Sympho is a 100% indie game. Some years ago, I had a comic strip called “SymphoBug”, that told the story of a worm that worked at the IT department of the Computer Science faculty and loved symphonic rock. Recently, I discovered several old drawings of the main character, and feeling a wave of nostalgia, I decided that it would be great to build a game based on it. I started to draw again using the Paper App on my iPad, and soon I had lots of drawings of Sympho, his friends Jumpie and Snaily, and some enemies like fleas and mosquitos.
Due to my passion for old arcade games where the hero has to move forward by jumping from platform to platform, I decided that my game would follow that scheme. As I am not really a 3D designer, I decided that my game would be a 2D game with a cartoonish, naive feeling to it, something I could easily draw.
The first decision that I had to make was choosing the engine for the game. I had had some frustrating experiences with Cocos2D, and Apple had just released SpriteKit, so I decided to give it a try, and was surprised to find out that it was really easy to learn and funny to work with, even thought it’s still far from perfect.
One of the main features that I wanted to include in the game was the parallax effect that could be found in the old Nintendo games. As I couldn’t find any library or implementation of this effect on SpriteKit, I had to develop my own Parallax Scrolling classes.
I don’t like advertisement in games. Actually, I don’t like advertising at all, so it was clear in my mind that the game was going to be ads-free. Instead, I opted for in-App purchases for getting some love back if the game happens to become a hit ;). I also wanted to have a consistent and beautiful game experience, with the same design applied to every view and section of the game, including the store and game center sections, which implied a lot of work, when others would simply use the pre-built controllers for displaying the game center stats and such. After months of work, Apple finally approved “Sympho: adventures in Space” yesterday, to my delight.
Some lessons learned:
- Drawing all the characters’ animations, heroes, enemies, and backgrounds has proven to be a exhausting experience, that takes a lot of time and effort in order to get something decent.
- Sounds and background music have a strong impact on a game’s enjoyability, and can turn a otherwise boring experience into an awesome game.
- A deep knowledge of maths helps a lot when developing the physics system. SpriteKit does a wonderful work with his built-in physics engine, but you will probably end up going over your old math books again.
- “Keep it Simple, Stupid” is probably the best design philosophy ever. Sometimes you realize you are over-building things and putting too much stuff in, when what you really need is to simplify and cut the clutter.
If you download the game and find it enjoyable, let me know, I would love to hear your opinion. Also, if you find a bug, please contact me.