This is worth pointing out: paulsondev (who unfortunately has no About page on his blog, hint hint ;)) posted a 90-minute (!) Tutorial about creating a scrolling Tilemap with TMX and cocos2d for iPhone! I haven’t watched it but anyone who is dedicated to make a 90 minute development video deserves attention. And as far as i can tell it’s pretty cool. Plus he uses the same desktop background as i do.
Those are mostly thoughts i had while i was cleaning out my Twitter list (who i am following) to make room for all the much more interesting people who are now following me because of this new cocos2d website. The Twitter celebrities had to go to make room for you!
It never actually crossed my mind that the Marketing FAQ would be so popular. For me it was a last minute addition to the cocos2d FAQs from a spontaneous thought. I’ll make sure to update Marketing and PR more frequently. I certainly learned a lot about it while i was busy with my colleagues getting an iPhone game company startup funded for the better part of 2009.
Check out my profile on TheyMakeApps. It’s a cool site to get listed on if you do iPhone or Mobile Development in general.
They have a free account and a commercial which costs a whopping $89 per month. Given how frequented the site is i think for some developers it can be worth it but most should be ok with the free account. Once you have customers you should try to make them feel happy and foster that connection – if it is a good one. It’s much easier to close a deal with someone you know and worked with rather than finding another contractor. But to make the first connections a place like TheyMakeApps can be pure gold!
Before you create your own profile, take a look at the existing ones and check which you find the most impressive. Make sure you sell yourself well. A one-liner “I’m a programmer, i can make iPhone Apps.” just won’t cut it. Remember, you’re selling yourself, so put on that Marketing hat before you write.
This one should be obvious: making games is hard.
What’s not so obvious: making simple games is still hard.
Ever heard someone proclaim “Oh, i could make that in a day!” after having glanced at yet another simple game that’s all the rave on the App Store? I bet you did. Truth is: they’re almost always wrong. Even if it’s someone who has years of experience programming games.
You know Jamie from Mythbusters is saying in their disclaimer shots: “It may not look like it, but we’re professionals”. Well, the Mythbusters are professionals. Who is to say you can’t fool around like a child and still be professional? It’s much like your regular game development team. Anyway, did you ever notice how surprised they often are about their results? Or how much work it would be to get their myths tested? Same goes for game developers.
A game programmer who is sure he can do that game in a day just by looking at it is a lot like your typical Mythbuster, or Mythbuster viewer, who thinks they know the outcome before the test – and then they’re in for a surprise. Sure sometimes they’ll be largely correct. Yes you can shoot a ball at 60 mph in the opposite direction of a car going 60 mph and the ball will just drop down straight to the ground. That is just simple physics. Even i knew that. I also know how to make games. And i can vividly imagine how many more tests and excrutiating amounts of work went into confirming that myth. The same amount of excrutiating work and detailed adjustment go into making any game as well. But they don’t show that on your screen, do they?
Game programmers who can actually make a complete game in a day are a myth. Once you’ve done a couple games you know that. And once you hear someone proclaim they can do it in a day, please take them by their word and put them to the test!
Let’s take Doodle Jump as an example. It’s been a target for ridicule from quite some game programmers who just couldn’t stand that something as simple (and stupid as they say) can be so successful. Could you do it in a day? Could you even do it in a week? Let’s put it to the test!
Simple, we’ll just make a feature list and you can answer the question yourself: how long will it take to complete this? Please post in a comment how long you think it would take to complete all this, assuming you had all the graphics and sounds.
- Challenge by Email
- Highscores Screen: Local, Facebook Friends and Global (Webserver connection)
- Options Screen, various options
- Connect & Submit Score to Facebook (Facebook API)
- Connect & Submit Score to Twitter (Twitter API)
- Change your name
- Pause Screen
- Player jumping
- Accelerometer controls
- Wrap Player when leaving either screen side
- Player shooting on tap
- Scrolling Game Objects as Player goes up
- Scroll in Menu on game over
- 7 different Platform Types, one that can be moved by touching it
- 6 Enemies and 1 or 2 Boss Monsters
- UFOs and Black Holes
- 6 Powerups: Springs, Jetpack, etc.
- Display Friend Scores on the side
- Score display
- Stuff that people often forget to think of
- randomly generate platforms in a meaningful way with progressing difficulty and no unfair situations
- cheats and easter eggs (not mandatory but Doodle Jump has a lot!)
- several themes with all new graphics
Did i forget anything? Probably. Usually when you make feature lists like this you get 80%, maybe 90% of all features of you’re really thorough. There’s always something you’ll forget when you look at a game’s features, and there’s even more you’ll forget when you plan the game. Unless you plan for “When it’s done.” – which more often than not means: never. Or Duke Nukem Forever. Same thing really.
I stumbled across this AppBoy Blog Post about Android and its Market. And it reminded me of what i think when i hear people swearing by the Android: the Android is not going to rule the world. Period.
The reasons are not many but they are crucial. First, Open Source is not a Feature! I hear that very often. “Yeah but Android is Open Source, you can’t compete with that!”. Uh-huh. As a matter of fact, i do not want to compete with Open Source if that means low-quality crap. There is no quality control on the Android Market. For some this spells freedom of choice and what not. And yes, Apple has made some decisions to pull apps from the App Store that a lot of people didn’t like. But let’s not forget that 99% of iPhone OS users just don’t care. There’s still enough diversity, and it’s not like Apple has pulled the Facebook App, Twitterific, Doodle Jump or Angry Birds. Apps that people really use and like. Keep in mind that whenever Apple decides to pull an App, recently that was because of mature content while allowing a big player in that market to keep his Apps online, people talk about that because (a) they like to get upset and (b) the blogosphere and news outlets need something to talk about. In the end it’s just hot air.
Let’s get back to Android though. So it’s open source. What does that even mean? The OS itself is open source. Great for the companies who build their own devices on that software. Bad for the consumer: you still have the same problem all mobile phones have. It’s like switching from Nokia and it’s hundreds of different devices united by the Ovi Store to Android, with its hundred and more and more diverging devices and a united App Store. Where does that lead us? A huge pile of free choice no one really wants if you so will. For developers it gets increasingly harder to develop Apps that run on all Android devices and what’s more, even if you manage to support 99% of all devices right now, tomorrow there will be a new device coming out that won’t run your app. As an independent developer this is hell. You have no way of telling whether supporting a specific line of Android devices will get you a significant sales boost. So how do you calculate how much time you’ll spend on each? It’s pure guesswork. I pity Android developers.
The iPhone market itself is hard but there’s one thing you can and should put all your efforts in: Marketing. You develop for one device (well, ok make that 3) while in the meantime you figure out which websites to target, what to blog, which communities to join, where to apply for App reviews, what Press Releases to send out, etc. The code is already done, Marketing your App is the hard part. It’s the same with the Android, except that the code part with its diverging devices is just as hard to do. And it’s just not fun adapting the same app to different devices. It’s one of the things i wouldn’t mind not doing.
Most of the outspoken people who choose Android choose it because they don’t like Apple (fair enough), or they don’t like closed ecosystems and enjoy (really?) everything that has the label “Open Source” attached to it. However, they’re a minority on the Android market. Most Android users just got what they needed: a working mobile phone. They have no idea, and no clue and don’t care about Open Source. For them, the label “Open Source” has no meaning.
I’m sure you’ll want to know which iPhone games i’ve worked on. I’ll keep updating this post. Latest releases are on top.
More info soon …
Created for Fun Armada, our iPhone game company startup. Published by ClickGamer.
Contract work for Ravensburger Digital
Contract work for Ravensburger Digital
Pro Bono project for Peter Machat.