Trial and Epic Fail

Ventures of an indie game developer

We're live!

The following app has been approved and the app status has changed to Ready for Sale: Trabant. Woohoo!

All that remains now is to figure out how to educate people on how to use Trabant for iOS, so they won't think it's an editor. It is merely a simulator with fiddling support. I might as well give up right away. Done. Ahhh... feel better already.


No reply yet from Apple, Trabant is still in review.

In Trabant I don't think using 3D added more than a fraction of extra complexity. Normally that's not the case I find, as 3D and rigid body physics is almost always a nightmare to fiddle with in most API:s I've seen. But going 2D does not guarantee a simple API. Let's just look at some examples from the 2D world to see how I'm doing:
The rest of the game engines are no different, and I haven't even mentioned assets, portability and installation. These are top recommendations for 2D prototyping. When it comes to 3D it's of course similar or worse. Trabant really should have a niche here, but I'm afraid no-one is going to "get it."

To me 3D was a big leap; I've always felt like 2D games were extremely entertaining versions of crosswords, but it never became evident until I first set my eyes on a 3D game. I still remember it to this day. A friend was playing DOOM I in the computer room in my high school.

I must have been 16 or 17. We instantly commented on the use of sprites instead of proper models, but the environment! OMG! Of course it inspired a generation and the rest is history.

By the end of high school all boys in my class played Quake I several hours per day, facilitated by boring computer lessons. I was an over average player, but never near the Swedish elite who went on to be the first swedes to make a living playing games.

I haven't played online since, as I know the effect it has on me. But the last two weeks since I finished Trabant I've played Quake Live after the kiddies went to bed. And I still find it soooooo much fun. I guess I was conditioned at a young age, with a slight disposition for it. But I can't handle it so I need to quit. My heart races, the adrenalin is pumping and I can't go to bed for several hours after I've shut down the computer so Quake no more unfortunately. Or perhaps just a couple of times per year.

But omg it feels good to beat the kids half my age! Oh, it feels so damn good. Better than pizza and then some. Especially my age.

Installation vs. Development: 1 - 0

Development:  1 minute
Testing:  1 minute
Upgrade Mac to Yosemite:  4 hours
Upgrade Xcode to cope with iOS 8.3:  3 hours

0.5% development, 99.5% installation. We have a winner.

I adore Microsofts initiative to continuously deliver after Windows 10. My gut feeling tells me Linux distros will follow suit as there's no purpose (for the user) to do anything else. Chrome is the perfect example of auto-updating software. These days it's very rare for noticeable bugs to make it all the way to the browsee, and it just works.

Let's see how many years it will take for Apple to do the same. My guess is they won't head in any other direction until they're in free fall. And that might take a while, and since Android isn't stepping up, perhaps a newcomer is required.

Imagine that: a newcomer producing robust Linux-based operating systems for computers, phones and tablets and with a deep desire to please developers as well as end-users.

It's been said a million times before, but it's only now that I start understanding it: Apple after Jobs is just Android with a head start. My own addition to that is that Apple never cared much for its fan base/developers. The combination of those two does not bode well for Apple.

Last fixes done

Fixed the last 1%, which proved to be the last 10% as usual. I literally bumped into every Xcode bug there is when moving from iOS7 to iOS8. Apple has done such a poor job in portability that it's worthy of a post in itself.

They hand over the job of being portable to all the thousands of developers out there, and now suddenly I miss Microsoft! Even though they might have lost the war, they are a thousand times better at compatibility than Apple. They are now experiencing horrid fragmentation (which they formerly were attacking so hard, and rightfully so).

They want us developers to take care of portability, making preview videos, screen shots, icons and launch screens for five times as many devices. That amounts to a whole lot of work, not the least since portability between devices and iOS versions are full of ugly details. And I believe portability is Good Thing, because I for one do not think you should have to switch hardware every few years. Unfortunately Apple has made it their mission to make it so.

Therefore this is probably, and unfortunately, the last time I release a new app for App Store. The only reason I could change my mind would be if I started making some money off of Trabant, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Anyway, now the Windows, Mac and iOS versions are done. The web page is in place. Finally! Golly. The Mac version doesn't have an IDE; I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader. At least for now. But God it feels good that I've finally made a great product!

Go to Trabant's homepage to try it out!

It's out the door...

... at least the Win32 prototyping IDE. I'm seriously shipping something really good! It has taken it's toll on me though, this was the third all-nighter this week. I'll let it idle for a couple of weeks. Then upload to App Store. OMG I need to sleep!

I'm shipping!!!

Ok, maybe not just yet. But soon - very soon. My Flappy Bird "clone", Flappy Ufo, was moved to strike. It was too ugly, too depressingly bad. My first action+adventure game I wrote 24 years ago had a more interesting menu that this whole game. Finally I realized that near-infinite possibilities for improvement is not what I'm aiming for.

My 140-bullet todo list is almost done. Most of the things on the list were small and fun like "tap/slide velocity [api]", "add sloppy [soft] joystick setting", "cam follow target", "Quake". Only a few were more challenging and boring like "fix iOS screen orientation", "outline rendering for iOS" and "fix bug in explosions: one of the textures seems to be taken over by a letter 'P'!!!"

It's pretty amazing that this tool is made by following a todo list, but my five or so games could not be completed in that way. To me that proves that games are art and tools are not. Tools are 100% made with craftsmanship, but for games that figure is more like 80%.

Now only five things remain:
  1. iOS device needs allow/disallow/ban remote host that tries to sync prototypes and/or control simulator.
  2. Complete the iPad version (some controllers and stuff differ from the iPhone).
  3. Port remaining prototypes to iOS controls ( and needs alternative to kbd+mlook controls).
  4. Post game for App Store review.
  5. Create a web page for the PC version. I'll upload a bare-bones version for Mac for now.
OMG I'm looking forward to it!

Last game of the year

I made the Fire Power prototype to ship with Trabant. It came out pretty good with driving, shooting and auto aiming. As a testament to the fantastic API, I can mention that I had to add a single line of code to add a "soft joystick" for touch controls. Yep. One single line.

It looks awful. I'm thinking perhaps adding a noise texture could make things less bad both here and in the Minecraft prototype and perhaps some of the others. This is the last prototype I'm making before shipping.

I bought the new Cities: Skylines by Finnish developer Colossal Order. It behaves like the good ol' Sim City, and with same shortage of cash. There are a bunch of bugs, for instance I had to fight crash bugs in the default settings, but if you get over those it's very impressive. When it comes to gamedevs I prefer companies who ship fantastic things not quite finished yet, rather than companies that try to polish their turds and hardly get them out the door.

About the author

Min bilder
Gothenburg, Sweden