Apr 18

Teaching kids to make games through stories (Text adventure Engine post #1)

Screenshot of Adventure Engine v .000001

Screenshot of Adventure Engine v .000001

I have been pulled apart for so long, it’s nice to get back into gaming!

My son turned 6 just recently, and I wanted to see how far we could go to make our first game together. I thought we’d start where I did, at adventure games. My first real game memory is ‘Adventure’ for the Apple ][. I’m sure there were many before that, but this game stuck in my head. It was so simple, but fun.

So I decided to see what we could do in a long weekend. I started with him drawing a maze on a 8×8 grid. He did this by drawing doors on the walls, and this would be a path. Then I asked him to find a dead end and draw a key in it. I explained the point of the game will be to walk through the maze going North, East, South, or West to find the key and get to the door and find the trophy.

What would be required from me:
* Some JSON data structure to hold the room information
* Keys to identify which doors were available
* Descriptions of the room

So I started with the basics of the JSON data, with that above.

Then I realized there should be some actions, (other buttons that the user could press, e.g. ‘look around’). So I fleshed out the json to take ‘actions’ these would generate buttons to be pressed. The default was ‘look around’, when that was pressed we’d display alternate text.

* Alt text if you looked around

I defined the Data structure, then called him over. The next step was to build out all the rooms. He first labeled each square from 0-0, to 5-5 for his grid, this would be the id in the json object per room. Then he read aloud the doors, ‘North, East, South’, etc for each room and I would enter ‘nes’, as they were called out for each room into the json. I then sent him on his way and piped in some clever text for the description and alt-text.

At this stage I got the game up and running within 4 hours. I then sat my son down, and he started to read and do a couple rooms then got bored, as he didn’t see any pictures. (* ok so he’s spoiled with modern gaming, my bad). So I added some simple graphic placeholder, then I worked on items. The idea is that kids slightly older could program this by hand, but better define tools later. Once again everything is text based, so I used tokens for items, e.g. $key is a token that looks up the item dictionary to get the appropriate item.

Here’s a sample item.
{ id: "$key", desc: "Red Key", type: "inv", value: "key_0001" }
The action is defined as:
'Take $key'

So the $key is detected on load, the text is swapped out with the ‘Red Key’ text, and displayed on screen. The item can then be taken, ‘Take Key’ and it’l be added to the inventory. This was some of the more clever code. So now I added tokens (simple variables), and then I needed to add conditions.

* Simple variables (such as a key) that could be added to an inventory and used.
* A way to stop people from going into rooms with conditions (such as a key)
* Verbs (Take, Use, Drop)

Now we had verbs, if you took an item, it would go in your inventory. If you dropped it, you’d lose it. If you used it, it’d be consumed (like use key on door).

So now to stop the user from going into rooms they don’t have the prerequisites done, I added that into the engine. So if a room has a preq of ‘$key’ they cannot go in unless that item is in the inventory. Also we need to express why, so if you have a preq, you have a preqdesc which is alt text that is displayed stating the condition you haven’t met.

The game is now fully playable, sitting at around 180 lines of code, 100 lines of html / css, + json / images.

Next I added some doors…

So now we get into dynamic doors, we already know the directions, and that enable / disables buttons. So I used that same logic to overlay images to draw doors for valid visible paths (North, East, West). And the game is now coming to life a bit. I still don’t have zombies, but they’ll come soon enough. Below is a screenshot of the engine and game in progress.

My long term goal is to make this actually an engine we can use to teach kids to make some games and learn story telling through games. The tools I aim to be simple and easy to use. Unfortunately my front-end skills are terrible, but the app design and data is beautiful. 😉

Til next update!

Aug 21

Let’s have a merge party – Safe Git Merging

As an indie developer I spend a lot of my time working on my own, however as a contract developer I work in teams of many other developers. Most of the time when I’m contracted I am brought into project in a frantic state of playing the little dutch boy. As a result merges go haywire and sometimes we don’t pay enough attention and undo a fix due to a git conflict.

