Computers-gone-awry multiplayer checkers game for iPad
About The Developer
Maciej wanted to be a programmer since he was a teenager, getting his start in high school building simple websites for local businesses. In university, he transitioned to working on larger-scale websites handling millions of requests per day.
Eventually, he started wanting to do more interactive work. This led him towards iOS as his development platform of choice. “I was drawn to iOS because of the attention to detail and the focus on User Experience,” he explains.
Maciej immersed himself in the iOS world by listening to development-related podcasts and creating a few small apps in his spare time. During this time, his days were filled as Lead Developer at 21 Strun, a web app development agency.
He eventually left this position after a year and a half to focus on better learning iOS and experimenting with different app ideas. This initial run didn’t produce a financially successful app, so Maciej got another job as a software developer at Macoscope, one of the best iOS development shops in Poland. Here he spent two years mostly making apps for clients and honing his iOS development skills.
Although he was developing iOS apps all day, Maciej still wanted to make things that were more interactive. “I really like direct manipulation and the way it gives the sense of the app being alive,” he explains. It was from here that the idea for Glitchy Checkers was born, which he began developing off and on in his spare time for over a year.
Recently, he left his position at Macoscope to focus full-time on Glitchy Checkers, which he is hoping to release by the end of this year. “I’m very happy that I was at Macoscope and I’ve met great people there, but I wanted to feel more ownership over my work and go deeper into details that might not make business sense for a client. Glitchy Checkers was an opportunity to do just that,” he explains.
Maciej is cautiously optimistic about launching his game. Though he would love for the game to be a breakthrough hit, he is also aware that this far from the norm. “Most projects fail, yet people still believe in myths of overnight successes and huge payoffs,” he explains. “I made Glitchy Checkers simply because I wanted it to exist. But somewhere at the back of my head I have this thought of the game buying me a new motorcycle…and it’s exciting!”
About The Game
Glitchy Checkers is a modern take on the classic game Checkers that has been played for centuries all over the world. Using one iPad, two players take turns advancing their pieces across the board with the goal of jumping over and eliminating their opponent’s pieces. To win, a player must eliminate all of the opponent’s pieces from the board. Classic checkers, but with a new twist.
Since Glitchy Checkers is a digital game, it is able to enhance gameplay by providing feedback corresponding to what is happening in the game. When a piece is eliminated, it will explode into a flurry of digital bits that make defeating an opponent extra satisfying. Maciej refers to this style as “flamboyant minimalism.”
“In Glitchy Checkers, I wanted to create a futuristic aesthetic,” Maciej describes. “Polished minimalism of sharp geometric shapes, lack of text, being familiar enough to be easy to pick up and not feel constrained, while at the same time not allowing moves against the rules and creating a little bit uncomfortable ‘computery’ atmosphere, with things glitching and flickering instead of gently appearing on the screen. I wanted to make a game people in the Tron movie would play.”
He chose checkers as a basis for his game because, as an existing and widely-known game, he could focus less on inventing gameplay mechanics and devote more effort towards creating the game’s distinct glitch-overload environment.
In doing so, he may have even been a little too successful. “Three people told me that they thought the glitchy animation of king pieces was an actual glitch in the game, not something someone would add intentionally,” reflects Maciej. “I take it as a great compliment.”
How It Was Made
Here’s a complete list of all the tools Maciej used to turn Glitchy Checkers from an idea into reality:
A4 Paper (2-3 jam-packed pages per day)
BIC Pens (with black ink)
5K iMac (since one month ago)
Maciej does not consider himself to be a gamer in the traditional sense, but some notable games that are among his favourites include Crash Bandicoot, Tekken 3, Final Fantasy VIII, Gran Turismo, Wipeout, MotorStorm, Dirt and Quake 3 (with the Challenge ProMode Arena mod).
Letterpress, Desert Golfing and Monument Valley were big influences for Glitchy Checkers.
For Glitchy Checkers, notable influences include Letterpress, Desert Golfing and Monument Valley. “Letterpress demonstrates just how polished an app can be,” he elaborates. “Desert Golfing is a fascinating and masterfully executed exercise in minimalism, game design and, in a weird way, storytelling. Both those games were created by a single person, which I also found inspiring.” As for Monument Valley, “it provides lessons in user interaction, teaching how to communicate without text and guide players without pointing directly at a path.”