Drawing an Owl for my new upcoming small children’s game

Categories game art, games, MyArtWork


This will be my first game in collaboration with my dear wife. She came up with the idea, and I am trilled to finally draw her in game development, little by little. I won’t reveal too much about it for now, it will be available first in Romanian and then translated to English. The game will be for really small children, our son inspired my wife and most likely will be the beta tester :).

I will have to draw a lot for this game. To get my drawing in a better shape I have subscribed to https://www.schoolism.com. I am taking the Environment Design with Nathan Fowkes and Gesture Drawing with Alex Woo, and last week I went trough Drawing Fundamentals with Thomas Fluharty. I will be staying on Schoolism for sometime, since I have probably discovered the quickest way to improve my art skills. They are awesome!

Here is me, drawing the owl from above.

I hope you liked it 🙂



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Creating Mr. Nussbaum’s Boardwalk Challenge

Categories games

From time to time, when the stars align just the right way, Greg and I make awesome educational games. He is a fantastic Game Designer, and his games are truly unique.

I usually take the opportunity and push it a bit beyond my own capabilities. This obviously stretches the development time and leaves me drained of all energy. But I enjoy every second, and I am always extremely proud with the end result.

In March 2016 my beautiful son arrives into this wonderful world. Never before I felt so happy in my life. I took a couple of months off, so I can help the new mommy and also adjust to the new parent role.

After 4 months, exhausted, thrilled, still adjusting to this new role and the huge responsibility of being a parent, I slowly go back to my own game development. About this time, Greg reaches out to me with a new game. I said OK, we will do it,  but have to start in October. That’s when the baby will be 6 months, and mommy goes back to work, and in my naivety I thought my own game will be finished. But I set a date, and said the work on the new game will start then no matter what.

So it id.

I have received the detailed description from Greg, so the development is officially on the way. Let me take this time to tell you something, Greg’s descriptions document is so good and well planned that it doesn’t change throughout the development. This is extremely rare, and one of the many reasons I enjoy working with him. The majority of software failures are due to a bad or incomplete plan.

With a good plan in hand, it’s time to decide, flash or HTML5. We decide it is a good idea to publish it in HTM5, so that it can run on iPad, or Android tablets and will more or less future proof. It took a couple of days to investigate what’s out there, and what tools we can use to reach our goals. I knew I wanted some sort of OOP programming that will be then converted (transpiled) to JavaScript and HTML5. I also wanted the game to work the same on iPad, Android and PC with all the various browsers out there.

I remembered something about HAXE from somewhere, so I started looking into it. After trying out different engines, I found that Flambe was working well across different browsers and OS, and also was able to publish the code to swf. So flambe it is.

Moving from FlashDevelop to HaxeDevelop was easy, making Flambe work, was not. It needed some patch in the source code, nothing too hard, and after some good googling around I find exactly what needs to be done, but I am afraid that for beginners, this might be off-putting.

We are up and running, so actual coding will start soon, but first I need to structure the work ahead, I break down all the major tasks into smaller ones. The game is made up by 5 games. You play the first, game to earn points that you use in order to gain access to other 4 fun games, and you play those games in order to gain points that you can exchange for items in the store. These items, get “printed” on certificates that kids can save to their devices.

The first game requires you to arrange the numbers on the screen in the right order, I named it “Earn Tokens”. Nothing too complicated to do in here, the prototype was up and running in no time.

The second game, is “Whack the Pirates”. By this time, I was already making the layouts, establishing the main themes, but didn’t settled for a look yet. First code and layout, then later when everything pretty much works the way it supposed to, I’ll move on to the artwork.

So far everything works pretty good, there is an annoying thing in Whack the pirates, where because of Flambe limitation, I can’t use masks properly, so that the characters hide when going back into their holes. But things move well and it seems that this new Haxe/Flambe thing is not bad at all, and I am very happy with the progress being made.

At this time it’s worth mentioning that development was being done under some tight schedule, in the time when the baby was sleeping, and, when mommy got back from work. Leaving me with almost zero personal downtime, before going to sleep.

