Category Archives: iPhone Development

iPhone Development

Remember Who You Are

 

I just pushed out an update for Cyborg Livestock that takes all the ads out of the game. This is a free update, and the price of the app is also still free for new players. I got a text from a friend less than an hour after the update made it to the App Store and the conversation went like this:

 

Friend: You took the ads out of CL?!

Me: I did and that update took less than 24 hours from submission to store!

Friend: Revenue Stream?!

Me: Eh I’ll just die of starvation. Dude it was only making $5 a month. Thats not worth annoying my players.

Friend: If you say so


And I do. I stand by the decision. Before I started making games less than a year ago I played games. Lots of a games, a lot of the time. My first interaction with a computer was a game. And my first website was built as a clan site for a game. And my biggest website was an online arcade site hosting Flash games. I love games. And its been my dream for a long time to make them. But in my dream I always found creative ways to let people play for free. And I can tell you it wasn’t an annoying banner that distracted players. iAds really are some of the most beautiful ads in the mobile space, but they are still just an unrelated banner that lags the game when it loads.

I remember playing games with ads in-between levels and getting annoyed to know end. Today when I go to watch a 50 second youtube video and have to watch a 30 second ad first I’m furious. But I forgot that when I released my first game on the App Store. What did I do? I slapped iAds and Admob at the top of the screen just as a after thought to try and make some money. I could have had way more annoying ads in my game don’t get me wrong, but as someone hoping to make a change and influence the industry I sure found the laziest way to fail I could.

Just minutes after submitting the ad free update to Apple, Ryan Allis posted a clip of text from “Marketing without Marketing” apparently recounting the early days of Google when they were trying to get the word out there. And I immediately saw the irony of the clip. Google who runs their entire business off bombarding people with ads thought they were evil and wanted to avoid marketing that way. This just nailed home that I had made the right decision. Now believe me, I know its going to be a rough battle to entertain people for free without traditional advertising. But then again following dreams was never meant to be easy was it?

 

 

 

Player Feedback vs How To’s

A lot of times we know how things should work but somehow knowing and doing become two different things.

I have always yelled silently in my head when i play a game with a movie for a tutorial or a book for a manual. Yet when it came time to build my own game i ignored all that, and put in a simpe how to play screen. I defended it by saying its only 4 sentences and has pictures. But that doesn’t make it right. I missed my own cardinal rule. If they can’t pick it up and intuitively know how to play, something is wrong.

In the latest Cyborg Livestock update, I asked myself a question many users probably thought about, why are the bullets phasing through the goats? Then i remembered, its my game, its my code, “I” made them phase through. I failed hard.

Happens all the time. Heres the how to play, they read it, they play. 30 seconds later, hey that stupid goat isn’t getting hit. This game is broken. Then I remind them you have to dodge the goats. “OH i remember now.” My players aren’t stupid, my game is.

So I made them bounce off, with a ricochet sound. This is feedback. The user knows they can’t shoot the goats so they better get out of the way. One less sentence, one less confused soul, and one less complaint. This is how all games should be, and how all my future games WILL be. intuitive, invisible feedback so the player already knows how to play.

Cyborg Livestock First Update

So I’ve been hard at work on the first update for Cyborg Livestock. Its got a lot of good stuff for extra fun and a lot of good stuff for performance.

First the fun! There are a ton of new achievements. As well as a few new leaderboards so you can see how your animal stats compare to others on GameCenter. And as many of you have probably already seen on the update, theres a brand new addition to the animal lineup. I’ll just let you figure out who’s new.  I’ve adjusted timing, and hitzones for a bit easier start off. The game as always progresses in difficulty with your score. But now it starts off a bit easier. And I know the bullets and lasers were a bit hard to see so I’ve tweaked the graphics a bit. And at the request of a friend, I’ve increased the maximum sensitivity for the accelerometer.

 

As for performance, I’ve rewritten parts of the game engine, and backend to alleviate lag. I know there have been some hangs and jitters. Hopefully many of those should be gone. I’ll still be working on performance in the coming weeks until I can get it perfect. I’ve fixed a few bugs like the text-interruption score reset bug, and the limit on the number of animals on the screen at one time is now working properly. Got rid of a few crashes. And best of all there is a brand new Crash Protection system in place that saves your scores, stats, and multiplier and can restore them in the event of a crash. So you’ll now have the ability to resume your crashed game right where you left off.

 

I really hope you guys like the update, and I hope it leads to more downloads and more players! I’d love to reach as many people as possible. Every player I get is a huge encouragement and reminder why I love making games.

Accepted!

Cyborg Livestock has hit the App Store!  I’m extremely proud to announce my first game has been approved first try without a hitch.  Went from submission May 15th 11PM to acceptance May 18th around 5:30PM.  Extremely quick turn around based on my experiences.  I’ve got tons of updates planned so I really hope people like it so far and hold on to it for more.  Its free so don’t hesitate to go download it and give it a shot!

 

Thanks again to everyone who has helped me along this journey for the last 10 months!

Standing Out!

I’ve been trying to become part of the iOS community for about 10 months now.  It started with a couple books on Objective-C since I had never done any C based programming. Then once I was comfortable with the syntax it became trial and error as well as excellent tutorials from places like:

http://www.raywenderlich.com/

http://www.cocoanetics.com/

http://www.icodeblog.com/

http://www.71squared.com/

There are many more but those four in particular have been priceless assets on my journey to become an iOS developer.  And of course somewhere along the way Twitter become an invaluable resource for connecting and stalking these and other great geniuses from around the world.  People like Mike Mayo, Mike Daley, Brandon TrebitowskiRay Wenderlich, Oliver Drobnik (via Cocoanetics).  I’m sure there are a great many annoyed with my constant unsolicited questions.  But many were very helpful none the less :)

 

Then I was able to collaborate on my first official app, PolicePlus.  It wasn’t my idea (Michael Savage), or direction but I did do the majority of the programming for the app. It felt great to be working on a finished product instead of a random test app that would never make it past my personal iPhone.  I couldn’t be happier with the success of the niche market app which just this week has crossed 6000 downloads.  While this isn’t even enough to ripple the pond, it is exhilarating to know 6000 people have used my code at one time or another and watching the update numbers, a good many still are months later.  But I’ve learned so much more since PolicePlus was first released back around Dec 2010 That I’ve been itching for something more.  Sure I’ve had lots more test apps taking up room on my iPhone but its long overdue for one of my ideas to reach the light of day.

 

So I’m proud to announce the first iteration of Cyborg Livestock has reached completion and been submitted for the App Store.  This game dates all the way back to the 360iDev GameJam that I happened upon on Twitter. They said you could participate remotely for a night of fun so I picked up a case of Red Bull and worked all night. This was about how far I got that night http://gamejam.360idev.com/cyborglivestock/.  I was really proud and planned on finishing the game but things never stopped getting in my way, until now of course!  Finishing Cyborg Livestock was my New Years Resolution for 2011, and its the first in my life I’ve actually kept!  I scrapped all the code from that night and only the idea lived on.  But I’m proud to say every pixel and comma in this game are my own.  I was the only programmer and the only designer.  Music, I can’t take credit for.   My dad being a musician for 40 years helped me out.  This is his first video game score so I think he is a little excited as well.  Anyway, I’m very proud of Cyborg Livestock and no where near finished with it.  I have a lot of bigger and better plans to extend it and hopefully see some love on the App Store!  First week as a freelance iOS developer and I was able to finish a game I put off for 6 months.  I don’t believe I could have made any better choice.