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My "Low Maturity" game

Google just notified me that they re-rated my Android Game, K-Space Shooter from 'For Everyone' to 'Low maturity'. Not sure why. The game does not include Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs, Gambling, Hate, has no access the the users Location, doesn't do Profanity or Crude Humor, Sexual or Suggestive Content, and doesn't include User Generated Content or User to User Communication. I don't think that what you can do in the game classifies as mild cartoon or fantasy violence either.
So not sure if Google's re-rating my App makes any sense. Especially if they tell me that "additional content rating modifications by the Android Market Team may result in administrative action, up to and including suspension of subsequent violations". Hmpf.



The Sandboxing Disaster Continued

I just wanted to take another shot to start implementing the sandboxing feature required for Mac OS X Apps on the Mac App Store starting with March 1. Sandboxing basically means that your application is prevented to access files on the hard disk, communicate with other apps, access the Internet and similar, if the user didn't grant the application access manually (by for example choosing the file the app wants to access using a file dialog). This sounds great at first, but unfortunately, the way Apple implemented this absolutely sucks. Sandboxed apps are for example no longer able to open files typed in by hand, or files referenced by other files, which is for example usual in HTML files, or any 3D model file in the case of my apps. Meaning my applications simply won't work anymore as the user expects them to.


Apple received a lot of criticism for this, but didn't really answer to the complaints. In reaction to this, I simply didn't update my apps at all to support this absurdity, it would not make sense to provide users with a crippled version of my software just because Apple made some weired decision.

Today, 8 days before the sandbox deadline kicks in, I received a mail from Apple, stating that the Sandboxing Deadline is now extended to June 1. This is the second extension of that deadline, which was originally set to November 1st, 2011. Nice. What does that mean? I guess Apple received too much criticism. But I also guess that other developers also did what I did: Simply not implementing that broken sandboxing feature. Apple probably noticed that not many developers implemented it and now is forced to do this. Very nice.

Digging a bit deeper, they also added a notice that non-sandboxed apps submitted to the App store before that deadline may continue to be updated, non-sandboxed.

Which is a big change for me and the users of my Apps. This basically means that all users of WebsitePainter and CopperCube who bought that software on the Mac App Store do not have to fear that they will receive an update to that software which will cripple it so that it is no longer usable. I'm not sure if this also means that Apple will also allow updates with new features to these versions. But for now, this is great news.

Who knows, maybe Apple will will also someday remove that ridiculous Sandbox option at all. They now introduced that Gatekeeper thing now anyway.



Beast of Prey

I shot this picture yesterday in our driveway:


Those are the footsteps of an animal which ran in a straight line from the forest directly to the engine bonnet of our car. In doing so, it apparently even jumped over a fence (80 cm height) without problems. It looks like it slept in or below the car and then left in the morning. Its footsteps are frightingly big, like those of a dog. I wonder if there is a mutant sized Marder (=an animal like a weasel, but much bigger, common here in austria) living in our neighbourhood? :)



Android game sales findings so far

As described below, my first Android game K-Space Shooter is available on the Android market now for about one week. I created it on weekends out of boredom, and also as experiment, to see if you could easily earn money with the android apps. Here are the results so far:

Sales
The game generated a few sales, but not too many. When you publish software on the android market, you need to pay a one-time fee of 25$ to google. With the current sales rate of the game, it looks like it will still take a few weeks to get that money back. :)


Reviews
I did a bit of marketing for the game. A few android game websites have reviewed the game so far, and the results were quite positive: The game appears to be entertaining, it seems to run smoothly and they like the graphic style. The only negative item usually was that the game isn't free. [But it's just 99 cents! Come on! :)] The reviews also apparently resulted in a few more visitors of the game website, but I'm not sure if they caused a few more sales.

What's next
For now, the game seems to be nice, but people apparently simply don't buy stuff on the Android Market, as it seems. The next logical step is to provide a free, stripped down version of the game, which I just did: K-Space Shooter Lite is now available for free on the Android Market, since a few hours. It has less levels, enemies and weapon upgrades, but it's basically the same game. Let's see if this will bring in more users to buy the full version of the game. I'll keep you updated on this blog.



Office view (version=winter)

Today is the first day in office, where my view looks like it should look like:


That's how Austria should look like in Winter, IMO. :)



My Android Game is published now!

It went faster then expected: I thought Google has a similar review process as Apple, but it doesn't look like it. As soon as I hit the 'Upload' button, my game was available on the Android Market. And now I have published my first Android game, yay :)
The game is named K-Space Shooter, get it from and Android Market here. It is a fast action loaded space shooter game with a distinct difficulty level, not intended for beginners. I created a short video, showing it in action:




Some details about the game: The game has an endless amount of levels, scaling up difficulty all the time, with 7 different level types, from asteroid belts over mine fields to enemy fleets. There are 7 possible weapon upgrades for the player, and 6 different enemy types.
The game was designed to be played especially on small devices, with small screens and slower hardware. But of course it also works nicely on more modern hardware. It includes support for the DPAD, and features two nice sound tracks giving it some nice atmosphere.

I invested about 20 hours of programming and image drawing into it. That's what cold winter weekend days are for. :) I don't expect any sales from it, apparently, the Android owners usually don't buy apps. But let's see. I'll post my experiences with the market on this blog then. If you have 99 cents spare, get the game from the android market :)



First Android development experience

For us programmers, the world is constantly moving. It is quite usual that a technology you know to work with will stop being used in two years for now. So it is always a good idea to try something new. I have the habit of learning at least one new programming language every year, and also trying out a few new technologies from time to time. Last weekend, I tried out Android. And now that I've played a bit with it, I'm quite surprised what nice development platform Google created for this. You only have to download and install Eclipse, get the Android SDK and an Android plugin for Eclipse, and then you are able to start writing code and create Android applications. It looked like this for me:


In the center, you see a big emulated android device. The emulator itself is quite a bit slow, which is not very helpful for developing games, but fortunately, you can simply connect your cell phone to your PC, hit 'run' or 'debug' in Eclipse, and your app will instantly run on your real device. Which works surprisingly well.

I think if I have some time, I'll try to create a small game for Android and publish it. I've heard that nobody really buys apps in the android world, but let's see. I'll keep you updated on this small side project at this blog. :)