In this interview we talk with Alessandro Aquila, developer of a new game, Mathematical Run.
0. Tell us a bit about yourself and team.
I’m Italian, married and father of one child. I am an one-man team. I have a full-time job unrelated to games, so I’m a game developer in my spare time. I graduated in Computer Engineering at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and so far I’ve released three games, two of them are powered by Cocos2d-x.
Making video games is a very challenging work but it’s a truly unique experience.
Two years ago I decided to make a mobile video game and, since I had experience with Objective-C, I started to do exercises with Cocos2d and SpriteBuilder. After this period I created my first game, Stuck In The Dark, published in 2015 on the App Store.
Due to the fact that Cocos2d is not a cross-platform engine I decided to go beyond and use Cocos2d-x for the next games. So, after a few months, I published my second game, Small Square, on four platforms (App Store, Mac App Store, Play Store and Amazon Store) and finally Mathematical Run.
1. Tell us where you came up with the idea for this game. What were your inspirations?
For some time I had in mind to make a game based on mathematics, so I thought to create an endless game by putting together a moving object and simple formulas used to determine the direction of the object.
But I wanted to create an educational game suitable also for children of primary school that would learn and revise multiplication tables by playing. So, I added four game modes (with different operators, numbers, game speed) fitting to all ages.
Finally, I added stars, obstacles to avoid and bonuses. This allows anyone, including children, to play with a different level of concentration based on their abilities and reflexes.
2. What version of cocos2d-x did you use?
I used version 3.9 of Cocos2d-x.
3. How did you decide to use cocos2d-x instead of Unity, Unreal Engine or SDL?
As I said before, I started with Cocos2d so Cocos2d-x was the automatic next step. Moreover, I have learned how much Cocos2d-x is great by developing the previous game, and I was impressed from what you can do in a short time because it’s easy to use and excellent to make 2d games. And last but not least: it is completely free.
4. What features did the engine offer you that made development easy? What do you wish the engine did better?
The construction of the scene is very intuitive and its multi-platform support is the feature I most appreciate because it significantly reduces development times. Actions let you to create awesome things with a few lines of code.
Two things to improve are the audio support (for instance the crossfades) and the processing of bitmap fonts with auto batching.
5. What tools did you use besides the engine?
Tools: Adobe Photoshop, TexturePacker, GlyphDesigner
IDEs: XCode, Eclipse
6. What 3rd party libraries did you need to use?
I did not use any 3rd party libraries. Maybe I will add some analytic tool in the next releases.
7. Did you create the art yourself? What tools?
For the background image, I bought a seamless pattern from 123RF and then I adapted that to the game. For the rest, I created all the assets by myself with Adobe Photoshop.
8. Did you create the music yourself? What tools?
I didn’t. I purchased all royalty-free sounds and background musics from AudioBlocks.
9. Will you continue to make games in the future?
Yes! I love to design and develop games and I am already working on a new game that I would like to publish in the end of 2016.
10. Do you use SDKBOX? If so, what plugins are you currently using?
I used SDKBOX in the free version of my previous game and I think to reuse it in a free and limited version of Mathematical Run that I’ll publish in the next weeks. I think to use Ad Units plugins like AdMob, Vungle and LeadBolt and maybe, afterwards, the IAP plugin.
11. Lastly, any advice for those also making games on how to get to a release point?
As an indie game developer, I suggest to do a good planning of activities and schedule the necessary time for each of them. Add a priority to each task, focus on those needed for the first release and cut off others. Then you’ll add other features slowly. If you are at the very beginning of your first game, I think that “less is better”, so that all features can be tested better and your game has no bug. When the gamers play your game for the first time, all must be perfect.
Get feedback from testers and players and don’t underestimate some factors such as marketing, revenue model and making the game known (for example with game reviews and attendance at international festivals).