Happy birthday Herbie!

It is amazing how fast time can fly… is was exactly one year ago when FlyCraft was released on BlackBerry World. Herbie is turning one year old today! So much has happened in the past twelve months that sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that it was just one year ago today that Herbie did it’s debut flight.

And how we got to that day? The long month before the release. From the introduction to the October Challenge crowd, to some halfway progress report, to the actual revealing of our hero ladybug Herbie and finally the victorious release post. It was unforgettable times, that could only be topped by what happened after the release. It was crazy, the game was a success we never anticipated. FlyCraft managed to be “Game of the year” and then be everywhere in BlackBerry, from forums, to news, to conferences, to TV. It was a rollercoaster! Thank you everybody for this!

Late in January 2013, Thanasis Lightbridge withdrew from the project to focus his powers on his third and dark side music project that he recently revealed to the public. Despite this big loss development continued on the game, by bringing it to Z10 (and later to the square screen of the Q10 and Q5), bringing in replays, and an online system to publish and browse flight replays from all over world, and the organization of a championship with great prizes.

So what is on the timeline from now on you ask? Well, after the Herbie birthday cake we are cutting tomorrow with close friends, I am very excited to announce that FlyCraft will be coming to iPhone and iPad! Yes, thats right. Your voices are finally heard. I don’t want to hear another complaint about!

Right now the game can already run on the device, but needs some more work to polish it and make sure everything works as expected on fruit devices. If you are interested in the progress, or you want to be one of the few lucky beta testers, please be free to signup here:

http://flycraftgame.com/signup

I will start to send non public info on the progress and you will get to be one of the firsts to be notified its out.

So let see what this new year will bring! Happy birthday Herbie!

p.s. As a way to share the celebration with you, the price of FlyCraft was dropped to just $0.99… forever! Get it here. 😉

 

Porting your iOS game to Blackberry Playbook (and future BB10 phones)

Continuing after my latest post about porting existing iOS games written in C/C++ to the Android platform, here I am again writing about my latest porting endeavor that brings Pop Corny to the third platform! Ever thought of porting your iOS game to the Blackberry Playbook? Well, here I will share some insight of what to expect.

The basics

If you are like me you will probably think that the Playbook has something to do with the tech that used to run Blackberry’s phones. This misconception was so strong in me that I didn’t even consider a port to it. The truth is however, that the Playbook is based on the new platform that Blackberry is creating based on the QNX operating system, and will also be used on the BB10 phones. Things started to look better on the porting front with these info, but there is always a fear that Blackberry could be Google and force everything to Java and only support native after a long time has passed. It turns out that things are much better than I expected. Not only Blackberry allows you to write native apps, but its Native Development Kit (NDK) is a complete solution for developing on the platform. Not like Android for example, where the NDK is just a crude exposure of the native Android’s build system, supports minimal functionality and requires Java calls for most stuff. On Playbook you can write a full native app and never look at Java again. The NDK will provide C level APIs for all that you are going to need. From screen handling and input, to in-app purchases.

The Blackberry provided development environment is QNX Momentics, which is based on Eclipse, but also you can easily do everything with command line tools if you prefer. I chose to go with Momentics even though I find Eclipse slow and sluggish, because it is very nicely setup for native C/C++ development (with debuggers, profilers, etc) and I wanted to see how far it will get me until I started missing the command line. Surprisingly, it did all the way. Had no problem with it, which is a first for me and Eclipse.

You also get an emulator for trying out your, code which is based on VMWare. This didn’t strike me a good thing because you have to buy VMWare to run it. Sure there is the VMWare Player version that is free, but you can use that only on Windows and Linux. The Mac users, like me, will have to use the 30-day trial of VMWare Fusion, or buy it.

Next I will go through the major porting areas to keep this consistent with my corresponding article for Android. Continue reading

Writing portable code: A process full of gain

Lately I am spending some of my time into porting my game engine to the Android platform. It is a rather refreshing, interesting, rewarding and also frustrating experience. All at the same time. The process helped me learn new lessons and remember some old ones I had forgot.

