Paper Dino Extinction is a hand drawn app that takes place during the time of the dinosaurs last stand. In this game the goal is to dodge the meteors and collect the food (vegetables or meat) for an increased score. The levels end when the player loses all three lives. There are two modes a story mode and an endless mode. The story is a level based system with harder levels as the player progresses. Endless mode is a way to test your survival skills. To unlock more levels in both story and endless modes the player must complete certain tasks throughout the story. There is also an upgrade menu to help the player throughout his/her adventure.
The design of Paper Dino Extinction (PDE) was heavily influenced by its structural mechanics. I wanted to create a game utilizing the upgrade and level select systems that many apps have used in the past and continue to use today. After concluding that these general mechanics would be the framework of the game I looked into level ideas that would be unique and fun while still utilizing the dinosaur motif. Ever since I was young I liked to draw dinosaurs and being able to make a game with that as a foundation was something I was very determined to do. After some thought I came up with the idea of a dodging based game. The player would dodge certain projectiles while trying to obtain others. This system played well with one of the theorized extinction events of the Dinosaurs and thus PDE was born.
When starting the design of PDE I wanted it to be unique. I knew the direction of the app I wanted to go in but wasn’t sure exactly how to execute it. After some thought I came to the conclusion that the best way for the app to gain its uniqueness would be through the art style. Unlike most apps you see today PDE is completely hand drawn and colored from top to bottom. Everything from the characters and levels to the menus and text. I even drew out an entire alphabet to use as a font for the app. I created each image with paper and pencil then scanned each image in, creating sprites from pre-drawn sprite-sheets. Using my programming skills I then was able to incorporate each image in its specified place to reach the final look that adds the “Paper” feel to Paper Dino Extinction.
The programming system I used to create PDE was the Corona SDK system. The programming language used was Lua a lightweight system that was simple enough to learn on my own while still having the capabilities of creating large scale apps. I utilized some menu systems, upgrade systems, and level select systems as the core of the games programming. For the levels themselves it boiled down to timer based systems as well as unlock-able mechanics. PDE was the first experience I had programming other then lite HTML work in the past. With this experience I found that I quite enjoy the problem solving abilities one can learn from programming and I look forward to utilizing this skill more in the future.
Paper Dino Extinction was the first app I ever created and a great learning experience. It took me nearly 7 months to complete it fully and was an app I am very happy with even today. I will not say however it is without flaws. After completing the app I found that it could be repetitive and often boring after some time playing. What I would do differently next time is focus less on the structural mechanics first and more on the gameplay itself. Gameplay is number 1 with successful apps and that is where my focus should have been from the start. I am grateful for what creating PDE taught me however, and I hope you can see all of the effort I put into making it.