Archive for the ‘ iPhone apps ’ Category

Shell Shock – now a +Plus app!

Well, as you can guess from the previous post, I’d been waiting for an app to clear review with the app store – that time has FINALLY come!

Shell Shock is now a +Plus application – you can install and play it on iTouch, iPhone, iPad (iPad, iPhone 3Gs/4, iTouch 3rd Gen only)!  Same price, multiple devices!

Shell Shock now supports retina display as well and the controls have been reconfigured to match across all devices.  The Angle and Power handles have been made larger for easier control as well.


iPhone Main Menu

Level 21!

Level 28!

iTunes Review Process – Pissing me off again

I know I know, Keith’s probably shaking his head right now (because I continue to make apps for the Apple products) and right now I’m beyond pissed off.

I submitted the update to Shell Shock (paid, then free version – in that order) to the review queue on Nov 17th. The FREE version, which was submitted AFTER the paid version, was reviewed in 30 minutes and approved. The Paid version FINALLY went into review last Wednesday ( 2weeks later ) and has been there ever since… IN REVIEW.

Then I received a notice that apple needed more time to review my app. I asked “why?” – and got the customary form letter back. I asked “Why?” again, and again, I got a form letter back.

So I’ve written another email today (another rant) and am now asking for a phone number or someone I can actually “talk” to at Apple. I doubt they’ll pony up that information btw.

Seems crazy that I’m giving them 30% and bending over backwards to cater to “their” ideals when it comes to creating the software, but when it comes to *my* ideals (you know, crazy stuff like approvals in a reasonable amount of time and IN ORDER that they were submitted), they’re ignoring me (duh, what else is new)

So, is there anyone out there with a phone number or email contact that I don’t already know about that I can call and complain? I would LOVE to get someone on the phone 😉


PS> the new version of Shell Shock is now a plus app and has retina display support!

Anti-Trust investigation officially launched on Apple

Apparently, the anti-trust investigation is official – thanks to Andy for pointing this out on the Unity forums:

“Not speculation any more. FTC and Justice Department now acknowledge that they have, in fact launched an anti-trust investigation specifically targeting Apple’s new TOS. Slot that one right next to the already ongoing investigation regarding alleged collusion with other major tech firms over not hiring each other’s developers in order to depress wages. Disappointing from what was once an admirable company. Between them and Google, I guess they’ll have to learn the hard way that being Shiny Cool and Not Being Evil doesn’t give you a free pass to do whatever you want. At least Microsoft was always despicable….

Between the two investigations, it’ll probably only cost Apple, what, $50-100M, which will be nothing but a footnote in their annual report three years from now, but it will definitely be good for the us developers. By the way, DOJ said their move was in response both to claims by Adobe and others as well as complaints from numerous developers. So for those who were yelling loudly on our behalf, hats off to you.”

I don’t think Keith realized HOW much popcorn we’re going to need for this showdown…

Successful iPad Game experiences and what we can expect

Well it’s been a full month now that I’ve been on the iPad and I’ve spent alot time researching and testing what types games are really going to do well on this new device. I don’t know that my findings will shock anyone, but I think it’ll help serve notice to people thinking they can take their iPhone offering, slap some new images in, call it HD and charge $4.99 for it.

Experience, Depth and multiplayer ( in the same room )

So after playing all of the fps games that came out and all of the driving games and quite a few iphone favorites, I’ve come to realize that depth and experience are what’s expected on an iPad (except where board games are concerned). Given the size of the screen and how the iPad fits into your daily / nightly routine, I think you’ll start to see what I mean. Especially since we have a screen size that warrants the respect of a laptop, the size of a large iTouch – you can easily see why a gamer thinks he’s holding a computer in his hands and then begins to expect the experiences they enjoyed on a regular computer.

One thing the iPad does is put the iPhone / itouch in a much more defined role. Used to be that I’d carry my phone all over the house to check email and play games. Now, I carry the iPad all over the house. Thing is tho, now that I have the ability to do a lot more on the iPad, I actually take time to sit and DO something with it, and the phone has been relegated to a gadget and the alternative when I leave the house – it’s a time waster that helps me get passed the 20 minutes I have to wait at the dr’s office. The iPad has become something of an option to spend time with and therefore, I look for games that have depth, experience AND great graphics.

Board Games

If you’re playing a board game, then the expectation is vastly different. But get this: I’ve played just as much with my family on multiplayer type board games as I have with other types of games. And games that were never intended for multiplayer (like Bejeweld2) we’ve played like crazy together.

