Community Spotlight: Bridge Physics

Andy Campbell has been a member of the Shacknews community since 2005, under the tag Code RedBeard. In addition to browsing Shacknews, he's turned his attention towards game design and has released his first game on Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Bridge Physics is a game about constructing bridges and helping people out, rather than eyeing their destruction.

"The premise is simple," says Campbell. "In a blueprint mode, build small pieces of a bridge to construct a full structure, and then test the structural integrity of your design in a physics simulator. Different materials exhibit different properties: strength, weight, cost, etc. The game follows the common 3-star pattern, where the first star is easy to achieve and will unlock more content, and the 3rd star is challenging to achieve and will test your abilities!"

Bridge Physics is a 2D title that exercises many of primary engineering principles. Players must examine the nature of strong shapes and distribute loads across multiple supports. This requires a mix of triangle shapes and rectangular shapes. The idea for the game came after Campbell had an itch to play a bridge-building game on his phone, but noticed a distinct lack of options. Xbox LIVE Indie Games wasn't much help, either, as it was filled with Minecraft clones and Avatar games. With a bridge-building game in mind, Campbell found a niche audience that he could potentially cater to.

It didn't take long for Campbell to complete a playable build. "I spent just about a month working on the game, getting a prototype running in about two weeks and then adding content and polish for the remaining time. The game spent another two weeks in the Xbox Indie peer review process, and made it through in one go with no review-failing problems. Some of the basic infrastructure code was already in place from a previous game I had released on XBLIG (Marksman Long Range), so I had a good understanding of the pitfalls in the XNA system and peer review process. The game has some basic tutorial content at the beginning, but I tried to craft the content in a way that introduces the player to challenging or novel concepts one at a time so they can learn them through experimentation and interactivity rather than just following some instructions."

Campbell is currently working on Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions of Bridge Physics, saying that the content for these versions will likely match the version currently available. "I try to focus on novelty in my game development. I don't feel at the moment that I have significant additions to make on Bridge Physics without fundamentally changing the game or making significant time investment. Most game projects are "never done", and I could think of at least 10 different features or other things to add, but I also have entire new game concepts that I'd like to explore. I may add some new gameplay features to Bridge Physics in time, but I plan to work on a different project for a few months as my next goal."

"The Shacknews community has been very positive and supportive of my efforts towards indie game development, offering lots of encouraging comments and spending money to buy my game," he said. "I love the ability of this community to deliver critical commentary in a more sensible fashion than most other online communities."