Monday, April 30, 2012

5GC menus laid out

I designed the menu layout and flow for Five Golden Coins a little while ago. In fact I think I even blogged about the need to do this design work, and not just wing it.

Well over this weekdn I created all the classes and then made sure I created all the buttons that would take you from one menu page to another, and also made sure the back buttons all worked etc. Not the most interesting job, but also not the most difficult.

I really think I have a nice consistant menu system now and I hope that the flow feels natural and predictable. Now more work begins as I get to fill each of these menu screens with the required content. Some fo this is layout work (credits) and some is more creative writing (abc books promotional page). So now I get to finish these pages, which will be a nice feeling. To be honest it is pretty cool clicking buttons fast and randomly like to derranged monkey to test the flow works with no bugs (and there were some!).

I also realised I wanted to do a quit confirmation dialogue, which did not take long and looks great.

So my list is pretty short for which menu pages I have left..
 Title page (main)
 ABC Books promotional page

To Do:
 Upsell (other products in this series I will do)
 Instructions (of course!)

So as you see, not too much to go. The promotional page was probably the hardest for me, but I stole my own work from the web page that I have done for the books.

This weeks task is to finish these menu pages and debug the game. Then it will be onto recording all the audio I need, Yikes!

Da Voodoochief

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Naming People in Leaderboards

I realised that I never talked much in my last post about the 4% of people that have actually named themselves in the leaderbaord table. So figured it was worth a post on it's own.

The 4% might be a surprisingly small percentage. When changing your player ID to something recognizable is not just Free, but also very Easy using the systems that Scoreloop and on screen keyboards allow us. So why is the number so low?

Well once I got to thinking about it I realized there could be several legitimate reasons.
1. They have never been to the High Score screen.
2. In not going to the High score screen they do not know they are labelled as player_875687568 etc
3. They just don't care
4. They do not know how to change their name

As you see I have several reasons, and I think the 466 people that never finished the first level of the game are never going to be bothered to add their name to their low score. So that initialy removes 56% of the users in the leaderboard off the bat. Yet I do not add these people into the reasons above, though they could be said to be in the number 3 category i suppose.

Number 1,
Ya have to be on the main screen of the game to then choose to see the High Scores. I think a lot of people will just play the game and never click around. My experience on WP7 told me that most people Never went to the credits screen for example, and I am sure it is the same on Android. So maybe 90% of people will never choose the High score option.

Number 2,
When on this screen the Measely 10% of the 50% of players Might not see how to change their name. Even is clearly spelled out what their name is on this screen, but i can see they do not realise that they can change their name.  The currently released version allows a player to click the small blue icon next to their name to change it. In a future update coming soon, I have made the clickable area MUCH bigger, and a player can simply click their name to change it.

Number 3,
Well some people will see thay are in 400th position and that their name is Player_897568976 and simply not care too much. Most people will tend to change their name when they get higher up a scoreboard. I do not think there is anything much I can do about these people, except point out how easy it is to change their name. I think some people will change it, just to see their name on the game screen (i can hope).

Number 4,
Well as mentioned in several of the previous blocks of text. It is not readily apparent in the current version just how to change the name. The new version realy points out how, it even has text saying '(Change Name)'. I am expecting this to work.

So 10% of 50% is not many people so is 4% of the total so bad? Can I really hope to get more names in the list? It seems I can get more but by my own calculations I really only have about 5% of players that might put in their names. And that works out at about 42 people. Currently 35 are named. So maybe 7 more?

lol, After all that discussion above, I can now see that maybe I'll get 7 more people to change to their real names, or handles.

Wish me luck,
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hot Chicks Leaderboards Update

Here I am again excited by what is happening with my High score table (or leaderboarsd if ya prefer) for Hot Chicks the Card Game.

Now I posted a while ago about theis same thing, so this is an update. You can check out the last blog post  HERE.

Here are a Bunch of stats to start off with.

836 Entries
35 named (only 4% of players!)
Top Score happened today (4,315)
I am now pushed down to 6th
9% of plyers have more than a 1000 points
Only 4, 4K and up scores
10, 3K scores
466 of 40 points or less

This all means several things. To get a 4K score you HAVE to be good at this game. The fact that there are now 4 players with this score is excellent and for myself, it is a very fullfilling feeling to know some people have enjoyed the game enough to dedicate the time it takes to get such a score.

Today got me excited to see the score that my Friend Ben got at 4292 finally get beaten. What a good day to hassle him, haha! Though his score is no slouch obviously.

