14-year-old Game Developer to Watch, Shows We're Never Too Young

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xaviergames 101 Apr 09, 2013 at 22:24 indie android html5 javascript teen

Maximillian Polhill, 14, a self-taught game developer recently launched Stellar Alien, a new physics-based, arcade-style adventure game. Polhill is the Game Designer, Game Developer, and Game Artist of his Phoenix-area, one-person game development studio Xavier Games. His game, written completely in JavaScript along with new HTML5 technologies, has a free Android mobile version now available at Google Play, a free web version currently available at the Chrome Web Store, and a free desktop version on Firefox Marketplace.

Stellar Alien is about a young heroic alien named “Starbli” as he travels through the galaxy saving stars from an evil alien named “Rosso”.

“The idea for a space alien game came to me one day when I was playing around with Box2D, an open source physics engine, and I saw gravity in action. I made the link with space games I’d played in the past and wanted to simulate objects in space that get pulled by a planet’s center core,” shares Polhill. “A couple of months after learning the basics of JavaScript, mainly from the Mozilla developer network, and recreating a couple classic games in JavaScript, like “Ping Pong”, I was able to create the simulation. My family suggested I could develop a real game.”

Polhill responded to his family by starting his own game development studio, Xavier Games. The simulation he created illustrated to him how hard it was to get out of a gravity pull and he decided to use that as the basis of his game. Over the course of about 6 months, Polhill wrote over 5,500 lines of code and his simulation became his Stellar Alien game. In addition to learning JavaScript, Polhill also learned enough vector math, geometry, trigonometry and some physics to create Stellar Alien’s gameplay.

The game was written in HTML5 which Android does not natively support. Polhill selected Ludei’s cloud compiler Cocoon to compile the mobile version of Stellar Alien to allow the game to launch on mobile devices like Android as a native application.

While there were many HTML5/JavaScript game engines available to Polhill, he decided he would not use them for his very first game because he wanted to understand how game development works and game engine design at a low-level. Polhill chose to develop a custom game engine specifically for Stellar Alien, which he feels gave him a deeper understanding of game development.

The teen game developer also made a custom level creator he could use to produce and update the Stellar Alien game levels quicker for players. Polhill hopes to encourage other young game developers to embrace and support the independent game development industry. “This was fun for me and I think it could be even more fun with more people my age sharing with each other and learning from each other.”

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