Pocket God

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by davecazz, Apr 3, 2009.

  1. davecazz macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #1
    So, we ran into some bad luck this week and our latest update got rejected, we don't have a definitive answer as to why but they said it was due to us using a copyrighted image and we are guessing that its because of a option icon that looks like an iPhone. We changed it to look like a generic screen as well as changed a iphone that we had in the help pages since update 4 that looks like an iphone as well. Not sure why they chose this week to be picky but hopefully this update goes through. I also just want to let everyone know that we are not slowing down in our updating, even though a update didn't come out this week, the new update we resubmitted contains both the fishing and the ants update (including feint). And we are working on 1.13 now, "Say My Name!".

    So, this week, with the ant update, we added a community service called Feint. For those of you who don't know, Fient is the chat service that Aurora Feint currently uses, the developers opened access up to a limited number of companies during the next month or so and then they will open it to more companies after they get an idea of how much traffic games like ours will add to their server architecture. Currently, the Feint features are on a screen that you can access from the options menu but I'm pretty excited about this because it means that we can eventually change it to allow us to add more community features directly in the game.

    We also made some great progress in optimization, with all our updates, the game was starting to get a little laggy because of all the objects on the screen. What was wierd about it, was that when a touch is active on the screen, the framerate would get cut in half (even if nothing was happening in the touch logic). I was able to trace it down to our open gl calls where they same number of calls took twice as long during a touch. Not sure why, it might be some kind of thread conflict, or maybe openGl uses the floating point unit and the base code in the touch logic causes the CPU to switch between 32 bit mode which is required for floating point and thumb mode which is kind of like a shorthand instruction set that is more commonly used for tasks. Anyway, not sure of the exact reason why and not enough time to figure it out but I created a wrapper around opengl that did some simple checks to make sure that we didnt call it unless we absolutely had to (ie, no sense in settig a rotation if the rotation is 0 or no sense in setting the active texture if its the same one we used for the last display object).

    In a continuation of this, I'm actually thinking of pulling out all the matrix calculations from open gl and just doing it on my side. might be faster. and also each object has its own texture coordinate and vertex arrays, It might be quicker to fool open gl into thinking there is only 1 of each and just copy the data into it on my side. have to check if its faster but now I want to reduce the number of open gl calls as much as I can.


    Other than this, I am really bummed about not getting our update out. we had an april fools joke planned where users would see the following screen at the start of the game.

    [​IMG]

    Once they click on it, they would get a message "April Fools" and then the real episode would start. We stayed up so late to get this in, it really stinks that they decided to pick this week to be strick about the reivew process.
     
  2. tongteh macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    #2
    hey dave, thats a really nice april fool joke. i would definitely fall for it. :p too bad it didn't get through, or it will be something we all be remembering for.. thanks for the constant update though, will be looking forward to future updates.
     
  3. mav814 macrumors member

    mav814

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    #3
    Lmao dude I woulda flipped outwhen I saw that...kinda lame that they rejected your update but it's cool for now because the bat out of the moon thing is still occupying me :D . Also thanks for being so on the ball here and telling everyone what happened!
     
  4. senorian macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    #4
    Hey Dave,
    It's great reading about the further progressions of Pocket God. I'm really excited about the new update and hopefully Apple will let it thru this time. That was a great idea for an April Fools Day joke too. I'm sure I would have had a WTF moment.
    Keep up the good work
     
  5. Vandam500 macrumors 68000

    Vandam500

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2008
    #5
    Can't wait for the next update and the ones that follow it. Keep up the great work;)
     
  6. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #6
    Hey guys, we're looking to get some more attention despite the fact that our update didn't come out this week. please help us spread this viral video and feel free to post comments.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kasKGVOf3YI

    Please let me know if there is a way to embed a youtube video in the post, the normal youtube tag isnt working.
     
  7. niblum10 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
  8. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #8
    Pocket God 1.13 - Say My Name!

    Wow, this was a rough week. lots of tension. My new Jackie Button app got rejected, our update got rejected and Pocket God is slowly slipping back down the rankings. I'm so happy the update was released today, I had a nightmare the other day that we were going to have to wait another week because Apple didn't like the word sacrifices in our leadboard or the fact that we show the Pygmies skeletons in this update. Just glad it's out!

