Tag Archives: Google App Engine

Wacky Words Facebook Game – My Newest Programming Project

Wacky Words

So this is my newest project: a massive multiplayer text based comedy game I’ve been working on for the last few months in my free time.

http://apps.facebook.com/wackywords/

The Game:

The idea is a worldwide competition to see who can invent the funniest or wackiest concept or product. You can bet or invest in the ideas you think are the funniest and gain experience points, level up and buy skills either by being funny or deciding what you think is funny. It’s a very bare-bones game currently but eventually it will have a large social element tied to your facebook friends, walls and posts and stuff. Kinda like how the other facebook games utilize wall posts, except that everything in my game will be funny and unique… or at least will try to be.

You start by reading other people’s creations and voting or investing, or you can jump straight into the second tab and start drawing random words which you can then drag to combine into funny phrases and concepts. Write out a description or “sales pitch” for your wacky concept, submit it, and start earning gold and experience points from the votes. Wanna get really intense? Hound your friends to vote for your creation… or if you’re a real dick… hound all your friends to vote against someone else’s idea.

Future:

At this point the game has just the basics: ability to create new concepts and write out your sales pitch, with some text formatting. Ability to browse creations, vote up, vote down, invest and gain money. Currently I’m building the leveling system and a set of half a dozen different skills like more votes and investment tokens. Then I intend to add sharing features and hopefully tie the commenting with the Facebook posting system. Maybe I’ll add live chat for all that smack talk. Then it’ll need some friends integration, so you can see your Facebook friends in-game and with that, the ability to challenge each other and hold mini-competitions to see who can get more votes. (At this point the popularity-contest aspect of this game could be very important.) I will hopefully be able to bust out some apps for iPhone and Android, and finally, I plan to create a website that automatically makes a new post every time someone posts to the game so that regular web viewers who would never go to a facebook game or download an app would get to see all the funny crap.

Of course… this is all under the assumption that people actually find this game kinda fun and want to play it. I haven’t had the most success in the past with getting people to play my games, so please follow the link up top and give it a try on your facebook account and send me your feedback.

Nerd Stuff:

You may notice the front-end is built in flex. I debated this decision for quite a while, but finally chose flex over HTML5, mainly because of the ease of development. At this point, HTML and JavaScript just can’t compete with Flex in terms of rapid development and being that I’m only one developer I want to be able to  get this done as quickly and easily as possible. Flex should also allow me to easily create mobile apps for all the major devices. I’m hoping it’ll be just a matter of moving some stuff around to fit on the smaller screen or breaking functionality into smaller screens. Flex is so modular that that should be simple to achieve.

On the other hand… I have to learn JavaScript for my job right now anyway and I may become much more comfortable with it and depending on how the future of Flash unfolds, I may wind up regretting my decision.

For the backend I chose Google App Engine and Python. App Engine was an easy choice. It makes perfect sense because I’m already a fan of Google products and seem to feel more comfortable within their design methodologies than most others. Again, rapid development was most important and App Engine certainly helps with that. No worrying about setting up databases, background processes, security or–god forbid–load balancing. A massive-multiplayer game like this wouldn’t even be possible for a lone programmer like me without all the pre-built systems. Now it’s a piece of cake.

I picked Python to use with App Engine. I wanted to use PHP, since that’s got the biggest programmer base and I’m already comfortable in it, but of course, PHP is not natively supported… why I have no idea… and I’m not gonna trust a third-party App Engine PHP interpreter. So it was between Python and Java. I’ve worked in Java before, a couple years ago when I made my first Android App and… meh… it was okay. It’s no ActionScript, but really, what is? So I did a few Google searches for “Java VS Python” and most people seemed to prefer Python, so that’s what I chose. Maybe not the best way to decide, but there ya go.