All posts by samuramu

Praise: Cavernous receives 4.5 stars from appSafari

Our latest game, Cavernous, was given a generous 4.5 stars out of 5 by appSafari.com. The very positive review places appSafari as the first major site to take a closer look at our game and review it in depth.

Some highlights:

“I found Cavernous to be a delightfully engaging game”

“Cavernous offers more than 50 levels for hours of entertainment.”

Cavernous is now featured on the main page of appSafari.com.

Intuitive gameplay: 5 iPhone games

Our new game, Cavernous, is currently “In Review” in the app store so I have some spare time to write about other inspiringly intuitive games I play and admire.

1. Flight Control

At first run, I had my planes crash on one another before I touched anything. I thought this was still the intro playing. This is not necessarily a good thing, however, it took a few seconds to recover, rearrange my fingers together and start swiping and drawing curves on screen. The rest is dead-meat history – same as my first weekend with the game.

2. Angry birds

Famous for it’s addictive gameplay, however my 3 year old daughter kept firing the catapult backwards for some time. It’s not really the game makers’ fault that catapults work that way, however there isn’t much hope using the games for those who are not ready to grasp these physics.

3. Canabalt

Don’t we love them one-action games, where instead of picking the dual stick mechanism of some lifeless shooter you just have to tap your way to glory. In Canabalt, the critically-acclaimed depth-free side-scroller, you can really just meditate into your action however intense it is.

4. Tozzle

The best $2 I’ve spent in recent memory – this fantastic toddler’s puzzler is high on my 3 y.o. daughter’s iPod touch show-off routine as she presents her toys and stuff to friends and visitors. It is quite deep (over 30 different puzzles), and even taught her some basic English letters (not her mother tongue) . How does it do it? It really got the drag-and-drop puzzle mechanics spot-on, and when too hard, helps the user find its way to where the piece should drop by giving various visual and aural clues.

5. Colorful Aquarium (and Lite)

This was my 3 y.o. daughter’s first foray into the iOS games. Empowered by the intuitive controls of this app she gained enough courage to try many more later on. Your simply have to swipe your fingers to reveal menus, then add fish to the aquarium by swiping again. Positioning plants on the surface is a bit more advanced as it needs stabilizing the plants with a tap (as opposed to the swipe gestures needed for most actions).  Feeding the fish and seeing them fetch the food is enjoyable. There are far more detailed apps in the app store, however I found this one the cleanest and the less cluttered of the lot (and we tried a lot).

The Christmas Conundrums: Should you release your app for the holiday season?

Every year, the holiday season is a great time for selling pretty much anything. As such, it also holds the potential for a massive increase in app sales. However, the situation is more complex. Christmas-targeted games and apps seem to flock the App Store, creating much competition.

What should you ask yourself when choosing a launch date:

1. Is your app Christmas-related?

If the answer is a definite yes, then the choice is clear. If the answer is not a definite yes, keep reading.

2. Can your app make it to review sites and ‘editor’s picks’ sections?

Your app needs to be interesting and appealing in order to make it into any Christmas shopping list. The top 10 lists are usually controlled by larger publishers so in order to get anywhere near the top 10 you have to deliver something extraordinary.

3. Is your app family-oriented?

Family-oriented apps have a better chance being downloaded as people gather together. In case you have nothing to talk about with the sister you meet only once a year, a good alternative to talking would be playing something together.

4. Would you buy your app during Christmas break?

Take yourself as an example – what do YOU like to do with your smart-phone or tablet during the holidays? Play games? if so, which games? What’s special about them? Does your app have what it takes?

5. Would your app actually do better if released after new year’s?

If your app is a killer business app, for example, maybe it will do better when people get back to their offices. If it’s a commuter’s paradise – hold your horses till the working people commute again.

We are hoping to see Cavernous being released for this coming Christmas 2010.  Stay tuned to hear if the decision was worthwhile.

iOS development in Flash CS5 – the aftermath

Finally, after the storm, as well as some valuable thoughts on everything including Flash, Apple lifted the ban on non XCode compilation of apps and now there are quite a few apps on the app store originating from various methods.

Steve Jobs and his gang took their posts and awaited the flood.

However, it seems that the hordes of Flash developers flocking the app store have not arrived.  Searching the web, there are various forums and sites dealing with Flash development for the iPhone, however it seems that all in all the reception of this solution has been underwhelming.

What happened?

I have a few theories, and the truth is probably a combination of at least a few.

1. The Flash debate killed the packager for iOS

The media buzz that surrounded the first decision on Adobe’s side to develop a packager for iPhone, then the rejection from Apple, and later on lifting the restriction all generated a lot of buzz, but somehow killed the genuine interest in the actual solution. Moreover, confusion over availability of Flash player on iOS made some people (developers and clients) instantly reject anything to do with Flash for iOS, even as native apps.

2. The flash community is not so much interested in mobile platforms

This is of course a generalisation, however, overall penetration of mobile into Flash development has been slow for years. Since the days of Flash Lite, Flash developers preferred using their skills over larger screens and stronger CPU’s that could let them go wild with their creativity (also read as: ignorance).

3. Flash developer community is not that large

Back in the early 2000’s, you had to really search well in order to find a good Flash programmer. Around mid-decade, things started to change and more developers jumped ship, enriching the community with some hardcore-programmer skills and mindsets. They used Flash for video, for some web 2.0 projects, and for various projects that needed enriched visual interactivity. However, these developers have not evolved with Flash and have no real loyalty to Adobe. They are the first to adopt a new technology once it arrives. We’re left with the original Flash gurus, the titans, designer-developer breed, the ones who haven’t left yet, and we are probably not that many.

4. The packager for iPhone is disappointing

When I first published a Flash project on an iPhone, I was amazed. it was so simple and intuitive. Then came the performance issues and the despair. After some initial tests, some developers started researching into the depths of the solution and found ways of improving performance. Those who survived, seem to learn how to use it effectively, however many developers decided to turn to the real thing and learn Objective C.

5. The general idea of generating native apps from a third party tool with no SDK access is somewhat problematic

Adobe managed to incorporate support for some of the iPhone’s features, such as accelerometer, multitouch and others. That’s great. What about complete native OS support? In-app purchases? Game center? How is Adobe going to keep up to date with Apple’s already extremely tedious race for glory? I cannot really blame them for not being able to do so. Once Apple unveils a new technology, it takes Adobe time to adapt, and developers need to decide quickly whether they want to wait or just download the official SDK from Apple’s developer site and forget all about it. That’s the situation currently with Retina display support, to give just one example.

6. Flash developers are already working on a very strong mobile platform – Android

This has to be confirmed with proper data, but seems that for Flash developers the overall idea of submitting to Apple’s regime is intimidating and they naturally prefer more open and inclusive platforms such as Google’s Android. Adobe is really helping them out adopting that platform by targeting it in the forms of native app supprt, Adobe AIR applications and of course Flash in the browser.

If you have more ideas or interesting insights on the topic, please leave a comment.