Monthly Archives: March 2015

Big Mac

Mac PC Commercial

I’ve been developing most of my life on Macs. And it has taken about that long to have the kind of mixed environments between Mac and PCs that we take for granted today. The big differences in file formats, SCSI ports, and network protocols are all generally gone now. Today it is easier than ever to work between them, even for software development.

That said, I know quite a few Apple Haters who never shy of telling me how wrong I am to be working on one. I’ve always owned a PC as a secondary computer, and I particularly like the Lenovo Yoga I own today. But despite all the improvements in the latest Windows environment and some features I don’t get in OS X, I’m still defaulting to my Mac.

I do have one complaint: They don’t make the 17″ Macbook Pro anymore.

That was far and away my favorite model. Not only did it have the screen real estate I craved, it had an insanely long lasting battery life of 8 to 10 hours. My current MBP is 15″ and lasts a paltry two and a half to three hours.

Rumor has it there will be a new MBP model released in September this year, and I’m definitely due for a replacement. But if they don’t improve a bit more, I might find myself a lot more motivated to switch to the other side.

Flighty with TestFlight

It’s not easy getting people to test your apps on their iDevices. Typically you need to have them give you their UDID, which is usually done through iTunes while their phone is connected. But people rarely connect their phone to their computer anymore, including yours truly. Moreover, we developers have to bake that UDID into provisioning profiles and configure it every time we want to add people.

TestFlight is supposed to ease this challenge and allow us to simply invite users via email. But there’s a catch: Apple actually reviews every build we send out, even though it is just for testing.

Sometimes this takes a couple hours, but sometimes it takes a couple days. You never know how long it will go on. I submitted a build over 24 hours ago that I’m still waiting on and want to send to two testers as soon as it is approved. But since then, I fixed a key bug and would like to update the submission — but that would just reset the clock.

So alas, I will probably just go with speed over stability this time around…

Video Sharing is Caring

Video Settings Page

Video Settings Page

Blame it on GDC.

While I fully intended to stick with the current backlog of bugs and possible ad-based setup on my tight timeline to launch, I saw an impressive demo of Everyplay at the conference that got me looking to add it in today.

“Just a few lines of code and you’re up and running.” I know, I know, we developers hear this all the time. This isn’t my first rodeo. I knew it would probably be a bigger pain to implement than advertised, but I can’t argue with value if it works well. It should invisibly capture video in the background while the user plays, thus allowing them to share their best instant replays. This game — a twitch game, no less — would definitely benefit from that capability.

That said, I managed to still find myself more work by setting up a Video Settings page so the user could further determine how much they would like to use it.

I’m still very sick and really got only a few hours to work on this between binge watching House of Cards. But hopefully I’ll be able to get more time out of bed and in front of the computer tomorrow. Until then, I’m working for Frank Underwood.

Blocker Bug

For the non-programmers, a “blocker bug” is one of the banes of our existence. It’s a bug that stops the application altogether and leaves the user stuck. I currently have just one blocker bug in the game that pops up infrequently, which I intended to squash this weekend after returning from GDC.

Unfortunately, I’m laid up in bed with a severe cold instead of coding. Usually I can get away with working off my laptop as it rests on my chest, but all the reading is just aggravating the headache. Joy.

So I guess for now I have two blocker bugs: one software-based, one human-based.

Transparency

Bri Leahy, Dave Feldman, and Lance Lockwood at GDC 2015, San Francisco

Bri Leahy, Dave Feldman, and Lance Lockwood at GDC 2015, San Francisco

GDC was awesome for the most part, save the fact I got sick just a day in and have been walking wounded throughout. That said, it was made sweeter still by having both Bri and Lance join me for the conference. Bri took the artist session track mainly, with Lance putting a little more toward the audio. I stuck to analytics, management, and growth.

The very last session was particularly compelling to me — “Embedded Game Journalism: Building Transparency and Trust with the Press (and Your Audience)”

Jeff Pobst of Hidden Path Entertainment presented what was a strikingly risky move by his company to have a Polygon journalist have total access for a project. It was to chronicle the entire lifecycle of a project, Defense Grid 2, from inception to completion, warts and all. It generally worked out well, giving net positive exposure and helping to ensure the game’s success (although to be fair, the game probably would’ve been successful anyway, in my opinion).

In the Q & A to follow, I expressed my appreciation for his taking the risk, but that I also figured it was probably a one-off in that there aren’t likely a lot of journalists descending into game studios everywhere — “and certainly not tiny ones like mine,” I quipped. To my surprise, Pobst joyfully turned that on its head. “I’d challenge you on doing just that. Actually, I keep hearing from journalists that studios turn them down for embedding projects like this.”

Once the session was over, I privately told him, “I accept your challenge,” and we laughed.

As irony would have it, I met a Polygon journalist who was also attending the session, Charlie Hall. I reemphasized my interest in a “transparency project” of some kind to him as I did with Pobst, and offered to send him a copy of our game by this coming Monday.

On a larger note, this session was particularly relevant to the greater theme I took from GDC 2015 for modern indie game studios: BE TRANSPARENT! Which is why I’ve decided to take on a new challenge of blogging once a day, every day for 30 days. It might be eight paragraphs or just a single sentence. Regardless, I’m going to try to build in the habit of blogging nonstop and breaking away from overly perfecting just what I say and how I say it from a business perspective.

Yes, it will be hard given how many hats I’m wearing, but it’s no longer an option in this environment. Making great games is not the real challenge anymore… discovery is.

GDC 2015

The last week had been very surreal. Overall, the response was generally good on the media launch with our new Beaver Smash Facebook page already climbing north of 200 likes. Of course, the most important date will be the date of launch — with March 26th being the target date.

As I wrote about earlier, this week I’ll be with two of our team (Bri and Lance) at GDC 2015. We’ve all been looking forward to it.

GDC 2015