Showing all entries for: November 2010

Apple Might Approve My Expedite Request

The Apple review staff contacted me telling me that I needed to change the app name in iTunes Connect (which I didn’t know I could do), and once I do that, they can continue processing my expedite request.

I changed the name right away and replied back to their email and still waiting to hear something from them. To me, it sounds like they might be approving my expedite request for Tilt Monster.

I really hope for it to be approved soon so Doodle Dash! fans can upgrade and see the update which is in all actuality more like a sequel. I also want to be able to submit Tilt Monster to the Ansca Staff to be considered for their first round of Top Apps that they’ll be choosing at some point after December 15th.

In other good news, I’ve been testing Tilt Monster extensively today (new high score, 130,000+!) and still no crashes. Old Doodle Dasher’s who experienced crashes, while I won’t say there won’t ever be, should definitely experience far less.

Play-Testing Tilt Monster

I’ve been testing Tilt Monster extensively now and haven’t experienced a single crash or bug… this release is going to be great. I can’t wait to read what all the older Doodle-Dasher’s think of the new update.

I really hope Apple approves my expedite request.

Beebe Games Website Updates

I’ve been a little less than pleased with our official Beebe Games website, so I’m going to be working on some updates.

One of the biggest additions will be to create an individual page (or “home” as I like to think of it) for each one of our games in the form of a link to their own page that’ll describe the game, show off some screenshots or any videos we have for the app, and of course, a link to the iTunes page.

Tilt Monster Submitted Yesterday

I submitted the latest update to Doodle Dash! which will rename the app to Tilt Monster. Hopefully Apple will approve my request to have the review process expedited since I removed my app from sale until the name change is final.

For more information on what has been changed/added/improved upon, read my latest reply to this thread (#34).

The reason why this site has been lacking in updates is due to all the time I’ve spent getting things in Tilt Monster as close to perfect as possible. Biffy did a great job on some of the new characters (my favorite is the purple guy she did, which you can see from one of the screenshots).

The gameplay, and how they work with the new leaderboards makes the game WAY more addictive than it’s predecessor. It’s an update to Doodle Dash! so existing players can simply update and play, but we really feel like this is more of a sequel (which is why we made this version 2.0.0).

Once the update is approved, we’ll see what you think!

Ansca Publishes Corona SDK Roadmap. Extremely exciting new things are in store for the future of the Corona SDK! In-app purchases aren’t going to be in the next release, but they are #1 on the Top Priorities list, so that’s great news.

I’m particularly excited about the new Facebook Connect features, Analytics, as well as the Photoshop to Corona exporter that’ll be available in the next release.

Haven’t heard from me lately?

I’ve been working very hard on the latest Doodle Dash! implementation, which will—in the next update—be renamed to Tilt Monster.

I’ll post more videos and info as development progresses, so stay tuned!

OpenAL Coming to Corona. This is great news. I think the current audio implementation in Corona is lacking, so the decision to include a more “mature” audio engine was a great decision.

Doodle Dash! Update Imminent

We’re about to commence development on the next Doodle Dash! update, but we don’t want to just simply change the name and re-submit. No, if we’re being forced to push out an update in order to keep Doodle Dash! alive, then we’re going to make this update worth it.

So a question I’ve got running through my head throughout the development of this update is:

How can we make the new Doodle Dash! more compelling, to be able to stand up to the likes of tilt-game pillars such as the amazing Tilt to Live, Dark Nebula, and yes, even Doodle Jump?

Although I don’t personally believe our game is anything like Doodle Jump, I admit the overwhelming number of reviews comparing it to that game is because of the “Doodle” placed in the title (which will not be present after the name change) as well as the casual nature of the game.

Some ideas we’ve been throwing around for the new update:

  • More things to pick up! Right now there’s only the star that gives some random effect. I’m thinking there needs to be more.

  • Unlockable pick ups. Awarded after achieving specific score thresholds, or—as others suggested—save up gems and use them to allow players to “purchase” new pickups to be spawned throughout each round.

  • More creative OpenFeint achievements. Instead of just score thresholds and gem combos, perhaps things like how long a round lasted (time thresholds) and things like that would add to the replay-factor of the game.

  • Better enemy differentiation. Right now enemies look different, but they’re all just sitting there for you to avoid. We’re thinking having enemies do different things (such as shoot something, or maybe have the flying bunnies slowly gravitate towards the player, etc).

Keep in mind that the above list of additions aren’t set in stone, they’re just ideas we’re currently bouncing around and thinking of including in the next update. Things that will definitely be part of the update include:

  • Better performance. Doodle Dash! was the game I learned the Corona SDK with, so the code is somewhat of a mess. I cleaned up some with the last update, but it’s still pretty messy. I plan on completely recoding this next update for stability.

