The Making of Starific

Starific History

July – August 2014

I searched online for an introduction to programming and selected the Python Coursera course because it seemed approachable and I read Python was the best language for a beginner to learn. This is true, the syntax is very intuitive and explicit. The course is short and breezy. I wanted to do more so I decided why not make a mobile app?

To develop on mobile you either need to learn Swift (iOS), Java (Android) or use a cross platform framework like Unity or GMS.  I chose GMS because it did more hand holding.

Over the next few months I continued to study programming and computer science.  The MIT Python course really upgraded my fluency with problem solving in code. Next I took the CS50 EDx course which teaches C and computer science in general. It was fun and gives a picture of what it’s like to work as a professional programmer.

I tinkered with GMS and made a couple prototypes as I learned new concepts. Starific evolved out of one these prototypes.

Starific Evolution

Things got more interesting when I added bomb blocks that chain reacted.  I got positive feedback from friends and started to iterate on it.

September 2014

This is what I had after a few months learning Python and fooling around in GMS. Back then the rail was a square instead of an octagon.  The paddle would jump on corners and was awkward.

October 2014

I tried a few ideas to improve the corners. I tried a circular rail for the paddle instead of a square but it meant the paddle would be curved and the star could reflect in any direction. My friend Spencer suggested an octagon, this would keep the 4 cardinal directions of motion. I had no idea how to do this. Luckily, the kind people on the GMS subreddit helped me 🙂

The octagon system was heavy on trigonometry, so I brushed up on this with Khan Academy. Really wonderful math content.

The black track pad at the bottom was a prototype touch pad for mobile.

November 2014

Here things came together. On user suggestion I made the powerups projectiles you had to catch instead of auto-activating, like Breakout. This was way more fun.

I played around with the game’s look and feel and I think I did alright. But I realized I needed professional help and went searching on Upwork.

I renamed the project Starific after playing around with Wordoid and Namebird.

December – January 2015

Art
Deciding the art style was difficult.  I had no design experience. I spoke to several freelancers and found one whose style I really liked. He made a mockup with simple shapes and flat vectors. I loved it.

I couldn’t decide on a color palette so I decided to include other color themes as unlockables and then I made way too many themes 🙂

March 2015

Controls
The system I came up with works like a virtual joystick. As long as you move in an arc the game will understand.

April – June 2015

I took a hiatus to work on other things.

July to September 2015

Over a couple months I worked on the tutorials, monetization and auxiliary features necessary to make Starific a complete game and commercial product.