Here’s the workflow I use, and I try to encourage others as well, it keeps things safe.

First if you’re doing a quick fix, generally the remote branch you started from hasn’t changed. But if it’s a several day fix, you may find that your remote branch you started on has had updates. You want those, and if you’re really paying attention would have merged those as you went along.

My workflow on a team are these processes.
1) Create a version branch that you’re working on.
2) Everyone branch off that version when applying fixes / features to the next version
*3) When a fix is done, do a pull request (code review, if not using Bitbucket / gitHub)
4) When approved, merge back into the develop version, and delete the fix branch.
5) other developers should then update their working branches to make sure they pull in the changes made, as their commits will happen on later.

Here’s a crude example:

Here we are with our 3 branches
Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 10.59.15 am

In this case you can see that everyone started from develop/1.0.0.
We then created 3 branches off that. Branch 1 bugfix_ticket_355 was committed first as it’s a step ahead. Let’s say 355 was then merged to develop

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 11.01.36 am

Now you can see develop is a step ahead of our other tickets. Well since those haven’t committed yet we may have some conflicts. We never want to push conflicts, so here is where my workflow kicks in.

2 Scenarios: Developer A has the feature 353 ticket. Developer B has the 345 bugfix
Developer A, knowing he just had a remote merge as he did the pull request, then updates his local branch with the changes.
DA -> Git fetch
DA -> git merge origin/develop/1.0.0

Developer B does not update, as he was in the toilet.

Now look at the repo:
Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 11.05.08 am

Developer A is up to date, Developer B is not.

Seasons change, time passes. Developer B is ready to push.

So before pushing to the remote this is what Dev B should do:

— Safe Merge —
>git fetch origin
>git checkout -b remote_merge //branch off the bugfix working branch, in case something goes wrong your original branch is intact
>git merge origin/develop/1.0.0
>!–conflicts–! – Grab another dev to review with
>resolve conflicts >git mergetool< >git commit -m “resolved conflicts with remote”
>git checkout bugfix… branch //return to the actual working branch
>git merge remote_merge
//Safely merges as you already resolved all conflicts, now safe to push up
>git branch -D remote_merge //delete the local merge branch as it’s not needed anymore
>git push origin
–Code review, rinse repeat

This becomes second nature after a while, but I just thought I’d document it here. It may sound like gobbly goo, or too much work for something ‘simple’, but just wait till a bad merge comments out a feature that takes your app down for a couple weeks of investigations just to find out you did a bad merge.

Rules to live by:
When working on team, all conflicts resolved in tandem.
Pull requests work, do them.
Never push up a branch without testing the merge locally. Leave your remotes clean.

Jun 02

Swift – Apple’s newest programming language – A Contract Developer perspective

Well moments ago Apple announced Swift, their new programming / scripting language. Which enjoys a huge performance increase over Objective-C, and removes a few of the key points that new developers would struggle with. One major sticking point with Objective C was the verbosity, people thought it was way to hard to read. I personally like it, as it’s clear and easy to know what each class / method does.

But let’s take a sneak peak at what we’re dealing with here. Below is a simple overview of differences from a high level from Swift, Python, OBJ-C, and C/C++. I’ll try to keep this updated as I find other key differences.

Feature Swift Python Objective-C C/C++
Typing* Weak/Strong Typed Weak/Strong Typed Strong Typed Strong Typed
End of Line newline newline/tab semicolon semicolon
Code Grouping braces tabs braces braces

* Typing, what that means is declaring a variable. In Strong languages you say what the type is for the compiler. E.G. int x=5, float y=10.3, string s = “my string”. And they cannot change types dynamically. Weak languages you can just declare them as a variable, and the compiler will choose what they are, e.g. var x=5, var y=10.3, var s = “my string”. In python you can change the type of a variable within the program when weak typed, this to me was always a dangerous practice and is forbidden in C languages. (e.g. in python var x = 5, x = “my string” is valid)


All in all, it looks cool. I am a big C based language fan, and this has the feel of a good hybrid scripting / c foundation. I hate the tab stylings of Python, and the dot naming in java-esque scripting languages. The biggest issue I’m going to have is no client will ever allow me to use this. And it’s long known there is no independent gold mine in the Apple stores, so it’ll be hard to justify doing a single platform app in this language, but it sure looks fun; and I’ll try anyway.