    So, it was actually really fun playing with Feint tonight, got to chat with a lot of people live in the game. If anyone is in the Pocket God Chat Rooms, please help anyone out that is asking questions about the game.

    So, this update is really cool. like even cooler than all the other previous updates, but probably not cooler than the updates that will follow. We added names for all the pygmies, so you can customize them and add the names of your teachers, classmates, or friends as you toture them. You can also name your tribe and give each Pygmy their own description. We also added detailed stats for each pygmy and the tribe as a whole. so, you can see the top 5 sacrifice types for each Pygmy (we will probably add a way to see all sacrifices and their counts later), you can see all the food that they have eaten and each pygmy has a mood depending on how many sacrifices you make compared to the amount of food (gifts) you give them. Some of you might be wondering about the gift leaderboard on in Feint and this is for 1.13, is has some people already in it because the beta testers have been using it this week. It will show the top gift givers in the game.

    In game, there is a toggle for showing or hiding the name labels of each Pygmy. I think this is a good step forward, it is definately moving toward a game now and although the rules for governing their mood is pretty simple now, we can exapnd on it in the future and add more management and stats for your tribe. We can also start setting up leaderboards for wierd stats like how many coconut bounces you achieved, the farthest flick, or how many pygmies you managed to electrocute in the hurricane without stopping the hurricane.

    On the technical side we added a font engine to the game. We were in a huge need of adding dynamic text. I'm a little embarassed to say this, but all the text to this point has been burned into the bitmaps for the game. But we came up with a really cool system for defining custom fonts and laying out a screens in flash. The new layout tool saves a ton of memory because we can reuse all the existing game assets for our help screens instead of precreating each screen in photoshop and adding it to the texture atlas. We were getting to the point where we could only fit 7 help screens into our game and we kept having to jam more and more content into each screen. but now Allan created 13 screens with the tool and it freed up an entire texture atlas that we can start using for more game sprites.

    Another thing about this update is that our icon is now synced with the update, the ant icon is shipping with the ant update and we will continue to do this from now on.

    Here's the titles of the next 3 updates. it's a trilogy.

    A New Home
    Tyrannosaurus Strikes Back
    Return of the Pygmy

    After Return of the Pygmy, we will raise our price to a whopping $1.99. If you know anyone that doesnt have pocket god yet, they can save 50% by buying it now :eek:

    We have so many ideas for new updates, we want to keep doing them for at least a few more months and we are hoping that with a price increase, we can afford to keep doing them as our sales numbers start to go down. We just came up with an amazing way to pull off a Tsunami, it will be really cool. not sure where this will lie after Return of the Pygmy, but we have that, we really want to do the change tempurature update, do something awesome with the statue, and add more stats, leaderboards, and add some mini games.
     
  9. Daremo macrumors 68000

    Daremo

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Location:
    Chicago
    #9
    You have got to be the most dedicated programmers out there at the moment, with big updates almost weekly. Well done, and congrats on a fun app. I look forward to the updates, and get quite happy when I see them appear on the phone.
     
  10. mattpreston11 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    #10
    agreed with above poster, think pocket god is pretty awesome.

    although i have a feeling as sales trail off that you may have to think about a pocket god 2, if priced well i would buy it and im sure at least half of your original purchasers would, as long as its a step up from the first.

    Oh, the website is awesome btw, hope this is not your full time work, because your tallents would be wasted me thinks.
     
  11. senorian macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    #11
    Dave,
    I absolutely love the new update. Nothing better then watching my little pygmy fishing away. And I really love the fire ants too. I'm really looking forward to the next couple of updates including being able to name by pygmy's. Thanks for putting in all of the hard work. I think now that the new update is out Pocket God should creep back up a few notches in the top 10
     
  12. xrp123 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2008
    #12
    Hello. Sorry to ask you these questions here, but I can't access the boltcreative site because it needs flash and nobody would help me in the chat rooms.

    How do I change the names of the tribe like you mentioned? Also what does that Pygmy button do in the game (the one next to the shark fin)?

    Thanks for the help.
     
  13. senorian macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    #13
    After the next update you will be able to name your tribe. Not really sure what you are referring to regarding the Pygmy button. i'm sure if you pressed it you will find out what it does.
     
