Quick Notes On Lion

Mac OS X LionA couple of days ago I had the misfortune of getting back home to find my 6 month-old MacBook Pro completely dead (my second Apple laptop casualty in three years–not a great track record). Long story short, the Apple Store wasn’t able to help me in any way other than ship out the laptop for repairs. Since without it I’m dead on the water, I bought a 17″ MacBook Pro on the spot. They didn’t have one with SSD hard drive, so this is most likely going back to the store when I get back my repaired laptop. In the meanwhile, I can continue working and it lets me check out first hand Lion and Xcode 4.

These are mostly quick notes to myself so I remember what to change when I upgrade my main machine, but I thought other developers hesitant to upgrade to Lion might find it useful as well. Continue reading

URL Shorteners In Under Two Minutes

This morning I added the goo.gl URL shortener to Flower Garden, so I thought a quick post with sample code might be helpful for other developers looking to do something similar.

I use the URL shortener in Flower Garden to send bouquets through SMS. Space is limited in a text message, so the message just contains some text explaining what is it and the URL pointing to the bouquet image. (Yes, I would much rather send them through MMS, but Apple isn’t exposing that yet to developers).


In this case, the full URL is http://flowers.snappytouch.com/sms.php?id=949618b4b3c6f3d76e32b45446e238a0 which gets thankfully shortened to http://goo.gl/IV5cq. Continue reading

Analytics For iOS Games

Unlike a lot of console and PC games, most mobile and web games keep evolving over time [1]. It’s up to a game’s designers to ultimately decide how to change and improve the game, but the more data about players’ habits they have, the more informed a decision they’ll be able to make. Having good analytics on iOS games is simply essential these days. Continue reading

Casey’s Contraptions Postmortem


Casey’s Contraptions is an iOS game created by the two of us, Noel Llopis and Miguel Ángel Friginal. Noel, an industry veteran for over a decade, turned indie over four years ago and found success with microtransaction-based Flower Garden on iOS. Miguel worked as a graphic designer in the advertising industry for years before becoming a web developer. Casey’s Contraptions is his first published video game, although his first paper role-playing game came out almost 20 years ago. We met through Twitter several years ago, and then finally in person at a 360iDev conference. Even thought we didn’t plan it that way, we ended up working together during a game jam, and that set us in the path to collaborate in a future project.

We knew we wanted to target iOS for our next project because we love the platform from a user and a developer point of view, and because it’s a platform where it’s possible for indies to succeed financially. Beyond that, starting a new game is never easy. Even though we have page after page of possible ideas, settling on a specific game idea is always very hard. We wanted something that met three requirements: The game had to be creative in nature as opposed to using destruction as the main gameplay element, it had to be something we were excited about, and it had to be something with the potential to sell reasonably well on the Apple App Store. Easier said than done! Continue reading

One Price Does Not Fit All

A few days ago I gave a talk at Evolve 2011 (part of the Develop Conference in Brighton, England) titled “One Price Does Not Fit All”.

The main idea of the talk was the importance of “flexible pricing”: Letting players spend as much money as they want to get more enjoyment out of the game and customize their play experience. Flexible pricing can result in revenues much higher than the traditional fixed price approach (derived from manufactured goods). It’s also orthogonal to the concepts of freemium and social games, and we’re only scratching the surface in ways to effectively implement it in games.

Here’s the official conference abstract:

Did the biggest fans of your game spend more money on it than someone who played it just a few times? If not, you’re leaving a huge percentage of money on the table. This session will talk about how digital distribution has made fixed prices obsolete and how you can take advantage of flexible pricing through in-app purchases in your games. We’ll also talk about the consequences (good and bad) of making a game free to play. The session will present hard data from iOS platforms, but applies to all digital distribution platforms. Continue reading