Feb 18

Books, Tutorials, etc

We’ve been approached by a couple publishers lately, looking for authors of game programming books. I was very interested at first, but after talking with the publishers it did become a bit daunting, it’s a bit of a black box. You don’t know what you’ll get paid, the contracts are restrictive, the deadlines are tight, and you have no idea if / how they’ll promote the book. I asked all these questions, and when they stated they couldn’t answer them directly (especially when I asked how much a similar book they published last year fared); I couldn’t commit at that time.

The book I was looking at doing would have been 450-500 pages long, for a first time author, that’s massive! The schedule was 9 months of work, with nothing up front (the amount of an ‘advance’ was laughable); so assume nothing up front. And I couldn’t get any type of sales figures as to what comparable books did, which tells me they didn’t do great. I took it one step further and talked to other authors, from that publisher and others. I heard contrasting stories, but all stated that the numbers were no where I needed them to be for 9 months of dedicated work.

At the end of it, I was really excited about writing the book, it’s something i’ve wanted to do for a while. I told the publishers that for the moment I can’t justify it, however I looked into alternatives. I think what I may propose doing, is breaking the book into small bite sized chunks and write one at a time; then release those digitally. That way I can see how the first volume is received and then use that to make decisions for future volumes.

So watch this space… I’ll have more soon-(isn).

Feb 18

Cost of developing an iPhone app (2014)

I get asked this all the time, either by clients, or more often from people on the street. I decided to date this post as I’m sure anything I mention will be out of date very soon, so hopefully this holds up for the year.

I’ve owned / run Six Foot Three Foot for 14 years now (1999-2004 (USA), 2008-present (NZ)). We’ve made apps for Nintendo Gameboy Advance, Palm, non-smart phones (J2ME, BREW), Mac OSX, windows, (windows 8), iOS, (windows phone), (android). Lately we’ve been focussing on iOS, MAC, and cross platform development for Android / Windows 8 Phone. Our specialty is iOS, as I personally worked at Apple for 5 years, and it is my favourite platform to program for; others are more of a requirement from clients. I also have had a bit of experience and are expanding more into embedded hardware (Bluetooth LE, iBeacon’s, Point of sale, tracking, etc).

Since iOS is my top skilled and most released platform, it’s what I’m going to talk about here. As I always find out with other platforms you end up spending 3 times your development cost, for < 25% of the market compared to iOS (much less if it's a paid app), and much more time on support for Android in particular due to the huge device fragmentation. With that in mind, let's talk iOS. (you == client, me == myself) My first question is what type of app is it? 1) Game (Simple 2D) (Logical puzzle game with increasing difficulty in a single level) 2) Game 3D (Simple) (Puzzle or shooter, e.g. logic puzzle, arcade (asteroids, space invaders, etc)) 3) Game Complicated (2D or 3D) (multiple levels, progression, saving, levelling up, multiple animations, characters, etc) 4) Utility App (An app that has a single function, (tip calculator, mileage tracker, etc) 5) Database app (An app that has some type of complicated storage (beyond utility that stores a single thing multiple times)) 6) Enterprise (Many requirements, security, usually requires offline / online modes) My Second question is what are your additional requirements? 1) Does it need network access? 2) Does it need to talk to other devices? (Bluetooth, wifi, etc) 3) Offline storage? My Third question is around what are your 'hype' requirements? 1) Facebook integration 2) Twitter integration 3) fill in the ______ integration 4) iAds 5) other _____ ads 6) Monetization frameworks (outside of ads, spammy things, etc) 7) Analytics (custom, or 3rd party) How do you see this app in the market? 1) Free 2) Free with monetization 3) Paid ( < 2.99) 4) Premium paid ( > 2.99)

[At this point most people are a bit exhausted, as they just thought they had a great idea, and I’d fill in the gaps. 🙂 But my job is to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting]

Depending on some of the answers we do dig deeper if need be. My next round of questions is how they see this happening.

