Spacepants was made in Game Maker. It took one month to make, and one further month to polish and get just right.
Game Maker is awesome! It does a lot of the difficult stuff behind the scenes, so you can concentrate on design and content. You can start off by using simple blocks to assign event-based behaviours, then gradually discover the extra power and flexibility of GML code.
The basic idea for Spacepants, a game set in a single room, with a character who can walk up walls and along the ceiling, came really easily. I did the art and animations for the player character first (Spacepants Guy, or Guy for short), and then the Space Caterpillar enemy. It was originally meant to be a Space Cat, but cats aren’t evil enough.
I then spent a couple of days experimenting with controls. There were originally buttons to move clockwise or anti-clockwise, jumping if you pressed both together. Simplifying this down to a single button to turn and a single button to jump, though, made the game much easier to play.
I spent a lot of time tweaking jump height and movement speeds to get the responsive feel I wanted, and had a lot of fun making and animating the other enemies. Dad helped out with some maths and bug-fixing when I got stuck.
Getting the first Alpha version distributed to family and friends for testing was super-scary/exciting, and watching them play helped me to tweak the controls tutorial, which I’d always wanted to be really quick and unintrusive.
Several things in the final game were stumbled upon pretty much by accident during development. The spawning/de-spawning rate of the hearts, for example, was temped in without thought but by chance turned out to be just right to match the player’s speed of movement around the room.
Areas of difficulty included the addition of Game Center support, which should have been a lot easier than it turned out, and a change to the game resolution and re-scaling all the assets, which had to be done because Dad had set it up wrong at the start. (Grrr Dad!)
Even though I’d really enjoyed playing the game myself throughout development, and had good feedback from a couple of Beta testers who really put the hours in on it (thanks @bennallack, @byronicman and @iainsimons!), I was still really nervous to see how Spacepants would be received when it finally made it to the App Store. Quite a few people had suggested various changes during development which I’d ignored, because I had a really fixed idea about how the game should feel - so it’s been quite a relief to find other people who like it just the way it is!