MonsterUp and MonsterUp Adventures on Android

Posted by admin on June 30, 2014
Android, Development, Games / No Comments

MonsterUp and MonsterUp Adventures were both built for Windows Phone first using pure XNA and C#. This made it a bit tough to port them to iOS and Android, but not impossible. I did port them to both eventually, using the excellent Xamarin technology and the open source framework MonoGame. On iOS, things are quite simple, since there are very specific devices I needed to test the final games on, and also very specific iOS versions, since the majority of people seem to be on the latest or second to latest version anyway. On Android, things are much more complicated than that.

In order to do the best I can for Android, I have thoroughly tested the game on a Nexus 4, a Samsung Galaxy S3 and a Samsung Galaxy S2. In my mind, most people use Samsung Android phones and these 2 seemed to cover a large percentage of the market, including the wildly popular 2.x version. Also, the Nexus made sure that at least the game runs on pure vanilla Android the way that it should. I released the games with this in mind, but I also released them for free, knowing that a percentage of people might still have issues with them. The reality proved much worse than I imagined. The games were downloaded more than 20’000 times on Android but people who had problems running the games are many many more than I expected. Even on the same devices I already had tested the game, people seem unable to open and play. And boy, they didn’t like it:) Even though it was a free game, many of them decided to leave 1 star reviews, with the result being the game to currently have a 3.7/5 and 3.24/5 average rating. Given that MonsterUp Adventures on Windows Phone has more than 4.5/5, I am not worried that this means something for the quality of the game, but rather the specific Android build just isn’t working as it should.

The complexities involved in porting such a game from XNA to Android are a lot, including a (rather expensive) middleware, such as Xamarin, which is pretty stable, an open source framework like MonoGame which can be pretty stable but can also have its ups and downs and unlimited different device configuration, custom roms, weird customizations etc. that just cannot be anticipated.

In conclusion, I have decided to pull the two games from the Play Store for the time being, until I find a way to make more stable builds, which is a bit unlikely in my current state, but I might try to do in the future. I am guessing people who already have and enjoy the game can continue to do so, but I am not sure if they will be able to get the games again if the delete them from their device. I hope I can come up with a solution for that in the future.

The iOS and Windows Phone versions work much better and will remain as is for now. These platforms are much more stable and predictable and as a developer, I like them much more for that :) It’s a pity that Android has dominated emerging market with their crappy cheap phones, and I would MUCH rather see people buying cheap Lumias like the 520, which offer a MUCH better user experience and a MUCH more stable platform for almost the same money.

Play the original Mario here!

Posted by admin on April 08, 2014
Games, Web / No Comments

Everybody knows the original NES Mario game right? Did any of you spend hours and hours on this game back in the day? Well, get ready to spend some more, I came across an awesome HTML 5 FULL version of the game which you can play all you want here:

http://www.karios.gr/mario

This version includes a level editor, a random level generator and all the awesomeness you remember from your childhood! Enjoy!

 

What is going on with the App Store rankings lately? – updated

Posted by admin on February 08, 2014
Apps, Development, Games / No Comments

The first shock was the crappy Flappy Bird game. Unimaginative, repetitive, with “borrowed” graphic concepts and not fun at all. Some people were driven to insanity just by playing. And nobody really liked it.

But it reached #1 in the US App Store almost overnight. “What? How?” I hear you ask, crying a little inside for all the countless nights you spent perfecting you awesome mobile game, and never reaching 100 downloads in the process. And to add insult to injury, the guy announced that he is making $50K. A day. From ad revenue. I mean, wtf.

And then there was another, this time even worse. As reported in Pocket Gamer, a game called Red Bouncing Ball Spikes practically leaped to #1 overnight. And what’s worse is that the “developer” didn’t even make the game, the game is just a template for  GaleSalad, which you get for $10. Sounds like a good deal right?

But the fun doesn’t seem to stop. Following the story, I see other crappy little games (Ironpants, Super Ball Juglling [yes, "juglling" or so it says on the screenshot and it's from the same developer that launched flappy bird], , jumping to #1, all of them overnight. What gives?

Doing a little research quickly resulted in the method they used. Quite simple really. It seems that there are a couple of shady companies that do the following: As a developer, you cough up an amount (let’s say $5000) which they partly(they do keep a share of course) use to buy your game in mass using fake bot accounts.  70% of that goes back to you, so you end up paying something like $2K-$3K to get to #1 in the App Store. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such cheap promotion before.

Haven’t found the name of the companies, but I really hope Apple finds a way to stop this and deny payment to these developers, because this is as big a scam as they come. Many many people are trying to make a living through this, juggling with design, development, marketing, networking day in-day out (myself included) only to see their rankings and downloads rise oh-so-slowly and this really makes me angry.

Update:

There are more! Apart from Flappy Bird and Super Ball Juggling, developer nguyen has Shuriken Block. Now, take a look at these ranking changes and tell me if you think they are legit. All of then. AT THE SAME TIME. Remember, the games have been in the App Store for 6 months, and the developer has admitted that he has done zero promotion work for them. Now do the math.

flappy shuriken superball

 

A small holiday wish from Karios Games and me!

Posted by admin on December 23, 2013
General / No Comments

Taking a little break

Posted by admin on December 20, 2013
Development, Games, iOS / No Comments

I’ve been building my latest MonsterUp game for a few months now. The game has been accepted as part of the AppCademy program from Nokia and Microsoft and will be included in there when it’s done and passes all the necessary certification. Very happy and proud about that, but this is not what this post is about at all:)

The MonsterUp new game is being built using Unity and I’ve been learning a lot about the engine and tools while doing that. This does mean that I had to refactor a few things a few times already, but at some point I wondered what it would be like to make something new with all the things I’ve learned so far. So, I’ve decided to take a little break for a week or so from building the MonsterUp game and make something else completely.

The new game would have something to do with physics and maybe sports, so I chose to do a small archery game. The game set out to be an archery competition game with obstacles and moving targets set in different locations. And it also needed a cool name, where my friend Paddy helped. So the final name of the game is Daryl, from the Walking Dead character of course:)

I built the game using Unity in about one week, including integration with iOS stuff like Facebook and Twitter sharing, GameCenter achievements and leaderboards as well as Everyplay integration for sharing gameplay replays to social networks and youtube. Yes, Unity is awesome and the ecosystem is very well formed allowing all sort of nice things. The game features 5 different themes, Countryside, Beach, Old Castle, Rainy Forest and Snow Mountains. The game will be released shortly for iPhones, iPods and iPads (in both landscape and portrait mode) for free including the first of 5 themes. The rest are available for purchase as a single IAP inside the game. I also added some consumable bonues items that make shots less tricky, since they help with the shaky hands of the archer, the wind that affects the trajectory of the arrows and allow undoing some, ehm, unfortunate shots. None of these is essential in enjoying the game for free, but they add to the experience.

So there you have it, a free game for iOS made in a week using Unity that looks damn good, plays great and is fun! When the game is released, it will be available here.