How do you expect this app to be developed?

Who will Develop this App?
1) Hire a bunch of cheap devs who say they can do this, and have each got an app on the app store?
2) Use your friend, nephew, neighbour and have me help / mentor them?
3) Have me take the reigns solo?
4) Have me lead it with my ‘people’? [Least chosen, next to #3]

Who will generate the Assets (music, sounds, images, icons)?
1) Me and my resources?
A) Requires lots of art / music which I have to subcontract.
B) Simple and few icons, and images
2) The client has existing things to be retrofitted?
3) They have someone who is a mobile expert in asset creation, and everything will be provided just as I request? (hint, it’s not #3)

Who will test this app?
1) Me and my team, and you’ll have milestone builds to review?
2) You have a set of dedicated testers?
3) You want frequent access and will be hands on in the testing? (Dangerous as this leads to many change requests, and can get expensive)

Who will distribute this app?
1) You will setup a company presence on the app store and I will provide you the final product to be released?
2) You will have me distribute through my company?

How much ownership do you want? (in order of cost, least to most)
1) You want to own the final build?
2) You want to take ownership of source code?
3) You want ownership of source code and custom assets created for the app?

How much involvement do you want?
1) Do you want lots of meetings, and status updates? (How frequent?)
2) Do you want to work in fixed stages?
3) Do you want to physically have the development in your presence? (onsite vs offsite)

When do you want this?
1) ASAP (50-60+ hours a week development)
2) Regular (35-50 hours a week)
3) Casual (10-20 part time light jobs)

(Usually clients don’t say #1, but it always ends up being #1 + others)

[Still at this point we haven’t talked about what the app actually is, I respect that people want to feel they have a ‘secret’ or the next ‘big thing’.]

If the client isn’t scared off and we have a rough idea about what they want, now I let them know they can give me the pitch. I always then help them flesh out the idea, technically and suggestion other ideas that could enhance it, or pitfalls to avoid. I try to also raise issues to look out for if they choose to not use me, just as a head’s up with any service / developers they use.

So you probably jumped into this post to get a quick dirty number, hopefully this shows you why there is no quick dirty number.

With all that stated above you can expect anywhere from $10,000 – $250,000+, I’m sure those numbers don’t help too much. But first things first; everything starts at $10,000 even the simplest project in your eyes requires me to stop working on other things, and dedicate those resources to you, and that is the minimum required. Most apps we develop fall between $25,000 -> $75,000.

— I’ll add in some sample cases here for a better idea shortly —

Feb 02

Year In Review 2013

Sorry this is a bit belated, just been catching up on some things. So wow what a big year 2013 was. Across the board busy and crazy, some good some bad, some ugly.

First of all I shipped more apps on more platforms than ever last year, let’s recap.

Apps this year

Date Title Client Description Platforms
Feb Big Shot Basketball Carnival Labs (Coke/NCAA/Buffalo Wild Wings) Augmented reality game developed in Unity3D using Vuforia. Was for an in store promotion during March Madness college football iOS|Android|Web (Flash)
Mar Mojo Solitaire Collection In House A collection of solitaire games with a play and reward coin based system to unlock new features and games. Developed using Cocos2d. iOS|OSX
Mar Emirates Team NZ America's Cup Animation Research (America's Cup) Customized version of the Emmy nominated America's Cup app for iOS and Android for Emirates Team NZ iOS|Android
Apr Beat Block In House A rhythm based timing game you memorize the beat and play it back as close as you can to the tempo. Insanely hard later on super fun to make. It was made in 1 week and is probably the least downloaded of our games. I hope to make a level generator later for it. Built with Cocos2d iOS
Jun Mojo Video Poker 3D A port of Mojo Video Poker to Unity3D to reach more platforms. This was our first (and maybe last) entry into windows markets. Android|Windows 8|Windows 8 Phone
Jul Big Kick Football Carnival Labs (Coke/ESPN/Home Depot/Buffalo Wild Wings/etc) Augmented reality game follow up to Big Kick. This game was developed almost exclusively by me in under 3 months with some support in the last two weeks to get it across the board. Three platforms and lots of social media integration. iOS|Android|Web (Unity Player)
Sep Mojo Mahjong 3D In House A 3D based version of Mahjong Solitaire. Featured different tile sets and a set of special day event puzzles (holidays). A pretty popular game iOS|Android|OSX
Various All Apps In House Tons and tons of updates for all our apps. All

