For the past two months I have feverishly worked on my side project. Initially I set out to work on this application for submission to Hacker News, lets make November "Launch an App Month".
The whole project took longer than expected but I was please with my progress so I continued development. Today, a month later, I have added the finishing touches to the app. It gives me great pleasure to announce the official launch of four2go!
A new spin ...
four2go! brings a new spin to the classic "four in a row" genre.
Instead of weighted tokens, four2go! uses balloons which float up rather than down. This new game mechanic requires players to retrain their brains and can easily throw off a novice player.
Another new spin, rather than playing on a coffee table, users play using a computer over the internet. The four2go! web application requires a simple account registration but does not require any download or installation!
Users can play with anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world. The game sessions are persistent meaning the board will not disappear. This persistence allows players to check their games much like they would check their email.
The gumyum framework
The game itself was completed after the first weekend of coding. Programming the game was fun and exciting and originally four2go! was a command prompt application with a text-based gui. That version was not accessible and in order for people to play we needed to move to a different medium. So I set out to code a web front end.
After another weekend of coding I had the game working in the browser. It was very clunky (It didn't refresh after player moves) and didn't have any authentication, anyone could play any game.
Coding the game was simple, the framework was the difficult part...
Enter Stage Left: The gumyum framework. I needed a way to authentication users and a way to store and retrieve game sessions. I also needed a way to track user statistics and player history. Most importantly I needed a user interface that would be intuitive and fun to use! The remainder of the project set out to solve each of those needs. I needed the gumyum framework to make four2go! popular. I spent the rest of the time (1.5 months) working on gumyum and I feel safe claiming that the framework appears complete.
The great part about having a framework is the code reusability, I should be able to "plug" new games or new mechanics behind the gumyum framework with little trouble. My labor and efforts should pay off if I ever decide to build another game.
Artwork and graphic design
I was very fortunate to work with my brother Joey Ballestrini on some of the concept and game art. We designed the four2go! logo, the gumyum logo, and the balloons. Joey designed each of the "create" game icons. The clouds, the grass, and the dirt were created for another game and I decided they were a good fit so they were re-purposed. We both use gimp when creating graphical computer art.
I have attached a video of the game, but I urge you to try four2go! out for yourself!