There is no dearth of gaming apps out there, but the recently published racing game Wheel-Ordeal for iOS is something special. And it’s certainly not because of its gameplay or graphics; the game is special because its creator happens to be a young lad of fourteen. Seeing Wheel-Ordeal live on the store was more than a dream come true for Aryan Mann, as any seasoned app developer will tell you that getting your app published on the Apple app store is no small feat. Aryan represents a breed of young app developers who are proving their mettle with apps that have taken most by surprise with their ingenuity. And with absolutely nothing to give away as these app makers happen to be school children barely in their teens. Simply put, app developers are starting young.
Like most fourteen year olds, Aryan loves gaming, especially the adrenaline pumping racing games. But unlike the rest of his peers, his passion for gaming goes beyond simply playing. A student of Delhi Public School, Noida, his ambition is to become a game designer. And as a start, he decided to build a gaming app. He says, “I have always been very interested in games and gaming. Recently when I thought about making games, I started off with researching the roles in the process of game development. Then I began by modding GTA San Andreas and making levels in Little Big Planet. I enjoy the process of making a game and the possibilities it offers. You can create a platform like Super Meat Boy or choose to narrate a story via a role playing game. Though I wish to create 3D games for Playstation and Xbox someday, I don't have that much experience now. So, I targeted a lighter audience a.k.a casual gaming and thought of developing a gaming app.”
The result was Wheel-Ordeal, a racing game that tests your reflexes as you race ahead dodging other vehicles, cows and more, to become the ultimate driver. Aryan is pretty clear about the fact that he wants to get into game designing, and his spare time is devoted to equipping himself with skills that will help him in his goal. He enjoys editing photos with Photoshop, making movies with Premiere Pro, adding VFX with After Effects, making 3D models with Maya, making websites, photography and creating 3D games with Unity. While this made it easy for him to design the game, programming was another matter altogether.
Wheel Ordeal is currently available for iOS and the Android version is in the pipeline
He could have taken an easy way out by making use of tools like GameSalad to develop his app, but instead, he chose to learn a language, “I took-up learning HaXe, an amazing open-source multiplatform programming language. So you can create a code and then deploy it on multiple platforms. But game developing is more than coding, as it’s about creating the basic concept, visualizing the art work, seeing what features to add and what makes the game actually fun. Looking into all these things is the job of the game designer. And I am more of a game designer than a game programmer, but because I was the only one making the game, I had to do all the thinking, coding and art myself.”
The decision to develop a racing game was an easy one. Aryan loves playing these games, with his favourite racing game being the Crash Team Racing on the PS1. Describing the concept of his game, Aryan says “Wheel - Ordeal is about a car trying to dodge traffic and cows in an intersection. It's fun because the near - misses and close call's make it very exciting. It has four difficulty modes; the easiest mode is for children while the hardest is something that even I haven’t managed to do! The game is fast and exciting, and it even has game center so you can see your friend’s highscores.”
It took Aryan about eight months to develop the game, as he had to strike a balance with his school work. He approached the process very methodically. He says “Like I mentioned before, creating a game requires an imaginative mind, it requires a person who can see what's right and wrong about each and every aspect of the game. First, I used a tool called Stencyl for prototyping the game, and I started coding only after I could clearly see how my game was going to turn out. Prototyping is very important and essential, as you can't take months to code a game only to realise later that it's not so interesting. Developing the game itself was very challenging, more so because I was doing it for the first time. I used to sit in class and think of new elements to add to it or how to make it more exciting, while the teachers were teaching. And if I got stuck somewhere, then I looked for help online.”
It features simple graphics and gameplay, with four levels of difficulty
The Apple App Store has in place stringent selection criteria and an app needs to meet all those before it can go live. Wheel-Ordeal managed to clear all the hurdles and the app was made available for download from November 26. Aryan’s months of toil finally paid off. He says, “Publishing to the App Store is somewhat complicated, even to test a game you have to register each device in the iOS Provisioning Portal and then create Distribution Certificates and a P12 file . So, if I wanted my friend to test it, then I had to register his device, re-download the Provisioning Profiles and compile my game again.” But the trouble was worth it, as the game has received good response so far. Aryan was working on two games simultaneously and his second game “Mayan Doomsday”, a game about saving the earth from meteors, is currently in alpha testing. Android version of Wheel-Ordeal is also in the pipeline.
Aryan is keen on a career in game designing and plans to pursue game designing at either MIT or the University of South California. Having successfully published a gaming app at such a young age will surely give him an edge. He admits that while the process of developing an app can be a little daunting at first, it isn’t impossible. And good dollops of patience and determination will help you sail through. He says, “To all the kids who want to make apps, I'd like to say 'Just Go For It!'' Learn the language of the platform you want to build on, think of an idea and make the app, what's the worst that could happen? On the other hand, if you want to get into game designing, then learn about the roles in the development process, see what you want to become and go learn from established leaders of the industry like Todd Howard, Shigeru Miyamoto. I used to watch many keynote speeches on game design because that's what I wanted to do. Finally, I've done what I set out to do seven months ago.”