So as you can see a very busy year! I worked on some great projects, released some cool new things for us, and made some great new friends through some talks I gave. I also left out a couple other contract jobs and apps I worked on as they were more hired gun things I did, versus apps I owned.

We had some trials and tribulations, from shipping apps and then clients refusing to pay in full. (They did in the end). Delayed payments, project pressures from too many chiefs and one worker bee (me the worker bee). But all in all good stuff.

Carnival Labs went on to secure a couple million dollars in funding, and in the press release I see that they mentioned on the front page the apps I had worked on (Big Shot, and a Dreamworks app I worked on in 2012). So that was satisfying to see my work help project another company.

Animation Research went on to be nominated for a sports emmy, (will update this post if they win!). Amazing to have worked with them, great people super proud of them and the work I did with them.

Our apps, was some of the most productive I’ve done. I actually have another app that is 95% done, that was ready in December, but I have it on the back burner, while I take care of some full time jobs and other things. But hope to release that soon, a new word puzzle collection style game.

This also includes the 60 new prototypes that were made and are sitting in my code base, I hope to get to!

2014 brings Hardware, lasers, and other crazy things.

Dec 02

The gamer a console generation left behind

Today is my birthday, so I’m a little bit reflective. I usually get myself a new toy, which is something game related, this year I passed and am taking my boy out for a donut and a hair cut instead. Mainly because I’m in fear that I just don’t fit into the modern gaming area anymore, not because of my age, but because of my gaming habits / style. I feel like I’m the gamer this generation has left behind, it’s unfortunate too, because I’m a good audience, disposable income, family so I’ll buy a variety of games, and I don’t have a set genre, so I buy just about anything that looks good (aside from war fps games, those are unbearable).

In 1987 after endless pleading and begging for my 10th birthday I got a NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), this was one of the crowning moments in my childhood. Prior to that I had my Apple II which had some basic games, we even had a book that taught me to do some basic programming to make my own games, mind you I was 10 at the time. I had a lot of fun with that, but seeing Mario for the first time, and controlled by a little square pad was amazing. It beat pong, it beat my atari 2600, anything I’ve ever seen. The graphics and animation were so fluid, I was simply mesmerized. There was one problem however; I was a terrible student. So getting rewards was a bit hard. But I remembered I tried and tried to do well just so I could get my hands on it, and even though my grades were still ‘marginal’, my dad I think caved in because he too liked the technology. So I got it, I don’t think I opened anything else, I just took it down stairs with my dad and we plugged it in. And the 8 bit graphics filled my eyes with wonder.

Mario is a game where you go from left to right and jump. I think pros can beat the game in under 30 minutes, but for me I remember endless hours sitting up at night playing mario, going left to right jumping over things. It wasn’t complicated, and I know for sure no game would hold my attention like that ever again, but it was amazing. And that was me, the gamer defined. I liked to come home, before everyone else, turn on mario and play until someone else entered the house. Then I turned it off, and did what else I had to do. NES was my little escape, my time away from everyone else.

Even growing up I didn’t care much for playing with friends over, I wanted to play outside with others. If we played together it had to be a 2 player co-op game, nothing bored me more than watching others play a single player game, literally nothing is more boring. If you like to read books, would you want to sit and watch someone read a book? Looking at this insane phenomenon of people watching gameplay videos, then the answer may be yes.

