Loaves and Fishes
The year following the release of Liber Pro, I found employment writing business software. After a few years of this, having discovered that our office and the offices of CCC of America were close by, we thought it would be great to try our hand at an iOS app for children. Since both of our companies had a Catholic character, CCC had the image and content design experience, and we had the software experience, it seemed like a no-brainer.
After tossing out a few ideas, we had the basis for what became Loaves and Fishes. This app is a play-through activity book for children, with a two-player bonus game (requiring in-app purchase). The in-app purchase game was inspired by a game my sister played in her childhood dubbed “the egg game” but modified for the Biblical theme.
I think the concept is great for children, and really engaging them in the story. As an interactive book, the app tells the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 from the perspective of the little boy who supplied the 5 loaves and 2 fish. You can either read or have the story read to you. Interspersed with the story line are activities, including an animated fishing game (color matching), and the classic game of matching (find 2 alike).
The two-player game shows a set of tiles on the Sea of Galilee. On the reverse side of the tiles are loaves and fish intermingled with two kinds of board activities. The object of the game is to find 5 loaves before your opponent can find 2 fishes.
Among the tiles, there are more loaves present than fish, and the odds are roughly equal for both players. Each player takes turns choosing a tile. If the tile matches the kind of object the player is collecting (a loaf or a fish), the tile goes towards the players tally. If the tile is of the opponent’s type, he gets an opportunity to pick it up after the tile turns back over.
The two activity tiles are a boat and a storm. If you get a boat, you get to pull a boat across the lake, disturbing the positions of the tiles. If you get a storm, all the tiles disappear, storm clouds appear over the board, then Jesus comes out and calms the storm. When the tiles reappear, they have been completely mixed up.
The two-player game is played with the device placed between the two players (just like a board game). When it’s your turn, your little character pops up facing you. The activities are also rotated relative to the current player. As the player who goes first has a slight advantage, the game automatically switches which player goes first after someone wins.
Since I compose a bit on the side, I had the opportunity to put some pieces together for the game. In the game preferences, you get to choose either “Classical” or “Modern” style background music. If you choose “Classical”, you
have to get to listen to the music I wrote.
For the main screen:
During the story:
Music for the 2-player game:
Software and Geeky Stuff
It has always been ironic to me that games–even simple ones–often require higher mathematics than business software. Pretty much everything you can do in accounting can be done with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (or some clever combination thereof). But a game aimed at toddlers and elementary school children? Vectors.
I don’t remember off the top of my head if I needed to use the cross product for this game, but I certainly had to calculate the vectors of each fish independently as it “bounces” off the sides of the display for the fishing game (not to mention the rotation of the fish while this is going on). Oh yes, and determining how to keep the fish’s eye right-side up…that was fun. I recall nearly laughing out loud during testing when I’d have a fish randomly swimming backwards or upside down after bouncing off the side of the screen.