2013-2014 – H@mster Project, Tizen Rhythm Game

Context

In 2013, I was a back-end PHP and node.js developer, and I was becoming more and more interested by working front-end, making interfaces. I was an active member of the JavaScript developers community, and I learnt this way that Samsung was creating a challenge to incite developers to create games on their future smartphone OS: Tizen.

As Tizen supported web-apps, I decided it would be a great way to have fun and learn things to create a video game for it. Being a fan of rhythm games like Dance Dance Revolution, Stepmania and Osu!, I did my best to create a tactile rhythm game, heavily customizable by the user, as Stepmania was.

The game

H@mster Project is a rhythm game which implemented a lot of elements. In it, you could:

  • Play different music tracks in three different difficulty modes
  • Use a simple level editor to create beatmaps to your own music, that you just had to find on your phone to play.
  • Import ability .sm files, which is the format of Stepmania’s beatmaps (levels), and theoretically allowed to use the gigantic database of levels found on the internet.
  • Use a “zen” mode which removed all information of score
  • Link background videos to music to make the player experience better
  • Play the game both in portrait and landscape mode

The post-mortem

H@mster Project was a functional and fun game, but I made several wrong decisions when building it, including:

  • Chosing Tizen as exclusive target OS. Samsung changed it plans and never used its OS on smartphones, only on smartwatches and smart TVs
  • Chosing web technologies to develop the project. It was a beneficial choice for my skills as it improved a lot my skills as a web developer, but it also forced me to reinvent the wheel to optimize the app’s performance, as a rhythm game requires stable performance and perfectly respected timings
  • Not realizing that I had a lack of understanding of mobile app developmen. My dream for this game was to get it as easily moddable as games like Stepmania, which allows user to download files on the Internet to get new musics (in 2023, Beat Saber, for example, can work like this once it’s been modded). However, users are not used to manage their files on mobile devices as they are used to do it on Windows, and it is a very hard hurdle to get through (and it is even harder today for applications to access user files, for security reasons, especially on iOS)
  • I did not know musical theory, which made me lose a lot of time
  • I did not give the game’s artistic direction a lot of thought beyond a mascot character I had designed for me. The UI and UX was ultimately not very user-friendly.

I also regret giving myself a single objective, which was to get the game ready for a specific deadline, Samsung’s challenge end. Once that deadline was passed, I put the project on hiatus, and I never started it again, finding myself another fun personal project. I regret it today, because despite the elements I’ve previously mentioned, I think that with more work, the game could have worked on Android, and stay playable to this day. But I forgot about it as soon as I started my next project