I few years later the SNES came out, but I would not get it. In fact the NES was the only console I would ever receive from my parents; rightfully so, my grades never improved. My friend got his hands on a SNES and I would go over and play that for hours with him, as that was driven towards multiplayer games. We had Street Fighter, which we spent endless quarters in the arcades, now saving our money to bash each other trying to improve our game. This was the core of multiplayer for me, sitting with a friend on the couch playing a game together. And when we got bored, it was easy to just say ‘ok something else’, and we’d go outside and do what not. Even as much as I loved video games, I hated playing them around people who don’t play them. So if parents were in the house, or guests were over, I wouldn’t turn it on. I don’t like being spectated while in my ‘zone’, gaming is / has been a personal thing for me. It’s an escape from other business in our world, not something I do to bring me together more (unless I’m playing street fighter with a friend).

The years passed and I wouldn’t see another console in my hands until 1996, when I started to make some decent money during highschool and got my hands on a Nintendo 64. Mario 64, blew me and the rest of the world away, what an amazing game. The 3D graphics and seamless motion was epic. My game libraries have always been small, I think I owned less than 10 NES games over the 8 years I had that console. N64 I had a handful as well, but some great ones, including Turok, and Golden Eye – (the defacto 4 player in a room game). Golden Eye was the first time me and multiple friends would get in a room and play a game together, we were playing against each other simultaneously, it was gaming generation defining.

As I got into College and had more disposable income, I started my game collection, I grabbed every major console I could get a hold of, at the end of the day my library consists of (to date):
Atari 2600, Atari 7800, NES, N64, Nintendo Gameboy Color, Sega Genesis (Standard, Nomad, 32x), Nintendo Gameboy Advance (Standard, SP, micro), Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, Sega Dreamcast, Sony PS2, Nintendo Wii, XBox, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS (XL), 10 iOS devices, 3 Android devices, 1 windows phone device, 5 computers, countless emulators.

All in all my purchased game library consists of over 200 350 games across all those platforms. Mind you I don’t really play that much, it’s just more of a collection thing these days. I spend my time making games, not playing them anymore. But when something great comes out I’ll play it through, then it goes in the case and sits.

I’ll jump forward a bit, to my point, why do I feel left out? Well I’m not a fan of watching people play as I said above, gaming is a personal thing that I only share with my close friends. It’s not something I’ll do with an acquaintance or stranger, there’s no connection there. I’d rather game by myself versus with someone I don’t have a connection with. So this XBox Live etc, stuff was fine for me to get my games, but now It’s only on there because I forget to cancel it every year. I intentionally avoid online / multiplayer games as I don’t ever want to wear a headset and look like a douche when people are over at my house. I think we’ve all been there, walked to a friends house to see a roommate, partner, friend, etc just sitting on the couch with a headset oblivious to the world around them. It’s obnoxious, and they look like a fool.

So this new generation of console gaming (focussing on PS4 / Xbone) really don’t excite me. They are focusing on social media more than gaming, all they did was pump up the graphics, with no new interactions. Look what the wii did, that was amazing, we all thought motion control would take over, and it would have if anyone dared to innovate with it, but no one did. And I know it’s been said to death, but the lack of backwards compatibility is a real kick in the balls, as all the new games are cross platform anyway, so you just get better graphics, so why not play our existing games? Had they done that I would have picked up a new console as my 4th Xbox 360 is on it’s dying breath, and I’d like to play my 100+ games if I want to. — Now I understand the technical issues, I’m a developer, I know it’s ‘hard to do’, but it’s not impossible, it’s a decision they made to not do it. Nothing is impossible, just hard, MS and Sony went the ‘easy’ way and cut it off. Also the step from Xbox -> 360 was huge, HD graphics, Surround Sound, Media / DVD, Streaming Video, Music, Online Store, Web, wow. The XBone has… well all those same features. So what really is different? ‘It’s just a bit bigger and better, but totally incompatible with your 8 year old catalog’. If it (or Ps4) genuinely did something new then it’d be worth it, but it’s like buying a newer model car in which everything is incompatible with your previous car fittings, (seat covers, wheels, lights, etc), but only boasts a bit more power and it’s prettier, but they’re both big and pretty, just this is ‘newer’. I drive a car made in 1990, my first car was made in 1968, so ‘newer’ isn’t really my thing as a reason to buy something.