If you get anything out of this post – believe this: multiplayer/board games are going to do VERY well in the app store. When you can switch games easily, play nearly anywhere you go and have features like saved games, history etc, you can easily see the allure. I wouldn’t be surprised to see many of the favorite board games make their way into very nice HD iPad games or to see traditional game companies opt for making an electronic version along with the store bought version. For example, monopoly on the iPad will do extremely well, while playing on the iPhone i think was a bit of a stretch – people still like to crowd around a board and yell at each other 😉


One thing that seems to be a steady trend so far is the price per title. Where as something was .99 on the iPhone, it’s likely to be $1.99 for the HD version, which in 99% of the iphone games I tested on the iPad, this is ridiculous. It’s the same game, just higher Rez images, so you might as well save your money and buy the iPhone version and use the 2x’s button to play fullscreen. Seriously.

Now, some of the games coming out that are truly targeting the iPad are coming out at $4.99 with most actually starting around $7.99. Coming from the iPhone prices, you might be shocked, but I think that when you start to realize *what* type of gaming experience you’ll start expecting to get on the iPad, I think the prices start to make a lot more sense -IF the game delivers on the experience.


So you can imagine the disappointment as I see a ton of games that are being released for the iPad with the scope of an iPhone game with a higher price tag. That just doesn’t work at all – not at all. If you go in and look in the app store and go into categories > games and sort by release date, you’ll see all 3 of these apps in the first 2 pages. These games are exactly what I’m talking about. Stick bolt creators should be ashamed – $2.99 for that?! Get real. And the first 2 pages are just the tip of the ice berg. Continue looking and I think you’ll be disappointed at the list of available games as well, if you’re a serious gamer looking for a great experience on a great new device. And to be fair, I know there was very little time to get apps ready before the iPad store opened, so I’m hoping we’ll see new immersive titles show up soon.

Fruitful2: $2.99 - what, are they completely nuts?!

iFall 2010 HD - at least it

Stickbolt HD - $2.99 - you MUST be joking? what the hell does this game do?!

These games are right out of the “hey lets make as easy of an app as we can and strike it filthy stinking rich with 1 button, 2 colors and advertisements using stick figures!!” – please, stop trying to do this. Keith Peters did it with Falling balls, and did it extremely well. But even Keith will tell you, it was about the timing – he came out with the game when the app store was still relatively new, and people were marveling at accelerometer and “free” apps. Since then, we’ve seen every one and their football humping monkey trying to strike it rich with stick figures and worthless non-sense. Keith’s the only one that ever did non-sense right, so can we just leave it at that and move on? 🙂

BTW – falling balls on the iPad rocks. Just sayin…

The interesting thing to watch out for in the future is to see how this affects the quality of iPhone games – do we see less depth and more gimmick games in the iPhone while the serious offerings start going to the iPad? I’m sure its conceivable that the “lite” version will be released for the iphone while the full featured game is sold for the iPad, and thereby possibly thinning out nicer games for the smaller devices. Also, considering the cost of producing an iPhone / iPad game, and being able to charge considerably more for the iPad games, I think we might see alot more emphasis on serious game offerings for the iPad.

The good stuff

Ok so what games DID I like? All of the driving games were fun. Those translated extremely well, but my favorite has been Need for Speed. It was $14.99 and I can honestly say it was worth it and I’m still playing it.

I’ve played all of the Gameloft FPS shooters. NOVA by far was the best out of all of them. It’s the only one I finished, it’s the only one I went back and played again at a harder setting, it’s the only one I tried to play multiplayer online and it’s the only one worth the $$. They put things in like having you place your fingers in the door and turning them to open it on screen. Sound silly? It’s not, it kicks ass to have that next level of immersion into the game – yes, a small addition, but damn it was cool. There was also a scene where there was a half-open set of doors that you had to “pry” open with your fingers – that too, was very cool ( 3rd screenshot down ). The graphics were very well done and even when the performance dropped in certain locations because of the beauty, I didn’t care one bit 😉 it was a great experience and I was taking notes on how they created their assets and scenes 😉

pry open the busted doors

Now, gameloft put out 2 other titles and I’m sure they were using the same game engine for both as they used in NOVA, but they were not at all in the same league as NOVA. The most irritating thing was the right side controls. On Brothers in arms 2 and Sandstorm the shooting / action controls were too low, making looking around and shooting impossible. Why not keep it the same from title to title?? Didn’t much matter anyway. Game play and graphics seemed like they were churned out quickly for release. BIA2 is terrible. It’s clunky with the controls and you continually have to reach “spots” to get the game to continue. Problem is, it’s hard to get in that little location to get the game to continue. I stopped playing after 10 minutes and I’m about to delete the game in disgust because of the price tag ($7.99).


