piątek, 25 lutego 2011

Throw The Fish released and some new thoughts...

Yes, it really happened. There lasted only 2 weeks from release of Graviracers and there is another game from Toffu Games in the App Store! Throw The Fish was accepted today morning, I'm really excited to see it in the store and can't wait to read some reviews. I hope someone will like the game.

You can see it on the iTunes over here:

The final icon of Throw The Fish looks like that:

I'm really curious if great iPhone review portal - slidetoplay.com will decide to post some review of Throw The Fish, would be nice to see one!

So, awaiting tomorrow and some comments from the players - will comment on that for sure.

The more important news is... we have just started working on completely new, awesome game! We are making it in cooperation with Evil Indie Games, so you can expect something really outstanding.

Stay tuned and look forward to hear some more announcements soon.

Remember to download your own Throw The Fish on your iPhone / iPod / iPad.

niedziela, 20 lutego 2011

Start before morning - pre publish promotion

Throw The Fish is already uploaded to the AppStore and is "awaiting review". I haven't got so much problems with uploading as in case of Graviracers. Thanks Apple that you read my email and fixed the issue.

Everyone would say - now it is time to open the beer, turn the tv on and sit comfortably on the sofa. But I'm not so sure it is. I haven't made any promotion of Graviracers so to have comparison I would like to do this for the Throw The Fish (which I personally think has better gameplay and is more eye catching).

Constant improvement is very important, so in case of second game I should do more. Let's start with pre publish promotion, as many "how to promote your iPhone game in 24 hours" sites advice to. I've recorded one movie with my camcorder and immediately publish it to the youtube.
Movie just shows the normal gameplay - intro, menu, practice and few levels. Simple how to play.
If you like, you can take a look:

Than I started with other promotional activities: creating twitter account:

looking for some "iphone recommendations forums" and so one.
One of the interesting forum I found: http://forums.toucharcade.com.
And there is the thread about upcoming iPhone releases so that's what I exactly need!
Great. so I only need to post my promo video and few words and application will be pre publish promoted!

Just because of curiosity I took a look on some posts and finally I found some promo video of one of upcoming games. I know it is not good promotional move from my side to publish video of another game, but I think it is so important from educational point of view, so please take a look:

Nice done, isn't it?

Ok, so to align to this quality level I needed to record another movie. Not using my old fashioned iPod Touch 2 with poor CPU, but grabbing directly the Unity gameplay (to have performance similar to iPhone 3G or 4). I found many interesting posts about grabbing the screen for recording iPhone like screencasts from dektop, but finally it turned out that graphics card of my beautiful Macbook Pro cannot perform well when cursor is overlaid by some external app (did you know that it is not possible to change cursor in Mac OS???). If you are interested about producing high quality iPhone like demo video, please read: http://blog.atebits.com/2009/03/not-your-average-iphone-screencast/

Very nice tutorial, but turned out not to be useful for me for two reasons: I needed landscape mode which is not suported in simfinger and performance was to low. I simply decided not to buy any commercial screencast software and use build in Quick Time Player to grab whole screen and than using IMovie where I just cropped the video properly. Added some suspense and music from Throw The Fish game and there it is the result:

Now it is time to publish some posts about upcoming release, I will let you know when it is ready and if I have learnt anything new.  Stay tuned.

piątek, 18 lutego 2011

Branding the app, what the hell the icon should look like?

It was quite much work, many sleepless nights to have the game finished. And now there it is.
So what has remained here is I need to prepare few screen shots, write few words and find the keywords for the game. Always the same, the most boring part of publishing the app...

Most boring or maybe most important? It looks like many brilliant people are so tired with their huge efforts they have put into app production so they do not have any more willingness to focus on such dull stuff like describing their absolutely supreme application.
I know this from my own experience, I have made the same many times.
I have failed many times and even I didn't know I was doing something wrong.

Nowadays it is not enough to make good product, including high quality - fitted for purpose. For sure it needs to have a nice, eye catching envelope. This is out of scope quality, it is not fit for purpose anymore it is completely useless but causes someone can take a look on the product itself.
Quality without users is useless, so this leads me to the new thought:

If you have made some high quality thing, be so nice to put it into nice envelope. Let people know about this product. High quality thrown into the rubbish bin is worse than low quality thrown to the rubbish bin, because it has consumed more resources and we should take care of the resources, right?

Well, Throw The Fish looks quite nice I think, just take a look on the menu screen:

I'm quite proud of the skinning and so on, it's the first time I've polished such details.
Ok, so the last thing is to prepare nice, eye catching icon. First thought - prepare some scene in Unity using included in game models - green fish obviously and take a screen shot. It will show the game and be quite nice 3d tricky graphics. Nice idea, isn't it? Small effort and possibly good results for people who cannot draw nicely.
I made as I decided and this was the result:

Simple, colorful, nice...
I took something like 15 looks on this icon and finally asked myself: Would you click such icon in iTunes to check what the game is about?

No, I wouldn't.

I asked myself once more: So what should be the icon to have you clicked it? What icons would you click? Prepare the one!

Simple, mysterious, not necessary showing the gameplay anyhow. Not too much elements, not to disturb with small details. Rather bigger spots of colors.

The previous icon was rendered using low poly models - I have such in the game and I don't have high poly model of the fish, so what to do? Work, work, work. Do it. Prepare some part of it at least! Do it!

So I started blender and modeled simple, very smooth sphere, added something smooth on the back of it, put the camera, rendered, imported to photoshop, drew few high res shapes and have finally something like this:

Yes, this one I liked better, more probable that I would click it. More probable, so what do you still need to have it clicked all the time? Hmmm, background should be more... eye catching I guess... Said - done:

And finally checking on the device that iPhone blend / light looks really nice on it.
So this is it, just ask yourself few times if it is good enough for you, only for you at first...

czwartek, 17 lutego 2011

Throw The Fish spoiler...

Today I have finally finished designing levels for Throw The Fish. I've done much much more, so the good news is the game is almost ready.
Just to show something tasty for late evening I'm publishing few screenshots of prepared levels.

Few words about mobile games design

Yes, it's almost 5 years since I began with mobile games. The first real game was PickPics project. I worked on it in 2007 during my one semester long stay on Technical University of Denmark. The app was targeting s60 devices and took advantage of some augmented reality mobile library thanks to it provided unique experience of augmented reality memory game.
The cards with different pictures were put on the real table on which laid AR pattern. Open GL graphics was rendered over camera real time video stream.
Was quite fun, we won the Nokia competition in Denmark with this app and travelled to Budapest to Nokia Tech Days to present the app.

My favourite picture from this app:

If you interested in augmented reality or in PickPics project, read more here:

Almost five years lasted, I have changed my mind a lot. I observed many brilliant people, talked with them, learned a lot. Finally I even read some books about games design and indeed they point some important mechanisms, useful tips to create something attractive for the user.

So my final notion is that all mobile games should be about one feature. It's the core issue here:


Easy to say, but hard to do, isn't it? Yeap, but I will give you some real examples. These will not be the promoted games of big companies, I will give you examples of games created in very short time by single developers. Let's take a look on my colleague blockbuster - Untangle Me. Game looks like this:

This androidzoom image shows the gameplay. Quite simple, isn't it? This free app has been downloaded over 650 000 time during 3 months. It took about 6 hours to my friend mkoss to implement it...
Now people send the emails like: "I cannot pass the level 168, I think it is impossible to solve it". On level 168 there are something like 70 vertices to move, it takes more than hour to solve the puzzle like this. This means people play for weeks in such simple games.

My friend mkoss published more than 40 free apps in android market. Some of them are clones of others but still one point can be noticed. Each next game looks better and simply has better quality.
Yeap, during my one month long vacation in India and Nepal I learned that it is worth to create things of high quality. It is especially related to game development. So my high point is:


And what does quality mean? You will learn on each Prince 2 or other project management methodology course that quality means... 


And this clearly defines my way.  Not only game development, but whole life way.
There are some other points worth to remember: let user see progress, give the player some startup, easy to achieve prizes,  easy to play hard to master and so on. 
On the other hand hearing from all around so many talks and reading so many blogs about just borning consumer minimalism there appears another rule for me. I have read in some Finnish newspaper that some Scandinavian furniture companies start to say "One chair is enough". Ok I'm thinking of this and having in mind another thought for mobile platform games design. 


I have taken in mind all of this. I am trying to perform better and better. Now I am focusing on having it all done in Throw The Fish game. Let's wait for description and some screen shots in next post. 

środa, 16 lutego 2011

First iPhone release... Graviracers in AppStore!

It took quite a long time to realize that the really things, really art and really fun come mostly with Apple products.
Android is already penetrated, I published something like 12 free apps, earning few hundreds dollars thanks to adverts (admob).
Lets point some of them: Monkey Spanker, Make Me Hot, Bazooka Task Killer, Road Hogs, Hold One 3D, Piece Of Cake, Saints And Bastards, Words Emperor (global crossword :) ), Zentrobal, Decide!, Golden Ear and few more...
Simply look for the Other Apps Are Craps in the android zoom or whatever android market client:


This was simply fun and few whiles spent in front of my laptop with green line of dead pixels...

With my wife we also made some really nice, high quality Android app: Cartoon Gang. We were placed on the 9th place in Android Developer Challange 2 in social apps category, it was 2009 year and we won quite nice Nexus One device from Google, thx Google.

Cartoon Gang was advanced tool for creating and publishing cartoons directly on mobile phone, check the video:

We spent many nights on it and learnt very very much, so it was worth indeed to have it done. Thanks Sylwia!

Finally my brother showed me Unity and I have fallen in love. Really.
It took me one month to have it learnt, bought the mac, bought Unity iOS license, borrowed the old iPod Touch 2 and published the game to AppStore!
I was sleeping not so much during this month, since I have full time job, but it was worth to do it. Listening music and having fun with 3D models in Blender, Unity scripts, finally composing own music for the game... Nice sleepless nights :).

It was great month, now you can check my first iPhone game - Graviracers:


The concept of game is quite simple - do not steer the vehicle, but rotate the world and let it drive gravitically - the steepess road - the faster car drives. There is career mode, upgrades, changing gravity feature and quite funny obstacles like i.e. buses.


Have fun and wait for my next... real blockbuster... Throw The Fish is comming soon! I will publish some new screenshots soon!

Check also youtube video for Graviracers: