App Store Submit is Go!

OK!  Villagers Vs. Vampire, both the full version and free version, have been submitted to the Apple app store.  Hopefully all goes well!  I anticipate it’ll take a week or so to hear whether we’re approved or not, so for now it’s pretty much just nervous waiting.

In the meantime, I need to submit the game to the Amazon App store as well, which I’ll undertake shortly.  And during this week, we’ll be setting up the web version of the game and host it right here on this site, so stay tuned for more exciting update thingies!

“You’re always preparing, just go!”

We’re finishing up now and preparing for the release of Villagers Vs. Vampire!  Reggie is ready and waiting for you to help him defend his castle!

I’ve been composing screenshots, descriptions, and I’m now starting on videos.  There’ll be 2 versions of the game:  An ad-supported free version, and a full version for $0.99.  It looks like our initial release platforms are going to be:

  • iPhone & iPad (iOS 4.3 or higher)
  • Amazon Kindle Fire
  • Right here on our website, perceptivepumpkin.com

Other possible platforms may be the wider Android market and Kongregate, but we’ll have to see as we continue testing.  My goal is to submit the game to various app stores in the next week or so, and if there are no hiccups, hopefully we’ll get it out near the end of June/beginning of July.  Exciting and scary all at once!

It’s funny to me, because I’ve been writing software for almost 15 years now, and the applications I’ve created have been used by hundreds of thousands of people.  And yet I’m more nervous about this release than anything I’ve done in the past decade.  It really is different when the output you create is totally and completely your own, without knowing beforehand if anyone even wants what you’re writing.

But, regardless of how well the game does sales-wise, it’ll never be a failure in my view.  Given all the things I’ve learned, and the knowledge that this is just the beginning of many great games we’ll produce, we can only go up from here.  I’m hoping you’ll go along with us.  Thanks for your support!

The Glass is Half Full of Air

Hello again.  Sorry for the infrequent posting schedule.  It’s been busy here!

Since the development and testing has now stabilized, I’m going back to some elements that I put on the shelf, like getting the Android version sorted out.  I’ll probably target Amazon and the Kindle Fire first, then add support for the wider Android market.  I’ve also reconsidered releasing the game on Kongregate.  A recent post from another indie developer has convinced me to give it a shot.  We shall see.

In other news. E3 happened this week, and the general consensus I get is one of disillusionment.  Gamers were disappointed with the lack of surprises and heavy emphasis of big-budget man-shooters.  I don’t mind FPSs or violence or sex in games, but when that’s most of what the big guys have to offer, and it’s offered gratuitously, it just all feels so juvenile and boring.  I’ve heard several forum posters declare that they are now ignoring AAA games, and looking towards indie and Kickstarter games for their entertainment.  My response is “Yay!”

My hope is that we indie developers can continue creating new and interesting games that find a large, eager audience fed up with the $60 blood explosion simulators.  There’s a time and a place for that type of game, and I wouldn’t want to see FPSs disappear completely, but when your own fans can’t tell the difference between each company’s games, maybe it’s time to diversify.  </mini-rant>

Upgrades!

Getting ever closer to release time, so I thought I would highlight some other features of the game.  Pictures work better than words, so here’s a shot of the Upgrade screen.

This is one of our menu screens, accessed from the set of 4 tabs at the top.  When you receive Upgrade Points, you can spend them here.  If you upgrade the Vault, Crypt and/or Farm to 2X, you’ll get 2 Coins, Coffins or Veggies per match instead of 1.  3X will give you 3 per match, etc., up to a maximum of 4X.  Using these upgrades can really power up your puzzle matching!

And the best part is, these points can always be changed at any time.  So if you find yourself on a tough level and you can’t seem to get enough Coffins to survive, you can rearrange your points into the Crypt upgrade to get more Coffins on every match.  This is just one of the ways to make your game more customizable as you play through it.

We hope to have a professional gameplay video in the near future, so we’ll post more details when they happen!