  • Facebook Friends Leaderboard. I hear Facebook Graph API support is coming to Corona, but I’m still able to do a Facebook Friends Leaderboard without it (currently in Dungeon Tap and Dragon’s Keep). This will definitely be included in the next Doodle Dash! update.

  • Better soundtrack and effects. I’m very displeased with the current sound effects and music tracks. That’ll change.

  • Optimized for the retina display. Since the last Doodle Dash! update (1.3), I’ve purchased an iPod touch 4. Simply put, the new display is amazing.

  • Although the name will change, this will just be an update. So if you’ve purchased Doodle Dash! this exciting new version will be free for you.

If you have any suggestions, or comments about the upcoming version of Doodle Dash! please feel free to tweet them to us!

Nominate Corona SDK for Best Mobile Platform. The Corona SDK is by far the best mobile platform for iOS and Android development. It boasts high performance, uses Lua (which means it’s easy to learn), cross-platform, and is getting better with each new release.

Mashable’s voting system allows you to login using your existing Twitter or Facebook account, so it’s easy to cast your vote.

Dungeon Tap 1.1.1 Submitted

What’s new in this version?

This is a minor (but very important) update that fixes an issue with OpenFeint scores not being submitted if you have a high score set from version 1.0 and also ADDS 20 Brand New OpenFeint Achievements to make Dungeon Tap even more addicting!

Apparently there’s a small bug that affects only those who are upgrading from version 1.0, where OpenFeint scores aren’t submitted unless you beat your previously set high score, which is almost impossible due to the new scoring system in 1.1.

As stated in the quote above (will appear on the iTunes page when it’s released), this version fixes that bug and also adds 20 OpenFeint Achievements.

The only downside: it’s gonna be another 7-10 days wait until this version is approved.

Doodle Dash! Getting a Name Change

In case you’ve missed the previous post on this subject, Doodle Dash! ran into some trademark issues with Playfirst, Inc. I promised to post updates to my blog, so here it is.

As a result of the whole thing, I’ve removed Doodle Dash! from sale and we’ll be working on an update that will feature a name change, performance improvements, and a lot of new additions.

The new name hasn’t been decided on, but I’ll be sure to announce it when we settle on something. All changes/improvements/additions will come via an update to the current Doodle Dash! so if you have it installed, don’t delete it!

Biffy and I have some projects we’re currently working on, so it’ll be a while before the update is released, so please be patient. I’ll definitely be looking forward to shifting our focus back onto Doodle Dash! once we push through our current projects.

If the whole trademark thing scares you at all, don’t be. I admittedly made some mistakes when it came to naming Doodle Dash! I’m not admitting to infringement or saying that I did anything wrong, but I did learn a thing or two from the whole Playfirst, Inc. situation.

Game Maker Publishing for iOS, PSP, etc. 50/50 Rev Share. So for Game Maker developer’s who want to be in the App Store, basically there will be two review processes they’ll have to go through (YoYo Games/Apple). Then, once all is said and done (if your game makes “the cut”), you’ll have to split your revenue 50/50.

Since Game Maker script is on the same difficulty level as Lua, YoYo Games better hope their customers (who also want to be iPhone/Android developers) don’t discover Corona.

Corona API: Easier Facebook Connect Access Coming Soon. This is very exciting. I can’t wait to see what’s included in the next version of the Corona SDK (keeping my fingers crossed for in-app purchasing).

Microsoft Kinect is a Good Direction. iPhone gaming is on a roll and eating into into console gaming industry’s territory (most notably, the Nintendo Wii, DS, and PSP), and as hardware gets better and better on iOS devices, it’ll only be a matter of time before many non-casual games hit the App Store and start to eat away at Xbox and PS3’s share of the industry as well.

I personally think that in the long run, the only way console gaming platforms are going to stay afloat with the current system they’re riding on ($49.99 games and so forth) is to innovate past what iOS is capable of doing in terms of gaming, and I think Microsoft’s got the right idea with their Kinect device.

An article on the NYTimes website describes it best:

[Kinect] has four microphones and three little lenses: a video camera, an infrared projector and a distance sensor. Together, these lenses determine where you are in the room.

And not just you. The system tracks 48 parts of your body in three-dimensional space. It doesn’t just know where your hand is, like the Wii. No, the Kinect tracks the motion of your head, hands, torso, waist, knees, feet and so on.

The point is to let you control games with your body, without having to find, hold, learn or recharge a controller. Your digital stunt double appears on the TV screen. What you do, it does.