So with the shift from gaming to being a personal experience, to being something we are meant to video share, twext, social share, voice chat, online group gang meetups, etc, all I can say is ‘meh, no thanks, it’s not for me.’.

So where does this leave me? I think the Wii U is the only fit for me for a console, until Apple finds a way to get gaming into our living rooms (AppleTV I’m looking at you), I’ll hold off a bit as I have some games to finish programming first. But Wii U can play my Wii games, has some amazing single player games, (Mario, Bayonetta 2, pikmin) and some great multiplayer experiences, which is proper multiplayer, where me and a friend sit on the couch and play together.

Sony, Microsoft it’s a shame you dismiss me as a gamer. I have grown up with games, have a nice spending power, and like to collect things. But you haven’t given me any interest in your consoles. The strange online requirements, the in your face advertising, micro transactions, social media, not for me. Just for your sake I hope the economy picks up and the 13-18 year olds you do target can get jobs to buy your equipment. Because as a parent I’m distancing my children from your products, as they are less and less family friendly. Nintendo is still the safe bet, and in hindsight my best memories gaming are with them, (and sega) I really wonder why I left them for so long… I think it was the splash graphics and explosions, which I’m all too tired of, I just want something fun.

This post is probably way all over the place, and not a great read, but it’s here for my own record. As always comments are off, as I get 1 valid comment for every 800 spams, and I don’t want to filter through that many ads. If you really want to reach out ping me on twitter, (the only social media I can tolerate currently).

Nintendo carved the path for every innovation in video game history, people tend to forget that, because they don’t go over powered, and try to keep it simple, which in the end is what I want.


Nov 21

Mojo Video Poker is now on Windows 8 platforms

Mojo Video Poker, our top rated iOS / Mac app is now available on more platforms. We recently released it on android, and today we released it for Windows 8 and Windows 8 phone. Mojo Video Poker for Windows brings the core gameplay from the original game with some graphical enhancements. We are planning on growing the new release on all platforms.

Mojo Video Poker for Windows Platforms, features classic vegas style 5 card draw video poker. You are dealt 5 cards from a deck, you select the best ones (or none) to make a winning hand then draw between 0-5 cards (depending on what you held), to win. Like all versions of Mojo Video Poker, the poker is free, the credits are there for scoring, and if you run out you’ll be allotted more. There are no in-app purchases for credits. The basic game is free, (*Ad supported where available). We will introduce more features and games as the game grows. If the game proves to be as popular on other platforms as it is on iOS/MAC we will be excited to do some new features and games in the very near future!

Download for your platform here:






Sep 27

Mahjong 3D and Mojo Video Poker for Android

We finally gave some love to Android over the last two weeks. We published our new Mahjong 3D game on the Android market last week, and today released our first version of Mojo Video Poker for Android. Mojo Video Poker was our first iOS app, and it’s our most successful Mac app, now Android users can play the game as well!

Mojo Mahjong 3D

  • Full 3D graphics
  • Move and Manipulate the board for a better view
  • Includes 5 unique layouts
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Aug 11

Windows 8 Developer program – It shouldn’t be this hard, We pass

To sum up really quick, We are no longer going to attempt to pursue Windows 8 developer programs at all. The length of my discussion with their support staff, asking very direct questions only to get vague answers without back up has just brought it to a halt. I thanked them for their time and told them I will not be publishing on their stores.

This is a follow up to my last post :
Windows 8 Developer Program – Part 2 : Response from Support

So per my last email I asked again specific questions, because no where anywhere is it stated that the $99 program #1 included a copy of professional Windows 8 for development (why would it, it would save any user hundreds of dollars), but according to ‘Barry’ from their support staff it does include that. Per the emails prior. When trying to get him to point me in that direction, and also explain to me EXACTLY what I need, after I fed him my current specs, he then came back and said (without ever mentioning the products) that it was some type of subscription where the windows came from. That tells me, that he was talking about a MSDN subscription! $700 a year for the most basic version, which still DOES NOT INCLUDE professional development tools, that version is somewhere above $1200 a year, per person.

