Mangahigh.com // June 2011 – September 2011
For the longest time I’d wanted to do a multiplayer game, something that would let students from around the world go head-t0-head and compete against each other. And after two years of well-received single-player games, I finally felt confident enough to have a crack at one.
Of course, the problem with multiplayer games is that you need people to play against – there’s nothing more dispiriting than sitting in an empty game lobby watching a “Searching for players…” prompt flicker endlessly on and off.
In other words, we needed the maths to be accessible to as many people as possible, plus not be something we’d already covered. The most obvious candidate was times tables, one of the first and most essential maths skills that everyone around the world learns.
Given the uncharted waters we were entering I was keen to keep everything as simple as possible, so the original design was basic: just a race against three other players to answer as many problems as possible in the time available (the number of rivals was later dropped to two to increase clarity).
Then, however, the suggestion was made to add Mario Kart-inspired power-ups, and suddenly the game’s complexity sky-rocketed. Not only did the asset requirements quadruple, now the game had to process more advanced AI, handle various unique player-on-player interactions, and deal with numerous ‘special case’ events.
Ultimately, I think the power-ups add a lot of fun and colour to the game, but arguably they’re something that should’ve been saved for a ‘v2.0’ rather than the first release. It would certainly have made my life a bit easier!
Development was handled by Wildsnake and went well – or so it seemed. Unfortunately, on release players reported problems with the multiplayer – often (and frustratingly) the game would stick on the “Searching for players” screen, and never find a game.
It was an issue we’d not really seen during development, due to our limited testing capabilities. So we feverishly investigated the problem and released a fixed version a few weeks later. We also took the opportunity to create a Lite version of the game, covering simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.