For our game feature today I'd like to welcome Dave Boxall, the creator of a fun, puzzle game called Oballz...
How do you play Oballz?
'OBALLZ is a puzzle game where you have to click coloured buttons to remove the corresponding blocks from the level and in turn drop balls into a target (spinamajig). It’s initially quite simple, but it progressively gets harder with the introduction of multiple balls, exploding balls, teleporters, ect. It does deliberately get quite tough because I have tried to tap into that part of you that really wants to solve a tricky puzzle and ultimately that rewarding feeling when you accomplish it. As the name of the game suggests, it will have you cursing.
There’s also a side game in the form of a batting cage which can be played to generate in game currency (Spendaballs) to be spent on simplifying levels if the player gets really stuck.'
Where did the idea come from?
'I came up with the initial concept for OBALLZ when I was getting to grips with physics in Unity and testing some code. The test environment I'd created had blocks which vanished when I touched them allowing the objects which were on them to drop. I found myself actually playing it trying to time the drops so the objects would land in a certain area. I soon realised I had the makings of a game. I’ve always been a fan of tough puzzle games so I tried to create a game where it’s challenging and just the right amount of frustrating. With this being my first game I’ve made I wanted to keep it relatively simple but the end game is considerably different to my initial idea because it evolved along the way.'
So, what's your story?
'I got my first computer (ZX Spectrum) at the age of 7, and I’ve loved them ever since. I’ve been coding since I was 14 and over the years have dabbled in a number of computer languages. A few years ago I found Unity which I started making OBALLZ in. Along the way I became a Dad which has been the most challenging yet rewarding accomplishment of my life. It did slow down progress on my game considerably, but I managed to get back on track with it and I’m proud to finally have it out there, 2 years after starting it.
How did you get into games?
'From a very young age I regularly visited an Arcade, this was back in the 80’s which to me was the golden age of arcade machines. I would spend hours enjoying Gems like Robotron2048, Track and Field and Double Dragon. I’ve had home computers from a young age as well which helped fuel my fondness for them, my all time favourite computer being the Amiga 500.'
What inspired you to create this?
'My best friend pursued a career in game development and I've always admired his bravery as it's not an easy industry to crack. I’d always wanted to be able to make a game, but for me it’s only recently that it’s become a reality, what with the ability to self publish a product onto online stores for the various platforms available.'
Do you have any favourite games or game music?
'My all time favourite game is Turrican 2 for the Amiga 500. I used my Birthday money to buy it when I was 14 and I would play it over and over again. The music in the game was like nothing else at the time. This was the first game I had played where the music was as important as the rest of the game and resulted in creating a much more immersive experience. There was even a menu option to listen to the music which would later go on to be a regular feature of games. Some of the music created for the game has even gone on to be recreated by entire live orchestra’s, which to me shows how influential and inspiring the music was. The composer is Chris Huelsbeck and if you aren’t familiar with the music of Turrican 2 I urge you to look up some of the pieces, especially ‘The Final Fight’ which accompanies the opening sequence and ‘Freedom’ which is the end music.'
What has it been like developing for Android?
'I’ve been an Android user since my first Smart phone and I’ve always enjoyed the freedom that comes with being able to customise the device to your personal tastes. The ease of being able to export your project to your phone and test it instantly is invaluable.'
Why should we check out your game?
'I do feel that I’ve created something a bit different with OBALLZ. It is still a puzzle game and I know there are thousands of competitors out there, but my focus when making this has been to try and keep the game as fresh and rewarding for the player as possible. This comes in the form of being able to find hidden levels which offer a completely new dynamic to the main game, there’s also underwater caves which can be found and you can unlock new items for the batting cage as you progress through the main game, and for the hardcore player there’s a number of achievements to try and tick off. I hope that this has resulted in creating a rich overall experience and isn’t just another pick up and put down game without much of an end goal.'
Will you be creating others?
'I will most certainly be creating other games. I’ve already started work on a winter expansion for OBALLZ which I hope to tie in with a Christmas release and I have a couple of other projects in the background which I will be focusing on afterwards. Even if my games don’t go on to reach a very large audience, I love the process of creating a game and that alone is enough to keep me making them in my spare time.'
If you like the sound of OBALLZ you can download it now from Google Play or find out more at www.OBALLZ.com
About the author: Ninichi is a composer for games, films and other media. She is also the in-house composer for games studio Quinton Studios and enjoys taking on freelance projects across a range of musical styles and projects. If you're looking for some custom music, contact her to see how she can help.
Follow her on Twitter @ninichimusic