iPAD/iPhone, Playbook, Android, HP TouchPad, Win8, O’my

In my first posting I stated I would be posting every week.  That was about 3 months ago.  Unfortunately after kissing the children goodnight, and spending time with my wife, oh, and this day job thing.  I find I do not have much time left over for my fun job.  At least if I want to avoid a costly divorce.

Fortunately the world does not depend on my Blogs and my children do depend on my kisses  I do not think anybody even knows my blog exists, a fact I need to change, maybe you can help me with that, any ideas, seriously? I need to change that.

The reason I started this blog is that I am creating a game for the tablet/smart phone market.  I have read <sources> that just putting a game into the App store is not sufficient.  There are about 200-1000 new apps submitted to the various app stores / day, (the figure depends on the source, platform and the day).  So you need to spend some time marketing your app to actually make any sales.

I have also read that a Blog is a good way to build interest.  Trouble is it need to be entertaining and self deprecating enough for people to want to read it…..ahhh there’s the rub, especially when I’m a bit of a geek, no sh*t, I hear you cry….and language, at least the written in English type is not necessarily my strength.

The best way in my opinion is full disclosure.  Oh no, just putting in words like ‘full’ and ‘disclosure’ is bound to get me filtered.

That is why I am being honest about why I have created this blog in the first place.

I need to do more, so I hit upon this idea.  If I were to release my app on all the four (five?) main tablet platforms simultaneously and release the relative sales figures for these platforms would anybody be interested?  I suspect small dev’s like myself would be.

I am also willing to share my thoughts and experiences with those same readers.  I know a great deal about stuff, probably because

I am an old Fart and have been programming since I was 10, and I am now 44, in other words I started using computers before most of the world knew what computers were.  I have released some “free” software on the Commodore 64 and the Amiga, those were the days when an individual could write a meaningful game with out having to spend 100 million dollars <source>.  But then I entered the real world and a real job and my “hobby programming” took a back seat to life the universe and everything, or in my case wife, children.

Let me continue by sharing a little bit about my path to where I am now.  I currently have a half finished game running on 3 of the 4 target tablets, and the anticipation of the 4th with in the matter of days (weeks?).

Diddly doo, diddle doo (wavy, music to indicate a step back in time)

Last November I heard about the RIM Playbook promotion, if you wrote a Playbook App RIM would give you a “free” playbook.  So I knocked together a couple of apps in Adobe ActionScript and submitted them to Playbook App Store.

“Free” in this context. Meant many  hours invested in creating my two apps So not very free, if you consider my current hourly rate, but that aside

I enjoyed creating the apps, but they were not that good (more on that in a later post) and they were not really the kind of thing you could charge for.

But the question, on everybodies lips was then was ‘what next?’, well maybe not everybody but certainly aforementioned wife.  I felt that maybe I should create a better app, one which I could take pride in.  So that was my plan to create a “quality” app for the Playbook.  One with “Polish” <sources> something I would feel was worthy of charging real money for.

I played around with a couple of ideas and finally hit on a concept which I felt would work well on a tablet.

I also wanted to do it in C++, and that required the Playbook NDK, so I waited for that to come out, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, then I got tired of waiting and decided to write the game for the iPAD, well that was my excuse for the technology investment, (and I stand buy it!).  So I took the C++/OpenGL game engine which I was developing while waiting, bought a Mac and an iPOD touch, and within a couple of days I had my game engine and current test levels running on iOS.  At this time my goal was to target iOS first, and the heck with Playbook.

And then a funny thing happened, I was accepted into the Playbook NDK Beta program.  There I was all set to send RIM an email saying how poorly we developers were treated by RIM. And thanks but no thanks.

(I may write a blog about my thoughts on this at some later date but possibly not)

But then I thought, what harm is there in downloading the NDK and taking it for a spin.  Less than a day later my game was running on the Playbook, it was that simple.  Well maybe not if you count all my previous experience but it felt simple.

That then brings us the 4 target epiphany I had a couple of weeks ago.  It started when I read on engadget <source> about the latest HP touchpad ebay sell-off.  I tried to get a Touchpad when they did their initial fire sale over the summer, not because I really wanted one, but for $100 why not look at it, this was also before I purchased an iPAD and I was curious to know how I would enjoy a larger tablet.  Unfortunately I was not able to buy a Touchpad at the fire sale price over the summer.

But this time I struck gold, and was able to get one.  My thinking is that there are 1 million of them out there, with out the same developer love as you can find in the Apple and Android market places.  On the surface it sounds like there might be a bit of a hunger for a decent game.

So armed with my new Touchpad I just now finished getting my game running on WebOS.  It ran the second time (the first time my y-input axis was inverted), which is blowing my mind.  I am scared sh*tless that I might have to debug it, since at this point of time I have not figured out how to get the visual (or any other version) debugger working, but for now I am rather chuffed.

I have also picked up a Kindle Fire so next target is Android, I started on this a bit but got  stumped by the piss poor debugging environment and documentation, but I think the approach I have taken with WebOS will work for Android so hopefully that will be up and running soon.

I think I will also do a Win8 version, but not concurrently.  The Main issue is that Win8 may not (probably does not) support opengl, so I need to convert it to Direct3D, not a big issue I have done Direct3D work in the past, but I do need on focusing on delivering something.

In my next post I am going to share my thoughts on the four different development platforms, and after that I may talk about the design/implementation process for my game.

So see you next week month year

p.s. wow that was a really long post, maybe I should break it up into parts and post it slowly over the next month :-)