blog splitter about

04/28/2015 Mike

Just published another new game. I wanted to try to make a game with one-touch control. The result is a simple but fun abstract endless runner. I call it Color Runner. Give it a try, I'd appreciate it. Next up is a port of BKZ to Android, plus I'll probably spend some time working on a new game idea I have.

01/23/2015 Mike

So I've taken a break from BKZ lately. My downloads have dropped off considerably since updating the app. It is still highly rated (4.5 stars) so I'm not sure what to attribute it to. My best guess is that the new game, being a 50MB download (and thereforbee requiring Wifi) has affected the download rate. Unfortunately with the comic, higher quality images, background music, etc there's no way I can get it back under 20MB so that it's downloadable over the air (OTA). I read somewhere that Microsoft was going to up its OTA limits to 50MB, but that hasn't happened.

At any rate, I still intend to publish to Android and to add the last world since it's already mostly done. I'll probably wait to see what it does on Android (and hopefully iOS eventually) before deciding whether it's worth to finish the track sharing and other fringe features. I also tried something different with BKZ. I made the game free (ad supported) with a donate option ($0.99) to get rid of the ads and make all future content free. Not a single person has exercised that option. Sigh.

While taking a break from BKZ I've been working on a new game, Blend Blocks (just submitted the xap to Windows Phone store). It's a really challenging puzzle game in the vane of "Jelly no Puzzle", but with it's own twist. I built it in Unity so I'll be porting it to many platforms including the web. You can play the full game here.

05/06/2014 Mike

Wow, 6 months since my last update. That's pretty pathetic. Well the main reason is I've been working furiously doing a complete rewrite of BKZ using Unity. I've added a ton of new stuff along the way, so I'm pretty excited to finally get it done (probably still a couple months away though). This new version will be released on Android for sure, but probably WP and iOS as well. I've also entered BKZ into a contest. You can help me out by viewing the video and "liking it". It also gives a glimpse into the new version of BKZ.

In other news, I recently received a nasty email from Apple on behalf of some other company. They've complained about one of the keywords used for Detector Gadget on the Apple store. Unfortunately just updating the keywords involves a brand new submission. I haven't touched Detector Gadget on iOS in 5 years so that's a huge pain. In the meantime I've taken DG down from the app store, which is unfortunate. Well, back to work on BKZ. Drop me an email if you read this, I'd love to hear from you.

10/30/2013 Mike

Sorry it's been a while since I've blogged. Ah, who am I kidding? No one is reading this anyway. But just in case one of the BKZ fans out there ends up here, I wanted to give an update. I released the BKZ Pro Edition update and am pretty pleased with it. I think the new tracks, the new track elements and new bikes are a lot of fun. Definitely worth the paltry $0.99, so be sure to upgrade if you're a fan! I'm up to around 125k downloads with a lot of ratings and a 4.5 star average, so that's great. Thank you to everyone who wrote a nice review, I read all of them and some of them have really made my day, so thanks. Pro Edition upgrades have not been stellar, only around 30 people have purchased the upgrade in the roughly 2 months it's been available. Advertising revenue is starting to get pretty good though with October looking to bring in around $70 in ads. Admittedly, these are not great numbers but this is a hobby for me so a few extra bucks each month is nice. Also, I very much didn't want to ruin the game experience by having obnoxious ads, so the ad placement is pretty sparse and non-intrusive, so I really wasn't expecting much.

While I'm on the subject of BKZ Pro, I wanted to do a solid for the other XNA developers out there struggling to get in-app purchasing (IAP) working on Windows Phone. First, you've probably already found the Taptitude guys on Channel 9. There's a download there and it's a great place to start. However, following their example exactly didn't quite work for me. I was getting exceptions when trying to fetch the product id. So, in the end, I just skipped the code that fetches the product ID since I already know what it is anyway (you create it when you add your IAP product to the Marketplace). Instead I just start with the call to RequestProductPurchaseAsync and give it the product id I created. One other thing I want to mention, I spent a lot of time trying the different ways there are to test in-app purchasing. I tried the mock objects (which doesn't really test the things I wanted to test), and I tried setting up IIS to be a stand-in for the store (this was really hard and I never got it to work on Windows 8). In the end I found the only reliable way to test was to create a Beta version of my app and my IAP product and then download it on my phone from the store. The downside to this approach is you have to wait for your app to make it to the store (usually around 2 hours in my experience). Here is a sample project I created that shows how I eventually got IAP working on Windows Phone for my app. If you have any questions, feel free to email me, I'll try to help with whatever I can remember.

