Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mini Game Jam

My morning was absorbed the the unfortunate revelation that Apple won’t let you use a DBA name from your Sole Proprietorship in the App Store. In other words, Beaver Smash would be listed as from “Dave Feldman” instead of “Iron Ninja Games”. This meant a long and sorted detour to converting the company to an LLC. And by long, I mean this process will take a couple weeks.

After getting all the filings setup and in motion, I found myself doing a 2.5 hour project for a friend. He had an idea for a game that involved 3D physics and after some back-and-forth discussion, I decided to just bust out a prototype. Obviously I knew each minute I spent with it was a minute away from Beaver Smash. Yet this side journey proved a helpful recharge and I was able to get a burst of productivity in toward the end of the night.

Business Happenings, New Contest, and One More Delay

Today has been pretty eventful.

On the business front, I learned there are a few more hoops I need to jump through for Apple to be qualified to publish on the business front. I’ll save your eyes from glazing over and fastforward this part of the story.

The PreApps guy also thought I might be underestimating the delay on Apple’s approval of the app by as much as two or three days. Given that, I knew I’d need to delay the launch by at least a week. But if I’m delaying it at all, I decided I might as well go for two weeks and add one more week for beta testing and QA.

Yeah, I know — this thing has already been delayed quite a bit beyond the original intended launch date. But to be fair, this isn’t a back-to-the-drawing board delay, or a rewrite of a major area (like the GUI overhaul), or the addition of another feature. This is a strict stabilization pass, something I’ve always felt my previous jobs never put enough time into. I guess I’m finally facing the music myself.

On a much happier note, I decided this also gives me a more solid gap to hold a contest in order to gather greater beta test range when the Release Candidate is ready next week. More on that later.

Giving Credit Where It’s Due

Today I’ve been working the “Credits Scene” which you will see when beating one of the modes — or rather, beating a beatable mode like Normal or Impossible (you can’t ever beat Infinite).

Here’s a free preview:

  • Co-Art Director, Brianna Leahy
  • Beaver Modeling and Rigging, Matt Ostgard
  • Original Music, Lance Lockwood
  • Quality Assurance, Travis Firmin and Bruce Liu

And then there’s me, Dave Feldman. I still don’t know exactly what I’ll put yet. I’m thinking “Created and Developed by”… but I’m not sure.

I originally planned to have something big and extravagant for the credits. But now I’m just trying to manage something low memory cost and straightforward. There’s just not enough time left to run another lap of expansion.

Funtime Facebook Foibles

Share Screen

Share Screen

Today was spent bouncing around Facebook’s API. What I originally thought would be a cakewalk turned into a form-filled, trial-and-error journey. Yay.

Alas, Twitter posting will need to wait until tomorrow…

Productivity Cycles

Today wasn’t one of my more productive days. I did a lot of staring at code, staring at the version control diffs, and general meandering through files. The mojo just wasn’t there.

Obviously everyone goes through ups and downs in their peak productivity, especially engineers. Often I’ll be on a down cycle and wonder, “Is this it? Is this where I slow down permanently?” Usually this is just before a big burst forward that removes the doubt. But likewise, I can be on a great high from cranking out a lot of code and then find myself slowing to a crawl on the most mundane of obstacles.

It’s maddening!

My plan as it stands is still to launch on the 26th, a week from this Thursday. Given I’ve never launched before, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to delay it for one reason or another. The engine is in great shape and there’s just a few things more to do. Thus, I reason to myself, I should be more than motivated every day until the big launch to shape everything up.

I’m sure this goes the same goes for gym memberships. You reason that paying for one every month will be motivation enough for you to go, especially if you’ve worked out plenty of times before signing up. But sometimes… you’re just on a down cycle.

Travel Missions: Completed

I’m now typing this from the comfort of my bed after a long flight back from New York. This was a particularly significant flight as it was the very last one I’ll be taking for a long time. Okay… by “long time” I mean November.

Without question, I’ve been traveling more than any other time in my life and it happens to coincide with the beginning of this blog.

I’m too lazy right now to do all the linking with my prior posts, but I can list off the total time I’ve been away:

  • August: 10 days overseas, 4 days out of state
  • September: 8 days overseas
  • October: 4 days out of state
  • December: 8 days overseas, 10 days out of state
  • January: 5 days overseas, 5 days out of state
  • February: 13 days overseas
  • March: 10 days out of state

Which makes for a grand total of 77 days traveling since the beginning of August! It’s a wonder I’ve been able to get any work done on this game in the first place.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the long, contiguous bloc of time ahead.

OOTO

I must report — there’s been a wedding in the family.

See you tomorrow.

UI Mismatch

Video Capture Overlay UI

Video Capture Overlay UI

I’ve been pretty impressed with the Everyplay plug in. Its video capture doesn’t seem to be obtrusive to my gameplay, although I have yet to test it on much lower iOS devices (and not at all on Android). After the initial setup, I can just call Everyplay.PlayLastRecording() when one is already on deck and the user is presented with this handy overlay. They can scrub forward and back, and even clip off the ends of the video as they see fit to isolate the money shot.

Unfortunately, you might also notice the aesthetic problem too. The whole interface for Beaver Smash is embossed wood with a drop shadow that has a very distinctive look and feel. But the interface style that comes with Everyplay is white symbols and outlines with a semi-transparent black fill (as seen above). Needless to say, this is a clash with the Beaver Smash branding.

If this were much earlier in the project, I’d fret about how to either change this theme or somehow work around it. But given I’m just a few weeks from launch, I’m mulling how forgivable it may really be (mainly for the designer in me). Can I live with the game being near perfectly consistent with the one and only exception of the video interface? At this moment, I don’t know for sure, but I think I’m leaning in that direction.

“C’mon,” I reason to myself, “the game would have to both be a hit and the feature would have to be regularly used to care so much about it.” Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just never feel good about it no matter what happens. Very few things bother me as a consumer of games and apps more than inconsistent design.

To Ad or Not To Ad?

If there’s any key decision I’m still on the fence with, it’s ads. I originally planned to release at either $1.99 or .99, everything included. But more recently, I’ve been giving serious consideration to going free, but with ads for revenue.

Obviously the ad-based route will get many more installs as people love to download free games. But will I net more money in the end? I’m not sure.

The biggest issue I’m facing is the fact the whole game very fluidly moves from one state to the next. From the main menu you zoom to your level on the world in the background. The levels themselves pop up from the world and build before your eyes, then pop back as completed when you’ve completed it. Thus, there’s not really any great places to plug in a full screen ad that would feel appropriate.

Ads that cover a portion of the screen are likewise difficult as this would require a lot of retooling the UI to accommodate them. I’ve already done enough rewriting of the UI for this project, I’d prefer to leave that scope alone.

Given these, I think I’m currently leaning toward premium, but then adding an ad-based version if it isn’t doing well in the App Store.

And iTunes Too

While trying to check in on the status of my build in iTunesConnect, I get:

iTunesConnect

Alas, what I first thought was my problem alone turned out to be everyone’s. But fortunately, the problem didn’t last into tomorrow and we are all back on track now.