Monthly Archives: August 2007

Magic Stones Postmortem

Last year was contacted by a person from idevgames to write a postmortem about my game Magic Stones. Since over 1 year has passed already and he didn’t post anything in his site, I thought to post the postmortem in my blog, so at least I didn’t waste my time writing it and maybe someone could find it interesting, who knows.

Here it goes – enjoy it!


I always liked the idea of making a fantasy-card game, so I started to outline the basic idea on a piece of paper. Yes planning was essential in this kind of game, I knew it from the start (and luckily I did it).

I decided to base everything on celtic mythology, so I first started to do some research both in local library and also on the net. Found the celtic runes and thought to assign to each one of them a spell or a summoned avatar in the game. I divided the runes into 4 elements (the classic air, water, fire and earth) even if their original meaning is a bit different (but hey is just a game!).

So after sketching out the general features, statistics, skills, creatures, background story, etc of the game, I put all those numbers together in a spreadsheet page.

Then had to solve a big problem, to make the graphic of such a game, and found in Poser a very good solution. Bought several ready-made 3d models, and after several weeks spent on various renderings, I had the basic 48 avatars ready (20 avatars for the 4 elements plus many neutral/evil ones).

I added a roleplaying element to the game, so that in addition to your “deck of card” you had also an in-game alter-ego, with an inventory of items that could affect your power and a set of basic skills that would influence the game in general.

Tools used

I used xCode and a very simple but really powerful 2d programming API called PTK (website that I had already used in all my previous games with great success.

As I already said, for graphics I used mostly Poser 5/6 for the monsters, characters, etc and photoshop to design the interface of the game.

For the music I just bought royalty-free music from one of the many online stores.

What went right

The game had since its launch a good group of loyal followers. This maybe also because I decided, shortly after I released version 1.0, to add “bonus pack” or “expansion packs” with new game features and new avatars/quests, completely free for registered users. This was both a hard move (once I had announced it, I couldn’t change my mind) but also a winning one because it helped greatly to improve customers loyalty and is keeping my game always “on the news” thanks to those frequent updates (about every 2-3 months usually).

What went wrong

Despite I had planned everything, as always happens in this sort of games, you’ll need to TEST TEST and TEST. When you make a simple match3 game, is hard to have bugs after hours of playing (because game mechanic is always the same). With this kind of game instead, I had many bugs in the initial version 1.0 because I didn’t took the time to test it properly since was too eager to release it (a mistake I will never repeat in any future games!).


I can say that it was both a very rewarding experience (got so many enthusiast email feedbacks!) but also very stressing. The day after release was working 10hours a day to fix all the bug and I had also a tight deadline to deliver the first expansion “The Bone Lord” in time for Christmas 2005. Keeping the game updated also is not so simple, since need to add more content like new art/sounds, and new gameplay elements. But overall I like this kind of games so in this case the passion plays an important role.

Supernova 2: resolution change

So I “converted” Supernova 2 into 800×600 and now I must admit that looks much better. You have also to scroll less in the galaxy map screen, which is another positive effect. Now that I think about it, was stupid to start a new game in 2007 using a low resolution like 640×480, expecially for a strategy game. I’m able to put much more information on each single screen now!

A quick update also about my future projects: even if my last post about Tower of Destiny is dated 30th june, I’m still working on that game but a very slow pace, because I’m currently moving from my region to another… anyway, my plan is still to release Supernova 2 before Christmas and TOD before next summer. I really hope to respect those deadlines! 🙂

Insane resolutions

I’ve just read the new announcements for the latest Macs. The tech specs are terrifying! but what worried me was the minimum resolution: the 20″ TFT iMac has a minimum resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels!! and it’s the smallest screen available!

That means only one thing… I’ll have to start making games at 800×600 or even better 1024×768. Since new videocard have more VRAM, I think is safe enough to start making larger resolution games, even if that means longer loading times… but seems that 640×480 isn’t viable anymore. I started Supernova 2 at that resolution but I think is better to change it right now, when I’m still in time without having to rewrite too much code!!! 😐