  14. Gokunama macrumors 6502a

    Gokunama

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2008
    #14
    The Pygmy button makes the Pygmies dance when you tap the screen to a beat.
     
  15. xrp123 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2008
    #15
    Thanks for the replies. I just got the app this version so I could never figure out what that button did.

    Thanks for the help folks.
     
  16. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #16
    Pocket God 1.14 - A New Home

    We just got the new update done and are waiting on the last one to be accepted before we submit. This is the first part of our update trilogy.

    A New Home
    Tyrannosaurus Strike Back
    Return of the Pygmy

    At the end of the trilogy we will be increasing our price to 1.99. Not sure if it will be when part 3 comes out or when the update after part 3 is released but we just wanted to give everyone fair warning before we make the move.

    Like I said last week, this update was mainly a cleanup update where we did a lot of bug fixing and optimization but we ended up having more time than normal because of our late update schedule so we were able to add a bunch of stuff in addition to that.

    We added a new leaderboard for every type of sacrifice, so now it counts the number of times you electrocute a pygmy while they are in the hurricane and that is tracked in its own leaderboard. Including the two new deaths in this update, there are 24 new leaderboards each with their own death (getting hit by boulder and drowning is different than getting hit by shark and drowning). So, this should even out some of the grinding people have been doing to rank in the total sacrifices leaderboard, they will still be able to grind those, but there will be other death types where it will be harder to rack up high scores.

    As some people have guessed, the main goal of the update was to introduce a new island. The new island has its own background loop, it has a T-Rex Egg, and it has a structure of some type (testers, please do not post screen shots at this time). It’s a brand new location so it doesn’t have the volcano in the background like the other island, we will be adding a different background hazard in the future after the trilogy, not sure when though. There is also a second secret about the location, a future unlockable (after the trilogy).

    Because the volcano is tied to the original island, we removed it from the option menu, I don't think anyone wanted to disable the volcano anyway, we are using the space in the menu for toggling between islands. In the future we will be creating a map screen once we get a couple more islands, but for now, we wanted to use our resources for other features instead of a new screen. And I know I will get tons of questions about this, if you have your volcano disabled, we will force it to be enabled with this update, you won’t have a disabled volcano with no button to turn it back on.

    As far as technical items this week, we improved our layout and animation tool chain. Some other developers have expressed interest in how we have our tool setup so I'll explain a little bit of it here.

    Allan does all his design and animation in flash. For the most part, he just exports flash sprites to a series of rectangular png files and then registers those files with xml to tell the engine when to play the various animations. He can also set up Display Groups in xml that allow him to take multiple sprites, give them all positions and set up collision attributes in case they are interactable. We recently improved this system by being able to reimport those bitmaps into flash and use their design tools to lay them out in the flash environment visually instead of having to manually enter coordinate data and likewise, being able to take multiple bitmaps and animate them like in the case of the tree during the hurricane, instead of 1 giant sprite, it uses 1 sprite for each leaf and the trunk of the tree and Allan rotates and scales the individual parts to get our movement.

    To get this data into the game, we use a flash plug-in written in JSFL (flash javascript) that goes through the flash document and spits out the xml that Allan would normally write. We made a big improvement this update where the tool automatically modifies the xml instead of Allan having to copy and paste it into the correct location. This makes Allan much happier. :)

    Some other tools that use flash for layout take the swf output format and parse that to get all their info or sometimes they even try to run the swf as if they are a watered down flash player. I think these two approaches are a lot of work especially if you have to parse through a swf file. Plus, having an xml format is readable, if a bug happens, I can immediately see what's going on rather than having to step through a binary file.

    Last week I added a poll about what everyone thought of 3.0. I think we are going to wait until there is an easy way to jailbrake 3.0. A lot of our fans have Jailbroken phones, not all of them download free games and it gives everyone else time to upgrade as well. Hopefully this will happen within the first couple of weeks of release. I don't really want to delay that long. I also just want to reiterate that we are not going to charge for updates or functionality.

    This week also marks our first week with Feint functionality, there was some definite growing pains, and some people were telling us about people using profanity in the chat rooms. Aurora Feint has since implemented profanity filters for the rooms and they broadcast a message every now and then that explains that people who use profanity or Grief other users will be banned from feint. Please let me know if this works, if the constant messages are getting in the way or if they are necessary, and let us know about performance problems, we sent a ton of traffic to them this week. in one week we had over 50,000 users sign up for feint accounts, this is huge considering Aurora Feint has 100,000 active users total (please don't quote me on that number).

    btw, the Say My Name update is out, you can get it by deleting pocket god and repurchasing, it will not charge you twice.
     
