Android Game Dev – A Beginners Tale

As a Java developer and someone who is repulsed by the idea of graphics, drawing loops and all that comes with game development, It is safe to say I wasn’t holding out much hope for this latest experiment to work. I had a few ideas for games that I wanted to make and have always liked the idea of making a game (something fun) rather than utility apps. So how hard could it really be ?

Started off simple I wanted to make a basic user driven game, I could create the game logic easily in a few java classes but when faced with mapping said logic to Android project my mind whizzed in desperation. So I decided to “divide and conquer” after all this was a hobby activity my time was limited and may take me months, so achieving small goals would motivate me more than staggering to one full app.

Lesson 1 — This is my best piece of advice for any developer starting in games who has previously never done so. You are automatically more comfortable creating the menus and their functions so if you are anything like me you will be tempted to create as I did the easy bits first. Please do not do this, what I found is I spent time working on the menu’s and when I got to the game I quickly realized it wasn’t going to be an enjoyable game or work they way my head had envisioned. Unfortunately our heads seem to think certain things are good idea’s but when put in practice it isn’t always the case.

This experience taught me few fundamental lessons however, about styling and layout screens and devices. But this was something I could afford to learn at a later date.

Lesson 2 – Android Dev Guides/Forums

These resources are invaluable and so are sites like stackoverflow it is easy if you get an new error that you cant move by to become disheartened and give up, sites like these can help and provide the answer and when that error comes up again you will know exactly why and how you can solve it. In most cases knowing how specific errors are caused can be easier than trying to identify where its caused when you don’t know what the error means.

Android development guides also have source code examples that you can download and play with Lunar Lander is great for Game development and what I did was strip out all the unrelated code and now I have a base android game project complete with update thread and game view.

Final point – Find an idea that excites you, find people whether it be loved ones or friends that you can show and receive feedback from be careful and ensure that they are honest and not humoring you as tends to be case with family.

Once you have an idea break it down, start slow for instance – The game I’m currently making has 3 stages. I sat and thought with pen and paper  how will stage 1 work? I had a rough idea so I coded the game logic in Java as this is the language I’m most comfortable with. I had created a very crude text based version of the first stage of round 1 but I had now gained a clear understanding of the logic so I was able to concentrate on setting up the Activity to display and use this logic.

These are just a few tips I thought id share from problems I faced. I’m hoping to start a development diary here even though I have already started development but the project is still in basic stages so hopefully this acts as an intro into me and what I intend to do.


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