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Swing Thing
2015

I made Swing Thing for mostly casual audiences, but I couldn't resist the temptation to ramp it up to tough-as-nails as the game progressed. Its premise is simple: tap the screen at just the right time to jump from swing to swing. The timing of that tap is the only control the player has; there are no other controls.

Each swing produces its own isolated 180 degree arc -- it doesn't matter what velocity the character had when he initially grabbed the swing. A swing can be approached multiple ways and still produce the same jump opportunities. This allowed me to be inventive with the level design, and allows the player to be inventive with solutions.

My impulse to create Swing Thing was that I wanted to make a game my Grandma could play on her iPad. I also couldn't help but notice how many of my friends, who I never knew to be "gamers" in the typical sense, were playing games on their phone! Suddenly I felt like there was an outlet for me to share my passion with the people in my everyday life. Making a game for casual audiences alone would bore me -- but my friends? That was extremely inspiring.

I suppose I was also looking for a solution to a problem: how do you make an engaging platformer on a touch-screen device? I'd been playing the classic Sonic re-releases on Android, and they are wonderful, wonderful ports. I am grateful for them. However -- at no fault of the developer -- the controls leave something desired. In no way did I find a solution to that problem, but the idea for the controls of Swing Thing came from my daydreaming on it. I wish the touch-screen friendly gameplay could have leant itself better to exploration, but Swing Thing is done, and that's something to consider for my next game.

I had a lot of fun and a lot of grief in developing Swing Thing. Making it felt like the right thing to be doing at the right time, and rarely have I been able to say that. I hope it brings everyone else a lot of joy. And even some grief, as long as no one smashes their phone.

-Kyle

grenappels

video game development

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