Mangahigh.com // November 2012 – January 2013
In July 2012 I left Mangahigh.com to go freelance, offering my design and project management to a range of clients including the Education Games Network (where I helped define the learning games content strategy for a proposed relaunch) and ALD Life (where I created the concept for an app to help children learn more about the genetic condition Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD).
In late 2012 I was approached by my former employer Mangahigh.com to convert 11 of their games onto tablet platforms. As budget was limited and the timeframe tight (the products had to be completed by mid-February 2013, to meet a foreign client’s business requirements) the only viable solution was to devise an Adobe Air wrapper for the existing Flash content.
That makes it sound like a relatively simple task but it was anything but. We wanted the website to serve up the same SWF files to both the website and the tablet, and then have the game detect which platform it was on and modify itself so that it played satisfactorily, especially in terms of speed/smoothness and legibility on smaller screens. This meant a lot of QA to ensure that any changes or fixes intended for the tablet version didn’t impact negatively on the website version or vice versa.
Where I could, I implemented design changes to take advantage of the tablet’s touch screen interface and gyroscopic controls. For example, in Sigma Prime I implemented a virtual D-pad to make controlling the turret easier, in A Tangled Web I added motion controls so the player could tilt the tablet to rotate the cog, and in Piñata Fever and Sundae Times I totally redesigned the HUDs to make them more enjoyable to play via touch input.
It would’ve been nice to do more but time was against us. Even so, the results were genuinely amazing – the more direct interaction afforded by the touch controls made all the games feel more enjoyable to play.