Ok, to the bad, or maybe just plain normal I don't know. If I had more games out with Leaderboards I would know.. And I mean, the fact that over HALF the table is scoring so low it means they never even completed a single level... Yeah, Is that bad? Is it the game? Is the attention span of the players? Personally I think it is more likely they see this is not just a booty call App and is in fact a game. So ya have to play it to see more etc. Still, more data from other games would be very interesting, So if ya have any, please let me know. I would love to discuss possibilities of what the data could all mean.

I am hopeful that I can at some point in the near future get the iOS version going. Then we can have some real competition haha!

BTW: this is only a 5 week table. So that measn approximately 35 new entries a day. Woohoo!

Laters All,
Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We all need buttons

I was working on some temorary artwork for my current development. THe Gamme/App version of my Childfrens book. When I realised I was crap at doing this sort of artwork. Ok, so it wasn't much of a revelation really, I already knew it. This time I figured I would browse the web and see if I could find some free buttons I liked, seemed like a simple plan, but it turned out to be so much more...

I did find some free button background artwork , and you can see that in the picture below. The blue buttons at the top of the screen are the ones I found for free, I have of course also altered them already and made them work for my purposes (like adding the mute etc).

The BIG find however was the CoolText online editor.
I used the CoolText editor to create myself the big grey buttons further down that image above. The online and interactive editor allows you to put different shadow types around the buttons and the text, choose all different fonts and colors etc. It also allows you to choose what shape button you want. This is all very wysiwyg and it works smoothly and fast.

I was rather pleased with this and am now using it for my buttons (yeah, till an artist gets a hold of it). Still it looks pretty neat, and when pressed I turn the color of the buttons to a mid grey and move them down about 4 pixels. A nice and easy effect.

The CoolText editor will also allow you to create cool lloking Logos as well, though I never played with this feature much, the example ones were pretty neat.

Have a great day
Da Voodoochief

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Into Review Feeling Turns Sour (iOS)

On Friday I was very frustrated when I got another rejection notice from Apple App Review. This is what they had to say...

"We found that your app contains content that many audiences would find objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.

Specifically, we noticed your app contains adult images of women and moaning sounds.

We encourage you to review your app content and evaluate whether you can modify the content to bring it into compliance with the Guidelines."

--Ok, they are correct, My game does in fact contain both those things. Like a bunch of other games and apps they have on the iTunes store. I had no idea quite what to think, so i replied like so....

"Hi, I am not certain what exaclty my game has failed for. There are many examples in the app store of imagery must more risky than the ones in this game. The 17+ rating of course was needed, but now I am not sure what I need to alter to make it pass review.

As I can modify the content that would not be a problem, however Modifying it without knowing what to fix is most likely a waste of time. "

--I think I stated my case fairly clearly and was excited at this point to see what they would say. though my trepidation was growing at this point. After all we are linked to reviewers who really have the power over our applications. Well very fast indeed I got a response (like 20 minutes later).

"Thank you for your response.

It would be appropriate to remove the images of women that you currently have in your app, along with the moaning sounds. "

--ooOK, So erm... WTH? What am i supposed to do with this response? It made me rather Angry I have to admit. I tried hard not to reply I really did. However I posted again...

"lol, that seems ridiculous to me.

So basically don't bother with this game whatsoever is what you are really saying. Yet the App store has all these other apps with so much worse. And most are not even games, but wallpapers and such."

See, even though I was Angry I kept my typing intact, though a bit of frustration I think was showing through at this point.

Their final (so far) reply to this took a couple of days, even though they have replied on a Sunday... Does that mean their reviewers are based approximate 12 hours ahead of my time? where is that then? Oh yes their final reply suggests that I can Appeal my Review, adn they kindly give me a link to do this.

I am gong to try and reason with this reviewer one last time before I go through the Appeals process.

And in reference Here is a few Games/Apps that i perused for several seconds in the iTues store for iPad and iPhone. I think if ya look them up yourself you will see imagery as bad as mine or worse. Yet these are published already. I personally love the Maxim Magazine App rating declaration.. haha!

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2012
You Must be at least 17 years old to download this app.
->Frequent/Intense Secual Content or Nudity

Sexy Touch #
You Must be at least 17 years old to download this app.
->Frequent/Intense Secual Content or Nudity

Maxim Magazine
->Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor
->Frequent/Intense Mature/Suggestive Themes
->Frequent/Intense Secual Content or Nudity
->Infrequent/Mild Alchohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References

Laters All, I will post again when I have more information,
Da Voodoochief

Friday, April 20, 2012

In Review excitment

It amazes.. No wait,  'I' amaze me.