  17. liptonlover macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    #17
    Sounds great!

    If I might suggest something, I'd love pocket god to become more of a game than a ridiculously fun entertainment app. Something like village sim only more lighthearted and easygoing.

    Nate
     
  18. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #18
    The Say My Name update that just came out is a move in that direction. and the third part of the trilogy will be as well. Not sure if we will go the sim route, but definately add more game play to it.
     
  19. r.j.s Moderator emeritus

    r.j.s

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2007
    Location:
    Texas
    #19
    Dave, great update and a great plan. Keep up the good work.
     
  20. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #20
    Hey, so I'm not sure if you know but we had another delay, Apple held up our update because we had the words contest and demo in our app description and I guess they dont want people to be confused about wether we have a demo in the app store or not.

    anyway, they contacted me today and we fixed the issue and it should be out this week. the trex strikes back update is complete and ready to be submitted as soon as it gets approved.
     
  21. B master macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    #21
    Sounds good

    But why don't you mix the trex one with a new home?
     
  22. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 6, 2009
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    San Francisco, Ca
    #22
    Looks like the new update is out! apple did us a solid and pushed it through quickly.
     
  23. senorian macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    #23
    Hey Dave,
    I just d/l the new update. can't wait to check it out when I get some free time.
    btw, I was just listening to Howard Stern interview Jackie Martling. They were talking about the Jackie App that wasn't approved by Apple. I also heard Jackie mention your very successful Pocket God App. Congrats on getting Pocket God mentioned to a huge audience. Jackie mentioned your App is being resubmitted. Good luck getting it approved
     
  24. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #24
    Hey Guys,

    Had an incredibly busy day. Got in the howard stern green room and met a bunch of people that I have been watching for a long time. I am glad I wasnt pulled in because I was way too nervious to go in there, It would have been hard to get any words out of my mouth.

    Here are answers to questions.

    Crashing, I think I found out what is happening. I didnt know this but there is a limit to the amount of processing you can do before the app officially starts, I have 10 seconds to start everything up and right now that time is being spent connecting to fient, connecting to heartbeat (our crash reporter) loading textures and sounds, and any other initialization. If you have homebrew, or a slow internet connection (wifi or bad reception) the startup time takes longer than 10 seconds and the app automatically shuts down because it thinks it has stalled.

    In the meantime, if you have crashes, boot jailbreak in safe mode. turn off wifi. or make sure you have a good connection when you want to do wi fi. fient and heartbeat is trying to see if there is a good connection, if its completely off. it knows its off fast, if its good, it knows its good fast. but if the connection is going in and out. then it takes too long to figure out it is available or not.

    Has the new update been submitted - no, we need to fix this bug before submission. I am coming home from new york tomorrow and might work on it on the plane. will try and submit it tomorrow night. might end up being thursday morning.

    the good news is I think this was the bug I was mistaking for memory before. It just so happened that if we had too many textures, then it would just take longer to init the app and when it went over the 10 second limit, it would crash. had nothing to do with memory. hopefully this gives us extra memory to play with.
     
  25. davecazz thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2009
    Location:
    San Francisco, Ca
    #25
    Pocket God 1.15 - The Tyrannosaurus Strikes Back!

    OMG, what a week! You know, when I finally took some time off, everything was bound to blow up in our faces! I'll have to remember that, no more days or even hours off. Vacation=Bad!

    So, I'll ignore the elephant in the room for a bit and talk about the latest update. This update is really fun. We introduce a T-Rex into the game which is our biggest sprite that we have animated so far. Now, when you drop the egg three times, cracks develop and a baby T-Rex comes out and cries for its mom. Then the Mom comes out from the right side and starts causing havoc with the island. We got some good reaction animations of the Oogs (their new name, Oogs=good, pygmies/islanders=bad). They try and back away from the Dino and when the Dino gets too close they try and make a run for the other side. Pretty funny when they are all running for it and the T-Rex cherry picks one out of the bunch to eat.

