in iOS

Brave New iPhone World

I know that things have been very quiet over here for the last few weeks. Lots of stuff happening and it’s hard to find time to write sometimes. But now I should be getting back into the swing of things and updating Games from Within more regularly.

The big news is that we decided to call it quits on Power of Two Games. It was an amazing experience and I learned a huge amount. I’m sure we’ll write a postmortem with some of the gems we learned along the way sometime soon. Unlike most postmortems, we really don’t have any office politics, bosses to suck up to, or publishers to keep happy, we’ll be able to be brutally honest.

Against my better judgement, especially with the current horrible economy, I’m still burning the indie development candle. This time by myself and on the iPhone. I’ll get into many more details in the future, but so far iPhone development has been surprisingly fun and smooth.

One of the most attractive things about iPhone development is the short projects. Some of the top selling iPhone applications were written in just a week or two. The game/toy I’m working on is a bit more involved than a fart generator or a rotary dial, so I expect it will take me a total of three months. Still, much better than trying to make a game for XBLA or PSN!

Another big plus of iPhone development is the approval process. Yes, Apple needs to approve the application, but the process is infinitely simpler than trying to certify your PS3 or 360 game. I haven’t gone through that myself yet, but that’s what I keep hearing from other developers.

And then you have the App Store. Ah, the App Store. A captive audience of impulse-buyers with their credit cards already in the system because of iTunes. Genius. The cut that Apple takes is very reasonable, just 30%. Let’s hope they keep it that way and don’t pull the Microsoft move on us!

So, what’s not to like? That everybody and their grandmother is writing iPhone apps and throwing them on the App Store on the hopes of making a quick buck. And the worst thing is that it’s actually working. So people keep gambling with crappy apps hoping to become the next iBeer or Koi Pond. As a result, the App Store is flooded with stuff, most of it horrible, some OK, a few good, and a very few great apps. Right now the App Store interface isn’t ideal for discovering new, high-quality games and applications, and most of the exposure is limited to the Top Seller lists. I’m hoping in the next few months they move towards something more along the lines of Amazon.

And speaking of interfaces, whose retarded idea was it to only be able to access the App Store from within iTunes? I like Apple, and I’m totally digging Mac OS X (more on that later), but I hate having to use a slow, bloated application to do something that amounts to browsing a few web pages. Besides, you’d think they would hook more people by making it more accessible. Oh well. That’s not changing any time soon.

Stay tuned for more updates on my iPhone development adventures and maybe, just maybe, an early glimpse of the game πŸ™‚

  • Christopher Myburgh

    Noel in handheld games…? That makes me a sad panda πŸ™

    While I personally have zero interest in games for phones or even handheld consoles (as a gamer or as a wannabe game developer [I’m still young and naive]), if it makes you happy then I wish you all the luck in the world.

  • Sad panda? Why? Seriously, handheld games doesn’t mean it’s shovelware or lower quality (although there are lots of those out there). One of the really fun things about the iPhone is that it’s pretty close to a Dreamcast as far as hardware specs goes. So how much fun is that? A one-man band making Dreamcast games and maybe even seeing a penny for it? Pretty exciting if you ask me! πŸ™‚

  • Josh Szepietowski

    Sad to hear about Power of Two Games. I will be looking forward to the postmortem on that. While it may be true that you “don’t have any office politics, bosses to suck up to, or publishers to keep happy” it is also true that anything that went wrong is much more sitting on your plate. I am just hoping that won’t stop you from really letting us know the bad things. πŸ™‚

    Please keep writing! Your articles about TDD, build systems, le chimp, and random C++ tricks have really made an impact on the way I program (for the better).

  • Magnus

    Sad to hear about the end of “Power of Two games”. At least the t-shirt I own will be worth a fortune :-). And I can’t wait to read your post-mortem, although I would have been much more interested in your first release.

    Good luck with the IPhone adventure!

  • Christopher Myburgh

    Dreamcast, seriously? Ok guilty as charged for not doing his homework πŸ˜›

    Well if I ever have to commute to work again I’ll be sure to get an iPhone and buy your games. Until then though gaming just doesn’t feel quite right to me unless I’m in front of a big TV with a gamepad.

    Sorry to hear Power of Two Games didn’t work out but I am really interested to see the postmortem. A buddy of mine and I are exploring options for opening a two-man studio of our own so I’m always on the look out for postmortems from indie projects and accounts of experiences with XBLA and PSN dev (as well as royalty and certification hell πŸ™ ).

  • Dirk

    Hi Noel,

    sad to hear that you quit PowerOf2Games. Maybe you want to consider making your engine open source or at least some modules. Since you are a professional developer it might be an interesting addition with high educational value. You might even write a book again. Just some thoughts I had when reading your post.

    All the best,
    -Dirk

  • I’ve very sorry to hear of Power of Two’s demise. Despite not having seen any of your work, reading about some of your methods has been a great inspiration to me. I look forward to some kind of post-mortem, and hope you continue writing up snippets of development knowledge!

    Best of luck with iPhone development though, I’m sure you’ll blow those useless apps out of the water.

  • Re: Demise of pow2.

    Didn’t I buy enough T-shirts? πŸ™

  • Stephane

    Hi Noel,

    Sorry that it did not work out for you and Charles. Say Hi to Charles btw. Good luck on the iPhone. I think that one may very well work.

  • Thanks for all the encouragement everybody! Yes, those t-shirts will be priceless one day, and they did help to keep us alive just a bit longer πŸ™‚ Seriously, many thanks to all those who supported us.

  • Hey Noel,

    I’ve read your tips and tricks on Games from Within and Power of Two Games for a couple of years now. While I’m sorry to hear that PoTG didn’t work out, I’m glad that you haven’t stopped filling the internet with C++ goodness πŸ™‚

    Feeds updated,
    Alex

  • Scott Brooks

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on Obj-C vs C++.

    Are you planning a small Obj-C wrapper around your C/C++ code? Or all Obj-C?

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