Archive for October, 2008

Smiles “Press Pack” now online

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

A press pack is now available for Smiles. Hit the website, it’s currently linked from the front page. Refresh if you don’t see it.

http://www.smiles-game.com

Screen shots and high-res logo and promo artwork.

Video is in progress. Hopefully by the end of the day Friday.

Smiles is Gold

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Just got back from the grocery store, and got the word. “Ready for Sale“.

Smiles in iTunes.

http://appshopper.com/games/smiles

Search for “Smiles” and scroll down a bit, or browse the puzzle or strategy categories in iTunes.

Contrary to the description, it’s an Action Puzzler. Lumines/Metoes ‘esc, or Bejeweled on crack.

Thanks to some fancy design kung fu, it’s also what the description says. But that’s a topic all in itself.

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Great news, but the down side is I haven’t finished my press pack yet. Ack!

Hopefully I’ll have a video for tomorrow.

“Smiles” sent to Apple

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I’d love to say the wait is over, but now we start the next wait. Waiting for approval.

As of 7:45 AM this Tuesday October 28th morning, the game is now sent.

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Digging through my SVN logs for some stats.

Repository was created on June 22nd, 2008. That’s a total of 4 months and 6 days.

All code, art (except the original TTF font, though I did design and make the logo text), and audio created by me.

Project ended on revision 826.

Final submitted zip file was just shy of 4 MB. Should be about 4.8 MB unzipped (meaning only that much space on your iPhone/iPod touch).

All content is compressed. Art is 16 BPP assets in RGBA 4444 format with mipmaps, then compressed with LZMA (better than PNG’s ZLIB). Sound Effects are ADPCM compressed about 2:1. Except for save data files, other external data (menus, screens) is converted from binary to C files (char[]’s), and linked against the project.

Developed mostly on Windows with MinGW (GCC) in C++. Custom graphics/game library that wraps native OpenGL ES calls and ObjC on the iPhone, and SDL+GL on Windows and Linux test builds.

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There. I’m in some desperate need of some sleep. Video, Website, and an actual explanation coming in the next few days.

I love the TRC

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Wow, it’s been so long.

The last game I did TRC for was Atomic Betty, the Gameboy Advance game I worked on before leaving Big Blue Bubble. That would have been some time during July of 2005. That finished up, and I was a free man for August 1st.

By TRC I mean Technical Requirements Checklist. Every platform holder has them, though they sometimes have a different name for them. A TRC is a combination of guidelines. Terms to use do identify aspects of the target platform, or the brand. Generally speaking, it’s everything you have to do to be officially allowed on a system.

The TRC process also includes requirements necessary for submission. How to package things up, naming conventions to use for files, and so on.

Apple’s TRC is interesting. It’s not as explicit as saying refer to the d-pad as the directional pad, but it’s more a collection of user interface and aesthetic design guidelines. After all, it’s a system without buttons*. ;)

Apple does have separate guides for name, logo, image, and trademark usage, as well as standard submission procedures. But it’s refreshing to be met with guidelines that encourage a streamlining of the user experience.

A perfect historic example, it’s a TRC requirement that every 3rd party title must display “Licensed by Nintendo” on the first screen you see. It’s the continued legacy of the so called Nintendo Seal of Quality, as well as protecting them from liability. Even though you’re greeted with is the Nintendo logo on the original Gameboy, your relationship with Nintendo still must be made explicit.

Then that’s usually followed by half a dozen screens letting you know who paid for the game, what brands were licensed, and finally who made it before bringing up the title screen.

Not a problem per se, but Apple strongly encourages you to do away with this time wasting legacy. Like a “google.com” of a mobile interface. Right to the point.

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My point finally is the timing. TRC comes at the end of the project. It’s how you really tell the project is finally finishing. Making terminology corrections, digging through documents making sure you’re 100% to spec. Sure, it’s one more thing on a long list of things needed to finish a game. But what’s not to love about being done?

Early in my “career”, I always got the impression from friends and colleagues that the TRC was some sort of painfully horrible task, and I’m sure I’ve had my moments with them as well. But seeing how long it’s been from when I thought I was nearly done to now, I’ve been chasing TRC time for weeks and months. And it’s certainly a much better product as a result.

Potential sales, oh who knows. The weirdness seen watching the marketplace is topic all in itself. Might ‘break even’, might not. But I’m happy with the product. It’s everything I’d want in such a game.

Outside of some final testing, all I have left is the submission material. A text blurb for the store, some screen shots, an icon, and a large promotional graphic. That actually a piece of art I still need to create. I made sketches and roughs a few weeks ago, but never got around to coloring a final image. In this age of digital downloads, it’s the closest thing to box art.

A gameplay video isn’t an Apple requirement, but everybody does it anyways. You’ll have to give me a couple days for that. When that’s done, you’ll see it here first.

So that’s what I’m up to. Testing, and promotional artwork.

Release Candidate 1

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

It’s late, now 5 AM Saturday morning. Release Candidate 1 is just a few hours away. Some achievement tweaks, and minor bugs and we’re good.

Should go out to Apple on Monday afternoon. Then probably a week and it’ll be live in the App Store.

I’d have taken a photo, but I’m currently cameraless.

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The dummy website for the game:

http://www.smiles-game.com

Some time after it goes out, I’ll make a proper site.

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A couple weeks back I also updated the PuffBOMB website:

http://www.puffbomb.com
(there are secrets in his eyes!)

Nothing new per se, but a teaser image from the console remake that… well… I’ll now be porting to the iPhone. ;)

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EDIT: Finished RC1 around 8:00 PM today (Saturday). As mentioned, I’m going to take the rest of the weekend to run through the game a few more times, and if everything checks out, send it off Monday Afternoon.