Inspiration/motivation for creating PTF and being a hobby game developer

In the past I’ve briefly touched on how Play The Field was inspired by classic Real Time Strategy games such as Age of Empires and Starcraft. I was especially into the latter of these for many years (including expansions and follow up games), and for me when I really enjoy something I tend to want to make my own version of it.

Taking something like Starcraft, which typically takes several hundred people (including artists, developers, sound engineers, testers, managers, etc.) several years to make, honestly I would never have a chance to make anything close. Having said that, I enjoy game development (and software development in general) to the extent that whether my game would be popular is secondary, and in my college years I created a pretty detailed RTS game for the PC. In retrospect, it wasn’t that great but if you search around you may be able to find it online.

Now that I am into mobile development, it was only natural to try and make a RTS game for the iPad, but this time around my time is mostly taken up by my great job and my great family. However, I still have an hour or two in the evenings, and some time on weekends, so I decided on creating a very minimal game which captured some of the essence of RTS games. The fact it was made on a shoestring budget (both in a money and time sense) is why the graphics are also so simplistic. And due to the smaller scale and shorter timeline, I decided to group this game in the “RTT” (Real Time Tactics) category rather than RTS.

Just as with my RTS games on the desktop (I actually made a few if you go back far enough), the joy of coding a game is my primary motivator, but if people happen to download and enjoy my game, all the better. The game is completely free with no ads or in-app purchases.

To be honest, with a app store oversaturated already with nearly every type of game and app imaginable, I count every download as a tiny miracle (:

At some later point, I may talk in more detail about how I developed the game quickly with limited time, as it may be of use to some aspiring game developers.

[PTF on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/play-the-field/id985621862?ls=1&mt=8]

Play The Field: advanced controls

In a previous post, I talked about the basic rules of the game and the fundamentals of the interface. This time I’ll go over some of the advanced controls that can help you further optimize your tactics.

First is the usage of swipes, by which I mean touching a point with your finger, moving that finger to another location, and then raising it. A swipe can be used to quickly place a series of units in a certain formation, for example to encircle a small number of enemy units. The swipe doesn’t have to be in any pre-defined shape (line, circle, etc.), as any arbitrary shape will work. I think you’ll find it tedious and time consuming to tap several times quickly when trying to overcome the opponent, and using swipes makes it so much faster and easier.

Another thing you can use swipes for is to select units. Begin the swipe by clicking one of your units and then move your finger across any other units you want to select. As your finger crosses each friendly unit it will become selected. That way you can then issue commands (like attack a specific unit or move to a specific location) with a group of units. If you want to select all of your units on the screen, you can do that quickly with a button on the top right of the screen. It has three green units, shown in a triangle formation.

There are two other commands which you can issue to one or more units and aren’t immediately obvious. The first of these is to quickly tap on one or more units that are already selected. This will cancel any actions they have been given (for example if they were told to attack a specific enemy unit), and they will revert to the default behavior of heading towards, and attacking the nearest enemy. This will also unselect those unit(s).

The other command is to cause one or more units to hold still (called ‘hold position’ in some RTS games). This is done simply by touching a unit that is already selected and holding for roughly a half of second or more. A red box will be drawn around units holding still, and they will not automatically head towards the nearest enemy. However they will still attack any enemies in range. This technique can be used at some of the later stages in order to avoid units going off by themselves and getting captured needlessly.