Creating a Blackberry Game – Part 2

package com.synthdreams.GalacticBlast;

import net.rim.device.api.ui.UiApplication;

 * Initial main class that starts the ball rolling
 * UiApplication is extended to provide Blackberry
 * functionality, specifically the Event Dispatcher
 * and Screen pusher
public class GalacticBlast extends UiApplication
    public static void main(String[] args)
        GalacticBlast GalacticBlast = new GalacticBlast();
        // The Blackberry's message pump, handles key
        // presses and system events
    public GalacticBlast()
        // The first thing we do is show the menu screen, defined by the
        // 'Menu' class.  We accomplish this with a call to pushScreen,
        // which puts screens on the stack (Class specified must be a type
        // of screen, such as MainScreen).  The top most screen is the
        // one shown.  Our first one will be the menu, and later the game
        // itself will sit on top of this.  When the game quits, it will
        // pop that screen off the stack and return to the menu screen.
        pushScreen(new Menu());              

Nothing major going on there, simply a place to get started. As we can see, things are immediately handed off to our Menu class, which handles the main menu. It is common functionality to have a main menu where the player can play, save, load, configure, quit, etc.

The Main Menu

Our main menu extends MainScreen, as I wanted just a simple screen with text and buttons, using the built in Blackberry look and feel. However, there is nothing stopping you from using the techniques in the actual gameplay section for displaying more advanced graphics in the menu section. But for this tutorial we have a simple main menu.

The concept behind Blackberry forms is there is a layout manager that occupies a certain amount of screen space, and contains fields that it positions accordingly. You can have multiple layout managers on one screen, each with its own child fields. There are different built in layout managers, and you can make your own custom ones as well. For our main menu, we’ll both use the default built in manager that simply repeats fields in the vertical direction, as well as a custom manager that allows us to specify the exact X,Y coordinates of fields within the layout manager.

Additionally, we’ll be making a special start button that will start the game play by instantiating the Gameplay class and pushing it onto the screen stack (just like our initial class pushed our Menu class onto the screen stack). Also check out our custom fields and field manager that allow us to position fields specifically by X and Y coordinate. Our field manager allows us to specify its height, so we can use it as a simple vertical-space buffer as well.

package com.synthdreams.GalacticBlast;

import net.rim.device.api.ui.*;
import net.rim.device.api.ui.component.*;
import net.rim.device.api.ui.container.*;

 * The menu class handles showing the main menu and intercepting when the user quits or 
 * begins the game.  If the user presses the button to begin, the Menu class starts
 * the game going.

class Menu extends MainScreen
    GamePlay _game;  // GamePlay handles the action part of the game itself
    int _invokeID; // A handle to our invocation of scanning for when the game ends
    // To add functionality to clicking the button, we need to override the button's
    // trackwheelClick method.  Here we define _startButton as a button with
    // text, positioning, and trackwheelClick we want.
    ButtonField _startButton = new ButtonField("Start Game!", ButtonField.FIELD_HCENTER | ButtonField.FIELD_BOTTOM)

