Character Builder

mealtime-characterThe character builder is moving along quite nicely! Last week in our meeting we mostly covered the game decks and some of the game board UI. This week we spent nearly the entire hour+ working through the character builder and what needed to change to make it ready for a 1.0 release. We got a lot covered!

Up to this point all of our character builder elements have been essentially male. There were a few that were more androgynous, but on the whole there was no way to build a female character. It has always been our intent to have female characters, but for two guys it is a bit harder to come up with looks for girls than looks for guys. Even Matt’s wife commented that he was hopeless while we were working through some of the actual design ideas the other night via Slack.

Anyway, we were able to work through a number of additions (and remove a few items that we decided were unnecessary) to make it easier to build female character pictures. We have some more female looking glasses; a choice for “female lips” (though the mouths were fairly universal before); three makeup options to complement the facial hair choices for guys; five feminine hair styles; and three new face options that are a bit more rounded and curvy.

Power Ups

SuperMushroomPart of that talk through also covered the “power ups” that can be purchased with in-app-currency as it tied in with one of the character items. We are going to have a cooking utensil be what identifies what power up you have. One of the things we talked through that we both thought was a very interesting idea is to have one of the power-ups, the cheap one, be a “random” power up. So you would buy 10 charges of it for X number of mints and each time you use it it would be a different power up, and you wouldn’t get to know what it was until you actually used it.

Our thinking is that will be a very interesting, and cheap, way for players to experiment with the power ups in single player without risk of losing their mints in multiplayer. It also provides an easy way to give the new players a small amount of appetizer uses. The power up will be tied to specific tool that the character holds, so in addition to just being a cool thing they can do it also augments their character with a unique item that can only be gained through in-app-currency-purchase.

Dynamic Decks

As we have been moving through this process of cleaning things up to make ready for a final release I have been consolidating lots of the deck information into my “blob file” format. It’s basically a zip file of all the image files, and a few json files, that are needed to make that deck work. In doing so we realized that this provides us with a great way to have holiday decks that can be downloaded. Since all the information needed is contained in the single deck file, including the level select banner, cost, rewards, etc. it means they can download one file and suddenly have access to a new deck.


  • Matt finished up all three levels/themes’ board sizes. Because of the different iOS devices we needed a 3:2, 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio image for all themed decks. This has helped make the testing feel more complete sense before we had black bars on various devices since the images were not sized correctly yet.
  • Part of building those three board sizes was changing colors in the American Diner deck a bit. While we liked the black and white checkerboard look we realized it was just a bit too hypnotizing since we were staring at it for 20-30 minutes at a time while playing games.
  • We swapped out our temporary level-select logos with some more final ones. These are half hard-coded images and half drawn on the fly. Specifically things like cost & rewards are dynamically drawn so that we can more quickly and easily have “bonus weekends” or something like that where we double the rewards, or cut in half the cost, etc.
  • We made some of the game board on screen elements dynamic as well. For example, the menu button is now a generic image that gets tinted with a color specified by the deck theme to match it’s color look. This means less images per deck, but also makes it easier to change the color theme for Matt. Instead of editing all the various tiny screen element images he just needs to modify the background and pick a new theme color that we put in a text file.
  • Matt simplified the design of the discard pile. This allowed us to make this a dynamic element as well with a custom UIView. Now we can change the location and size of the discard pile by just dragging it around in Interface Builder. This is also dynamically tinted to match the game board theme so it will also be the right color for the background.
  • I lightened up the background of the character builder. It was rather dark and some elements that were darker by nature were getting lost visually. It still needs some TLC from Matt to get a much better color choice, but it is now usable at least.
  • I haven’t implemented yet, but Matt designed the “you don’t have enough mints” screen that will come up in Multiplayer if you try to play a level without the required ante.
  • We removed a few items from the character builder (as mentioned above) to give a more balanced list of choices between male and female, err, parts… Matt has designed most of the new female elements that will go in but I have not yet gotten them implemented in code.
  • The player can now pick a different facial hair color (or for girls the color tint of the makeup) than they have selected for the regular hair color. Now you can have black hair on your head and a bright red mustache!
  • We got rid of the “back” button that used to be in the game board and made a “quit” button instead in the action menu. For now it has custom titles. If the game is still going it reads as “Dine and Dash”, however if the game is finished it will change to “Check Please”. TheĀ Dine and Dash seems fairly self explanatory, we are not sure about theĀ Check Please one. If people don’t make the connection that you are asking the server for your check they might get confused about how to leave that game.
Week 13 : Daniel