It was around end off November 2014 when I decided to pick up my old code base from the Silverlight version of the game and see if I could make a universal app out of it. I had tried a few other test apps but I felt that the touch capabilities of windows 8.1 were perfect for a game like Hexpand.
It was also an opportunity to review the game mechanics and make a game with less micromanagement and more emphasis on the strategy. This would require a better AI which could handle Soldier movement for the player and that was in itself an interesting challenge. I could finally use my Uni studies on path-finding algorithms!
By the end of Jan 2015 I had a prototype with one hard-coded level and a simplistic AI that could move the soldiers and was only able to create one flag every turn. It wasn’t much of a game but all of a sudden Hexpand was actually semi enjoyable. At that moment it became clear to me that it just needed the rest of the components in place in order to reach it’s full potential.
So I pushed forward. I had to create a few different maps and teach the AI how to build towers and spawn soldiers. Those were the minimum requirements in order to have a functional game worth publishing.
The progress was slow. It is hard to work on a project like this while having a full time job. Mental fatigue eventually will catch up on you and it is difficult to maintain the level of motivation you need to get stuff done.
Sometimes we need to trick our minds in order to keep things going and luckily Windows Apps London gave me the perfect excuse. They organised a one day Submit-It hackathon. Everyone participating had to complete an app that they were working on and submit it on the day.
Off course one day is not enough to finish anything of this scale unless you are almost there already. But that gave me a hard deadline. The game had to be ready for the first release by the day of the hackathon. I even took a week off from work just before that Saturday but on 18th of April 2015 Hexpand was finally on the store!
— Dimitrios Melidonis (@DMelidonis) April 18, 2015
Notice the screen shot from that first release, can you spot the differences?
It took another 8 months and a second Submit-It hackathon. to get the game to a state that looks like the screenshot at the beginning of this article. But that is a story for an other post.