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In Flash Professional CS5: Creating a Simple Game for Android Devices, author Paul Trani shows how to translate existing Flash skills from the web to mobile devices while designing a game in Flash and publishing it as an AIR for Android app. The finished application includes collision detection, random enemy creation and movement, shooting capabilities, multiple levels, and even a high score screen. This course also goes beyond game functionality and shows how to use mobile capabilities such as the accelerometer and gestures to control graphics, use the hardware keys to activate menus, and also how to optimize content so it plays well on mobile devices. Also included are instructions for distributing an app through the Android Market. Exercise files are included with the course.
Before you actually start creating your game, you need to understand mobile phone users, which is pretty much everybody these days. And as I go through each topic, I want you to think about how you use your mobile phone, within the context you use it--so what were you doing, say, before and what will you do after-- the environment you're using the phone, how you're interacting with the phone-- which would be the input method-- how you're holding the device--which is the orientation--and then other common metaphors you're use to when dealing with mobile phones and devices.
First off, the context. What are they doing? Are they waiting in line for a lunch? Are they, say for instance, kind of watching a commercial but also kind of playing with their phone? Think about how you use your phone and the context in which you use it, and you need to create your game with this in mind. So you need to be prepared for the game to get interrupted because the commercial is over with, or whatever the case may be, and thus you also need to design for short tasks, roughly about two minutes.
So maybe each level to the game might be only two minutes long. Environment. Well, where is the user? Are the inside where they can see the screen nice and clear, or are they outside where there's lots of glare? You never can really, tell so you need to design with different environments in mind. You need to make sure the graphics have enough contrast, they're easy to see and, of course, the text is easy to read, so you need to make sure that font size is large enough and that font is pretty easy to read.
How is the user interacting with the content? Oftentimes it's through a touchscreen, so they are actually touching the screen of the device. They could be using the hardware buttons to navigate, say, back or to hit the Home button or using their keyboard-- if there's a keyboard on the device--or are they using device-specific capabilities to play the game, such as tilting the device and making, say for instance, the character move that way? We need to keep these input methods in mind and determine which one is going to be best for us. But when it comes to touch, which is most often how you would interact with content, we need to make sure those buttons are at least 36 pixels wide and high, and that's at a minimum. So we need to design for finger sizes, and don't forget that the finger does come with a whole hand that might get in the way or cover up content. So you need to make sure, say for instance, important content is higher up on the screen.
But keep these things in mind, how the user interacts, and that's really going to help how you determine how you develop the input method. The orientation, well, how is the mobile device being held? Are they holding it horizontally or vertically when they're interacting with the content, or is it both? You to think about this orientation and make sure you design your content appropriately. Also, you want to use common metaphors. Say for instance if you need the user to advance, you might have an arrow moving or pointing to the right. Or if they need to add something, you might have a Plus sign.
Also, use physical metaphors as well. Use a physical look of a calendar if you need to add a calendar, for instance. I've also added this link, www.patternpat.com. It has a ton of user an interface pattern that you can check out, and that is a great resource. The last and probably most important thing you need to keep in mind is you need to make the game fun, and it sounds pretty straightforward, but you need to continually ask yourself, "Would you play your game?" And are you having fun making the game? Because if you're not having fun with it, that might come across and, ultimately if your game is fun it gives the user a reason to play it.
So keep this in mind, as well as the user in general, and it will really help make your game a success.
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