Mind the (Shortening) Gap

We’re getting close to the first release.  We should have a gameplay video coming soon that highlights the game’s features, so that’ll be exciting for us.  We’ve also received some more testing feedback and are tweaking some elements, such as the tutorial and the reaction and/or coloring of UI items.  Overall it’s looking good.  Hopefully we can get the game out there in June.

Anyway, back to work!

The Road More Taken

More progress, more headaches, less time…sounds like indie game development!  After jumping to a new MacOS and XCode compiler last week, I was getting errors during compilation, so I moved back to an older version of XCode (4.2 I think) through some consternation and hammering.  Turns out that was unnecessary, as the build errors were the result of some missing link libraries that Unity isn’t pulling in automatically, for some reason.  A few manual clicks later, and it was working again.  Unfortunately, I have to do those manual clicks every time I compile now.  Oh well.

It’s getting close to another one of those “decision times”…the iOS version has been running pretty well, and seems to have all the extras working (like Gamecenter achievements).  The Android version’s extras are not working very well.  So I’m at a small crossroads:  do I get the iOS version ready for release and get it out there, or do I continue taking time to make Android work, and release both versions at the same time.  I had been hoping to do a multi-platform release, but some things are just inexplicably not working on Android at the moment.  I’ve heard over and over from other developers that you should release on iOS first, and if it sells or you have time, go do the Android version.  I do plan to put our game on Android (the main game is working now, after all), but I’m wondering if I should just go ahead and get iOS out there, and send Android out at a later time when everything is working properly.

It’s hard to tell which way to go, but conventional wisdom says to get it out on Apple hardware sooner.  Plus, I’m in the middle of my 7th month developing the game, which (surprise!) is about 1/3rd longer than I thought it would take.  Indie developers who also have full-time jobs always stress that when you make games in your spare time, you need to realize it will take a lot longer to get it done.  I’ve known that for a while, but it’s still different when you are in the middle of it, and as I’ve mentioned before I’m rather impatient.

This post sounds a bit more down than I intended it.  In actuality, things have still been moving forward, we’ve completed some more rounds of testing, and added some polish and embellishments along the way.  It’s shaping up pretty well, and it’s turning into a product I can be proud of, especially considering that it’s my first game.  This is only the beginning.

Multiplicity

I always told myself I’d never work 80-hour weeks, but that has been my reality for the past few months.  This week, however, a friend of mine surmised that it’s more like 2 different sets of 40-hour weeks, which is a slightly different mindset.  My game development doesn’t feel the same as work, and I’m happy about that.  It was always one of my biggest worries about going down this path.

Anyway, the game!  I currently plan to release a free ad-supported version and a paid full version, hopefully on multiple platforms at once.  For some, this is considered an act of madness, but I’ve been used to juggling multiple projects for a long time now, and it’s actually not too difficult for me at the moment.  It helps that I’m essentially juggling different versions of the same code, instead of different projects entirely!

Also received a new iPad this week (whatever Apple says, it’s the “iPad 3”), and managed to get the game running on there with it’s newer HD higher-definition Retina display.  Unfortunately, since the iPad ran on iOS 5.1, I needed a new SDK, which required the newer XCode compiler, which required the newer Mac OS.  3 upgrades, 5 GB, and about 3 hours later, I was able to make all the Apple bits happy again.  Android is mostly happy, but it may be a ruse since I’ve only looked at one device so far.

Villagers Vs. Vampire running on iPad 3 (left), iPhone 4S (middle), and Android Galaxy tablet.

Forward Progress, In Reverse

Since I’ve been on a backward-looking nostalgia kick this week, here’s some additional history of our development, which helps me gain some perspective on our progress.

Here is a very early screenshot from the beginning of November 2011.  I was trying to get the gameplay mechanics sorted out.

 

One month later, near mid December 2011.  Added the basic layout and art style, and was figuring out how everything would work together, and just how much art work I had left to do (which was “very yes!”).  This was the form our game took during our first alpha test, when we found out just how addictive the game could be!

 

This is the game today.  There are a few pieces that remain similar to the alpha, but several elements have been tweaked and refined (and this screen doesn’t show the various menus and levels that were also added).

Lots more to do, but we’re getting closer!