       protected boolean trackwheelClick(int status, int time)
          // If the button is pressed, we create a new GamePlay object
          _game = new GamePlay();
          // Then we push it onto the screen stack.  This then becomes the
          // active screen.  See for notes about pushing
          // screens onto the stack
          // The invokeLater method allows us to continually run a segment of
          // code from outside the GamePlay object.  In this case, we do
          // this to monitor if the gameplay object is active our not.  
          // When the player loses, the object marks itself inactive, at
          // which point we first cancel invoking further, then stop
          // the music from playing, then pop the gameplay screen off
          // the stack so we return to the main menu.
          _invokeID = getApplication().invokeLater(new Runnable()
                public void run()
                    // Check to see if the game is done.
                    if (_game.getActive() == false)
                        // Cancel invoking this piece of code again (normally is invoked
                        // every 500 ms, as specified below)
                        // Kill the music
                        // Pop the gameplay screen off the stack, which returns
                        // the user to the main menu
                        // Display the final score
                        Dialog.inform("Final Score: " + _game.getScore());
                        // We're done with our game object now
                        _game = null;
            , 500,true); // rerun this code every 500ms
          return true;
    // Normally LabelFields are arranged in a very plain order depending on the
    // Layout manager.  They'll repeat vertically with the option of left/center/right
    // justifying.  But sometimes it's nice to be able to specificy exactly in X,Y coordinates
    // where you want the field to go.  This class, in conjunction with the Custom Manager
    // defined below, allows for this
    // Additionally, a "customStyle" is defined for the field.  For our cases, this 
    // is either left to 0 for normal X,Y positioning, set to 1 for X set to 1/8th the total
    // width of the screen, or set to 2 for X+fieldwidth set to 7/8th the total width of the screen.
    // 1/8th and 7/8th for the edge of the text allows for columns to be made, for scores,
    // instructions, or anything else.  More custom centering or something more dynamic
    // could be done with this variable, but its fine for our purposes right now.
    class CustomTextField extends LabelField
       int _xPos, _yPos, _customStyle; // coordinates and style
       // We pass in the coordinates and the custom style
       CustomTextField(String passLabel, int passStyle, int passX, int passY)
              _xPos = passX;
              _yPos = passY;
              _customStyle = passStyle;
       // Getters for position and style
       int getX() { return _xPos; }
       int getY() { return _yPos; }
       int getCustomStyle() { return _customStyle; }
    // Our custom manager is where the magic happens for allowing customtextfields
    // to be placed at any X,Y coordinate.  It reads in the coordinates from the
    // field and places it at those coordinates in the layout.  It will also
    // look at custom layout, and if centered is specified, will ignore the X coordinate
    // and center it at the Y coordinate on the screen.  Additionally, the total height
    // of the manager can be control how much space it takes up regardless of how many
    // fields it contains
    class CustomManager extends Manager
        int _managerHeight; // Total height of the manager
        // Pass in desired height.  Scrolling is turned off in both directions.
        public CustomManager(int passHeight)
            super(Manager.NO_HORIZONTAL_SCROLL | Manager.NO_VERTICAL_SCROLL);
            _managerHeight = passHeight;
        // Sublayout is called automatically to position all the internal fields to this
        // layout.  Its sublayouts job to read in the custom coordinates of each of the fields
        // and place them accordingly.
        protected void sublayout(int width, int height) 
            CustomTextField field;
            // Loop through all the fields contained with the layout manager
            for (int lcv = 0; lcv < getFieldCount(); lcv++)
                //Get the field.
                field = (CustomTextField)getField(lcv);
                //Obtain the custom x and y coordinates for
                //the field and set the position for
                //the field.
                switch (field.getCustomStyle())
                   // Custom style 1 is for the left side of the text to be at 1/8th the width
                   // of the screen
                   case 1:
                        setPositionChild(field, width / 8 , field.getY());
                   // Custom style 2 is for the right side of the text to be at 7/8ths the width
                   // of the screen    
                   case 2:
                        setPositionChild(field, width * 7 / 8 - field.getPreferredWidth(), field.getY());    
                   // Any other custom style gets position strictly from X,Y
                        setPositionChild(field, field.getX(), field.getY());  
                 //Layout the field.
                 layoutChild(field, width, height);

            //Set the manager's dimensions
            setExtent(width, _managerHeight);
        public int getPreferredWidth()
            return Graphics.getScreenWidth();

        public int getPreferredHeight()
            return Graphics.getScreenHeight();

    // Menu constructor
    public Menu()
        // First, turn off scroll bars for this screen in case we accidentally push past the 
        // edge with our fields/whitespace

        // We set the title on the screen
        LabelField title = new LabelField("Galactic Blast Demo", LabelField.FIELD_HCENTER);

        // CustomManagers can also be used just as space buffers.  First we make
        // 20 pixels of space
        getScreen().add(new CustomManager(20));
        // Add some text        
        add(new LabelField("Instructions", LabelField.FIELD_HCENTER));
        // Create another custom manager, but this one we'll use for more than just
        // spacing, we'll actually position some text fields (our instructions)
        CustomManager instManager = new CustomManager(Graphics.getScreenHeight() - 145);                

        // A multi-d array that will store our instruction fields
        CustomTextField instArray[][] = new CustomTextField[3][2];
        instArray[0][0]= new CustomTextField("Trackball", 1, 0, 20);
        instArray[1][0] = new CustomTextField("Space", 1, 0, 40);
        instArray[2][0] = new CustomTextField("Escape", 1, 0, 60);
        instArray[0][1] = new CustomTextField("Move Ship", 2, 0, 20);
        instArray[1][1] = new CustomTextField("Fire Cannon", 2, 0, 40);
        instArray[2][1] = new CustomTextField("Quit Game", 2, 0, 60);

        // Loop through our array and add each field to the layout manager with a different
        // font
        for (int lcv = 0 ; lcv < 3 * 2 ; lcv++)
            instArray[lcv%3][lcv/3].setFont(Font.getDefault().derive(Font.PLAIN, 16));

        // add our button that has the click method overridden
        // Add a buffer of 10 pixels
        getScreen().add(new CustomManager(10));   
        // More text
        LabelField copyrightText = new LabelField("Copyright 2008 Synthetic Dreams", LabelField.FIELD_HCENTER);        
        copyrightText.setFont(Font.getDefault().derive(Font.ITALIC, 14));

At this point, your program should be able to load with a menu screen (well, you’ll have to comment out any mentions of other undefined classes). You should see something like this:

Only with your own text, of course. Now onto Part 3…

27 Responses to Creating a Blackberry Game – Part 2

  1. sina says:

    This is by far the best written and most helpful blackberry UI code example I have seen anywhere on the internet. Thank you very much for sharing.

  2. Toni says:

    Thanks, I’m glad it helped! There was a lot of trial and error involved for me so I’m happy to save some time for other people.

  3. Donald says:

    Thanks a lot! You did save me many TRY-AND-TRUEs.

