iOS 6 – More means less

Just a brief update from App land here in Calgary. iOS 6 lands today for the public, so I can give you my impressions as a developer.

Now it’s important to note that I’m not a full time developer as regular readers well know. We have a stable set of games out there for iOS, and we quickly tested our most popular ones last week to make sure they worked. Since everything was hunky-dorey in the simulators I turned our time to other interests, like the web development textbook I’m co-authoring.

What we we weren’t prepared for was the slow dictionary performance in Word Slide :( The game is now a little less responsive due to dictionary lookup issues. How do I know this? Well A Word Theme, is essentially the same code base, except for the dictionary usage. Holding a word in Word Theme is lightening fast as it should be while Word Slide’s performance has degraded.

Next we come to our other games. Thankfully most of them work on the new iOS6 as is, so we can relax for the most part. Rafter’s Loot though is another issue. It’s whitescreening right now, and that forces me to choose: Do I stop supporting the game altogether,  or do I invest x hours into fixing it, to continue earning a trickle of cash that will work out to less than minimum wage for my efforts?

The deciding factor was that we are currently advertising Rafter’s Loot it in our other games. I’d have to patch the existing (perfectly fine) games to remove the ad as well as not support it. The efforts to do that would undoubtedly take as long, and the end result would be 1 less sku.

So, with the rest of Calgary drifting off to bed with dreams of Kofi Annan in their head, I am looking down the barrel of a long night, all to squeeze out a little more money for my family, until some better way support them comes along (maybe Blackberry 10?, Maybe my upcoming textbook?, maybe a rich benefactor?)

More “features” and form factors for you means less sleep for me :)

 

 

 

 

A Word Theme Available Now!

Our latest game A Word Theme is available now in the App Store.

Like Jewel Slide and Word Slide & Find, this one is build using our sliding game mechanic. This time you are given a puzzle topic and must find all the words that match that theme with all the letters scrambled. You should see updates for those two games and CryptoQuip n the coming week.

We’re working on Land Slide right now, a game that using the same sliding mechanic in a territory /settler style game, but are thrilled to see A Word Theme approved!

Happy Gaming!

Happy Stampede

So I’ve been busy the last little while, and I haven’t updated. Now that I’m on vacation from my job for the summer it’s nice to sit around with the family, doing fun outdoorsy type stuff. I’m just not sure you want to hear about it. Watched the Calgary Stampede Parade today on TV, for example.

But as we relax and play we thought of a third game to use the Word Slide and Jewel Slide framework. Called A Word Theme, this game will be similar to Word Slide and Find except you will have to find words that match a theme, rather than all alphabet words. The hard part is making levels in terms of total time. The game’s at least a week or two away, but I thoughts I update you all on what’s happening.

As an example:

A theme of “welcome words” might require you to find words like hello, hi , etc… We’re working on some good ones as I speak. I don’t want to give too many away.

Anyhow have a great stampede, and I hope to be posting again soon about the newly released game.

Word Slide and Find

Word Slide and Find has been released!

Word Slide is the game where you are presented with a square full of tiles, and have to rearrange them by sliding the rows or columns. When you’ve made a word simply hold your finger on any letter and the word will be scored, and removed. If the letter is in two words you get a bonus.

This release is the culmination of a lot of work over the last months, and I seriously appreciate the efforts of anyone who helps promote this new release!

 

 

 

Jewel Slide Updated – Word Slide coming soon…

Jewel Slide has just been updated in the app store!

We fixed up a few bugs, cleared up some space, and touched up the levels a bit. We also changed a few artwork pieces, like the icons and the pearls. In my unbiased opinion this is the best bejeweled type jewel sliding matching game I’ve ever played.

The more exciting corollary, is that all those bugs and improvement will also be in for the Word Slide launch. Word Slide was the original game idea where you find words in a grid, but before testing the more complicated word finding algorithms, we wanted to build a simpler version of the game, which instead of words, would find matching row and columns of jewels. Jewel Slide is that actually quite a fun game, and “Word Slide & Find”, using similar mechanisms is on it’s way soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewel Slide!!!

Great news, our game Jewel Slide is now available for sale in the app store (or will be very shortly).

We’ve been working real hard on this one, and if you like bejeweled, or other such matching games give it a try! This game will form the basis for our soon to be released “Word Slide and Find”, so I hope you all enjoy it!

 

 

Keep it Simple

So we’re furiously working on our next game, and we came to a realization. While games like CryptoQuip are very enjoyable brain teasers, they only appeal to those who like to have their brains teased. Games like Angry Birds, and Draw Something are fun and engage your mind, but are easy to pick up without feeling like you’re a “smarty pants” as one customer told me.

So we came up with a wicked fun word game with cool interface, but as we played it on paper we realized it’s another smarty pants game, meaning we are targeting only those who want to engage their minds in word play… And there are many more people out there who just want a quick fun game.

So, we took the gameplay for our new word game and are going to develop a “bejeweled” version 1st. We will then use the same framework to develop the word/letter version of the game after the jeweled version is out there. Which would I rather play? Well the word version, but which will appeal to more people? Our research suggests keeping it simple will keep it fun for more people.

Hopefully by Canada day we will have at least the 1st “jewel” version released. If you’re a smarty pants you’ll have to wait a little longer, but trust me, it will be worth the wait.

 

Star chase available in 5 languages!

Apple has approved our update to Star Chase, so now you can play it in your favorite language.

The app is now playable in French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and of course English. More importantly it is now relatively easy to port to more languages, depending of course on how impactful this effort was to our sales.

If you have a request to port one of our games , please use our suggestion form, and have fun building the universe in your favorite language.

Star Chase Internationalized and a dream

So I just finished submitting Star Chase with localization in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese!

A big shout out to Joanne who did all the German stuff, but more importantly wrote a bulletproof font rendering engine that easily allowed me to add fonts with accents! Had it been written by a lesser programmer, I’d no doubt have had to do more than just upload new font files.

So, for you English speaking people, who cares? But now we hope to reach out to the rest of the world. Looks for more localized apps in future.

Oh, the dream… Well, Neal Young and I had a jam session, and then afterwards I invented the skeleton of some kinda game we will probably make… Or maybe not. We played it in analog this morning and it actually was quite fun! We just need to finalize the rules (and then develop it)  Instagram went for a billion dollars today, so I have to keep dreaming :)

 

Internationalization and localization

We’ve noticed many of the people playing star chase and rafters loot hail from countries that don’t speak English.

Given its also the next topic of my advanced programming course as well, we’re working on additional language support for star chase and then rafters loot.

Probably start with English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish but should get Mandarin and Arabic if we really want to target the world.

Stay tuned…