Archive for the ‘code’ Category

App store submission

June 26, 2009

Babe on a beam is off for Apple review. It’s taken 4 months, 6 days to get our first title off to Apple (well, since I opened the iPhone box and started this blog). Ridiculously slow by most standards no-doubt (at least one seasoned developer snorted when I reported our progress) but it has been a great learning curve. I’m sure the next one will fly off the ranks much faster.

Last hurdle on the submission process was renaming the Bundle Identifier. Spaces in the name work fine when installing as a Developer or for Adhoc Distribution but the AppStore is more fussy. The error message that appears is somewhat confusing (referring to an ‘Application Bundle’ section of the manual that doesn’t appear to exist) but this technote clarified what was needed. Changing the Target | Properties | Indentier to a name without spaces did the trick.

Now the big question is – will the app get bounced for any other reason?*fingers crossed*

crossed fingers by Will Humes

crossed fingers by Will Humes

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Beta this week

June 14, 2009

Nearly ready to go beta. There I’ve said it… now I hope I don’t have to eat my words. Bit of a mad fortnight getting distracted on other projects but the good news is that I think we’ve sorted out the main issues from the alpha. We’ve introduced a small tutorial sandbox (no one reads anymore!) and the control mechanism is a lot smooth as a result of introducing a bunch of new subtle animations.

Trying hard to block out any thoughts of new features right now before we get version 1 out the door…

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I’m still in two minds as to how sensitive the controls should be. More hesistant non-players seem to pick up the hang of it quicker than a lot of twitchy-fingered gamers. Looking forward to another round of testing.

If you want in on the next round of testing, please SEND US YOUR DETAILS by Wednesday!

Alpha tomorrow

May 12, 2009

Babe on a beam will be available for alpha testing tomorrow Wednesday 13 May 11am EST.

Send us your UDIDs to get in on the action.

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One of the hardest parts of the this project is working out scope. More and more ideas are flooding in but at the end of the day, we’ve only got budget to release one level on spec. The audience will decide how far this game goes…

After a few uncertain days when our main development box died, we got quickly back on track this morning. Lots of things lining up for the beta release but I think we have enough to get out to testers with. It’s only a simple game after all and the target audience is probably not you lot! {;-)

Provisioning pain

May 6, 2009

Went through the tedious but necessary pain barrier today and yesterday getting my head around Adhoc distribution of the game. iPhone app distribution is anything but user friendly. What a ridiculously convoluted process!

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It took me a long while to realise that to build an app for distribution outside of the Apple iPhone App Store  you need to use a Distribution Provisioning Profile (not a Developer Provisioning Profile) which does not allow the app to run directly from XCode. I don’t know if anyone else out there found this as confusing as I did but it certainly chewed up a few days. Generic error messages like “Unexpected error (0xE8000001)” really didn’t help either. A crucial missing piece of the puzzle involving creating a Code Signing Entitlements file does not appear in the Apple Development guide at all. The blogosphere is full of frustrated developers complaining about the process of signing their apps.  I can only imagine how many more apps there would be if the process for deployment was any easier. I was ready to explode with frustration a few hours ago. Now at least I can feel a huge sense of relief, if not accomplishment. It is just a software build after all. Back to the game itself.. And here’s hoping that our little fella doesn’t fall foul of Apple’s somewhat arbitrary content approval policies.

A day or two past our original alpha milestone, we have a couple of Adhoc test apps to play with. Anyone who wants to participate, register your device and we will be in touch.

Design tweaks

April 27, 2009

20090427_babeBig happy face on baby and big happy face on me as the most complex part of the game slots into place – the failure sequence when our character loses its balance and falls off. That little green bit under the baby’s but is nothing rude, just the geometry actually being balanced in the game.

Jim has rearranged the code to make it a lot easier for us to lay out animated sequences as well. Whetting my appetite to get Sanctuary running on this engine.

Next stop – the GUI…

Approaching alpha

April 23, 2009

We have now locked all the art assets for the alpha version of the game. Hoping to have everything in place by the end of the week so that we can then focus on scoring and such-like. Last post I mentioned our new Animation Tester tool. This is starting to make a real difference to the pipeline. All this is is a separate project, made in Unity 2.5, that the team artist Jeremy can open in his PC copy of Unity. Unity iPhone as yet still is Mac-only and we started to find places in the codebase where iPhone hooks would result in not being able to play through scenes on PC.

By introducing a new Unity project as a staging area for art, we’ve given ourselves a lot more flexibility. We can now preview all animations in situ without having to trawl through the game. Next up it would be good to be able to preview each ‘shot’ (cut sequence) comprising more than one animation but we may not get around to this in the near future. Hardly any shots in this game to speak of.

