If 2010 taught us anything, it’s that zombies are great. Likewise, mobile development is awesome, especially when it’s done by building a single application that runs on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, every Android 2.2+ device and the forthcoming Blackberry Playbook. Combine the two and add a little holiday, uh, spirit, and you’ll find the recipe for Zombie Christmas.
This project was an experiment to determine the feasibility of using the Adobe AIR platform, formulti-platform mobile app development, to create a vector-based game that looks great in all the different platform resolutions. In short, we wanted to realistically test how the still-evolving AIR mobile would enable us to target a majority of devices without having to port the application to several different platforms or customize the graphics for each and every device.
Our dev team created a single codebase that compiles for iPhone, Android and the PlayBook. This large number of supported devices means requires that the game adapt to a wide variety of screen sizes rangingfrom 320 x 480 phones to 1024 x 768 tablets. In order to optimize visuals for iOS, we created an alternate rendering engine that takes advantage of its GPU compositing capabilities. This allows the game to intelligently select the optimal rendering engine based on the device it’s running on.
A lot of care was taken to optimize the graphics and gameplay so that they would scale appropriately to the all devices. The choice to use all vector-based graphics was key; the graphics are scaled up or down to the device resolution and then rasterized and cached to improve runtime performance. Another challenge was presented on how to correctly portray the scale of elves with the tree design. The tree needed to fill the entire frame for maximum playability, and the elves needed to be small enough so that many could fit on screen at once. The final design solution you can find in the actual gameplay was reached after a considerable amount of pre-vis work by our experience design team.
In addition to hurdling these aforementioned obstacles, we had some fun making the gameplay both compelling and entertaining. This included adding fluid simulations for the crushed elf explosions and vomit attacks. These were both rendered as vector sequences for scalability across platform resolutions. We also leverage the accelerometer to plus-up the aiming of ornaments.
Zombie Christmas is available now in the Android Market and will be available soon in the iTunes app store (pending Apple review).