Articles Written By: Mathias

Monitoring and tracking

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Disclaimer: This is going to be a nerdy rant so unless you’re into iOS development and/or server maintenance, feel free to ignore :)

Last week I discovered that one of our web services had gone down. It was not a critical incident, but I realized (something I’d known for long but kept ignoring) that now that we work 100% on TJD3, we tend to pay very little attention to the well-being of chapters 1 and 2. So in an effort to monitor the health of our existing apps and services, I set out to automate a couple of things.

Uptime Robot

First off, I set up an Uptime Robot account and configured a simple keyword monitor that makes 5 min periodic checks to the web service that broke down the other day. If my service breaks down again (or gives a weird response), Uptime Robot will notify us instantly on email and on Slack.

slack

The other web service we have is used to store tokens for iOS push notifications. Whenever someone gets a “TJD would like to send you notifications”-popup and accepts, a token is stored on our server so that we can send that user a push notification later. This is really important to us, because it’s pretty much the only way we can contact existing iOS customers to let them know the next chapter is out.

So to make sure the subscriptions are working properly, I asked veteran SkyGoblin Markus to setup a little cron job to deliver daily subscription stats directly to Slack. Now, if the subscription stats stop or stagnate, we’ll know something’s wrong.

What’s this Slack then? It’s a super nifty tool for team communication and I love it with all my heart.

Then I went on to set up a Crittercism account and integrated their SDK (one line of code) with our iOS apps. Crittercism offers a pretty smart way to automate symbolication for crash reports using post-build events in xCode. Now we can properly monitor and investigate iOS crashes during beta and production. (iTunes Connect already supports some crash reporting but it’s very limited.)

crittercism

Last, I finally got off my ass and setup a proper bug tracker! Up until now I have collected bug reports for TJD in scattered email conversations, twitter messages, paper notes and excel documents. Mostly, issue tracking has been kept in my own head and lord knows that’s not a safe way to store business critical data. With multiple versions of multiple products on multiple platforms, that simply isn’t sustainable.

leantesting

After reading up and trying out a couple of trackers I decided to go for Lean Testing, mostly because it is.. well, lean. You create an account, set up a project and invite testers – then anyone can read, create and comment on bug reports for that project.

Some people prefer more enterprise-like solutions like Jira (and I’m sure it’s awesome for larger teams) but that’s way more bulky than what I need. Rule of thumb: if your support & maintenance systems require support & maintenance, you may be wasting time.

On a final note, each of these monitoring services are super easy to setup, a matter of minutes literally. And they’re all free (for my purposes anyhow, costs may vary). What took me a few days was to read up and decide which services to use. Got a better suggestion? Please write a comment and let me know!

TJD2 wins Best Music 2014!!!

tjd2_ostWe just got the AMAZING news that “The Journey Down: Chapter Two” has won the prize for Best Music in the 2014 Aggie Awards!! The soundtrack for TJD2 was composed by the awesomly talented Simon D’Souza and Jamie Salisbury.

As you may already know, Simon passed away from brain cancer last year. I can’t begin to describe what a tragic loss that’s been. Theo, who worked closely together with Simon from the very start, has written a little about how they first met and the course of events that led up to Simon’s passing here: Simon.

Before Simon passed away, he recommended we get in touch with Jamie and ask him to help finish the music for TJD2. So we did and as it turned out, Jamie’s sound fit perfectly with where the game was heading.

In short, we had fantastic luck to strike up not only one but two top-notch composers for the game’s soundtrack! And as if that wasn’t enough, to top off the entire thing we got to add a couple of tracks by Simon’s old jazz band “Straight No Chaser” to the score! The tracks are from the “Navigation” album that Simon wrote back in 2013.

You can buy the entire soundtrack straight from Simon’s bandcamp page.
It’s only a few bucks and ALL MONEY goes to the The Brain Tumour Charity so go buy it :)

Simon D'Souza
Simon D’Souza
Jamie Salisbury
Jamie Salisbury


The Aggie Awards is held anually by AdventureGamers.com and picks the best adventure games from the past year. 2014 was a particularly strong year for adventure games that saw a number of super high quality releases, so it really is humbling to see our game among the very best. TJD2 is also nominated for Best Traditional Adventure, we’ll see who wins tomorrow!

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“The Journey Down: Chapter Two perfectly mixes the jazzy brass tones of Port Artue’s speakeasies and seedy back alleys with swelling orchestral pieces whenever the suspense ramps up – then reminds us it’s all in the service of good-natured, tongue-in-cheek fun, marrying its madcap on-screen hijinks with upbeat Caribbean flavour, sass and attitude.”


So what’s keeping the SkyGoblins busy nowadays? Well right now we’re bouncing around with joy from winning the Aggie, but apart from that, all three of us are working hard on designing TJD3. Every week we’re getting more rooms, characters and puzzles in place and even though it’s mostly placeholder graphics and placeholder music at this stage, most of the game is actually already “sort of” playable and – if I may say so – pretty damn cool! Still, there’s a LOT of work to do before we can even start testing the game on other people without getting a “WTF is this!?” response.

Well that’s what’s up, pretty much :)

Check out all the other winners at: http://www.adventuregamers.com/articles/view/28100

Top-notch

Happy times! 😀 Theo, Henrik and I are totally awed by the massive amounts of praise that The Journey Down: Chapter Two has received the last couple of weeks.

TJD2 has now reached the #1 position on the iPad Quality Index, making it the currently highest rated game, based on an aggregated score from professional and customer reviews.

It is indeed a very good time to be a SkyGoblin!

App Store User Ratings 5/5 TouchArcade 5/5 AppAddict 5/5 Softpedia 9,5/10 “REALLY NICE GAME AWARD” Pocketgamer 9/10 GOLD AWARD GameZebo 4,5/5  “The Journey Down is one of the best looking games around, thanks to its exquisite hand-crafted visuals..” - Kotaku  “This second outing is larger, ever so slightly more complex and considerably better put together than its predecessor, and loses none of its easy humour and rewarding puzzles.” - PCGamesN  “I am really struggling to come up with anything negative to say about this game..” “This is an absolutely fantastic and entertaining point and click adventure game..” “One thing is for sure, I certainly enjoyed this game much more than that atrocious new TMNT film.” - AppAddict