So while I don’t think every console gaming platform should move towards replicating the above, I do think that they should starting thinking outside of the box and focus on creating something different from the iOS user experience has to offer.

So kudos to Microsoft for their Kinect device. Just wait until some kind of “Wii Fit” type of thing comes out for that!

Game Maker and AIR to Adopt Revenue Share Model

Game Maker is apparently working on a version of their software that will make it possible to publish iOS games, and currently plan on taking 35% of revenue from each app made with it.

Likewise, Adobe AIR is looking to adopt a similar model and take 30% of net revenue from apps created with the tool.

Revenue sharing sucks. Long live the Corona SDK and their current subscription/licensing options.

Give developers a tool, and charge a premium to use it. Don’t take revenue from developers, especially in a competitive environment such as the App Store—that’s just wrong.

Avoiding Trademark Issues in the App Store

The usual advice on this subject goes something like this:

Think of an app name. Make sure its not already registered. Register the trademark.

Well, the steps above are pretty vague, and let’s face it, not all of us can shuffle out $300-400 per app right off the bat unless we know it’s going to be worth it. Given the trademark issues I’ve faced recently, here’s my advice for the average indie iOS developer.

NOTE: Everything in this article applies to Unitied States copyright and trademarks, as I’m not sure how the whole thing works in other countries.

Start off by brainstorming some original names for your app. It doesn’t have to be all that catchy, but it should be simple and descriptive. Take one of the recent app store successes for example. Cut the Rope isn’t going to win any awards for the most creative app name, but it is simple, descriptive, and original.

Once you find a name, do a Google search, as well as a search in the App Store to make sure the name isn’t taken by any other software or games out there. If your pending app name has more than one word, also search for each word individually.

Doodle Dash! clashed with Playfirst, Inc. because a large majority of their games are “Something” Dash, so you might want to avoid a word if it’s used by a lot of other apps, especially the more popular ones. With that said, I now see that both “Doodle” and “Dash” were bad choices when it came to naming my app.

Once your chosen name passes the Google and App Store steps, it’s time to search for some registered trademarks for all the significant words in your pending title. Visit the TESS website and click Basic Search to get started.

If any words you chose do come up in your search, don’t give up on it just yet. Click on each one to see if the registered trademark is in an industry that would conflict with an app store app. You can register the same trademark in a separate industry IF using that trademark will not cause consumer confusion.

Pay special attention to industries such as, “Computer game software; Electronic game software; Game software; Video game software.” because those are the one’s you really want to stay away from if your word has already been registered.

Once you’ve found a combination of words that pass all of the above steps, go into iTunes Connect and create your app right away! You don’t have to be ready to upload your app to create a new profile for your app, just fill out as much information as you can.

What this will do is effectively set an official “creation date” for your app name, and by common law, grant you the right to use that trademark as yours (since nobody else is using it, or has it registered).

The US Patent and Trademark Office FAQ states:

Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark. Generally, the first to either use a mark in commerce or file an intent to use application with the Patent and Trademark Office has the ultimate right to use and registration.

If you followed the steps I described when choosing your app name, creating the app in iTunes provides proof that you started using that trademark on a specific date (since that data obviously can’t be manipulated).

That way, if a company or individual were to register the trademarks on the words you chose after that date, your common law rights would prevent them from being able to get your app removed or force you to rename it.

This doesn’t mean you can think of as many potential app names as you can think of and “reserve” them, but if your app is in development then it shouldn’t be too long before you really are using the trademark for commerce. At the very least, registering the app name in iTunes shows your intent to use it.

If it takes you too long to release your app, however, then the “release date” might be the only one that can protect you, but in any case that should be sufficient proof.

What Common Law Won’t Do

While everything I’ve described so far is a good way to protect yourself from someone registering your trademark later and trying to accuse you of infringing on their work, common law rights won’t help you legally when it comes to preventing others from infringing on your work.

So if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and feel like someone is using your trademark, it will be very difficult for you to challenge them in court (or anywhere else) if you don’t have your trademark officially registered.

With that said, you should definitely strive to eventually register your app names as trademarks if you can’t do it right off the bat, especially if any of your apps become widespread.

When you’re ready for that step, here’s a good resource that’ll show you how.

Here’s to no more trademark or legal issues!

Dungeon Tap 1.1.0 Update Ready for Sale! This update improves upon almost every aspect of version 1.0, so I’m excited to see what everyone says about it!

Corona-made iPad eBook Reaches #1. Congratulations to the folks at Unicorn Labs for this amazing accomplishment.

