Meltdown Madness

Homer has no idea what he’s doing.

I have titled my project “The Simpsons: Meltdown Madness.” To me, this sounds like it could be the actual name for a Simpsons game, and considering how many they’ve made over the years, it actually might be. When I first started working on my hangman project, I was trying to think of a reason why you would have to guess a particular word. The initial scenario I came up with goes something like this: “You are an employee at a nuclear power plant and something has gone wrong. If you don’t enter the correct system override keyword into the computer, the reactor will meltdown.” Admittedly, this would be almost comically horrible override system for a reactor; the kind you would see in The Simpsons. Then I remembered that Homer Simpson actually worked in a nuclear plant, and that led me to create my final scenario.

For my punishment mechanic, I made it so that every time you guess incorrectly, the reactor gets closer to melting down until it finally explodes after five incorrect guesses. The safety meter next to the computer screen details exactly how close the reactor is to melting down, and homer uses his trademark “D’oh!” every time he makes a mistake. After failing five times, the screen changes to a scene of Springfield, the Simpsons’ hometown, being enveloped by a nuclear explosion. I also included a “winning” mechanic, where Homer says “Woohoo!” every time he gets a letter right. Once the word is fully completed, a victory screens appears.

hangman-screen

My game in action.

By far the most frustrating aspect of the coding process was trying to get the letters to appear in the boxes when correctly guessed. To get this to work, I had to use several while loops combined with conditional logic, which I had a fair amount of trouble with. I considered titling this blog post “While Loops: The Bane of My Existence.” I found out after an hour or so of trouble-shooting that I had to give an instance name to the text box inside of my guess boxes in addition to giving instance names to the guess boxes themselves. I also learned that I needed to embed my font, which finally resolved the problem. After that whole debacle, coding the rest was fairly easy and intuitive. I definitely looked back at some of the modules for guidance, but was able to set up a good number of the functions from memory as well, which is very reassuring. For reference, I must have crashed the program half a dozen times over the course of this project (Take that, Skynet!). Luckily, this never set me back very far as I simply had to reload the Flash and ActionScript files. I also had around 4 different loop counters set up at one point before I realized I could just keep reusing one by resetting the value to zero.

I used 24 words which directly relate to the Simpsons. Most of them are names (e.g., Homer, Maggie, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Etc.). I’m terribly upset that I didn’t try to add the hint mechanic sooner. I thought for some reason that it would take forever to sort out the code. Once it was assigned as homework in class, it took me literally ten minutes to set it up. It seriously might have been the easiest part of the project, though that could be because I set it up after finishing everything else first. Regardless, I’m very disappointed in myself for not setting it up prior to turning in my assignment.

The keyboard keys were taken from TechOnTheNet.com and arranged to resemble a “QWERTY” keyboard. I considered including additional keys to make it look more like a real keyboard, but decided against this to avoid confusion since these buttons wouldn’t have had any real function. I was also very close to including an “Any Key,” but I didn’t think anyone would get the reference. The scene of Springfield being destroyed by a nuclear explosion obviously comes from an episode of the Simpsons, though I’m not sure which exactly. All sound clips were downloaded from YouTube. Obviously, Homer’s lines originally come from The Simpsons and he is voiced by the wonderfully talented Dan Castellaneta. The explosion sound effect, which did not work initially but has been fixed, appears to have come from an actual nuclear explosion test. I used a font called Digital-7 for the computer screen because it looked like an old computer. The rest of the fonts I used more standard Sans-Serif fonts to keep it fairly simple, and because I felt it fit well with it being a simple game. I designed all the other visual elements myself, including the safety meter, computer screen, reset button, and victory screen.

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