After six months of working on CityVille I made the leap to mobile and joined the Words With Friends team. My primary task so far has been developing features for the iOS version of the game. This has given me a great chance to work on my Objective-C skills and catch up on the latest iOS SDK. It’s an awesome team and I’m really happy to work on a game that I have played regularly for a long time (even before joining Zynga!).
Coming from my previous experiences in developing console games, joining the CityVille team at Zynga was a very interesting change of pace. Rather than shipping a game at the end of a 12, 18, or 24-month cycle, I was thrust into the world of releasing new versions of a game several times a day! Nothing in my past could have fully prepared me for it, but it was certainly a wild and educational ride. Flipping the switch on a new release and watching as millions of players loaded up a new feature I developed – that’s got to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had yet as a software engineer.
The first project I got the chance to work on at Double Fine was a DLC pack for Iron Brigade called “Rise of the Martian Bear.” It’s available now, so if you like tower defense and shooting things, you can check it out on Xbox Live Arcade. I was responsible for implementing the game designer’s vision for the final boss battle. It was a really great project to work on, and I had a blast doing it.
One day in the Spring of 2011, we had a mini game jam at the Enemy Airship office. I have always wanted to make a game in the style of Geometry Wars – a hectic, flashy, tightly-controlled dual-stick shooter bursting with particle explosions – but make it a bit more analog. And when I say “analog” I, I mean things like a user-controlled time-scale as a gameplay mechanic (accessed via the left analog trigger of an Xbox 360 controller) in a game loop where life and death isn’t a simple binary on/off. Other info: The red baddies are smart enough to hunt. The blue ones mostly just drift/bounce around. The goal is to avoid getting swarmed. It’s just a prototype, but I found it to be quite fun even with very simple mechanics. This was a solo project, so all “art” and programming was done by yours truly.
In the fall of 2010, I left 2XL and did a bit of traveling. It was great to take some time away from the keyboard, but it wasn’t long before I was drawn back to game development. I’ve joined up with Enemy Airship and am now working on Shadow Physics.
Here’s a video of Scott and Steve (Enemy Airship founders) presenting the game at the Tokyo Game Show “Sense of Wonder” night in 2009: