Saturday, October 17, 2009

Development Blog #11

iPhone App Game Development Blog #11

Hello there! It is the weekend and so it must be time for another regular update, of course - what's going on in iPhoneLand you ask? Much! Let us run right into it, like a speeding bullet-train, then-

- Apple unceremoniously, and rather unsuspectedly, lifted the ban on in-App DLCs for free apps. Basically the big notion here is that rather than releasing 2 versions of an application, one could just create a single version with which to straight-upsell the paid version (within the app, without having to go through a store, etc). Not sure what that will mean - the end of the "free list?" Time will tell, it's a new development. I noticed that HcG friends Last Legion Games were the first company to take advantage of this, reducing their new app Polyghost from $3 to free, though the app features optional DLC that must be bought. Personally I think it's a risk at this stage to release any app of quality completely for free - it only serves to further devalue the notion of apps in the public's perception - but of course, you've got to play ball. Competition is so tight right now. As for HcG's plans, I would like to release our next game as a free/paid hybrid, personally, but that will require some very careful planning and maneuvering.

- Lots of meetings for me the past couple of weeks, and more to come. The (separate) startup that Ben and I have been helping out on is looking like it will be putting us into production work shortly, so it is in our best interest to pour as much development time (in the meantime) into our current project - it's imperative that we stay on track for our Thanksgiving launch, and the only way to do that is to maintain our current momentum and keep the development from getting caught up in too much soupiness. That's not the hardest thing in the world, but for this kind of game it can be very hard to keep things lined up, at times. All things considered, we are moving along quite well, I just want to keep it that way!

- In that vein, production of our new game 180 is going along smoothly. Our teaser website finally launched, sometimes the simplest things can be the weirdest to figure out (I built it, registered and paid for it a week ago, it finally started resolving 6 days later - a process that usually works instantly!) It's pretty quiet over there right now, though more content will be coming online really soon. It's going to be unusual for us with that campaign - it's exciting! (Sharp-eyed viewers will soon be rewarded with some surprise content in there - are you up to the challenge to get the advance info first?)

- A positive note is that I have been showing the App off to more and more people (some are friends, some are just random people at bars, etc) to try and get feedback - people seem to be enjoying it! I am still quite addicted to the game myself.

- Finally getting moving forward with the audio end of things. Up 'til now everything has been just the two of us between all aspects of development, and though sound effects aren't that difficult to produce, I am hardly a musician - and I would like to get some real music in the background for our game. I have been talking to several different people to examine what's the best fit for this component, and I am excited to see that it is coming to fruition as well (music is a huge part of the overall package in the presentation of a game, I don't think that comes as much of a surprise to anyone..!)

- Some wonderful new ideas for apps came out of our studio this week, which are definitely very exciting. They exist only as scribblings and some very rough tests at this point, but the ideas are fresh and seem very doable. We will have to keep all of that stuff on the backburner as we are concentrating on the business at hand, though I must exclaim that every solid new idea brings with it a strong level of enthusiasm - I am definitely enjoying working in this new platform as there are so many exciting, different possibilities that were just not viable before!

- A big week ahead as we are trying to finalize our UI and all that that entails. It's been slow to come, but it's starting to work well and I am happy with it. Very tricky stuff, but it's gotta be really nailed or people just won't "get" the game at that critical 1st impression! Also during this week I really intend to start getting the bulk of the assets put together. There's plenty to keep busy with!

- The social stuff is going along well. We recently passed 2,000 followers on Twitter, which is huge. Granted, as you get more followers, you get a lot more "bot followers" as well (which is junk) and there's got to be a good - couple hundred? - on my list right now, obviously that's not gonna do much for me. I try to go and clean them up when I get the chance, but the Twitter Interface is not the friendlist one out there. Overall, very happy with how that is playing out. I think we are about 6,500 strong on Myspace - sort of a dead place nowadays, but it is free and I do notice people are still hanging out over there. I feel that even using that site is negligible to say the least, but I'd rather have then not. Our Facebook presence is finally getting up to speed as well, that site is by far the most difficult social network to use - but quite important, as it is very trendy. We'll see how this all plays out, eh?

- Downloading lots of Apps lately, I have a ton of them to go over and discuss about. I am planning to start (occasionally) doing mini-reviews of some odds and ends. Not daily like the Retrogame stuff, but something. We'll see if I can squeeze any in for the coming week.

So that about sums things up. There's certainly a huge chunk of work to deal with at this point, and it's quite exhausting - fortunately, things are rolling right along and we've got a charming little game to show for it! As usual, we at HcG thank you for your support, as usual please try to help by putting the word out however you can! Have a great week, everybody, and don't be shy about sending an email to say hello!

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