Moving forward to Air Hockey, I realized it’s going to be a bit more challenging, but nothing that I can’t handle. For Air Hockey I just used some simple trigonometry, and simple point/distance collision detection, nothing too fancy, it worked.

Next one will be Ski-ball. After looking at all the SkeeBall games on YouTube that I can find, I realized, I won’t be able to get away with some simple tricks, I actually started to build it using the same tricks in Air Hokey, but it didn’t cut it this time. It needed a physics engine. After some research, I found Nape. It was an excellent choice, it did what I wanted and I will soon discover It did even more stuff that I didn’t even know I needed.

In order to edit the physics shapes you need a physics editor that can export the shapes back to Haxe, for this I bought PhysicsEditor. It does a good job at editing the shapes, but you need to trim the generated output code, so that you can use it effectively inside your game.

Soon after the Ski-ball game prototype was done, we hit a problem. The game won’t scale nicely. There is now way to scale things inside in a similar way to the flash based display list, so to make it work, you need to apply a scale calculation to everything, from math calculations inside the Air hockey game, to individual graphics. At this point I was afraid that I will need to apply the same scale calculations to each and every single node in the data provided by the physics editor, a task that would be extremely time consuming, not to mention every time that you would need to make an adjustment you would redo the whole process. Nightmare! Luckily, the shapes have a scale property, and the task to adjust for the scale is not that bad.

Finally I move to the final game Roll the Ball, and I soon discover the sensors inside Nape and I am in awe. They are awesome! Nape is Awesome!

Prototyping done.

Without getting too much into details, Flambe is really cool, but beware of the limitations, no sound on some iOS devices, no easy system for adjusting to different screen resolutions, no masking, no printing, no easy way to combine multiple image into a single one, for say download or other uses (like in character customization), and the entity/component system might be a bit awkward in the beginning. But if you don’t need printing, mask, downloading generated images, it’s a pretty solid engine, that works well on different devices, inside the different browsers. The sound issue is a problem not exactly with flambe, rather with Apple’s way of doing things, so much for “promoting” HTML5 on their devices.

After the coding part was mostly done I moved to the Art Work, based on the already made layouts and the place holders characters.

Some of the Art Work was inspired by the works of http://danielmerriam.com

After the Art Work was done, I added background music from http://incompetech.com/ and sound that I recorded with my phone, making noise using the toys my son plays with.

After some more testing, and bug fixing, the game is completed:


I hope kids will enjoy it for many years to come, and if you like it do share it!

Thank you for reading 🙂




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Time Achievement Badges for MathSumRun

Categories game art, games

Today I am following the previous set, with the new Time Badges you will be able to earn in MathSumRun.

Math Pioneer, you will earn this one after 30 min spent in the game.

mathsumrun pioneer

Math Enthusiast, to get this one you will have to spend 1 hour in the game.

mathsumrun Enthusiast

Math Devotee, to collect this one you will need to accumulate 2 hours in the game.

mathsumrun devotee

To get the latest updates on the game, subscribe to the MathSumRun Facebook page.

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Achievement Badges for MathSumRun

Categories game art, games

MathSumRun is almost complete and now I am in the process of designing different achievement badges, here are the first ones.

Addition Scholar Badge. You will earn this one after answering correctly 30 addition problems in a perfect sequence.

addition scholar badge

Addition Master, you will have to solve, 100 addition problems to earn this one. You will need some concentration to achieve this awesome feat.


The hardest one, Addition Tycoon. You will have to answer without any mistake all 945 problems in the game, making a perfect game.


A few others will follow shortly.

To get the latest updates on the game, subscribe to the MathSumRun Facebook page.


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Study for Game Backgrounds

Categories game art, games, level design

During my research for the level designs in my upcoming game MathSumRun, I have stumbled upon some interesting references you can use for drawing your backgrounds.

Most of the nicest stuff out there, rests neatly organized on Pinterest, which is a heaven for digital hoarders collectors of fine imagery. The stuff you find on Pinterest is usually a few magnitudes better than the stuff you find on a Google search, or in other popular places were you might search for inspiration, like DeviantArt or Behance.

