Behind-the-Scenes: QAstroNotes for iOS

by Abby @ Quaver on November 8, 2012

in At Quaver HQ,

Let’s go Behind-the-Scenes with Quaver Programmer Matt as he shows us what’s next for QArcade game – QAstroNotes!

Take it away, Matt!

Hello. I’m Matt Miller, and for the last few months, it’s been my project to port everyone’s favorite QArcade game, QAstroNotes, to the iOS platform so that it can be played on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

That’s right – QAstroNotes will soon be an app you can play on your iPhone or iPad! Learn about the app below and stay tuned to find out when it will be available!

During this process, QAstroNotes has gone through some changes: some major, some minor, some out of this world!

The most apparent and largest change to the game itself is the addition of FOUR new ships.

Each ship now only has one power-up ability, in addition to their normal attack, and each one brings something new to the game. Let’s take a closer look at your ships:

  1. Cutter:

Your basic guitar ship has been carried over from the web game. Cutter has a very basic normal attack, and a rapid fire power-up ability.

  1. Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt has a “shotgun” spread for its normal attack, and a very cool missile ability for its power-up.

  1. CML Ember

The Ember’s normal attack is the same as Cutter’s but with a very special twist. The bullet doesn’t stop after one enemy, it keeps going! Ember’s power-up ability is a devastating laser beam that can cut through any note.

  1. Chronos

The Chronos has a fairly tame normal attack, two shots side by side, but a unique power-up: the ability to stop time and tag notes to be destroyed once time starts back up again!

  1. A. E. G. I. S.

And finally A.E.G.I.S. My personal favorite. A.E.G.I.S.’s normal attack is a devastating bomb that splits any notes in a certain area around its explosion. Its power-up ability is a handy shield that allows you to plow through notes without firing a single shot, but only lasts for a very short time.


The new ships aren’t available for use off the bat,  but require a specific award to be unlocked beforehand. Awards aren’t something new to QAstroNotes, but the mobile game has an entirely different set of them waiting to be unlocked.

All of these changes were difficult to implement on their own, but the most difficult task I’ve faced is making the game look and perform well on all the different screen sizes out there today!

Apple loves to release new devices every year, but they have been nice enough to make the screen aspect ratios of every device the same. The new iPhone 5 was a rare deviation from this policy in that its screen is the same width as the iPhone 4S, but its screen is taller. Not a big deal until it comes down to arranging the interface and balancing the game.


Aligning the interface to correct for the change in screen size between devices is easy, on paper. In practice, I have to make sure the buttons are in a comfortable position on each device, and still arranged in a way to easily convey their use to the player. Balancing the game between the different screen sizes seems like a non-issue, but is a major one when it comes down to the details.

The player’s ship needs to be the same relative size when compared to the screen resolution so that they have the same opportunities to dodge notes as the next player, but still large enough so the player doesn’t need to squint to see where he or she is going. This is mainly an issue on non-Retina devices such as the iPad 2 and the iPhone 3GS.  All this thought goes into the development of any mobile game, though you’d probably never even think about it unless it was done poorly!

Another issue that exists between devices is performance.

Where the iPhone 5 may run a game perfectly, the older iPhone 3GS may bog down during an equivalent task. This is where Starling comes in.
Starling is an “ActionScript 3 2D framework developed on top of the Stage3D API”, or in plain English: it helps us make the game fast. It allows us to use awesome particle effects, support sprite sheets, and more.  

All this results in a better gaming experience across many different devices.

QAstroNotes for iOS devices is in the final stages of development, so stay tuned to this blog to find out when you can get your thumbs on it!

Happy Gaming!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Valerie November 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Well, thank you for working so hard to make this just right. We can’t wait until it’s released!


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