Getting confortable

First of all I realized once again that we people get comfortable. And oh boy we get comfortable! I remember myself a few weeks back being frustrated with XCode 4 and how it was slow and sluggish compared to XCode 3, how I don’t like the new environment, etc. Well, no more! All it took was a few days in Eclipse. Dialog windows popping up behind the main window, >500ms on most clicks on files, kitchen & sink user interface, can go on forever, and all you really basically get at the end of the day is just a smart editor and debugger that only works for the Java part. Compare that to XCode with its memory profilers, time profiles, filesystem profilers, network profilers, battery optimizers, the very helpful OpenGL state inspector and logger, there is really no relation. I had forgot how it was to develop on other platforms, and how amazed I was initially with the special treatment that Apple gives to developers with its tools. What amazed me more is that I don’t come from such a “comfy“ background. The initial version of Sylphis3D was developed in parallel on Linux and Windows, mostly using no IDE at all, and I never found the tools a problem. As it turns out hardship builds character, while comfortness breaks it.

Portable software is good for you

Building portable software is highly valued in my mind, because it helps you be a better software engineer while making better quality software at the same time. You get to learn many different development environments, understand their design decisions, workaround platform differences, think further ahead, etc. All these require you to get a deeper understanding of your code and your dependencies. Always pushes towards a more organized code structure and reveals bugs that would otherwise go unnoticed until Murphy’s laws decides it is the worst time to trigger.

So if you are a software engineer, don’t get too comfortable with your development and target environment. No matter how attractive that environment makes it! Make your code portable, to keep yourself and the code in better shape. After all wouldn’t it be cool to run your code on a future toaster?!

Launching on the AppStore in the year 2012

[Also posted on AltDevBlogADay]

Today is somewhat an important day, as it is exactly 60 days since the day I can officially call myself a published indie game developer! It was February 3rd when Mr. Pop Corny rushed (actually it crawled thanks to Apple, but I will get to that below) into the AppStore after an 8 month development time, and the dream came true. So it seems now it is a good time to share some of my experiences regarding launching on the AppStore. I will try to provide some insight that I wish I had from other projects prior to launching my own. Continue reading

Unveiling Pop Corny

Honestly I can’t really describe how excited I am to finally be able to announce my first game! Since the first line of code I ever typed in a programming language, all I wanted to build was a game. It turns out that only many years later the timing would be right for it to become a reality. Some of you might already knew that this was coming if you had read my last #altdevblogaday post. A few days ago I unveiled the game’s icon to the game’s Facebook page. If you like it please like the page and share it as I am certainly going to need the word of mouth in promoting it.

I will not yet go into details about what the game is about (apart from obviously being about a popcorn loving crazy looking monster!), I will save this a for few days later when the AppStore review process will be coming to an end. A teaser video will also be released so keep an eye open for it.

Also if any of you happen to write for a game review website or you know a friend who knows a friend that has a cousin that got married to a girl that reviews games, please let them know I would be glad to send then the game!

CU!

p.s. If you are not a Facebook guy you can follow the game’s twitter account for updates: @MrPopCorny

Something moving in the shadows…

I have been spending quite some time the last months working on a port of the Sylphis3d game engine to the iPhone. I am now to a point that the thing works really nicely. I will not get into details about the changes that I did to the engine for the purpose (I will keep that for an other post), but I want to get the word out that it is final: WE ARE MAKING A GAME 😀

I don’t think I can stress out how excited I am about this. After too much struggling we finaly have an original consept, a good game design, and the team to make it true! The game is based on a wild idea I had some time ago, based on which we created a beautiful game concept. With the help of the artistic nature of Vangelis Bobolas and the soundscapes of the out-of-this-world music composer Thanasis Lightbridge, we are on the right track!

I can’t uncover much at the moment, but I believe we have something totally original and fun cooking in the oven 😉

AutoSleep Music Timer hits the AppStore

Hello!

AutoSleep Music Timer application icon

I just released a new application on the AppStore and wanted to share the joy! 😀 The application is called: “AutoSleep Music Timer” and its purpose is to help all those people (like me) that need music to fall asleep.

So what it basically does is: turn the music off automatically when you fall asleep! It does so not after a user set amount of time, but by monitoring your “sleep” state.

The application cooperates with whatever music player you use that can play in the background. So with the music playing you fire up “AutoSleep” and place the iPhone on your bed. AutoSleep then monitors your movement pattern through the accelerometer and when it detects that you are asleep it turns off the music. Simple as that.

This kind of app was missing from the AppStore and to me is a life saver. Specially when listening to internet radio stations that otherwise will go on playing forever, possibly waking you up long after you have fallen asleep, which kind of beats the purpose of using music to sleep!

The app is going to be on sale (66% off) through out the holidays for $0.99, so if you like it, it might be a good time to get it now. If you use it please be kind enough to leave a positive review on the AppStore and show your support.

Here is the link to the application

Thanks again and I will be back with a more technical article about the application! Until then have a nice Christmas!!!