Pandemic Motivates Senior Nick Battaglia to Develop His Own App

Image courtesy of Nicholas Battaglia

By Theresa Whitfield

When senior Nick Battaglia returned home to Fallston, Maryland for winter break last semester, he sat on his couch and turned on the television (a skill we have all learned to perfect over quarantine). One day while watching TV, a Microsoft commercial for Minecraft came on. Most other students watching this commercial would have probably forgotten about it as soon their show resumed, but it struck Battaglia with a thought: “how hard could that be to make?”

A mechanical engineering major who described himself only as a “casual gamer,” Battaglia had no experience with game development. He immediately got to work. After watching the commercial, he walked upstairs to his room and bought approximately 150 hours worth of courses from Udemy, an online education site. He absorbed the information from the courses over the next two weeks. After that, he started developing his app. 

Battaglia developed the app over the next two months and finished the first version on January 25. He continued to work over the next few months after getting feedback from family and friends. The final published version, called Grave Guards, hit the app store on March 20. 

Working alone, Battaglia faced challenges while making the initial creative decisions for Grave Guards. The developer must decide what kind of game he or she wants to make, the setting, the world, the characters, and all the minute details that fall in between. The possibilities are virtually endless, and Battaglia had to learn how to limit himself.

“There are so many different ways you could go, so it is hard to narrow it down to one,” Battaglia said. “You can literally make a whole world of your own if you want,” he went on, but the difficulty lies in “trying to control yourself and limit yourself to working on just one thing.” 

The point of Grave Guards is simple: kill as many monsters as you can. The player must protect three graves by shooting whatever comes at them, which could be a skeleton, zombie, or werewolf. Power-ups include a bomb, shield, and health, and there is also an option for the player to upgrade his or her weapon to hold more ammunition. 

Battaglia wanted to emphasize simplicity when making Grave Guards, which would allow for people who may not typically play games to enjoy it. The pace of the game starts slow and easy, however it quickly becomes more competitive. As the player’s score increases, the number of monsters coming towards the graves at the same time increases as well as their speed. 

All the players can see their rankings on the game’s global leadership board. The leadership board has received lots of positive feedback because it allows players to connect with each other and see how their scores compare to their friends. 

Grave Guards is an exciting, fast paced game, that is so fun to play and compete with other players on the leaderboard,” said senior nursing major Ben Alexander. “It has tons of cool features and is the perfect arcade style game to play on my phone. My favorite part is the thrill of trying to stay alive as my score gets higher and higher, and seeing the game spread throughout friends and other Grave Guards players.”

Battaglia plans to continue updating Grave Guards to add more power ups, achievements, and other various elements. He hopes to explore game development more and start a new project in the near future. 

Before the pandemic, Battaglia had no experience with game development, however the idea to develop his own app always remained on his mind. If it were not for the mandated quarantine over winter break, he may have never found the time to actually do it. 

“I wish I didn’t have to wait for something like COVID to happen to start this,” Battaglia said. “I always said I wanted to start a game, but something shouldn’t have to happen for you to just start it. If COVID never would have happened, maybe I never would have tried to start game development. Now that it happened, I am super grateful because now I can finally say I’ve published my app, which is what I’ve always wanted to do.” 

You can rate Grave Guards and leave a review on the app store

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