Director Class 1.1 by Ricardo Rauber. Once you implement this just once, you’ll see how it is by far the easiest, most intuitive way to manage different screens in a Corona project. Great job Ricardo!

TIP: Before calling changeScene(), don’t forget to stop any event listeners, timers, and transitions used by that module to avoid unexpected crashes!

Doodle Dash! + Copyright Infringement... Really?

Playfirst, Inc. contacted Apple claiming that the use of the word “Dash” in my title infringes on their copyright of the word “DASH”. As a result, I’ve removed Doodle Dash! from sale until this whole thing gets resolved.

Playfirst, Inc. does in fact have the word “DASH” trademarked (US Reg No. 3,719,384); however, I’m using the word descriptively, also in conjunction with “Doodle” and an exclamation point so I don’t personally see how the title of our game can actually be considered “infringement”.

I can see why they have a problem though. Most of their games (and there’s a lot) are “Something” Dash, such as Diner Dash. Regardless, I still don’t think that’s entirely fair. My game obviously isn’t copying them, and I did not intend to leverage the success of their apps by naming it similarly.

In fact, the logic behind naming the game went something like this:

  • “Doodle” to describe the game’s visual style.

  • “Dash” to describe the fast-paced gameplay.

  • ”!” to inspire a sense of urgency, thus supporting my use of the word “Dash”

The very definition of the word DASH in the English dictionary is overall very descriptive of the game:

to run or travel somewhere in a great hurry.

And anyone who has played the game can attest to the fact that the character in the game does exactly the above, and throughout the entire course of gameplay.

Apple didn’t order me to remove my game. In fact, they gave me two options:

  • Contact Playfirst, Inc. and get it resolved without the need for Apple to step in.

  • Or prove to Apple that my game does NOT in fact infringe on Playfirst, Inc.’s copyright.

They gave me five days to respond, which I’ve already done. I also emailed the representative at Playfirst, Inc. to see if we can work things out, just to see if they’re capable of being fair, but I’m keeping my expectations low.

A similar (though not exact) case that someone brought to my attention was that of Tim Langdell, which apparently set precedent that you can’t sue for trademark infringement for one English word like “Dash” (or in his case, “Edge”) when the products are nothing alike.

UPDATE: I guess the reason Tim Langdell lost his battle was because he wasn’t producing any works with his trademark (which is grounds for losing it) and was using false documentation to defend his case. So I guess the the whole Langdell thing is irrelevant, but interesting nonetheless.

What mostly irked me about this whole situation is the fact that Playfirst, Inc. decided to go straight to Apple in an attempt to get my game removed without ever attempting to contact me! Apple attached the email that was sent to them from Playfirst, Inc. and it reminded me of a whiny little kid trying to get his way by going straight to the top and not even attempting to settle things respectfully at the lowest level possible.

My level of respect for them would be way, way higher right now if they would have at least sent a courtesy email to me, or—God forbid—asked me to take my game down and gave me their reasons why I should.

It could have went something like this:

Dear Jonathan,

We understand you have a game published in the iTunes App Store titled, “Doodle Dash!”. We own the copyright for the word “DASH” and feel as though the title of your game, which follows a similar naming convention used in many of our games, is infringing on our trademark.

We ask that you remove your game from the app store and rename it so it doesn’t conflict with our titles. If you don’t respond within 5 days, we will be forced to contact Apple, Inc. with this matter.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

Sincerely,

Playfirst, Inc.

I guess something like that would have been a complete waste of their time.

Seriously, is that the real difference between indie game developers and non-indie game developers?

Well enough ranting. I’ll just hope for the best while I patiently wait for their reply. In the meantime, I’ve removed Doodle Dash! from sale (I didn’t delete it, so it can go back on sale at any moment, but for the duration of this incident it’s not available). Hopefully I’ll hear from them very soon so we can get this settled.

The fact of the matter is, I’m an indie, and they’re a corporation. Expect Doodle Dash! as we currently know it to be gone for good. If that happens, I’ll make some major improvements to the game, rename it, and make it free for the first month it’s live just so everyone who purchased prior to the name change can still get it for free.

Doodle Dash! was our best selling app.

UPDATE #1: I’ve exchanged some emails with Playfirst, Inc. and have decided to remove Doodle Dash! from sale for the time being while I issue an update with a name change. The update will also feature more stable performance, and much better gameplay.

The whole thing is unfortunate, but I’ve learned my lesson. Read my advice on avoiding trademark issues in the app store if you don’t want this to happen to your apps.

UPDATE #2: Doodle Dash! has been renamed to Tilt Monster and is now live in the app store.

