The making of an .IO Game – pie.ai

PIE.AI is a massively multiplayer browser game (.IO Game) which I have recently released in alpha version. During the first month, the game has seen over 150K hungry players battling to grab a piece of the pie and top the leaderboards.

PIE.AI is my first multiplayer game, the design and development has been a true learning experience which I wanted to share in this series. I plan to cover the technology stack, initial costs, design challenges, iterations as well as current and future development.

Background

I started my journey as indie game developer in 2013 and specialized in creating HTML5 games. Since then, I have developed 10 game titles, one of them received the Honorable Mention Prize at the Tizen App Challenge organized by Samsung and the Linux Foundation.

I strongly believe that HTML5 represents a unique technology break in many fields – gaming included. We have witnessed the technology maturing at very fast pace, creating unprecedented opportunities in our industry over the past 4 years.

Thanks to agar.io, slither.io and the talent of their creators, an entire new game genre was born while pushing the technology to its limits and providing new and innovative online experiences to millions of players.

Witnessing the rise of a genre, I decided to focus on creating multiplayer experiences and pie.ai is my first attempt in this direction. It has been a rich learning experience.

This series will be divided in 3 articles:

Game Design

Whether it is about design, graphics, coding, handling back-end and front-end technologies and the thousands of other little things that needs to be done to bring a game project to reality, you have to be very much aware of time limitations, especially when working alone and doing it for a living. This is the number one constraint I keep in mind when designing a new game.

I gave myself one month for this project to reach open alpha which means managing the scope creep quite aggressively to reach the deadline.

Technology

In term of programming skills and technology, I was bringing over 15 years of software development experience but I had never worked on a real time massively multiplayer browser game so there were many new things to consider. I decided to write the server code from scratch and went for a NodeJS based stack. A lot of fun actually!

Graphics

There were couple iterations to figure out what would be best for the kind of game I wanted to make. I decided to opt for an isometric view as an angled viewpoint would work better with the main jumping mechanic than a top-down view. I also wanted to keep away from WebGL and render all graphics on Canvas as mobile was also a strong focus for this game.

I will develop these points further in the upcoming articles – keep posted!

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