Hip Impact approached me with an amazing idea for a game: a cell-phone business simulation for the hip-hop scene featuring pimps and hos instead of mainstream business goods and services.
The resulting game, Street Tycoon, is a compact 64K download suitable even for low-end phones. It's been ported to dozens of handsets, and advertised in such magazines as VIBE, KING, XXL, and Black Men.
It's unconventional, edgy: a 30 day simulation of a prostitution ring, in which a player starts with $500 cash money and one ho. To win, he must entice women to work for him, turn them out in one of four locations to solicit "Johns", and take care of them by hiring bodyguards and sleazy lawyers, bailing them out of jail, paying their medical bills, and heeding the advice of (and paying tribute to) the King Pimp.
Yet deep inside, Street Tycoon is a serious business simulation governed by rules of supply and demand, price elasticity, strategic alliances, business intelligence, human resources policy, the importance of looking good and location, location, location!
The characters of Street Tycoon are portrayed simply on screen. Internally, they react to each other for better or worse based both on game play, per-character preferences, and whimsical astrological compatibility. These reactions influence in-game prices for tribute to the King Pimp, sex, recruiting, and power-up "bling" items. What's your sign, baby?
I worked closely with the client to design this game from high concept, and recruited artistic talent from corners of the globe as diverse as New Zealand (artist Brent Schuster) and The Netherlands (sound engineer Jeroen Tel) to develop the characters, settings, and sound of the game.
In addition to client-side coding, I developed a prototype of the high-score server and customer registration screens. Street Tycoon uses an SSL-like encryption scheme to send tamper-resistant high scores to the server, but the scheme is implemented entirely in the game's code for compatibility with MIDP 1.0 phones.
Street Tycoon conserves JAR space by downloading about 20K of assets from the high scores web server. If the platform accepts a JAR larger than 64K, these assets are included in the JAR.
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