Hello HangZone creators of Fizzy Factory, tell us about your app. Our newest game, Fizzy Factory, is a color mixing puzzle game set in a bubbly soda factory and packed full of challenge. You are faced with the tasty task of transporting soda from our naturally flowing soda geysers to color-coded soda bottles. The gameplay is simple. Just drag your finger to move soda around the board. Red soda goes in the red bottle. Easy enough, right? At least until you have to mix the blue and yellow soda to fill the green bottle. The factory is outfitted with the latest in soda making technology. Slide that blue soda through the red Color Station, and we’ve got purple soda! We can even run that orange soda through a Splitter for more red and yellow soda!
Who is behind the app? The HangZone team consists of Judson Bandy and myself (Tyler Bandy). We’re both involved in the whole game making process, from gameplay design to programming to graphics.
How is your app different from similar apps or competitors? Fizzy Factory is a twist on the traditional color puzzle genre. After some quick introductory levels to explain the basic rules of moving soda and a refresher on color mixing, players will soon have to utilize every trick in their arsenal to get the right colored soda to the destinations. The color blending and splitting elements really separate Fizzy Factory apart from other puzzle games that incorporate color dragging. Once you reach levels with Splitters, get ready for a serious mental workout!
How did you design your App UI and App icon? We wanted the Fizzy Factory icon to be relatively simple, but very polished, and immediately identifiable with the game. We chose to feature a Splitter in the icon, since it is the most perplexing game element in the toughest Fizzy Factory puzzles. After placing it against different backgrounds, piping through different color soda, and experimenting with different tilts and detail levels, we hit on the right combination. For the user interface, we wanted to make it intuitive, polished, colorful, and dynamic. The first two are likely goals for every UI designer, but the colorful element was something that was important for Fizzy Factory to emphasize, given the focus on color in our game. The dynamic element is the most interesting, though. We knew we wanted some minor movement on the menu screens, since totally static screens can feel sort of dead. That’s why we added the bottles moving along the conveyor belts. As we were developing the game, we decided to really up the ante and make our user interface double as a part of a secret puzzle game. Most users will notice that you can knock bottles off of the conveyor belt on the menu with the level pack choices. If you check out our website, hangzone.com, you’ll see that you can actually knock these bottles off in a specific color order to unlock a series of challenges on the website. By progressing through Fizzy Factory, you’ll unlock more bottle colors on the conveyor belt, which allow you to enter more passwords that you unlock through the web puzzles. It’s pretty epic, and only two people have managed to complete it so far. We’re giving Fizzy Factory shirts to the first 10 winners, and all winners get their name on our website.
What processes and/or people inspired or assisted you in creating the App? We built Fizzy Factory using the cocos2d framework. We’ve found it to work really well for 2D game development. As for informational resources, it’s tough to beat the tutorials at raywenderlich.com. Steffen Itterheim also has a great cocos2d book.
What lessons did you learn building your app? We learned the basics of cocos2d from Steffen’s book, and picked up information on numerous topics from Ray’s site. As with anything code-related, we learned the most simply by using the cocos2d framework and checking out the documentation or forums as needed. If you’d like me to share a lesson with other developers, I’ll keep it simple. Cocos2d sometimes has issues when mixed and matched with other frameworks. Just remember that cocos2d is a popular framework, and somebody else has probably already had the problem, or at least something similar. Browse around the Internet, and push through it.
What went right and wrong with the final development and app release? I don’t have any serious issues with the development or release process for Fizzy Factory. We just finished porting Fizzy Factory over to Android, which required us to rewrite the app in C++ for use with cocos2d-x. If we had planned on porting to Android originally, perhaps we could have started with cocos2d-x to make a cross-platform game.
What were you doing before you created this app? We were both working in the finance industry. I was a portfolio manager researching stocks, and Judson was doing M&A and real estate analysis. We both wanted to start a company, and started learning objective-C has a hobby. We both really enjoyed it, and once we were proficient enough to write apps, we left the finance world to give mobile app development a shot.
What are some of your favorite apps? I like to have two solid game options at any given time on my phone—one for quick arcade style play, and one for longer sessions. These obviously change from time to time, but I’ll give one of my favorite examples in each category. For the longer sessions, Clash of Clans does it as well as anyone. Probably not unlike other developers, I got hooked on Clash of Clans while checking it out for market research. I think the clan element of Clash of Clans gives the game a social leg-up over games with similar models, and keeps the user coming back. It’s an impressive game. Super Hexagon is one of my favorites for short arcade style play. The interface is simple. The graphics are simple. The controls are simple. All perfect for this style of game. The turns are short, the challenge is hard, and most importantly, it’s tough to not keep taking another turn. It meets all the criteria for a great arcade game, plus it has awesome music. It’s definitely one to checkout, after you finish Fizzy Factory!