    This update we really revamped our animation tool. The dino was much easier to animate than the previous complicated animations (fishing, eating, outhouse). He is made up of 7 different sprites that we animate in flash, and when he eats the Pygmy, ugh, I mean Oog, the Ogg is a new layer in the T-Rex animation. We did the same for the dino egg. It's a collection of layers instead of a bunch of huge bitmaps. This should open the door to more optimization in the future, we were even talking about breaking the Oogs up into different pieces (head, body, arms, legs) so we can make their animations a lot smaller. After I proposed this idea to Allan, he had a heart attack but once he took his nitro-glycerin pills, he was open to exploring this idea in the future.

    Oh yea, I want to congratulate the people that guessed it was an outhouse that we added last update. And No, we are not beyond bathroom humor at all. We figured that since people were asking for huts we would add a hut-like structure and a couple cheap jokes with this update.

    About the crashing and memory issues. It looks like the crashing that we have been encountering in the past had nothing to do with memory at all, but was caused by the startup of the app taking too long. I went out and bought a new iPod Touch, jailbroke it and added as many winterboard themes as I could but still couldn't get it to crash (figures). I ended up adding 5 times the amount of animation and textures to get it to take over a minute on startup which reproduced the crash that people were seeing. So I was able to restructure the game so the game initialization didn't block the normal startup of the app which fixed the problem. When we ran into this before, it never occurred to me that the time was what was causing the issue. We never had a device on our side that had this crash issue so it was hard to view actual logs when this happened. The end result though is that we can probably use a little more texture memory since it didn’t have to do with RAM after all.

    So, as everyone knows, there is a new controversy that has been surrounding the game lately. It started about a week ago with a site called savage minds where some anthropologists were calling us out as a racist game. I tried to talk to them on the site but they had the attitude that whatever we said, we were wrong so finally I gave up trying to start a dialog. In fact, they even criticized us for trying to meet them half way. A few days after that, we began receiving emails from other anthropologists and some pacific islanders that were concerned about the game. The tone of the emails were "you need to pull the game and donate all proceeds immediately" so we didn't really try to reach out to the other side feeling that it would only be another non winnable battle for us. Recently though, one of the original pacific islanders that emailed us (and one of the main people cited in the many articles about this issue), sent us an olive branch that explained that she gave us the benefit of the doubt that we didn’t intend the game to be racist and that all she wanted was a real conversation about the issue and how we can collaborate together to deal with it. Since then we have exchanged many emails between each other and things are going well. This doesn’t mean that all the people that have an issue with our app will suddenly change their minds, or that it will change whatever stance Apple will take with us once the dust settles, but it's a start. There are a couple of things that we changed immediately, we swapped the Easter Island statue for a new statue of an octopus god which we might use in the future for something cool, we no longer want to call them Pygmies or Islanders, their new name is Oogs (but we might have a contest to change that in the near future), and we created a short history/introduction for them that enforces the point that these guys are a tiny tribe of prehistoric people that are small enough to live in your phone.

    About what Apple will do? We have no idea. I don’t think we make them enough money for them to defend our game at all costs. But they also might be waiting to see what we do about the situation before reacting. If they pull us, we have to think about how we can address the issue. If we have to change the guys to space aliens or something similar, we would rather just do a new game. Some of the hazards in the game just won’t work in a non island theme and we would rather start with a fresh slate and build something up from scratch again (maybe Pocket Demon or an original fighting game concept). I did think about changing the guys to red hair and fair skin (freckles?) but at that point, Allan had his second heart attack in two days. I think it would be funny to see the guys get sunburnt on the the island and have to use spf 100 lotion but Allan thinks it will just look too wierd.

    Other than all the madness, my New York trip was awesome. I didn't get on the Howard Stern show, but it was perfect for me because I was way too nervous to go on air anyway (especially in that tough environment). I did get to meet almost everyone from the show and behind the scenes and they were incredibly nice to us. During the trip Jackie was an incredible host, he took us to meet Les Paul on Monday and watch his show, he took us to the friars club for lunch, we did his show on Sirius called the Joke Hunt on Sirius which was a good first step for me to do something on air, and ended up at Carnegie Deli which has the best sandwiches that I have ever tasted. Look forward to going back there but have to find a way for things to not blow up while I'm gone next time.
     

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