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Lessons learned creating a Tetris clone...



Action Script 3.0 is easy to prototype with. There's instant feedback because it's so easy to build and iterate. I'm planning to create on a picture match game next. I want to create 2 more games over the next two months. This weekend I set about creating a Tetris clone called Gemtris (view code) to showcase my talents and possibly catch the eye of a local game development studio.

My usual game coding process involves drafting a rough functional spec and sketching the look of the game on paper. This time I started coding the matrices and working out the iterator to render the model on screen. This weekend I focused on iterating through my code design, refactoring along the way, and squashing bugs as soon as they creep up. This weekend I was feeling the flow and completed Gemtris on time because I kept at it and forced myself to persist. Here's the process I went through to create Gemtris over the weekend:

  • Woke up at 6am on Saturday
  • Set kitchen timer for 1 hour
  • Heard the alarm and worked through it
  • Forced myself to code until I got hungry
  • Came up with a breakthrough game mechanic while I made lunch
  • Coded the game mechanic while I ate lunch
  • Ran the program and it didn't work
  • Paced
  • Sketched
  • Traced through the game mechanic
  • Found mixed up multidimensional array indexes
  • Fixed the indexes
  • Witnessed, as as Alex Pajitnov the creator of Tetris puts it, the "first time the pieces breath."
  • Coded function after function to add new capabilities
  • Went to sleep at 10am to wake up at 6am on Sunday
  • Coded more functions to add more capabilities
  • Refactored the code
  • Had my girlfriend play test the game
  • Refactored the code again
  • Uploaded Gemtris to my server and released it to the public

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Comment by Brian on June 19, 2010 at 12:12am
Much better :)
Comment by David Neely on June 10, 2010 at 8:58am
Hehe, that's awesome! I'm refactoring my project in AS3 to bring Mathogen to TechHui as well :) Stay tuned.
Comment by Mika Leuck on June 10, 2010 at 5:50am
David - Nice work! I'm playing Tetris on TechHui. Happiness++
Comment by David Neely on June 9, 2010 at 10:21pm
Good idea Brian. I've updated the post with my Tetris clone.
Comment by Brian on June 9, 2010 at 9:52pm
I pushed Start and nothing happened. Extremely disappointed :/
Comment by David Neely on June 9, 2010 at 12:26pm
Wonderful news Dan. I'm planning to attend the Tech Hui Conference on June 26 to hear Timothy Web's talk at the game development panel. Sounds like he's had a lot of interesting experiences in the field of game development. See you there!
Comment by Daniel Leuck on June 9, 2010 at 6:13am
David Neely: This weekend I set about creating a Tetris clone called Gemtris to showcase my talents and possibly catch the eye of a local game development studio.
I wonder which game shop that could be... :-) I expect you will run into them at the TechHui Conference. There is a game development panel this year and multiple gaming companies are heavily involved.
Comment by David Neely on June 8, 2010 at 9:35am
This video does a great job of explaining the HYPE Framework, Joshua Davis' ethos, and his advice for designers and programmers in 2010. I've been following Joshua Davis' output for over a decade now. Such an amazing and eloquent designer:

Röportaj: Joshua Davis from GriZine on Vimeo.

Comment by David Neely on June 8, 2010 at 8:58am
I've already looked through 3 projects and I'm already learning a lot of new things about AS3 graphics from wonderfl.net. Thanks Scott!
Comment by David Neely on June 8, 2010 at 8:45am
Right on. Thanks for the link Scott. I've been looking for a collaborative AS3 site for a very long time. I especially like the projects featuring particle effects. I've tried out Flint but I'd really like to code my own particle effects. I've been looking into Joshua Davis' HYPE framework to create a game like Eliss for Facebook. Please let me know if you have any experience rendering vector graphics in Flash. I'd like to begin coded games in pure AS3.

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