As promised, it has much better performance, many more features (unlockable items, moving enemies, retina graphics, playable characters, more leaderboards/achievements, etc.) and is much more addictive… so thanks, Playfirst, Inc., for inspiring us to make our game so much better!

Marco Arment on Android Tablets. I discovered this post AFTER writing my previous post on the subject. Looks like I’m not the only one who shares my opinion about current Android tablets vs. the iPad.

Galaxy Tab: Not the "Killer" Everyone Expected

After reading a couple reviews, and seeing the pricing on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, I can now see that it’s not going to touch the iPad, much less be the “iPad killer” that it was said to have potentially become.

  • In order to compete with the iPad, an Android tablet is going to need to wait for Android to be optimized for tablets (from Google: it’s not, yet). It needs to be competitively priced compared to the iPad (going to be very difficult).

  • It needs to have—at the bare minimum—all it’s little usability flaws perfected, at least to the level of the iPad (according to reviews, the Tab has little quirks such as jittery scrolling and touches every now and then).

  • At this rate, it’s going to take some time to even see a true “iPad competitor” much-less a “killer”.

I for one am waiting for THAT all-around popular Android device that most people will turn to, and will set the standard for other Android devices so I don’t have as much fragmentation to deal with when it comes to porting our apps over.

I removed comments from my posts. It wasn’t a very popular feature, and didn’t particularly look forward to getting them. As a replacement, I added my twitter link to the sidebar for those who need to get in touch.

14 Weeks Into the Corona SDK

As of today—November 2, 2010—I’ve officially been using the Corona SDK for exactly 14 weeks, which translates into roughly 2 and a half months.

Our accomplishments so far:

  • Doodle Dash! - Reached #25 in the App Store and has been downloaded over 170,000 times. Was featured on OpenFeint’s FreeGameOfTheDay.com shortly after the first Corona-made version went live.

  • Dragon’s Keep - Has just been updated and improved a lot, and has been downloaded over 1,416 times over the past weekend.

  • Dungeon Tap - Currently has an update (version 1.1) “In Review” and should be approved—I’m guessing—by sometime next week.

It’s been a pretty busy couple of months, but overall, Biffy and I have really been enjoying it. This week we’ll be taking even more significant steps forward, so wish us luck!

Special thanks to Ansca Mobile for creating such a great SDK that has made all of the above possible in such a short amount of time.

Wish us luck!

biffybeebe:

So Dragon’s Keep has been free for few days now, and the first day it got exactly 111 downloads. The second day it got 827, and yesterday it got 478. A total of 1,416 downloads in three days!! That’s with only posting about it on here and Twitter.

As of right now, we are trying to get it on a site for free game of the day type of thing so it can spread a little more. I will post an update again after the promotion is over. :)

Filippo di Pisa Settles on the Corona SDK. Another developer, with a much different background than me, also sees the Corona SDK as the best choice for mobile development.

He also—unlike me—didn’t find Objective-C to be difficult. He tried (and actually used) just about everything (Java, Flex, Openplug, Flash, Unity, Objective-C, Cocos2d, etc) before finally making a decision.

Finally the solution to all my problems came out. I found an advert for the Corona SDK based on the Lua scripting language. I had a look to the APIs and it was quite easy to learn.

I downloaded the Corona SDK game edition and I ported my game from Actionscript to Lua very easily. The rendering was perfectly smooth as was the implementation of the all game physics, collisions and animations. With Corona and Lua we can animate a sprite sheet with just one line of code.

Filippo’s article further supports my previous statements on exactly who the target audience for Corona is—programmers who can appreciate the fact that it really is easy as well as powerful.

Added Instapaper to my Posts

I received an email from a reader asking for an inverted colors option for my theme, and since Tumblr doesn’t really allow external plugins or things like that to be included very easily, I decided to add Instapaper to my blog for two reasons:

For those who use Instapaper (it’s becoming more and more popular) For those who want to read my articles on a more “eye friendly” layout. Instapaper probably has the fastest signup process I’ve ever seen, and once you have an account, you can save any my articles to your Instapaper account by clicking the small Read Later button at the top of each article post (to the right of the post title).

When you click the link, you’ll be taken to a simple confirmation page where it’ll ask if you want to save to your Instapaper account, and if you choose yes, it’ll save the article and redirect you back to my blog.

From there, just go to Instapaper.com and click the button labeled “text” to the right of the article to read it in a very easy-on-the-eyes, distraction-free layout.

Another option you have to is to subscribe to my RSS feed. It’s a full-post feed so you can read the whole article in it’s entirety directly from your feed reader.

I apologize to anyone who finds my color scheme difficult on the eyes—I hope some of the measures I’ve taken and alternative options I presented will help you out some.