Diving in 🙂

The Art Of Aquascaping. One of my favorites references, aquascaping designs seemed to be a perfect fit for side scrolling games. You can easily use them if your game has a jungle theme, but you can also modify them to look like they are out of this world,  by changing the color and texture, this is  exactly what I did with one of my levels as you can see here:

mathsumrun level

Backgrounds from films, with the animation ones being the best sources. One1more2time3’s Weblog has some really nice backgrounds like this one:

Trees! Just looking at trees, you will often find really interesting shapes and landscapes. I loved this tree so much, I made a level based on it.

tree level ref

I have found only one Facebook group for Background paintings, which is a bit weird since backgrounds are so important. Oh well, at least it’s a very good group and there are nice posts, like this awesome Art Director of Environments from Zootopia.

Back to my new favorite web place to hang around (and collect stuff), I have found the Character Design References, which has a few background collections like this: Environment Design | Abyss, so ctr+f in your browser, write “Environment Design” and check them all out.

While looking at the history of background design, I found the amassing work of Tyrus Wong. His early paintings were used as the style for the backgrounds in Bambi (1942) . Fun fact, he makes kites since the year he got retired in 1968, he is 105 🙂

I am sure I will ad some more links in here, until then, do share your favorite sources of inspiration  for your background drawings in the comments.

Happy drawing 🙂


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Quick (dirty) buttons for your Starling app

Categories Actionscript, games, Starling

Sometimes you need to control parts of you app for testing so a a quick way to build some buttons in Starling is very useful. In my case, I needed to test different parts of MathSumRun and adding an external library for this purpose only is an overkill.

buttons controll

Here is the dirty code for this:


  1. package com.cosmindolha.mathsumrun
  2. {
  3.     //import com.cosmindolha.mathsumrun.DataDispatcher;
  4.     import com.utils.Delay;
  5.     import starling.display.Canvas;
  6.     import starling.display.Sprite;
  7.     import starling.events.Touch;
  8.     import starling.events.TouchEvent;
  9.     import starling.events.TouchPhase;
  10.     import starling.text.TextField;
  11.     /**
  12.      * ...
  13.      * @author Cosmin Dolha
  14.      */
  15.     public class AppControl extends Sprite
  16.     {
  17.         //private var disp:DataDispatcher;
  19.         public function AppControl()
  20.         {
  21.             x = 1150;
  22.             y = 50;
  23.             //disp = DataDispatcher.getDisp();
  25.             button("Game Over", onGameOver, 0, 0, 75);
  26.             button("Level Done", onLevelFinished, 0, 30, 75);
  27.             button("End Game", onGameEnded, 0, 60, 75);
  28.             button("Time Up!", onTimeUp, 0, 90, 75);
  30.             incrButtons("Stage", onPrevStage, onNextStage, 120);
  31.             incrButtons("Level", onPrevLevel, onNextLevel, 150);
  32.             incrButtons("Qstn", onPrevQuestion, onNextQuestion, 180);
  35.         }
  36.         private function onPrevQuestion():void
  37.         {
  39.         }
  40.         private function onNextQuestion():void
  41.         {
  43.         }      
  44.         private function onPrevLevel():void
  45.         {
  47.         }
  48.         private function onNextLevel():void
  49.         {
  51.         }  
  52.         private function onPrevStage():void
  53.         {
  55.         }
  56.         private function onNextStage():void
  57.         {
  59.         }
  60.         private function onTimeUp():void
  61.         {
  62.             trace("on time up");
  63.         }      
  64.         private function onGameEnded():void
  65.         {
  66.             trace("on game end");
  67.         }
  68.         private function onLevelFinished():void
  69.         {
  70.             trace("level finished press");
  71.         }      
  72.         private function onGameOver():void
  73.         {
  74.             trace("game over press");
  75.         }
  76.         private function incrButtons(str:String, prevFunc:Function, nextFunc:Function, y:Number):void
  77.         {
  78.             button("< -", prevFunc, 0, y, 35);
  79.             var labelField:TextField = new TextField(35, 20, str, "Verdana", 9, 0xffffff, false);
  80.             labelField.touchable = false;
  81.             addChild(labelField);
  82.             labelField.x = 20;
  83.             labelField.y = y;
  84.             button("->", nextFunc, 40, y, 35);
  85.         }
  86.         private function button(str:String, func:Function, x:Number, y:Number, w:Number):void
  87.         {
  88.             var sp:Sprite = new Sprite();
  89.             sp.x = x;
  90.             sp.y = y;
  92.             var canvas:Canvas = new Canvas();
  93.             canvas.beginFill(0xffffff);
  95.             canvas.drawRectangle(0, 0, w, 25);
  96.             canvas.endFill();
  98.             var txt:TextField = new TextField(w, 20, str, "Verdana", 9, 0xffffff, false);
  99.             txt.touchable = false;
  100.             canvas.alpha = .2;
  102.             sp.addChild(canvas);
  103.             sp.addChild(txt);
  104.             sp.addEventListener(TouchEvent.TOUCH, onTouch);
  105.             function onTouch(e:TouchEvent):void
  106.             {  
  107.                 var touch:Touch = e.getTouch(stage, TouchPhase.BEGAN);
  108.                 if (touch == null) return
  109.                 func();
  110.                 canvas.alpha = .5;
  111.                 var returnDelay:Delay = new Delay(returnAlpha, 100);
  112.                 function returnAlpha():void
  113.                 {
  114.                     canvas.alpha = .2;
  115.                 }
  116.             }
  117.             addChild(sp);
  119.         }
  120.     }
  122. }

