline. Having successfully submitted three prior apps, we were well familiar with the process and had already posted the game description, screenshots, and product details.

What we were not familiar with was how creating a "universal" App would complicate it. A "universal" App runs on both the iPhone and the iPad but automatically adapts for the current device. We kept uploading our binary and waiting for Apple's website to evaluate it. Then after waiting several minutes it would complain about missing icons. Apple requires different size icons to post the app.

Unfortunately the information about how to do so was a little sketchy, and difficult to find all in one place. We eventually discovered Apple's Application Loader tool which evaluates the binary locally first and lets you know if there are any problems, before the several minutes it takes to upload.

Parting Advice...

Document everything you do! We keep a progress.rtf file right inside the project so it is there when we are editing the code. We keep a list of the things we need to do at the top and then each thing we do to the game in reverse chronological order. Whenever we have a problem we can go back and see what we did the last time we had a similar problem.

Also, whenever you find you have a build so unstable that you're better off going back to an earlier backed-up version, you can simply refer to the more recent progress.rtf file to see what things you still need to do to that build.

You can then do them carefully one-at-a-time to make sure you don't induce the same problem. We also use a DiffMerge program on the Mac to compare entire project directories between a current and previous build to find things that have changed, such as accidentally deleting an important line during editing.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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