Developer Diary March 2014
This month I blog about the last stretch of development on ‘Solitaire & Casino’ and early development of my upcoming iPad platformer app ‘Prof. Whackadoodle’. With two iTunes approvals this month I am quite happy.
Solitaire & Casino adding social sharing
One of the initial goals of the app was to add Twitter and Facebook support in some shape or form. There are a lot of plugins for Unity that provide this and I chose U3DXT, a pretty extensive plugin that offers a high level C#/JS API to a large part of the underlying iOS SDK API. I started out making TW & FB icons and used the high level Twitter/Facebook classes, but I didn’t want a FB/TW icon if the player didn’t have FB/TW installed on the device, after a lot of trial and error I ended up using the native activity sheet that was introduced in iOS 6 apparently. This makes users able to use a familiar single share icon which will in turn allow them to choose what social network they want of all installed on the device, so problem solved!
March 7, Solitaire & Casino 1.0 submitted
Friday , Put on my webmaster hat and updated my website carousel to have S&C on the front, and updated the app’s webpage. Fixing trivial bugs that doesn’t really have any impact on the game, more to do with the back end and analytics. Adding if(Debug.isDebugBuild) to all debug statements in the AnalyticsManager, should use this all over. Uncommented most other debug statements. Building with the stripping option broke the analytics manager. Reverting to no stripping. Finally submitted the app, feels very nice.
March 13, Solitaire & Casino 1.0 approved
“The following app has been approved and the app status has changed to Ready for Sale” \o/
So S&C got released and is currently freely available on the asset store. It feels terrific to have it released, and I am quite happy with the result. Of course it would be a lot better with professional graphics and sounds, but I am not there yet, I feel like I still have a long way to go as a game developer before the business side gets sorted. As long as I am doing the whole lone wolf deal and until I learn to make money off my apps I’ll just have to settle for things I can buy cheaply.
Personally I think this is one of the best solitaire apps out there, but I am of course super biased. The level progression and each level being unique and 4 different casinos with increasingly hard house rules, well I think it’s really great, it turned out a lot better than I had imagined beforehand. Also it’s inspiring in a way to look at S&W and then compare that to this app and see how much I have improved. Ok, done tooting my own horn now, sorry, just a bit excited at the moment.
In hindsight though, if I were to make this app all over, I’d split it up into 4 apps. One app for each casino which has it’s own set of rules. This is my only regret here, I might as well have made 4 apps instead of just the one.
March 18, Solitaire & Wisdom version 1.1 submitted
Added more particle effects (have learned so much in this area since I first released this app), sped up most of the card movement, updated fonts and got rid of a lot of bloat. Split up the NGUI atlas into two pieces so I could have one with thumbnail images, and keep it compressed in memory. This worked very well. Replaced 3D score numbers with NGUI 2D numbers. The 1.1 version got approved on the 23rd! It’s interesting to see how much more I know now than when I made the 1.0 version, feels like I am making good progress, but it’s also humbling and makes me understand I still have a long way to go. I’m just getting started!
Prof. Whackadoodle prototyping
As work on the the solitaire apps was finished I could now relax and work on my next projects. It seems like my MO is starting with a small idea and then using the development phase as a creative process where the end result is nothing like the starting idea. The engineer in me is not too happy about it, but the more artistic side of me feels like the creative process is important, it’s not like I’m just cloning existing games, I mean whatever would be the point of that?! This process have already completely changed the direction of P.W. It began as a simple idea of clearing a level by picking up all potions (although I used coins as placeholders) and avoiding monsters. Now it’s become a much bigger level with doors/keys/levers and killing monsters using fireballs. God knows where it ends up. Very fun stuff to work on.
Prof. Whackadoodle’s input controller
The biggest challenge of this game is getting the input controls right. I think that’s what will make or break the game. Players have to feel in control, the hero must respond well to swiping and tapping, because that’s what is expected on an iPad. I’ve tried so many apps in search of a good control scheme but it seems all top platform games use virtual joysticks or one-tap input, in fact I see so many praises of input controls of virtual joysticks I think I will be forced to add it as an option, even though I think it’s epic fail to have virtual joystick on a touch device. They are at least dead easy to make compared to a real touch based input system.
I am currently on version 5 of my touch based platform game input system, and I think I am getting close to something usable. Still need more user feedback to see how it will resonate with normal non-technical persons. There will be a special blog dedicated to the input controls later on, it’s just about written but I am considering adding a proper example and stuff.
Solitaire & Wisdom
In Progress: –
Update Status: 100% done
The iOS 7.1 release caused a lot of Unity3D games to have trouble and S&W was one of them so I had to immediately create a new version, a lot of fixes was already in place but I was holding out for some major features. Now I was forced to ship the new version at once, and I guess that’s not a bad thing actually.
I still want to do a few changes to this app; add jokers, undo mechanism, update the card graphics, remove the 3D buff stars and replace them with 2D ones to mention a few things. That will have to wait for now, as I am pretty pleased with having a new improved version out.
Solitaire & Casino
Released: – v1.0
In Progress: –
Release Status: 100% done
Submitted & Approved! This app turned out pretty great, I think. It took twice as long as expected, but it turned out twice as good as well, so I am very happy with the result. The gameplay is in my humble opinion second to none with one-finger touch and drag&drop supported. Maybe one day I will pay to have the graphics updated to a professional state, then it will be a truly great app.
I released the app as a free app, just to see how that will work out in term of downloads and user feedback.
In Progress: prototyping
Prototype Status: 50% done
Have had a blast working on this project. I am still just prototyping and trying to figure out which direction to take. My original idea has already been thrown away and as it stands now I am leaning towards more of an action oriented platformer with puzzle elements instead of my original idea which was collect all potions/coins to clear a level.
The new control scheme is working out well so far, but I still need to get some random people to test and see how they do.
In Progress: prototyping
Prototype Status: 20% done
Found no time to work on this title this month, it will have to wait until Prof. Whackadoodle is in a good place.