Ideas for games sometime come in small packages!


I’m new to Corona, and thought I’d tell you my story of how I came up with the idea for a game and got it published on Google Play…

So, I’ve been interested in game development for as long as I can remember, and as a developer (business apps), I could see it as a welcome distraction from the day job.

However, I didn’t have an idea for a game, so never took the plunge and developed one!

Then in the autumn of 2019, I had a brain-wave!

Firstly, you should know I live in the UK, and, as some of you may also know the UK decided to leave the EU in June 2016, and has been having a not-so-internal monologue with itself about that decision ever since.

Up until the UK officially left the EU at the end of January 2020, you could not change TV channel, read a news website or newspaper without the “B” word being shouted back at you.

Indeed, at some points during the Parliamentary debates about the “B” word, the “BBC Parliament” channel was pulling in millions of viewers (TV audience and streaming), more than the UK’s main channels at prime-time. It was crazy as on average, and I’m guessing here, 10 people watched that channel and that head-count probably included any pets that may be in the room at the time.

And who was the Master of Ceremonies for this show? Trying to keep all the members of parliament from self-imploding? Mr. Speaker. John Bercow.

A man who just barely clears 5 feet in height but has a voice that could knock you over at 20 paces!

Ah! I thought. Mr. Speaker, keeping MPs in-line. That could be a game! An idea was born.

Next, what to write it in?

It was a choice between Corona and Unity.

Unity would have taken me an age to learn, and when I saw the “StarExplorer” demo on the Corona web-site, I thought bingo! That’s exactly what I needed.

And so, “BERCOIDS” was born (BTW: it’s still available on Google Play).

It’s the same game-play as “StarExplorer” but with completely changed graphics and audio.

I sampled John Bercow’s (in)famous “ORDER!!!” shout, and used that for the firing sound.

I drew some cartoon characters of the most prominent politicians.

For the splash screen I got a head-shot image of John Bercow shouting “ORDER!!!”, and used Paint.NET’s “Pixelate” and “Posterize” tools to transform the image until it looked like an 1980s 8-bit game graphic.

I uploaded the completed AppBundle (that is, once I worked out that I needed the latest x64 Corona download to create a “bundle”) to Google Play on 31st October…

…just in time for John Bercow to STEP DOWN!!! Bugger.

Great, so I’ve now published a game that’s only selling point was a protagonist that no one will have heard of in a very short space of time!!!

I wasn’t going to let John Bercow’s deliberate sabotage of my game beat me though.

So I waited for the next “Speak of the House of Commons” to be elected (Lyndsey Hoyle, is his name) and so “HOYLOIDS” was born!!! (Again, available on Google Play).

I changed a few of the MPs and sampled Lyndsey Hoyle, shouting “ORDER!!!”, but it’s pretty much the same as “BERCOIDS”.

[ STRANGE BUT TRUE: some of the MPs I have included in the game, including the leader of a prominent party called the “Liberal Democrats”, and the “Chancellor of the Exchequer” (the second most important position in the UK Parliament) have now either lost their seat or resigned!!! You couldn’t make this up.

More work for me.

So, if anybody out there has as a UK MP they want out (the PM is already there before anybody asks), please drop me a line and I’ll make them a character in the game :wink: ]

Since the initial upload of “HOYLOIDS”, I’ve added an OPTIONS page so players can adjust the sound effects and music volume.

Friends have played it and feed back to me their thoughts on how I could improve it, and a couple made the same request: to have their scores uploaded so they can see how they compare to other players. OK, I thought. That shouldn’t be too hard? It’s something fundamental that these types of games do, right?

So I searched on Google and I found that Google has a Leader-board service that could do that. I looked into it and found that for this “free” service they’ll want every drop of information about the game, me, and the people who are playing it.

Ditto for creepy Facebook.

I had a look around at some independent game service providers, and they all wanted a small annual fortune for an all singing, all dancing, service.

I just wanted to be able to offer my players the ability to see how they compare against other players of the game, so paying out several hundred pounds a year for something I’d only use 1% of didn’t make any economic sense…

Did I tell you I was a developer?

I’ve only gone and written my own Online High-Scores service!

If you play “HOYLOIDS”, the online scores are being managed by the service I wrote.

Anyway, thinking that maybe other Corona developers may also want to add online high-scores to their own games, I’ve written up how I coded HOYLOIDS to use my service and I’ve also provided sample LUA code. You can take a look here:

So, in summary. Corona is great. Once I found an idea for a game it was simple to code and publish to Google Play. And it’s open enough that I could create a 3rd-party service for it very easily.

Thank you CoronaLabs (here’s hoping that the transition to not-for-profit goes well).