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Flight Deck Update: Development Blog

11-26-2009, 10:38 PM
#1
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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Flight Deck Update: Development Blog

Hey there Flight Deck fans! We thought it would be interesting for you to get a bit of an insider's look at the development of the next update to Flight Deck as it happens.

I'll be posting a new message to this thread every day or two giving details on what's going on with the update and what new features are being added in at that time.

We'd love to hear your feedback as we progress. Feel free to post any comments or suggestions to this thread as they occur to you!

We have some interesting things planned for this update and the following update, and I hope you'll enjoy watching as things unfold!
11-26-2009, 10:45 PM
#2
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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Getting Up To Speed!

I recently took over the development of Flight Deck to help BossMan Entertainment with faster turnaround times on new features and updates. With that as the goal, I needed to get up to speed with the current code base as quickly as possible.

iPhone development is a part time gig for me, and I normally spend my evenings and significant parts of my weekends working on various iPhone projects.

For Flight Deck, I spent about 3 evenings going through the existing code to see what I was getting myself into. The code was developed by a Ukrainian developer, and I've had some bad experiences with "outsourced" development from there before, so I was prepared for the worst.

After 3 evenings, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while the organization of the code was not fantastic, at least everything was fairly easy to understand.

The biggest problem was that everything had been hard-coded to support a single level, and there were numerous assumptions in the code that only applied to the Carrier level. Adding new levels into that framework would have been a nightmarish task, and would have likely resulted in odd defects and behaviors popping up here and there.

I decided that in the best interests of the game, you the players, and my own sanity, that I should spend some time refactoring the code. For those unfamiliar, refactoring code is the process or reogranizing things to make the design "better" in some way. In this case, I wanted to separate out the "common code" from the "level-specific" code.

This would make the process of adding new levels later much easier, and it makes the code less likely to have defects.

I spent a couple of hours preparing my refactoring plan, and then got started Saturday morning last weekend. I spent nearly every waking hour last weekend working on the refactoring task and ended up with a Level.mm base class and a CarrierLevel.mm subclass that implements everything that is specific to that level.

My end goal was something that will sound rather boring to many folks. It was to have the exact same functionality as when I started the refactoring with no new features added. All the good changes were in the source code. Nothing would be visibly different to a player. I was able to achieve that goal and was quite happy with the weekend's work.

I could post a screenshot of the Carrier level here, but it wouldn't look any different to you, so I'll save the screenshot for the next post!

11-26-2009, 10:51 PM
#3
Joined: Sep 2009
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Desert Level Comes To Life!

The refactoring work from last weekend has paid off very nicely. Monday evening, I decided to see how much I could get done on the Desert level. I would have been happy if I had been able to get the background in, and the new planes flying around.

Not only did I get that done, but I also got all the runways and helipads working properly (including flashing when a valid landing path is assigned), and the ability to launch a ground-based jet on the white runway (similar to the catapult on the Carrier level).

The level was totally playable with about 4 hours work, thanks to the time I spent up-front with the refactoring.

There is still quite a bit of work to do to finalize the level, but it is coming together very nicely I think!

Here are a few screenshots from the Desert level in its current form:







11-26-2009, 11:43 PM
#4
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 297
Looks fun! I'm going to buy it. The update also looks really great will you get it in before xmas?
11-27-2009, 12:58 AM
#5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcmaster View Post
Looks fun! I'm going to buy it. The update also looks really great will you get it in before xmas?
I think it will probably be ready to submit in about 2-3 weeks, depending on how testing and such goes. There are many improvements I would like to make, so we'll just have to see how many of them make it into the first major update.

I am not sure if the update will make it out before Christmas, but hopefully close to that time.
11-27-2009, 01:20 AM
#6
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 2,699
@MindJuice - I think that keeping people informed about the update dvelopment is an excellent idea. That should improve the visibility of the game and hopefully sales. The desert level looks pretty good.
I look forward to the update. Good luck with it.
11-29-2009, 02:16 AM
#7
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Coastal Level

I spent some time this week working on the Coast level for the next Flight Deck update.

This level will feature the V22 Osprey, AVB-8 Harrier, F-18, and one To-Be-Determined plane. The AH-60 Blackhawk, and AH-1 Cobra helicopters will also make an appearance on this level.

Two of the plane types are required land on the green runway and the remaining two types are required to land on the yellow runway. Also, note that we are taking steps to ensure that this is playable by color blind users, and one of our beta testers is color blind.

The helicopters will land on the helipad on the ship.

In addition, you will need to periodically launch the AVB-8 Harrier off of the ship using a VSTOL (Vertical Short Take Off and Landing) maneuver. This will work differently than in the Carrier level, but we will save the exact details as a surprise for the final game!

Here are a few screenshots of the level in its current state, but keep in mind that things can and will change before we do the final release.









12-06-2009, 10:47 PM
#8
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Select Mission Screen

Hi all,

We are making steady progress towards the next update with the new levels.

The Select Mission screen is in and working. The Main Menu has been updated accordingly, and basic OpenFeint support has been added.

Here is the new Main Menu screen:



Here are the three level screens you can select from:







Coming up next:
  • Launching airplanes on the Desert and Offshore levels (this will be different than on the Carrier level)
  • Update Game Over screens
  • Finish OpenFeint integration
  • Misc. finishing tasks, new sound effects, etc.
12-14-2009, 02:25 PM
#9
Joined: Sep 2009
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Nearly ready for beta!

Hi again,

The Flight Deck update is nearly ready for beta testing. Since the last blog entry, I've added in:
  • Some weather effects for the two new levels
  • Background/atmospheric music
  • Online high-score leaderboards via OpenFeint
  • Different plane take-off mechanism for the Desert and Offshore levels (you have to time your take-offs to avoid crashing into other planes on screen)
  • New "Game Over" screens for each level
I don't have any screens to share at the moment, but will try to post a few later tonight.

All you beta testers should expect an email in another day or two telling you how to download and install the beta.
12-14-2009, 02:32 PM
#10
Joined: May 2009
Location: The Underworld
Posts: 9,230
cool, definitely sounds like it's coming along nicely

Quote:
Originally Posted by sizzlakalonji View Post
I don't want to alarm anyone, but I just played this, felt a tingle, rushed to the bathroom, and urinated rainbows and glitter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sammysin View Post
Yesss, I'm off for a leak to see if the same happens for me.