Geometry wars

Geometry Wars and other Arcade style games seem to also translate very well on the iPad.  Geometry Wars did a GREAT job with visuals and playability.  I think the reason why this does so well is that it takes you closer to that original arcade game experience.  Just remember back ( if you were even alive in the early 80’s ) when you played Tempest, Defender, Asteroids, Pac-man etc – you were upclose to this console TV screen with minimal controls and it was a fun experience.  Because of the iPad’s screen size, I can easily see why these games will do very well.  Geometry wars is also one of the games I constantly go back to play over and over again.

Geometry Wars features several different game play types


With the focus of the iPad in a typical household likely to be that of something you sit down to spend time with and use, the games at a single player level have to be immersive, deep and beautiful. The player will want an experience, and soon enough, the larger game companies will be able to deliver that experience. The prices will go up to reflect the cost of production but I think people will be ok paying for the titles knowing that they’ll be getting the experience. I would naturally expect then, that the smaller development shops and the single developers will do better on the iPhone front (since they wont have the time/budget/ability to churn out a competitive offering) but this remains to be seen.

Board games and in-house multiplayer games will do extremely well and we’ll see many popular titles be released from the major game companies. Could we also see digital versions sold with the physical board games? not that its really possible, but maybe a download from the appstore with a code provided in the store bought box to unlock it – you never know 😉

Anyway, i’m encouraged for sure about the iPad and other tablet offerings that might be coming soon this year. This type of device has definitely provided plenty of entertainment for me AND my family and I think there’s plenty of gaming in store for us as we see them mature in power/speed and capabilities.

Android OS on iPhone hardware…

Android OS running on iPhone

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]Now THIS is something I get excited about! See, yesterday, I went to bed assuming we had no choice on OS with the device we owned. Which of course makes Apple really REALLY happy… if they can keep it that way.

Then, I wake up to the news that someone actually got Android OS running on iPhone hardware 🙂 NOW THAT’S A GOOD DAY INDEED!

Now THIS, this will drive android’s OS prolification (is that a word?!) exponentially.  Wha? I can use my iPhone to develop for both platforms?  Holy shnikes yes.

The game just changed boys and girls – it just changed in a big way.  One things for certain, we’re gonna need alot more popcorn…

How to do Lasers in Unity3D

I was recently asked about how the lasers were done in Star Wars Trench Run and I’d said I’d blog about that and a few other items, so here’s the first of a few.  This is the same material I covered at Unite 2009, so if you’ve seen the video or were there, there’s nothing new;)

Here we’ll cover one way of doing lasers with Unity3D that looks good and is performance friendly for the iPhone.  This isn’t meant to be exhaustive by the way, it’s just meant to be the base overview of what a laser *is* in Unity and how I managed it in terms of performance for the iPhone game.  So with that, let’s jump in to some steps on setting it up.

Create LineRenderer

0. First, Create an empty GameObject in your scene.

1.  Then, attach a line renderer component to your GameObject and position the GameObject where the tip of the laser cannon will fire from.  Why not just use a particle emitter?  This is because the ellipsoid particle emitter has a bug.  even if you set the size of the ellipsoid to 0 on all 3 axis or .0001, you will see that it starts at a random location on the z axis.  Unity acknowledged the bug.  So to fix this, since we can’t emit using the particle emitter from the cannon’s tip, we have to first show a line renderer.  Below are some typical settings you could use for a LineRenderer as a laser bolt:

Properties of a general LineRenderer for a laser

Here’s what it should look like in the Unity IDE when you get your GameObjects in place:

GameObjects with LineRenderes placed at the cannons

I created a class called LaserControl, and when I want it to show, this is literally what I do:

public var isShowingLaser:boolean = false;
function showLaser()
   if( isShowingLaser ) return;
   isShowingLaser = true;
   thisRenderer.enabled = true;

   yield WaitForSeconds (.05);
   isShowingLaser = false;

as you can see, it shows it for .05ms then hides it by calling reset laser which just does this:

function resetLaser()
   this.renderer.enabled = false;

3.  So, then create your own class that extends MonoBehaviour and attach it to the GameObject that you added the LineRenderer to.

Create Particle Emitter

Now that we have this really nice LineRenderer laser that looks great coming from the tip of the cannon, we actually need to emit a laser to “fly” on it’s own path, right? So the concept for this is:  create empty GameObjects to server as 3D points for your emitter to “jump” to when you when it is to emit a laser from a particular cannon.  Since a particle emitter counts as 1 draw call for all of its particles, this makes it especially nice on an iPhone build.  Even better, it’s very lightweight on a web based game.

0.  Create 1 new GameObject for every cannon you have.  In this instance, I had 4 for the X-Wing, so I created 4 GameObjects with nothing in them.  Then give them names like TL, TR, BL, BR (topLeft, topRight, bottomLeft, bottomRight).

Here’s a screenshot of one of the emitter locations highlighted in the editor:

Empty GameObject serves as location for emitter later on

1.  Position these new GameObjects at the very end of the LineRenderer in your scene.  These will be the location that the emitter jumps to just before being told to Emit(1).