My initial question was around the $99 developer program for the Windows 8 store, so now according to ‘Barry’ I have to also have a MSDN Subscription, or at least I need it to have a copy of ‘free windows 8’ – Furthest thing from free. Let me sum up here.

#1) I asked about the $99 program, what does it actually include (Windows 8? or just sell on the store, and which stores)
A) I heard from many web reports that VS pro was reequired to publish to the Windows 8 Desktop store, hence my questions around the ‘free VS’ tools
#2) I then asked if the $99 doesn’t cover the required software, given my hardware specs what tools do I need to purchase so we can develop and publish on their platform
A) Please note that I was actually trying to port my games / apps there. My company does about 6-10 apps a year currently (over 3 platforms, so ~ 24-30 apps).

After my previous email (which you can read from the last 2 posts) they responded with this:

Yes, to answer your questions, it is a full Windows 8, with a developer subscription to the windows store you do get access to windows 8. I realize that having a full year developer subscription is probably not what you are going for right now, I just wanted to make you aware of that. Please let me know if you have any questions. I would be more than happy to help.

Thank you


So to re-iterate it’s still not clear above, but it sounds like he’s talking MSDN. As I stated I read all the documentation all the links (‘Barry’ would only give ma link to the entry page, not the details I was asking on), no where is it stated Windows 8 comes with a subscription ($99). So, since it’s been 4 emails, I’m just tired of it, I have way too much work on other platforms, and to be honest I love developing on OSX / iOS. Having been part of Apple for 5 years I’ve come accustomed to their tools and workflows, but more importantly the information you want is very accessible, and if it’s not you will get clear answers from their tech support. I have been in software development / self publishing for 15 years now. It plain and simple should not be this hard, it almost seems as ‘Barry’ is being a bit smug with me, which is infuriating, and just goes to show how Microsoft just really doesn’t give a crud about the direction computers / users have moved forward. It’s not just about enterprise anymore.

Here’s my last mail to Microsoft to sum up my thoughts on the process.

Hi Barry,

For some reason I feel really thick. I have been developing software for various platforms for 15 years and I feel like the Microsoft Process is just beyond me, the information provided doesn’t match anything I’m hearing from you. The program you’re referring to sounds like an MSDN subscription, that was not what I was after. I’m just looking at what I need to publish apps, the $99 windows 8 developer program. The MSDN subscription is $700+ per year.

Even on the MSDN Page (as well as the developer program page) neither state that windows is included. I think since I’ve spent months on this, I’ll just give it a pass and skip your platform(s) all together. It really shouldn’t be this difficult to find basic information.

Thanks for your time.

That’s that, I’m done. I won’t even humor them with a further response, I feel like they are just sitting a bit higher than me, and feel that I’m not worth their time to even answer an email clearly. All said, farewell, good luck with your store, I’m sure you’ll do well with your little indie devs like Rovio.

P.S. – This doesn’t mean we won’t do anything for MS Platforms, right now we will look at publishing apps potentially on web, sell direct (if we can manage the time), or Steam if we have a title we think will fit their platform one day. It’s just a shame we are mobile developers first, and we love new hardware, but as I said before, if it’s that hard to start, imagine what it’ll be like to finish.

If you want to find out more, here’s some ‘tips’ to publish for Windows 8, please note 1 step is ‘read all the documentation’ good luck, I couldn’t even navigate the mess of their homepage even with their support helping. With barriers like this, I see a big delay in getting anything up and running on Windows 8 stores, which is just time / money lost. We make so many apps / games a year we can’t spend 6 months trying to approve something. Anyway, here’s the link for your enjoyment.

Windows 8 Top 10 Tips for Passing Windows Store Certification

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