It seems that it doesn't matter how many times ya get a product 'finished' into 'Review' or 'Published'. All of these milestones get me ridiculously excited. One would think that after 65+ published products I would be immune to such base excitement. However that is simply not true.

I just received an email from iTunes to say that my resubmission for Hot chicks the Card Game is now in Review. This resubmission only had an age rating change and I am hopeful that is all that is needed to get through this time. But man... I got the email and my heart leapt up high. One quick adrenaline buzz later and I am writing this.

This is a feeling that all devs go through and not justt he ones I listed up above. We also get goosebumps when people play our game, review the game, blog or post about our games. It is one of those things that we live for and noone can truly understand it unless you do it yourself. Well i say noone, I think that people that go on stage and perform get the same exact buzz (but more direct and more intense!). For most of us we are not going to be performing any time soon, so we will enjoy our buzz (i know i am).

I am so excited to know if it will pass, then if it does... it ... will.... be.... LIVE hahaha

Wish me luck,
Da Voodoochief

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Working on Menu pages

I was watching the Voice tonight with my wife and also watched American Idol. These are great background programs for me and I find I can sketch and design stuff rather fluidly while they are on. Maybe it is because they are both Music. Some people like to exercise to music (not my talent haha) and some people find it irritating to try and program while music is playing loud etc (I can do this one!).

So tonight I was designing the layouts for my Menus for Five Golden Coins. In the past I have winged it when it comes to menus. Like the credits and instructions etc. More recently I have decided to take advantage of these screens to engage the player more, or maybe entice them to look at my other products. I will have to scan in the sketches I have drawn tonight (i cannot here at home) and explain some of my design decisions.

Menu's are a really important feature of any game, and usually they are the first thing a player really pays attention to, or has to connect through to the rest of the game (ie: interact with). So getting this kind of thing right, or MORE right is a very important thing to remember.

Good Night,
Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Working on What I want to?

This is a real problem for me it seems. I also believe this is a major problem for any hobbyist working on games and stuff.

It is hard enough to just find time to program in any given day, between all the responisbilities of being an adult, father, home owner and having a day job. then when you find time you have to decide just what you are going to work on. For example.. do I work on the new gameplay prototype? or should I be working on finishing up the new revision of one of my already published games? It gets worse when you realise that another item vying for time is tech research. Implementation of some tech or other, such as in game purchasing or maybe facebook integration.


I am in this situation to some degree right now. I have so many fingers in so many pies that I am struggling badly trying to service all my desires (did that sound naughty? It was not mean't too!). Here I am wanting so badly to work on bob the frog, yet I have to work on the Five Golden Coins app. Now that is not a bad thing to work on, but it does not conatin any gameplay per se. No jumping/gravity values or speed balancing with enemies etc, o AI to write for anything at all, and no powerups to code to enhance the playing experience..... And i love to write that stuff....

So it is my current priority to finish up coding the 5GC game and then maybe I can move back to games programming properly, not interactive books. Only, i know that is not likely to be the case, as once the 5GC App is completed I will have to do marketing and such.. No time to write didlly while wokring on marketing.

So i feel very very frustrated right now about this. I also have to move forward on the kickstarter to obatin some funds to get the other books in my series the artwork they deserve.

There is no easy way.. yet... I feel If i could find the right partner, someone motivated enough and skillful enough to really mesh with me, it could all be done. Maybe I should be spending some time looking for a partner?

Here's hoping your decisions are easy on what to work on :)

Da Voodoochief

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hot chicks tcg has failed iOS submission

Last week while i was away in Canada doing some business stuff for my day job. I received an email from Apple stating that my submission of Hot Chicks the Card Game had failed to pass Review.

Here are some Details:

  1. Took 8 days from my submission to receive the failed review email.
  2. I logged into  and selected my game. Where it informed me 'The most recent version of your app has been rejected. Before resubmitting it, visit the Resolution Center for details on outstanding issues.'.
  3. The big button top right took me to the resolution center.
  4. The resolution center told me 'We found that your app contains content that many audiences would find objectionable,'... ouch!
  5. 'Specifically, we noticed your app contains scantily clad women.' .. ok, not so bad after all eh!
  6. So I was a bit confused at first till i read down further and 'A 17+ rating is required for apps which include content such as intense offensive language; frequent '.
Ok, it was now clear the 12+ rating i had sent the game into Apple with was not the correct one. Simply because of the word 'Frequent' for my scanilty clad women content.

It was very easy to reset the age rating, as it is a simple button click affair (i have no idea why i never clicked this radio button last time, bah!). So is that it? Just a simple age rating change?

Well no, of course not. Ya have to upload a NEW binary to submit an updated version to submit. This is a little annoying, but whatever. Now i have asked my friedn to re-upload the binary he used the first time. However I am worried it won't go up. I am also worried that even if it does they will want a Version number go from v1.0 to v1.1 etc... time will tell. I am still waiting on contact from my Mac owning friend.

.. Oh one last thing. There is a contact page in the resolution center with all the details in it. It also has a box for you to reply it seems. So of course I had to try that out :)  Next day I got a nice reply to my inquiry. This is a cool way to ask for more details and such about the rejection, I FULLY applaud this kind of thing, as I was a bit more frustrated many moons ago with the anonymous way I got a rejection from WP7 dev (though that may have changed now)....

I'll write up more in this post I think when I know about those last few details.

Have fun out there,
Da Voodoochief

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Den-O-Pain in Midway3, Playstation Home

Den-O-Pain is a secretive place reserved for only the most hardcore players. This is a special place and is available only to those that have earned the right to visit with Marla (She with the spanking board!).

I cannot honestly say what goes on inside this area and am a little nervous of visiting with her myself.

Check out this excellent screenshot I just took.

I hope to see everyone enjoying Marlas exciting company when Midway 3 launches. Currently it is still in test at Sony QA (such a lot to test).

Have a great week, talk to ya all when i get back (yeah, i am not heer atm.. Canada.. Cold.. brrr)

Da Voodoochief

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Away in Canada

So I am now IN Canada suffering major JetLag (4 hours lost). This means I will most likely not be able to update this Blog, though I have a couple of Posts cached already for publication while i am away for some training (like this one). I am going to a place called Moncton in New Brunswick. Gonna be cold laddies! brrrr, Later tonight i'll be getting all me cold weather clothing out and packed. Cos it ain't no SoCal haha.

I also want to mention a HUGE milestone for me and Hot Chicks the Card Game (not WP7 version). The leaderboard I have implemented has just reached 500 entries today, that is about 2 days after it went live on the Android device. So I am very happy indeed with this. When the iOS version goes out it will already have Scoreloop leaderboards built in, so I am hoping for several more thousand entries after a couple of weeks. Woohoo! gotta love it. I see approximately 33 new and changing entries per 24 hour period, so that is also exciting to see.

Have a great day,
Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Arcade Game in PSHome

I have been working on coding up a new Arcade Game experience for Playstation Home, for Mass Media Games (my day job). This arcade game will be very visually appealing and also wil allow spectators to watch you play. So if you are a Kick Ass arcade style game player, then you can show off ya moves like I used to do way back when.

It is still a work in progress and the default untextered arcade cabinet will of course alter. It needs a nice makeover and a rad skin added. It does who what I am lokoing at each day though :)

I know this is a bit of a mean teaser, but I think it is better than nothing. The game si pretty fun to play and more importantly compete. I currently hold the company high score (as i should really!), but i have some stiff competition here at Mass Media Games. Obviously this was a quick game by someone else and I took the screenshot just after they died and it was game over. Time to commiserate them on a crap score eh! haha

Da Voodoochief

Monday, April 9, 2012

Program or Sleep?

I know so many Indie deveoplers face this choice nearly every day. The desire to get stuff done and the time it takes sparring with the time you need to sleep and recharge the batteries.

Lately I have been working late as I seem to be getting really productive just at the tme I need to go to sleep. The rest of the house is quiet and all I can hear is myself think. A great time to just pound out some code, or tweak gamplay or design. The thing is, all this sleep deprevation will eventually catch up with us, and has to be dealt with. I am also concerned about the fact that before we crash, usually we have a period of thick headedness, and that is just not productive time. So instead of getting into this situation, maybe we should go to bed, and then when we wake do some work. If we don't wake up early enough to put some time into our own projects before going to our day jobs, then so be it. Wouldn't our body at least have a chance to regulate better then?

Myself i have chosen a slightly different path. I have learned to nap in my trucks back seat and sometimes I will make up 30-40 minutes of sleep after I have eaten my lunch. It all neatly fits into an hour and yet I made up some sleep i so sorely needed.

It is hard to not produce or code though when I am in the mood. So i am not sure I am a good person to give out any advice on this subject haha

Da Voodoochief

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Upload My App to iTunes Issue

After getting my game setup in I thought the upload process would be fairly easy. Though of course I already knew I needed a Mac for That! (as opposed to an App for That. Luckily one of my friends was brow beaten into helping me yesterday lunch time (thanks Paul). After a few false starts where his Mac only wanted to use some old install of the uploader. Oh, and also the fact we had trouble findig the new uploader to get off the web, gah! 

Anyway we finally got it to run with MY credentials and not his (he also has a membership and has several items on the iTunes store.). Once runnig we slected the file we wanted and all seemd to go well, till we get a report saying we had failed. AWWW! NOOOO MON!

Here is a picture of the report:
As you can they are indeed real and intriguing looking errors. As I had no history or experience I have no idea how bad these errors are.

So the first error seemed really simply to me, and I knew where in the deploy tools supplied by that would be. So it was simply me being overly copy and pastey (is that gonna be a saying now, haha!). The other error I spent some time going over, but everything looks good. So  I decided to be very sensible. Only fix one error and see what that generated when uploaded.

So I sent off my newly created Zip file to my firend via email and this morning when I got up I had received an email saying he had had some trouble. That was it... Then I noticed the next email in my inbox. It was from iTunes istself thanking me for the upload and now the game was in 'waiting for review' stage.

Check this image, it is what every Apple dev wants to see when they have finished their App.
Ok, ok. I know what ya thinkinjg, this isn't what ya wanna see. This is just a stage along the path to world wide release. You would be right, but every journey has several steps before the destination is reached. This is a huge step for me. After all I built this package file on my PC and not in X-Code on the Mac as so many before me have.

I am very VERY excited to see this move onto the next stage. And as i have recently witnessed with one of my Peers (@TimTheCoder on titter) going through this review stage for his RC-AirSim game. It went smoothly for him, if not a little slow.

I shall endeavour to be patient and just wait to see what happens, even thoug i am Sooo excited!

Laters all,
Da Voodoochief

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

iOS Game Creation

I thought it would be obvious, and maybe to some people it WAS obvious (though i am not cetain of that). One would expect it to be blinking obvious too, especially with so many having gone before me.

I am talking about creating a game Name and Metadata setup for iOS devices (an instance if ya like of a game for me to fill in the details and upload a binary). Well it wasn't obvious. I created my Signed game bnary and then simply figured I would create the instance of the game within the Only I could not for the life of me find the link to create a game.I thought maybe there was some special name to the process. In the end I gave up for the night, instead satisfying myself with the fact I had built a Distribution binary. (yes, that is the signed version that you upload to Apple).

So next day comes around and I send off an email to a couple of friends who have gone through this process before (always try ya friends when in annoying situations). Well before they even got back to me I have looked around the Developer site some more to no avail. Then I decided to sign into a different part of the Apple system. and looking around there I saw a link titled 'Manage your Aplpications'... oh wow.. this could be it!

Clicking that link took me to a nice page with a big button stating 'Add NewApp'. I was in the right place. Woohoo! I proceeded to go through the directed steps, filling in the fields I knew about. Then as I did not have ALL the relevant information I clicked 'Save'. Well it moaned in red text that i was required to fill out more fields. Though I had not got the relevant information on me at the time. So i left it expecting the process would have saved the current point I was at in the setup process.

Then I went home,

Once home I quickly booted my PC and went back to the itunesconnect site. Only to find that my partial setup had not been saved. I was a bit bummed about this, but it is not something I could change or alter. So I dived into the process and redid all the fields, yet now I could do so much more. I filled in all the MetaData and language choices and stuff. It is all very easy and yet I was also surprised by a coulpe of fields, present and missing.
  Features List (I like this list that some sites use)
  1.  Keywords space is limited to ONLY 100 bytes. This was disappointing as I took a long time coming up with my games keywords and yet mine are 200 bytes long (and used for Android and WP7)
  2.  Image sizes. I really think that these systems need to all get on the same page. WTH am I having to create a 57x57 icon, and then a 50x50 icon. These sizes MAKE NO SENSE.
  3. Rounding of Icon image. The main Icon (512x512) has it's corners rounded automatically after upload. No mention of this, bah!
  4. The upload of the Screenshot images is uninformative and annoying. I select an image off my hard drive and then wait till it shows up on the web page. Sometimes it did, and sometimes it did not. Refreshing the page would sometimes show it up, and sometimes not. So I only uploaded3 for the ipod/iphone sizes in the end (sizes of 960x640)
  5. I HAD to upload at least one screenshot for the iPad section (1024x600). This is a resized version from the 800x480 I had from WP7 dev. Seems odd they couldn't just use an iPod one though.
All of this was of course just par for the course, but now I have my game setup and waiting a binary upload. Which means i NEED a Mac for this step. Only I don't own one. So tomorrow I am hopefully going to be able to use a friends Macbook and upload my binary, which will also put it into the Apple review process. (wish me luck!)

Hope your Apple Game/App setup goes smoothly,
Da Voodoochief