And the Delay class:


  1. package com.utils
  2. {
  3.     import flash.events.TimerEvent;
  4.     import flash.utils.Timer;
  5.     public class Delay
  6.     {
  7.         private var timer:Timer;   
  8.         private var delayedFunction:Function;
  9.         public function Delay(functionToDelay:Function, delayMilisec:Number)
  10.         {
  11.             this.delayedFunction = functionToDelay;
  12.             timer = new Timer(delayMilisec, 1);
  13.             timer.addEventListener(TimerEvent.TIMER_COMPLETE, callDelayedFunction);
  14.             timer.start();
  15.         }  
  16.         private function callDelayedFunction(event:TimerEvent):void
  17.         {
  18.             timer.removeEventListener(TimerEvent.TIMER_COMPLETE, callDelayedFunction);
  19.             delayedFunction();
  20.         }
  21.     }
  22. }
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Starling Particle Designer – HackTM2015

Categories Actionscript, games

This weekend I went to HackTM2015 and started the development of my Starling Particle Designer.


This tool will be used to make better Particle Effects for my MathSumRun game.

The scope is to design the particle effects directly on my iPad, so I can push the effects to the limits, while still achieving good FPS.

The Starling Particle Designer source sits on GitHub at: ParticleDesigner

To test it on your iPad, you need to have a Jailbreak device and get the ipa file from here.
To install it on my iPad I use ifunbox.

Development is done for iPad 2 with iOS 6. Support for retina devices will be added at a later time.

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New match 3 puzzle game – Gems Swapping Knight

Categories games

I am releasing a new game (in-house build), Gems Swapping Knight

gems swapping knight

It’s a classic match 3 gems puzzle game. In this version the engine only recognizes 3 gems in a row (not 4 or 5), in the future I do plan to change this and also add more fun stuff into the game like bombs. Initially it was planned as a demo for a potential client, but I soon realized that I would rather build the game for myself, and release it here.

The game is build using actionscript 3, it took me around 4 days to build a working version and several days to build the graphics and put it all together, all this while working on other projects. I am planning to release the source code in the future.

Here are the game instructions:

The goal of the game is to gain higher scores by matching three gems of the same color, vertical or horizontal. You can only move a gem up, down, left or right. When a chain of three gems is formed, they disappear, the gems on top fall down and the empty space is filled with random new gems.

Every 10 matches earns you a special coin. You use this coins to get a new mix of gems in the case you see that no more moves are possible.

To move the gems, you click on the gem you wish to swap, click again on the gem you wish to be swapped with or hold down your mouse, move your pointer over the gem to be swapped with, and release your button.

The game is over when you have zero coins and no more moves are possible.

Give Gems Swapping Knight a try !

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