iOS update

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If you’ve got TJD on your iPhone or iPad you may have already noticed that there’s now an updated version of the app with a chapter 2 preview thingie that you can access from the main menu. The updated app also has push notifications (you’ll be prompted for permssions when the game starts) so that we can message you when the second chapter is out.

Unfortunately, the update came with a whole bunch of unforeseen compatibility issues that caused crashes on older iOS versions, especially on iPad 1 which cannot update to iOS > 5. The compatibility issues have finally been patched (thanks Markus for the help!) and everything should be working flawlessly on all iPhones and iPads. It may not sound like such a big deal but these bugs have really haunted me and last week’s patch is a huge weight off my shoulders!

iOS version stats, courtesy of David Smith. iOS version stats, courtesy of David Smith.

Patching the update also meant I could finally send a code dump to our friends over on Apportable who are helping us port TJD to Android. We’ll have to wait and see just how tricky that’s going to be!

This week I’m taking a break from programming and writing applications for development grants from the Nordic Game Program and Creative Europe. With some luck we’ll convince them to co-finance the development of TJD chapter 3. Keep your fingers crossed!

Balpha

It’s been almost a month since our first alpha test now, and this coming friday, we’re having another one. This time we call it a Balpha, for some reason. I guess we weren’t comfortable labeling it a beta just yet. So, to keep the steam going on this devblog I decided to do a quick unedited and ugly rant about what we’ve been up to since the last test, and in which ways these different things have improved upon the game.

First off, our last test yielded a nice long list of puzzle-clues that needed strengthening. The first two weeks following the test, I dedicated to working on implementing everything on that very list. My colleagues Henrik and Mathias certainly helped out as well, but as mentioned in the previous post, they also spent some time at casual connect, so part of their month fell into that.

So what kind of clues am I talking about? Well, mostly responses to interactions that just hadn’t been written yet. During the last test I kept having to pretend to be the voice of bwana, when the players tried stuff. (both “That won’t work, mon!” and “Hey, that might work but first I probably need to…”) etc, etc. Giving responses that show the player that they’re on the right track is VERY important, and I’m now happy to report that I think most such responses now have actually been implemented into the game. Though not voiced. Many of them, but not all.

Voice is another thing we’ve been working a lot with the last month. Tons of Bwana and Lina lines have been pouring in and have been implemented, we’ve done some auditions, we’ve got various minor characters speech going in the game, I’ve written a ton more dialogue and sent it off to other actors… So on and so forth. So on the speech-front there’s been a lot of progress since last month’s test.

navbook

 

Another thing that was completely bare-bones last month but now has been fleshed out are two in-game books, used for various lore and puzzle-solving purposes. They’re not 100% completed, the text needs some more love and some pics need polishing, but it’s almost there!

This week I’ve mostly been working with our cinematic storyboards and adapting them to the various changes in the game world that have taken place since the last time we went over them. (We decided to change were the grand finale took place, so had to make some rather vast changes both to in game environments and the movie following it). I’ve also added speech to a bunch of movies that previously only featured my pretty voice, and none of the real cast. (I always record myself saying everything first.) (and I do somre pretty rad sfx too!).

On top of that, we’ve redesigned two rooms to make them flow together better and have removed an entire character in favor of two other, better integrated characters.

Henrik has been animating, animating, animating in-game stuff, and Mathias has been polishing up scripts all over the game like crazy. (tons of work on little things that just make everything feel a lot better, like Bwana facing the right direction when he looks at stuff, and making characters face each other when they’re talking, etc.) Mathias has also been doing a lot of work on the puzzle-redesigns, but I’m fairly confident we’re pretty much done redesigning puzzles now. The actual puzzle design is awesome, now we just need to tweak it with more testing. And that testing, is what we’re doing on Friday.

Odds are we’ll keep on doing monthly tests like this. So far it really feels good, starting a new month by tearing the game a part and then making sure you have a new working build by the end of each month.

Casual Connect

Two days at casual connect in amsterdam with henrik and so far we’ve manage to show TJD to what feels like a million people and meet a whole bunch of really cool indies at the showcase floor. We’ve also suffered a terrible defeat to wendy from shark bomb in a swag/giveaway hoarding competition, and then just barely winning a juggling competition (with oded from adventure mob) in a vain attempt to restore company honor.

Henrik’s custom-fitted wooden-monitor was dead-on-arrival after the plane trip (and the old use-paperclip-on-screen trick didn’t really work) so we had to fall back to using my laptop’s display when demoing the game.

Korean TV checking out the beautiful TJD roll-up, and to a lesser extent, the actual game.

One thing I really miss at CC are the super-visible PRESS badges that’ll help you spot potentially important media people in the crowd. Last year’s GDC was a lot easier in reaching out to sites and magazines covering indie games because we’d simply lurk outside the press area and jump unsuspecting journalist-looking people to get attention.

William Volk, one of the creators behind Return to Zork, dropped by our table yesterday!

So finally the third and last day of CC is upon us and it’s time to head to the showcase floor for more promoting/networking/gaming/juggling!

(Hot tip: I’m betting indie prize competition winner will be the last tinker by mimimi productions)

UPDATE: The Last Tinker did win the people’s choice award, congratz guys!

TJD was nominated for best story but lost to Detective Grimoire by flash veterans Tom and Adam Vian. Best art went to Icycle by Reece & Sam of Damp Gnat and See You on the Other Side by Tunnel Vision Productions was named best innovative game. I don’t remember the winner of the other awards, but I know Jeff Jensen’s Spoiler Alert got a bunch of nominations. Weird funny game that’s played backwards, a right-to-left platformer where you have to un-kill all enemies beginning with the end boss.

I also got a chance to hang out with fellow adventure devs and spend some quality time with the in-production builds of The Inner World (by Alexander & friends at Fizbin Studios), Doron Kanaan’s 3D adventure Rose and Oded Sharon’s Bolt Riley. In the end, I decided to give my vote to a promising adventure game called Shrug Island (by Alina Constantin/Amazu Media) because I really enjoyed the style and atmosphere. Reminded me of The Dig somehow..

Indie enthusiasts should also keep theirs out for:
Paperbound (gravity-defying multiplayer arcade awesome) by Dan Holbert/Dissident Logic
Touch of Death (tap’em up) by Wendy Fox & Martin Nerurkar/SharkBomb
Squares Trials (high-speed tapping skillz required) by Franco/Leap Game Studios
Back to Bed (isometric puzzle game inspired by MC Escher and Dali) by Jonas Byrresen/Bed Time Gaming.

..and a bunch more I can’t think of right now + all games I never even got a chance to play this time around!

Thanks everybody for a great week!