Pixel Shift Postmortem Part 2: Development Details
Welcome back web stalkers. As stated in last week’s riveting post, Pixel Shift took 2 months to go from initial concept to release on Windows Phone 7 and iOS. Dive in for the sordid details…
The Pixel Shift game prototype had support for up to 8 color puzzles, but it made games much more complex and time consuming. I reduced the colors to 4 and avoided any colors that could be used to create offensive images. That’s right, I stayed away from colors that could be used to replicate bodily fluids (or solids) and flesh tones. I also realized that it was good for puzzles to have white space as a working area to ease into solving the puzzle. There were also going to be other modes in the game, but since the main mode was strong enough, we decided to just focus on it.
Two weeks into development I had the game running on Windows Phone 7 and started getting valuable feedback from friends during play test sessions. Tutorials got added, refined and streamlined. The simple visuals got the most criticism from the more hardcore gamers, but the game play won them over.
Settling on the final name was an ongoing debate. My wife and I tossed around different names but some obvious ones were already in use on various platforms. Since you could push or pull pixels, “shift” felt like a good term to describe the game play mechanic.
As for the icon, it took 18 designs to get to the final one. Initially the idea was to have the 4 primary game colors be represented in the icon. But then we realized that it looked a lot like the delicious icon. The focus then shifted to somehow represent the game board in the icon. I looked at various iOS logos and one that stuck out was for the Huffington Post app with the large “H” on the icon. That led to the shifted P logo and then we needed a color to help it stand out so we used the red color that was used in the game menu.
The icons were created at 57×57 pixels which is the original size for iOS. I then used different methods to scale the icon for other platforms. The rounded corners were changed to square corners for the WP7 version to better match the system.
Unfortunately, in my icon rendering flurry, some bad icons were exported for the iPad version. Most people won’t notice it but if you look closely you will see some blocks that are not perfectly square. The next update will fix this sooner or later.
Next week we look into the scary world of Android development.