2.  Now, create a GameObject.  Then, with that GameOject selected, add: 1) Ellipsoid Particle Emitter, 2) Particle Animator, 3) Particle Renderer.

3.  In Particle Ellipsoid Emitter, set Local Velocity > z = -500.  This is the speed essentially.  If you want a faster laser, increase the number.  Make sure “Simulate in worldspace” is checked as this will allow emitted particles to carry on their path in world space once they’re fired.  Set the Ellipsoid to 0 on all 3 axis.  Finally, set Min Emitter Range = .0001 to make sure it fires from the closest location to the center of the GameObject as possible.  Like I said, with the bug, it’s a bit random on the z axis, but you’ll never see that in the game.  Leave the Particle Animator as is.

4.  Now the other bit of magic in making the laser is the Particle Renderer.  You’ll want to set “Stretch Patricles” = Stretched, with a length scale of 7 or so.  You can play with this number as it will determine how good your bolt looks in length.  Then set the “Max Particle Size” = .01.

Here’s a screen shot of the settings for the particle emitter and renderer ( the animator is left with its defaults ):

Particle Emitter settings


At this point, you have the physical objects in your scene to manage your lasers.  The last remaining step is to write a class that moves the emitter to each of those 4 emitter location GameObjects, tells the LineRenderer to show() and then emit 1 particle – BAM!  You now have lasers in Unity!

Hope this helps and hope you have a Bandit day 😉

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]

Affected by Apple’s 3.3.1 rule? Here’s something you can do

Many developers and businesses are being massively affected by this little addition to the developers agreement.  Some of us have new apps that are nearly done, some of us are companies with real projects already on the books and starting development, some are the actual tool makes (like Unity and adobe) who are now loosing massive amounts of possible money.

We’ve heard all of the reasonings as to *why* apple would do this, but here’s a reason not to:  Apple needs realize that the reason they have such a massive appstore catalog is BECAUSE of the 3rd party apps.  I’m willing to bet that at least 50% (that’s a safe bet, I think it’s actually much higher ) of the games in the appstore are created with tools other than Xcode.  it’d be interesting to see, in their tv commercials, HOW many of the apps displayed were created with non Xcode tool kits – that’d be VERY interesting indeed.

So, if you’ve created an app, or know of an app that was created with a 3rd party tool like Unity, please take a moment and check to see if the app is listed in this spreadsheet.  If now, please add it:
PS> if you can’t get it to load initially, keep trying – there’s a ton of traffic 😉

Looks like I was right about Apple ;)

From the sounds of these emails from Steve Jobs, I’d say I hit it right on the money for the most part 😉

Apple doesn’t like Flash…

There’s been tweet after tweet after tweet about Apple’s new little clause in their developers agreement:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Essentially, the first reaction is that if you don’t write it in Xcode, you can’t do it.  That’s at least what the first reaction was to the verbiage.

Now’s its speculated that maybe it means products that create an IPA file without creating an Xcode project are subjected to this new rule.  Leaving products like Unity3D in a safe spot so to speak.  But who knows at this point.  It’s all speculation until summer time 2010.

So, since nobody really knows for sure what that means yet, and so, as Keith Peters put it:  Grab some popcorn, sit back on the couch and enjoy the fireworks for the next couple of months – it’s going to get interesting 😉

I guess my general reaction to this, after having a night to sleep on it is this:  If Apple is thinking that the flash output is less than ideal in terms of performance/packaging on their devices, then we might be able to see where they’re coming from (not that I agree, or am saying that Flash’s output is inferior, I’m not saying that at all). But, if you’ve done any iPhone development, you know  that they’re so anal about experience in their SDK/agreements that this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

IE ( and let me put it in terms of what THEY’RE likely thinking ): They know they’re going to get a HUGE influx of flash apps from virtually ANYONE (hacks/babysitters who make banners/12yr olds who like pink ponies, you name it) making content for their devices, and they’re probably not to happy about the prospect of it lowering the standard of what they want for their devices.  It think you get the point.

NOTE: I’m not saying people using Flash for iPhone content are necessarily hacks or poor developers – not my point at all.  I’m pointing out that Apple is VERY ANAL about experience on their devices – right down to the use of icons and UI experience and performance.

Case in point: the trench run.  We were asked to pull a warning from the app that showed the very first time you played the game.  It simply said, “Please restart your device for best performance”.  Apple had us remove that as it insinuated that their device was the problem, not our app.  In reality it IS their device’s problem – you SHOULD reboot your device for any high performance game, but they’re not going to let you point it out.

my 2cents on the matter.  thoughts?

Trench Run Featured on G4 Attack of the show!

Awesome review of the Trench Run: