While surfing through the Finnish App Store I noticed that there weren’t so many results with keywords for party game and drinking game for iOS so it made me think if it would be possible to perform well by targeting such a small market with such a small paid app by simply localising it. The game of waterfall has many names and is probably one of the best known drinking games involving a deck of cards and it is well known in Finland as “Vesiputous”. Since developing such an app wouldn’t take long, why not make one? Since Tinder became so big, a lot of open source libraries are mimicking the swipeable cards which would the perfect starting point for such an app. We decided to use ZLSwipeableViewSwift.
Quickly after launching it turned out that simply by localising the app in Finnish, including the app title, it was enough to lift the app to the top of the charts in paid apps on weekly basis. As funny it may sound, 8 sales a day was enough to get the app to the top 15 in all paid apps! So far 75% of the sales have been from Finland which has been enough to lift the app to the top of the paid downloads in the App Store on the weekends, which is not such a surprise considering the use case!
We are currently researching which other markets might not have much competition with these keywords and see if our waterfall app could top the charts on any other markets.
Twitter is still a hugely popular social network and it can be a very useful tool for creating a following for your up-coming game. We wanted to create a simple guide for game developers to learn the basics of how to use Twitter to your advantage.
#IndieDevHour is a weekly event taking place on Wednesday nights at 7pm (GMT). It’s an hour long event which you can join by simply tweeting using the #indiedevhour hashtag. It’s a great opportunity for you to reach out to other developers, get feedback and exchange ideas.
#Screenshotsaturday is a great chance to show your work to the public. Every Saturday game designers and developers post screenshots of their work using this hashtag and they are all collected to screenshotsaturday.com. The hashtag is also actively followed by many game reviewers and gaming sites and the best works are often collected to articles. Remember that gifs are an even better way to give a good impression of your game.
Don’t be afraid to share screenshots and content from your game. Unless you are working on something very tiny, the chances of someone cloning your game are very low. The more images or videos you share, the more eyes you get on your game!
Couple of users to follow
@GameDevsLikeYou has a huge following and often asks game development related questions and then retweets the best answers. Great chance to connect with fellow developers. @theMeatly Draws amazing game development related comics and often shares work from game developers. @McFunkyPants Organises #1GAM (One Game A Month) and is an extremely friendly supporter of indie game developers.
Interact with other users
Interact with other users on Twitter. Giving other people feedback or help them with their issues often makes them return the favor by checking your game out as well. Pay special attention to users tweeting at you and users who tweet about your game!
Help and get help
Find out the hashtags used for tweeting about your selected game development tools. If there is an active development community, there more likely is an actively used hashtag that you can follow and use. Joining the conversation will get you noticed in the community and might just help you with that nasty issue you’re having.
There are many more hashtags used by game developers such as #indiedev, #gamedev and #pixelart. Tweets with these hashtags will also get picked up by Twitter bots that retweet them automatically which sometimes help spread the word.
Unfollow un-relevant users
By following everyone blindly you might reach the gap of follows Twitter has set at 2,000 (which is increased after you get more followers yourself). Make sure you also unfollow users who haven’t tweeted anything in weeks, as they most likely have stopped using Twitter altogether. There are many tools that help you find users like this, such as StatusBrew. If you want to follow users without actually following them, you can also just put them in a list and follow them this way.
When you start following more and more users, reading through the Twitter timeline becomes impossible. To solve this issue Twitter has created lists. You can create different lists for different user groups like your friends or users tweeting using certain hashtags. (Pro tip:Use IFTTT to create Twitter lists based on keywords)
Following hashtags, users and lists all at the same time sounds like a hassle and using Twitter’s web interface alone for all this is a tedious task. Thankfully there are many services you can use to manage all these feeds at the same time. Tweetdeck is a great Twitter client that allows you to create columns for anything on Twitter, including lists, users, hashtags and even just search results.
We’d love to hear what you thought of our list! You can find us on Twitter at @darksquaregames
The other day I ran into a feature I wanted to test with multiple iOS simulators at the same time. When running your app through Xcode, you can only open one device at a time. I never had this requirement before so I never really dug deeper but I was happy to find out that you can do this quite painlessly. Despite not being able to do this directly out of Xcode, you can just open another simulator by opening up the Terminal and typing the following commands found through a good Stackoverflow thread:
cd /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Applications open -n Simulator.app open -n Simulator.app
Now, opening the second (or third) simulator will open with an error “Unable to boot device in current state: Booted”.
All you need to do to get the second simulator to work at this point is to change the device type of one of the simulators by heading to Hardware > Device > Chosen iOS version > and choose any of the other iOS devices or versions in the list. You can run a single version of any simulator you have installed so potentially you can have a whole tribe of simulator instances running at once.
And there we go! You are now running several instances of an iOS simulator. It’s a very useful method if you want to test some online features of your app or if you want to speed up testing on multiple screen sizes.
There are quite a few developers that have saved these lines into scripts which we recommend you do if you need to run multiple iOS simulators more often.
Quick search also showed that people have tried to tackle this use case with even bigger guns. Facebook has a public repo on their Github account called FBSimulatorControl which promises a “Mac OS X library for managing, booting and interacting with multiple iOS Simulators simultaneously” which sounds very promising if you need more features. For a simple test case I believe opening the simulator from the terminal or through a script is easy enough.
We are very excited to announce a new project we are working on. We connected with an aspiring writer, Joe Forster, who presented a game idea he had written a story for. He had been working on a mobile text adventure game and the story was already finished. As someone who used to love text adventures as a kid and who is a big fan of games like Lifeline and A Dark Room, I was extremely excited to get this project rolling.
The story of the game starts with the player getting randomly contacted by Aila, a computer AI whose developer has died before being able to finish developing her. The dialogue between Aila and the player is witty, funny and has several endings and storylines depending on how the user reacts to Aila.
Very early concept of our title screen
We want to build the game engine in a way that we can easily create more games with it in the future. So far we’ve been able to work out a way to easily implement the existing script into the game. The original story was written in a text document but we were able to painlessly convert and import it as a CSV file. The story works quite similarly to those old choose your adventure books: every decision you choose will make you jump to the next piece of dialog. Joe is already working on a second story and hopefully we can produce more awesome text adventure games in the future! We definitely have to look into using something like Twine to create the stories with.
Early screenshot from the game
One thing we really want to focus on with Aila is accessibility in the game. Text adventures are a great game genre for gamers with vision problems and we want to make sure that the game will be playable by as many users as possible.
We are very excited about this opportunity and hopefully this will only be the first of many text adventures we are publishing together. If you want to be notified when the game is launched, join our mailing list!
This week we finally submitted Mazed into the App Store. The development for Mazed began in early 2015 as a client gig but unfortunately the client lost interest in the app and a promising prototype had to be locked up in a drawer. Looking back at our unfinished projects, Mazed was definitely bugging us the most as we had already collaborated with Elliott on the designs and the gameplay itself was already finished. We decided to start approaching the client again and managed to get a hold of him to get a single “go for it” response when we asked if it would be ok to publish it ourself. Legally speaking there was never a problem, but we felt better knowing for sure he was not interested in the project anymore. Also every major decision about the game was made by us so we felt safe to go ahead and finish the game.
The original game idea was to use the phone’s gyroscope to guide a number of balls through a series of labyrinths. Users would be able to race against time to compete with their friends. We would have a set list of mazes to be selected. After getting the green light from the client, we decided to add gold, silver and bronze medals for each level to motivate players to improve their times. This became one of the most fun aspects of the game while testing and we are very happy with the addition.
As with most of our games, we used SpriteKit to develop the game and it was fairly easy to create the physics nodes using the maps as images. We simply loaded the maps as images and then created the physics object tracing the lines with [SKPhysicsBody bodyWithTexture:texture]. This approach required the map to be drawn in a single line, so there couldn’t be any floating bits of the map in the middle of the map. The map also couldn’t be closed so we drew invisible holes into the maps for SpriteKit to be able to read the map properly. The result ended up a lot faster than we expected and we didn’t run into any performance issues calculating the physics.
It is very frustrating to see unfinished projects, especially ones being so close to be finished. We are very happy that we got to finish Mazed as our own title. Most importantly it’s another project skeleton in our drawer that we were able to finish, leaving us more room for new ideas! The app will be released in the coming weeks.
Turns out people like free apps. Last week we made Wedding Anniversaries free for a few days and as expected, the downloads jumped from a few downloads a day to several hundreds each day. This wasn’t really a surprise as apps gone free are always picked up on social media and several websites that collect these apps.
I was sharing my experiences with Aaron, an iOS developer with several apps in the store (he also wrote a great SpriteKit with Swift tutorial guide that you should definitely check out) and he got very excited. Soon he decided to make his weather app Project Rainman also free. He just updated the app so timing was perfect for a small experiment. Then this happened:
Turns out the coverage the app got from the “apps gone free” type promotion was enough to boost the app into the top free weather apps in several countries, including the US. The app has beautiful design and it was no wonder it was climbing the charts once it got there. Excited about Aaron’s results, I immediately decided to try the same with Weather Compare, our simple weather comparison app that has been a paid app since it was first launched. To our huge surprise we were able to replicate the success of Project Rainman and also hit the US charts for Free Weather Apps (highest position #21). Within hours the app went from a mere few downloads to 4-digits a day. And here we are after two days:
Now it’s not really a surprise that making apps free boosts your downloads. Nevertheless it was very exciting to experience such download volumes and the amount of feedback also multiplied. What surprised me was the effect on my other apps. Since making the app free, our app portfolio’s downloads have increased by 300-400%. I tried to think about my own behaviour when downloading apps and I can’t recall many times I have checked out the developers’ other apps unless it was a game I really liked and I knew they would have other similar types of apps. However it seems that users tend to do it whatever the app is. The thought of someone downloading Weather Compare and afterwards trying out Move the Lines sounds funny but it looks to happen!
I fully expect Weather Compare to crash through the download charts soon but it doesn’t mean this wasn’t a huge learning experience. We got a lot of feedback, mostly users complaining about not finding the option to change the measurement system. Weather Compare was one of my first personal apps and at the time it was fairly normal to put settings under the System Settings view. However our users don’t seem to find it and thus we plan to add a separate settings view into the app where users can change this. Maybe even a simple popup on the first app launch as you’d expect users to only set this once.
The main thing I learnt from making apps free was the boost I got on all the other apps. I totally underestimated the effect on downloads for all the other apps and I think this may be a very valuable tip for the future. On our next app release I plan to make all our apps free for a few days to hope build an audience the same way. Wether it will have an effect will be seen but during the first few days of an app launch every little bit helps.
If you’ve had similar experiences and if you use app discounts to promote your other apps, we would love to hear more! Contact us at contact (at) darksquaregames.com
You heard me right! I was walking through the city of Prague in Czech Republic when I saw an Apple logo on a window in the city center. To my big surprise the logo didn’t turn out to be of an Apple retailer but a museum! Apparently just weeks before my visit, an anonymous collector opened up the largest private collection of Apple products in the world. Calling themselves the Apple Museum. It was too random of a coincidence to find this place so I had to pay it a visit. I spent a good hour walking around the exhibition of nearly 500 Apple products
The Apple Museum was very atmospheric inside. On the background they played what i believe was Steve Jobs’s Stanford Commencement Address from 2005 and the walls were filled with quotes or covered with timelines of important events of the company history. The exhibition was set in two floors, with rooms dedicated to different areas and eras of Apple history and products. The museum was nicely and openly laid out and it was very interesting to walk through the steps of Apple’s history. In addition to the exhibition, they also just opened a small cafe called Steve’s Food that served raw vegan food. They were also about to open up an Apple shop but unfortunately they couldn’t tell me more about it.
I would definitely recommend visiting the Apple Museum if you are interested in Apple products and their history. I was fairly familiar with the history of the company beforehand but I’d seen most of the products only in photos and it was a great opportunity to see them all from close up. Compared to the surprisingly high museum prices in Prague, the ticket prices were also quite cheap and there was definitely a lot to see. As an added bonus, the museum claims that all the proceedings are donated to charity purposes so you’ll be basically doing a good thing!
The tickets cost 300CZK (11 euros) with discounted tickets for families (700 CZK), students (220 CZK) and children (140 CZK).
When i was 18, I got the chance to be a best man at my best friend’s wedding. Now years later we were discussing wedding anniversaries and we tried to remember the traditional meanings for them. The anniversary names were originally created to provide guidance for appropriate gifts for the spouses to give each other. We were surprised how they were almost the same in all the countries and the little App Developers in our heads had to check out if there were solutions out there in the App Store to remember all these. Turns out, there are a TON of wedding and anniversary countdown apps out there, but none for remembering these traditional dates. So we figured, what better way to start 2016 than by creating a tiny app to help couples remember theirs.
A day later we had a working version of the app ready to be submitted. The app is extremely simple. The first view asks the users their wedding date and the following list view presents the user with all the anniversary dates, their names and how much time is left for this particular date. The app was promptly reviewed by Apple and is now available on the App Store.
For your interest, here is a list of all the wedding anniversaries in US and in many other countries as found from Wikipedia.
As a long-time chess player, I’ve been part of many chess clubs and one thing that has been common with all of them are weekly tournaments. In these tournaments players of all ages and levels come together and most commonly play a round of blitz with both players having 5 minutes for a match. The tournament organisers collect the names of all participants and draw a grid with each player assigned a number. Then the organiser calls out all the player names and seats them to an appropriate board. After each match, the players let the organiser know the match result. The organiser marks the result in his results table. Now every player steps to the seat on his left, and magically after a number of rounds, all the players have played against each other once and the tournament results can be seen from the table. This system is called Round-Robin.
Having gone through this ritual probably hundreds of times, I figured it could be an interesting opportunity for an app. So I decided to develop an app for the tournament organisers.
The first screen of the app allows users to create and manage tournaments. I wanted the users to be able to easily switch between tournaments, which comes in handy when there are more than one group playing at the same time. The second feature I really wanted was to make adding new players very easy. As the players in these club tournaments are most often the same, it doesn’t make sense to input them by typing every time so I decided to allow the users to select participants from all the previous tournament participants in the app. This will hopefully make the registration process a lot faster.
Once the user has selected all the participants and the tournament is ready to start, the app generates a match schedule for the whole tournament. The user can easily seat the players according to the schedule. The tournament view consists of 3 tabs: matches, grid and standings. Matches tab simply presents the user with the match schedule and the user can input match results here directly. The grid is a typical tournament grid that may help visualise the tournament. And finally the third tab is for final standings, that are updated live as the tournament progresses.
Lastly, I wanted the users to be able to share their results. Organisers usually post the final standings on an email list or something, but with our app, they are able to email the participants all the aspects of the tournament, including the match schedule with individual match results, the grid and the final standings.
The app is now live in the App Store. I am already considering future update for the app, for example I played with an idea of being able to snap photos of each tournament, which would make sharing the results even more interesting for the participants. All feedback and feature ideas are more than welcome!
I’ve been playing around with ideas of combining RGB colors for quite a while now and I was finally able to finalise a prototype that had been in my “drawer” for several months now. The basic premise of the app is quite simple, the game spawns lines from the top of the screen and you have to press buttons that match the same colors. The twist comes when the line colors are only available by combining the basic RGB (red, green, blue) values. Yellow lines require red+green, purple needs red+blue and cyan needs green+blue. Finally there are also white lines that require you to press (or swipe through) all the buttons. After every 10 lines, the game gets either Harder of Faster, making the game slowly harder and harder.
It was very satisfying to finally launch this game as it had been bugging me for months. In the end I was never happy with balancing the game and I tried out dozens of different methods in doing so. Finally I went for a very simple approach as it started to feel like I would never finish the game and I really wanted to move onto other projects. I’m quite happy with the end result and especially happy that it’s out now! RGB Smash is officially out on iOS.