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BTW Interesting to see that Unity has blogged that Subversion and Perforce support is on its roadmap. We’re using the Unity asset server at the moment, powered by PostgreSQL, and no dramas but I would feel more comfortable entrusting version control to a dedicated provider.

Finally, quick plug to Firemint down in Melbourne who have scored a huge hit with the highly addictive iPhone game Flight Control. A great example of a good idea well executed without too much fuss. Inspiring stuff. The small print is that the developers have been in business since 1999 which only goes to prove that overnight success is rarely that.

Animation Testing

April 23, 2009

The outcome of this week’s problems importing animations has been a pause to look back whether we did enough testing of our pipeline. In all the excitement of getting the core game mechanic underway, I think it’s fair to say that I ignored the devil in the detail. Not only were we never getting precisely the correct animations playing in Unity but we didn’t plan for testing precision. After a few hours of going around the houses (easy enough in a small team) we have now got a rudimentary ‘Animation Tester’ scene going in which it is easy to preview any and all animations in Unity independently from gameplay. Our little game doesn’t require anything too complex in terms of bespoke tools but the scripting support for auto-generation of scenes and builds is pretty impressive. Mind whirring as to how to take advantage of this for future projects… but really need to finish this one first.

Babe walks down beam

April 3, 2009

Using Unity’s remoting feature, I’ve just tested the core game mechanic, balancing a baby on a beam. Very satisfying end to the week. Still some issues, principally that the iPhone build crashes almost immediately but on the desktop it’s looking pretty good. Animation blending works very nicely and physics takes over when you lean too far to the left or the right.

We changed the pipeline today after realising that we were ending up with redundant meshes in the project. I have a feeling that the instability on the actual device is related to the current size of the build – 30Mb.

I’ve set a deadline of Tues morning for our first complete build of all components. At that point I’ll have a better perspective on what additional challenges we might need to incorporate to make the initial release memorable. That said, I’m feeling pretty good about the project given that everyone starts smiling when they take over the controls. That can’t be too bad can it?

End of week 1

March 27, 2009

End of the first week of the Build phase. It’s been a frustrating day but now when I take a moment to look back on what we’ve achieved things are looking fine.

We have pretty much finalised the look of the game, established an asset pipeline betwen Maya and Unity3D, and level 1 is looking reasonably complete. Looking forward to the first build.

Not everything went to plan. We still have not worked out how to achieve a toon shader look. Having trouble finding ANY iPhone titles with the aesthetic we want but haven’t given up just yet. Also, we’ve had some hiccups establishing a clean line of communications using our online project management and version tracking software. We’re using my old favourite trac for all documentation and issue ticketing but uncovered a defect (missing feature?) which have slowed us down (no alerts when an attachment is added to a ticket). Similarly I was hoping to utilise Subversion in parallel to evaluating Unity’s Asset Server but we hit several obstacles. The number of files in Unity projects makes checking out files slow going. We decided to simply check in Unity packages today to save time (relinquishing any real version control of the elements within the package). Also still no luck getting Asset Server tested. We needed to manually request an eval license for the Unity Asset Server client (not the best product name in the world)  something I overlooked in the process of installing the server and failing to get it working on Debian. Given the high quality of the documentation for other software components, I think Unity could improve the Asset Server instructions. The documentation is written to suggest that a Server menu option is available inside Unity3D without mentioning that this is conditional on having a client license. Not the most intuitive thing when you are used to a world of free software clients and paid-for servers. The inverse is true in this case, Unity charge US$499 per client and give away the server (built around PostgreSQL).

Nevertheless it is a small team and process hiccups aren’t so big a problem at this point. Communication is going well and the important thing is that work on building the game mechanic is underway and everyone seems to love the art. The unexpected early release of Unity 2.5 for Windows has also given us Unity on all team machines which is a bonus considering we are all new to the product. A promising start.

Now I have to go off and mark student essays! Enough procrastination..

Unity3D remoting working

March 11, 2009

Started my 30 day trial of Unity3D iphone. Today was spent getting remoting working. A cute feature whereby you can use the iPhone accelerometer to control the game on your Mac screen in a preview mode.

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I had to reissue all the provisioning profiles from yesterday as the Unity iPhone editor seems to enforce your Bundle Identifier starting with ‘com’. Perhaps I did something else wrong but by creating a new App ID in the iPhone Dev center account I managed to get everything working. It was good to finally see some local apps compile and get installed on my device. Now it’s time to start building the game scaffold.