  4. John T says:

    This is absolutely fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to write this tutorial.

  5. Lukather says:

    Thank you very much! Fantastic tutorial!

  6. Kunal Mahajan says:

    Thx buddy…
    wht da tremendous tutorial

  7. kmd says:

    Finally, a straightforward tutorial that doesn’t assume I’ve been programming for 10 years. Thanks for this.

  8. bullghost says:

    yes iam agree with sine, much2x helpfull then any other on internet,
    i have a question
    can we add event on custom manager
    to handle the input , like trackwheelClick, or other key event ?
    can you please make the example .

    Thank You toni


  9. Toni says:

    Thanks for the kudos, guys, I’m glad it’s helping people.

    Bullghost – trackwheelClick, keyDown, keyUp, etc are all methods of the “Field” class and any classes inherited from it. In this fashion, you can make each field react differently if it receives a keyboard/trackball action. Managers are derived from the Field class as well, so if you’re extending a Manager class, like we did with CustomManager above, you can simply add a “trackWheel” method just like we did above for _startButton. I’m not sure if that answers your question – let me know exactly what you’re trying to do so I understand better.

  10. SuperFlyJedi says:

    Great guide Toni! Awesome for getting the ball rolling on a new BB project.

  11. Joe says:

    I liked the tutorial but i got a little problem, i tried with your code to do this application and I don´t get any compiling errors, but when I execute the program, If I click Start Game! I get a NullPointer exception error 104. Hope you can help me. Thanks!

  12. Jay Jawalkar says:

    Awesome Guide Toni! please continue this great work. Can you please explain me in detail about “Sublayout” method. Who calls this function ? From where it takes the “width” & “height” parameter value? Who Calls the “getPreferredHeight()” & “getPreferredWidth” method ? Can you help out ? Thanks in Advance! 🙂

  13. Toni says:

    Joe – you’ve probably long since figured it out / moved on, but it sounds like something being called from “trackwheelClick” isn’t being instantiated before being used – are you use you’ve included all the necessary “new” statements on objects before referencing them?

    Jay – Thanks for the kudos! Again, I’ve been lax about updating the blog, so you’ve probably figured things out by now, but “sublayout” is a standard method within the Manager class. It defines where fields appear within that layout manager. It’s automatically called when a screen containing it refreshes. When we create a custom layout manager, we override this method to control where we want fields to appear in a special, custom way. Then we add this custom layout manager to the screen (e.g. line 197, line 221), and from then on it will get called automatically. The preferredHeight and width functions work in the same way.

  14. Hitendra says:

    As i am newbie to blackberry and the custommanager funda helps me to do a lots of thing in my helps me great.
    thankx a lot tony

  15. BI Centre says:

    hello, great tutorial but i can’t get my eclipse ide to recognize the source files as a blackberry application. i have other blackberry samples that work fine. could i be missing some configuration or property settings?

  16. Toni says:

    You should be good to go as long as you set it up as a Blackberry Project. Exactly what error are you running into?

  17. congtue85 says:

    Hi Tony! i have 3 screen objects. I pushed them on display stack. When i’m displaying 3th screen object, then i want display first screen. How can i do?

  18. Toni says:

    Hello! I’m pretty sure you’re going to just have to pop them off and push them back on in whatever order you need – I don’t know of any functions that re-order the stack besides pushScreen and popScreen. You could also try re-pushing a screen that’s already on the bottom of the stack, I’m not sure what that will do. Either error out, move it, or make a copy of the handle, not sure. Good luck, let me know how it goes!

  19. Scott says:

    Thank you for the detailed tutorial. It was very helpful

  20. congtue85 says:

    Thank you very much. It’s very helpful

  21. ljdarten says:

    I tried this in the Blackberry JDE and NetBeans (I know that one is problematic) and am having the same problem.

    I am getting an error on the GamePlay class on line 15 of the menu class. Netbeans says cannot find identifier(GamePlay). Blackberry JDE doesn’t tell me anymore than there is an error there. am I missing an import or something? I can’t find reference to this item anywhere.

    just so you know it’s not bad typing , I first tried typing it all in to help learn it, but got errors I couldn’t figure out so I pasted everything in and still got this error.

  22. ljdarten says:

    Nevermind, GamePlay class is created in next step, but it seems like you should be able to run it at this point.

  23. jaw says:

    Hello Toni,

    I got a problem on this tutorial of yours, see I completely follow to code it step by step my problem is that upon running it using the simulator nothing appear on the screen.

  24. JacquesMalan says:

    Hi Toni, absolutely brilliant article. I am very new to both blackberry and java(come from a c# background), and the amount I’ve been learning is amazing. Have only gone as far as the second lesson, but in testing, the text fields for the instructions do not appear. I have looked at the multi-d array, and the for statement that itterates over it, and all looks fine. What could the problem be.

    Hope you still check out the blog from time to time.

  25. Daniel says:

    I got error, in Error: reached end of file while parsing
    Whats wrong?

  26. Srinivas says:


    It is very well job you have done. But I need image files and audio files…
    I am getting error…

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