Monday, April 19, 2010

iPhone App Game Development Blog #25

iPhone App Game Development Blog #25

Welcome friends, to another exciting installment!

180 Development - starting off the bat, I guess we should get this one out of the way. Things have been very busy, as usual, with this title. We finally submitted the game to Apple for approval nearly a week and a half ago, so it should pass approval and be available for sale any day now (believe me - I check iTunes several times a day to see if it is through yet!) Approval times were super-quick a few weeks ago, prior to iPad launch - unfortunately it's slowed down since the launch, which is understandable. So, just gotta wait.

The programmer is still wrapping up development of our FREE version of this game, and therefore that bottlenecks everything until that one gets through approval as well (it's still awaiting submission). Basically, when the full version passes we'll make it available, but we wanna hold off on any kind of PR/promotion until the free version is available as well. Unfortunately, the majority of potential customers will not give your game a look until they can try the free first.

In the meantime, I have been hard at work putting together material for the game's trailer. It's been a lot of work. Most people grab video with a hand camera or screencapture off their simulator on the Mac, but neither of these methods is preferable to me at this point (I want it to be as professional, polished, and controlled as possible) so I have essentially been creating my own simulation using 2D and 3D software - mapping the actual assets onto flat planes, and animating them as they'd appear in a game situation. This probably sounds a little bit techy, but the end result is a lot nicer than I'd get doing it the other ways. Here's an early WIP of how it is coming along.

I intend to get some kind of "interesting promotional video" to show as well besides the traditional "vanilla" gameplay trailer, and there's some decent ideas floating around in my head for that as well. All of this should be wrapped up prior to launch, but it's important to have some material available for when the full version releases (prior to the Free).

Bizdev - it's a bit of a weird time right now, looking at the calender you can see it's late April and our game still hasn't released. It doesn't take a genius to realize that this wasn't exactly the plan, and as for the future of everything, I'll just say this - I am going to do all I can to support and promote the game through the launch, and see where it can get me. I need to raise my visibility and get my product into people's hands. That is of paramount importance right now, and it must be done as smoothly as possible. I am working with another developer, as mentioned, to finish up his (separate) iPhone project and hopefully following that, we can begin work together on a fresh title. I'd love to put out a few more original games in the coming year, and there's no shortage of materials or energy to do that. Until this bottleneck is resolved, however, that is all going to have to wait.

What Else is Going On - Can't say too much else is really happening. I am keeping really busy with trying to wrap up the 2 projects mentioned above, picking up whatever freelance I can to support in the meantime, and doing my best to keep tabs on the scene in general. iLand is extremely hectic these days, and unless you've been under a rock, you know what I am talking about. New iPhone OS.. new iPhone model.. iPad just released.. Nintendo 3DS announced.. Windows Mobile, what's up with Sony, etc etc. It's such a crazy time in the mobile/"secondary gaming"sector right now. I have moved very out-of-phase with the console gaming scene for some time now, though I do keep tabs on it as well I have to admit it's far from my focus for a long time now. I'd still love to get in on the indie scene on consoles/PC more, but it's going to be some time before I head back in that direction.

The App Store is quite the beehive lately, there's a pretty steady onslaught of good-looking, quality product coming out quite relentlessly (and so much of it is dirt-cheap). It's quite a crazy time, and definitely daunting to be a developer; but I stand firm that it's exactly where I want to be, and I believe there is still plenty of room for quality productions developed by small crews to shine out there!

What Have I Been Playing?

Tons of big games out lately, though I haven't really had time to sink my teeth into many of the bigger ones. Here's a little sampling..

Eco Punk

Here's an odd little action game which I picked up during a free promotion. "Steer" your little guy around a confined area, picking up items and blasting cars. Not much to it, but then this is iPhone, games should be simple pick-up-n-play and this is exactly that. Kudos to the gorgeously rendered visuals, they really catch my eye.


Yes, here's an action-puzzler, of course I am looking at these things while we are doing production of our own! My programmer turned me onto this one, it has some interesting things going on. A bit lo-tech, but nice execution and a bit slick. Good for those who are sick of "the same usual puzzle game," though the mechanic is a little half-baked. Still, a fun title to play around with, and nice to see something a little different. I'll probably play it a bit more.

Commodore 64 emulator - this guy's been out for some time, but they've just lowered it to FREE and monetizing with In-App Purchases. Still, it comes with some free games, so worth a looksee. Been on my radar for some time, for obvious reasons, but I only picked it up recently. The verdict? Super-slick interface, lovingly applied - but the experience with the games themselves is fairly frustrating, for me. I'll play it some more (Lunar Lander is cool) and if someone can recommend some hot games to DL for this then I am all over it. Overall, it feels pretty cramped and not touch-friendly unfortunately.. I'd rather play apps specifically designed for this medium.

Here we go, a little bit of a Wario Ware-style game. This shot up the charts by going free, and it's easy to see why. The game is not wonderfully produced (a bit barebones-looking), as opposed to the predecessor - but for free, what do you want? It's clean and it makes you laugh. I got tired of it quickly, but I recommend grabbing it and checking it out, it is fun and you'll get a few laughs.

The ultimate battle! Who will win? People have been raving about this "lawn defense" game for a long time, and now it's come to the iPhone - what do you say? My girlfriend got stupid-addicted to it, and I figured I'd give it a shot too (Peggle, their previous iPhone outing, was an excellent show, so my expectations were high) Well - I have to admit, I was a bit letdown. the game is smooth and nice, presentation is excellent (of course!), but I think I am not a tower-defense player, at least not in this fashion. I did play for awhile and I enjoyed it (and certainly worth the low price of admission), but after that initial session I didn't feel like going back to it. They did a great job, and if you love Tower Defense, you must check this out; but if that's not your thing, you may not be so enthralled with this.

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