Launch 2.0

Well that was a lot better.

Following some sterling emergency surgery from Bangs and Young Parker, we managed to upload the correct version to the App Store. Not only that, but we also got a bit sidetracked by the odd tweak and fix here and there too, so the current version's actually much better than the original launch one was going to be.

Next up was to see what we could do about getting the app expedited through review. I got some contact emails for a couple of Apple guys and sent them a mail explaining how we cocked up with the binary. I was expecting a 'just fill in the form on iTunes Connect' type of response, but they actually got back to me saying that our biggest mistake was not talking to them first.

I started to get all excited as this smelled very much like getting a feature - something that would be ridiculously amazing. But, after a conversation with them, it turns out that it's very unlikely that they'd be interested in that sort of thing. The only* reason they do features is that your game utilises all of the cool stuff on their platform - things like Game Centre or doing funky stuff with the camera / GPS / accelerometers, etc. Our game is too simple and our human interest story, such as it is, just doesn't cut it I guess. Nevertheless, they said they'd show it to some people on the App Team, so you never know. Either way, our application for an expedited review was accepted.

Normal review times seem to be about 4-5 days at present. This expedited review kicked off within 24 hours.

Within 25 hours, we'd failed submission.

Dealing With Rejection

I was a bit shocked by this as the first version sailed through. Of course, the reason the first version sailed through is that it didn't actually have any of the features in it. Stuff like IAPs - which is where this one failed. I hadn't hooked up a thing that would let you restore your previous purchases. That is to say, if you bought the Mage License (our only IAP), then uninstalled the game or tried re-installing it on another device, it would ask you to buy it again. Well, not 'buy' - as you'd already bought it, you could download it again for free. But their new stuff stipulates that there should be this restore functionality.

It was something I'd had a look at before - Young Parker had written up all the native code and it was just a case of hooking it up in the Unity scripts. Thing is, I'd looked at the code he'd written to purchase the Mage License in the first place and I just didn't understand the syntax at all. It was, therefore, scary and I was having all sorts of visions of brick walls and headdesking.

Thankfully, after sending v1.02 to submission, I'd started work on v 1.03. Key features in this version were to be Endless Mode and Leaderboards. Endless Mode is a quest that, as the name suggests, does not end. It's like an Infinirunner version. Points are scored based on the amount of damage you do to a never-ending stream of monsters. Central to this process involves the leaderboard or, to be precise, Game Center's leaderboard system.

First up, I had to create a leaderboard for the app in iTunes Connect. This was simplicity itself**. Next I had to wrestle with the Social class in Unity. This seems to be a nice universal class that hooks in to Game Center or whatever equivalent we're going to use on Android***. Whilst checking out the documentation (which isn't anywhere near as complete as the rest of the Unity stuff), I discovered that same, scary syntax. After a bit of perseverance, I can now proudly announce that I think I understand Callbacks. Ding!

This meant that when the rejection thing came through, I felt a lot more confident about giving the fix a go myself rather than pressing the panic button and summoning the troops again.

Sure enough, it only required one phone call to Alex to figure out why one part of it wasn't working and we were cooking with gas. Build the version. Archive it. Ad-hoc deploy it (largely for my own sanity to ensure that the version I had archived was, indeed, THE RIGHT BLOODY VERSION). Test it. Distribute it.

I'm glossing over some of the finer details here. For example, setting up test accounts and the like. They're easy enough on the iTunes Connect bit, natch, but when you try using them for the first time on device it gets a bit crazy. Not entirely sure why these things require credit card details as they don't actually get charged for anything. Or they shouldn't be - am I missing something?

Once your expedited review has been approved, your new update will automatically be added to the expedite queue. Within about 12 hours we had been approved.

Once Bitten

Time to push the... WAIT! Call me overly paranoid, but we decided we'd test the game out before we ran around and shouted about it. Thankfully it all checked out. By now though, it was getting late. If there's one thing this blog writing has taught me it's that the best time to publish a new story is first thing in the morning**** so that people get it when they do their obligatory social-media thing when they get to the office. We decided to wait and get up early the following morning to push button.

We couldn't really help ourselves though. We pinged out a couple of cheeky texts to a few people to let them know that we were live again. Also, having just checked the stats (something I fear that will take up a disproportionate amount of my time), we had actually been downloaded 14 times by strangers in the US. Exciting! From these acorns and all that...

Fast forward to this morning - January 22nd 2014. We're up early and Leanne makes a tweak or two to the video - like changing 'coming soon' to 'out now!' - then we start the Tweet-fest.



Release Day Buzz

I've often said that the best feeling you can get is when you walk into a game shop, see your game on the shelf and watch someone pick it up and take it to the counter. Better yet is when they tell their friend that they should get it because it's really good.

Release Day was always a big deal. At Bullfrog there was a ritual associated with going to the local store on release day and largely just hanging around, waiting for people to buy the game. It gave us such a buzz. These days, the analogy still stands - you can't show me a dev who has just released a game that doesn't want to sit there hitting 'refresh' on whatever page tells him how his game is doing. Everyone says don't read the comments, but again, you can't help yourself - you have to know.

As I've said before, our marketing push is largely our social media and that's where things get interesting. It's a real balancing act. We want to drum up trade and get the game known about. It could be argued that we need to do this. But these are our friends - the last thing we want to be doing is pissing them off with spam. Chances are, they've already bought the thing anyway. It's a fine line.

I've always felt that the personal touch was key. Again, back in the day, we had Ultima. There were other game stores, but this one was ours. It worked both ways too - they'd always stack our games in a favourable manner. Support your local team - that sort of thing. These days, it's all big business and faceless corporations. This morning has been spent glued to Facebook, answering people's queries about the game and generally immersing myself in it. Watching the 'likes' on the Glyph Quest page is a particular highlight*****.

Feedback

Our first reviews are in on the App Store and they're overwhelmingly positive. The best thing is that I don't recognise any of the names, so it feels like complete strangers doing it. Sadly, some of my friends have found a text bug on the iPhone 3 / 3GS and on retina iPads. Going to have to fix all that for v1.03, but at least I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing with the update process now.

Also, props to Jules Glover for being the first person I know of to complete the game. It looks like we left him wanting more, so hopefully he'll be able to hang on until I finish off the Endless mode / Leaderboards.

July 3rd, 2009. That was the last time I released a game******. Nearly 4 years ago. I have also never released a game where I was so invested in it.

Which is why I'm really enjoying this. We know we're not really going to make any money out of this and, aside from obvious crushing reality, we don't really want to. We just want you to play our game because we genuinely think you'll enjoy playing it and we're very proud of both what we've made and how we've managed to make it. If you want to give us some money, well that's just peachy of course, but we'll settle for you telling all of your friends about how much you enjoy playing it.

*Or presumably you pay them a shit-ton of money.
**To be fair, most things I've used on iTunes Connect seem to be very simple indeed. It's only at our end that it all goes horribly wrong.
***Yes yes, the Android version is coming. Jeez.
****As most of my audience is UK / Scandinavia based, that's morning GMT.
*****Or curse. Must. Make. Number. Bigger.
******Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on DS if anyone's interested.

Comments

  1. I figured Launch 2.0 meant the other launch ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah because the first announcement you get about that will be in my blog...

      Delete
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