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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Adventures in Apps, part 1.

A few years ago I bought a wonderful program called Adventure Maker. It's great for making 90's style multimedia adventure games for the PC. The only problem is... no one buys multimedia adventure games anymore. I've been working on a game on and off for years as a hobby. After becoming an Android fanatic, I decided to look into how to make an Android version of my game. I've been trying to teach myself Java (or the Android version of Java, which is frustratingly different) and... it's been very slow going.

Enter Google with its new program, The Android App inventor. It seemed like the answer to all of my prayers, but the process has become very very frustrating. Before I start kvetching, let me make a few things clear. 1) The program is free. 2) It is still in it's beta testing phase. 3) There are many helpful programmers who answer questions and give advice in the forums, even if only to say "We're working on it." To sum it up, it's a wonderful program if you want to make apps that have text and buttons but limited graphics.

OK, let's get to work.

I followed the instructions, but I can't link my phone to work in real time with the program. Annoying, but no big deal, I'll just upload my apps to my phone and test them that way.**

**Addendum: 12/8/2010, they have updated block editor and this issue is fixed.

Next step, let's look at the empty designer screen window in the app inventor. Oh wow, it's drag and drop, that's so simple... oh dear. The screen seems to be for the old G1 Android. The low-res screen isn't the end of the world, but it has a different aspect ratio than my WVGA Samsung Captivate. Alrighty. Can I change the screen size?

No.

Hmm... this puts me in a bit of a pickle, because now the buttons I put on my screen won't line up with the background images. It's just spreading the buttons out along the length of the screen. Sigh... I'll figure out a work around, maybe some forums will help me. But it's not too bad. Once I figure it out, it's just a matter of going from screen to screen, kind of like a web page. OK, I have a basic test pattern for screen-1. Now how do I make screen-2.

I can't. There's only one screen.

Well according to the forums, there is a workaround someone has figured out... I guess I'll have to Google it and research that too... Well... let me make a test app, it will be nice just to see a program I make work on my phone. Let's install it and...

And it wants phone contact and full network internet access permissions.

Why does the program I wrote need those things? I didn't put anything like that in there. Lots of Android users - myself included - are wary of apps that need internet and phone access for no reason, because of data usage and privacy concerns. Is there any way to change that? Is there even any sort of explanation for that?

No.

(Inner Homer: Urge to kill... rising....)

TTFN
-Tony

2 comments:

Aravis said...

Erg. And I so want you to finish your game!

I like multimedia adventure games. The things out now don't interest me at all.

Tony LaRocca said...

TY - May I suggest Mateusz Skutnik's brilliant work? His Submachine and Daymare series are my favorites: http://www.pastelportal.com/stories/