8/20/2013 Mike

BKZ is still going strong and I'm feverishly working on an update. As I mentioned in the last post the update will contain some new sweet track elements, two new bikes and many new tracks (I'm shooting for 15). I will be making this content available via a "Pro Version" In-app purchase ($0.99) so I'm trying to figure out how to do that now. I must say the process is a bit frustrating. Speaking of frustrating...

I just published an update to BKZ. This is the second update and it contains all the stuff that was *supposed* to be in the first update: a few new tracks and a new rider you can unlock by rating the game. Somehow while creating the first update the file that actually contained the update got deleted. So I had to wait a week for Microsoft to "certify" my update which in this case turned out to be just a minor change to the app's description since the file that contained the actual new code never made it into the submission. I really like the Windows Phone ecosystem but this is one area that could be made a little cleaner and less confusing. Anyway, I'm anxious to get this update out there and see if it drives more people to rate the game and, if so, what that does to the overall game ranking. Time will tell I suppose. Thanks for reading. Here's a video showing one of the new tracks that will be available as part of the "Pro Version"

8/07/2013 Mike

Blondies Killing Zombies has been out for a couple weeks now and downloads are at around 2-3 thousand per day (38k total so far). Needless to say that's really exciting. Reviews for the most part have been really positive. People who take the time to get used to the controls seem to love it. Others seem to get frustrated quickly and hate it. I guess that's to be expected, it's not exactly a casual game. Still, if I can come up with something I'd like to make it more accessible in the future.

I'm currently working on updates for BKZ. I've already added some new track elements that are really sweet: melting ice and fire terrain, and resizeable boxes and pipes. Should make for some new, fun and challenging tracks. I've also added an ATV, which is the first bike in the game to have reverse. New riders and other surprises are on the way as well. I'm thinking I'll try and get a quick update out soon with some new tracks and a new rider that players can unlock by rating the game -- just something to try and keep the momentum going.

With 38k downloads, I'm curious if anyone has completed all of the tracks yet. If you're reading this and have completed all of the tracks, please send me an email. I suspect the "Almost Impossible" track will pose quite a challenge for most players. While I think that is good, I don't want anyone to get too frustrated trying to complete the game. So if you're stuck, you can watch the video below for how to complete "Almost Impossible".

7/24/2013 Mike

So BKZ has been out for a few days now. Wow! I'm blown away by the number of downloads. Nearly 4000 downloads in the first few days. Perhaps one of the sites I emailed wrote about BKZ and I'm just not aware of it yet? Maybe this is just normal for this type of game (all our previous games have been word games)? Maybe the kick-ass icon Greg created was enough to pique people's interested? I'm not sure what to attribute it to, but I'm definitely pleased. This is also the first app we've had where you can actually see the game show up in the "top apps" list. All of our previous titles would remain mostly in obscurity unless you stumbled upon it or went actively looking for it. Definitely cool to make a top list, and the ratings from people who can play the game have been excellent!

Unfortunately the initial release of the game also contained a bug. I store the date/time in each track so I can sort them by date. I overlooked the fact that most of the world uses DD/MM/YYYY instead of MM/DD/YYYY like we do here in the States. As a result the game crashes for anyone downloading it on a non-english phone. It's a pretty embarrassing oversight for me considering I work for an international company and deal with i18n issues all the time. I submitted a patch to Microsoft almost immediately but unfortunately it hasn't passed the certification process yet, so I'm still getting a lot of angry ratings from most of the world. I have to say though, the translator that Microsoft uses for their ratings can produce some seriously hilarious results. Here are a couple of my favorite BKZ ratings so far:

A game full of shit, it just doesn't run. Developers advise to rub in the head and then smear the mustard zelënkoj

This is the rotten game that I played in the life of garbage full I your mother in her mouth ebal

Full I my mother in her mouth indeed.  I hope Microsoft approves my update soon before my mother becomes the target of any additional ire.  Next I'll be working on a BKZ update. Going to add some in-app purchases for new riders, new bikes, new track elements, and include some free new tracks. Exciting times. I really enjoy playing and developing this game.  Off to go smear some mustard.

7/17/2013 Mike

Well the big day is almost here -- two days until the BKZ launch.  I'm real excited.  It's by far the most fun game I've made and I have lots of ideas for future versions provided there are other people out there that like the game as much as I do.  I've been real busy trying to get this site to a semi-respectable place and have been soliciting reviews/coverage from all the Windows Phone sites I could find.  We'll see how it goes.  I have high hopes for this blog as well.  It's something I've been meaning to do for a while so I figure it's time I start.  I'll update this page with projects I'm working on, news, reviews, financials, parenting advice (ha!) and anything else I can think of that someone might want to read.