Space Primacy

I always wanted to code a game. Ever since I got my first computer in the late 80s I was fascinated by computer games. Like books computer games are an art form that transports people into different worlds.

The hard thing about creating games is to decide about what the game should be about and the gameplay and rules. I was aware that I wouldn’t be able to compete with epic role playing games created by big game studios. For once my artistic talents were not even remotely sufficient to produce the graphics needed for such a game. And even with more talent in the creation of graphics I would need years to produce enough to fill a game.

Back then — in 2014 — I liked a game called Letterpress. I still have it on my current iPhone and play it from time to time. It is a word game and it uses a feature that in 2014 was pretty new to iOS. You can start turn by turn games with randomly chosen players from somewhere in the world. And iOS itself handles that “match making”.

So I decided that I wanted to make a turn based strategy game. I looked into different kinds of classic strategy games when I happened to read about a game that looked interesting and just the right kind for me to tackle. Unfortunately I cannot give proper credit to the inventors of the game because they have some strange copyright terms that have in my opinion the same effect as wanting to sue Tetris clones that even don’t use the name “Tetris” for being games with blocks falling from the top of the screen.

With a more or less clear plan, I set out to explore Apple’s own framework for 2D games called SpriteKit and because Apple had just released their new programming language Swift which looked so much better than Objective-C I started experimenting with Swift at the same time.

Just learning a new programming language and dealing with the bugs it had in that early first release took much time. And even a rather simple game like the one I was to create needed graphics. So I spend days learning to draw vector graphics with Sketch.

As I developed the first rough version of the game and played the first matches, I realized that I needed an undo/redo system. So I spend even more time on that. And then after working for 8 months day in day out, it was finished. I released it. I pitched it to some websites which regularly review apps and games, but no one reacted to those pitches. I posted promo codes and a forum for iOS gamers. And the promo codes were taken. Anything that is free finds someone who grabs it. But there were no reviews, no feedback and only a few people bought it.

In hindsight the graphics weren’t really that much exciting and the gameplay wasn’t really new and innovative enough to generate any significant interest in it.

I learned quite a bit about Swift while working on that game and developing software that was totally different from what I had developed before was fun.