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An Update on Updates :)

Now that Tiny TrackZ has successfully left the engine shed, we’ve set to work on some much needed updates for all of our games and working on making new paid versions of the Play Nice ones.

First up is Any Landing. The 1.2.2 update is undergoing testing at the moment and focuses on updating to properly use the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screen sizes as well as fixing a bunch of annoying bugs. I’ve also re-jigged the ads a little to make them less annoying although due to changes in what’s allowed in apps now, I’ve had to remove the “Free wings for having our games installed” page. Watch for the update of Any Landing PlayNice in the next couple of weeks.

The paid version (i.e. Any Landing) is almost done, so that should be submitted soon after Any Landing Play Nice. Gameplay wise, it’s more of a challenge as you can’t adjust the difficulty downwards by spending money to buy more powerups but you do start with more Wings (and the bank option is on by default, so you can build up your coins to use).

We’re already working on the first update to Tiny TrackZ. This will focus on bug fixes, optimisation and general tuning. We’re planning the first actual content update, which will have some German locos and wagons and suitable layouts to play with. As Tiny TrackZ has done pretty well in the German App Store though, we’re putting extra effort in to get a German localisation done for this content update too. I’m aiming to submit the bug fix update by the end of this week and the content update will follow later once Adam’s had time to do all the new artwork!

Fast Fishing is also in the update process. As mentioned in a previous article, there’ll be Fast Fishing PlayNice which will be the update for the current Fast Fishing and Fast Fishing, which will be the new pay once version. We’ve got some fun new content planned for these that our old Flick Fishing fans will like, so it’ll take a little longer. It’ll be worth the wait though 🙂

Last but not least I’ve also been spending time updating SlotZ Racer 2 🙂 Apart from fixes to the screen mode to cover newer iPhones and adding MFi Controller code, it also adds the Zenos E10 and Zenos E10S sports cars from SlotZ Racer Zenos Special. These will be available as part of the main set of cars, so won’t need unlocking.

Being able to spend time on these updates is only made possible by our most excellent players buying our games and keeping playing them (and telling their friends so they can buy and play them too).

 

Update:  We’ve been asked (especially by one very keen Fast Fishing app reviewer in the US 😉 ) to update our original iPhone fishing game Flick Fishing over and over again. The problem being that as we wrote it to be Freeverse’s IP and it was on their App Store account, it’s moved with that account to their new owners. So unfortunately the situation is that while we’d love to update it, we simply can’t as we don’t have access to it.

That’s one reason why we wrote Fast Fishing. It’s essentially the same as Flick Fishing in how it works (the actual fishing code is the same) as we don’t own the Flick Fishing brand, but the code is still ours 🙂 With Fast Fishing we wanted to try a different gameplay mode to suit current gamers, but there’s still a definite fan base that wants an up to date version of Flick Fishing. However a lot of them bought Flick Fishing later on in its development when it had lots of features in it and don’t remember the original release which only had the basic fishing spots and a couple of tournament options.

So don’t worry fans, we’re expanding Fast Fishing towards what you want. It won’t be immediate, but we hear you and appreciate your keen feedback 🙂

If you want to contact us directly to let us know what you’d like to see in our game updates or report any bugs, remember can contact us at info@strangeflavour.com  and we’ve also started an email newsletter so you can keep up to date on our latest work Strange Flavour Newsletter

 

App Store pricing and our new games

If you’ve read my previous blog you’ll know we’re switching from our Play Nice free to play system to a straightforward one of paid games.

The plan is to try and update our Play Nice games to have paid versions. Generally speaking they will be the same game but without the pay as you play options. We debated what to call them though? Snap Match Soccer Paid?, Fast Fishing Pro? Any Landing Plus?

Eventually we decided that as the new, paid, versions would be the ‘normal’ version of the game, it’s better to rename the old versions of the game by adding ‘PlayNice’ to them. So if you’ve got any of them, the name will change but they’ll still work the same.

We’re obviously keeping the old versions on the App Store as over a million players have downloaded them and they’re still being played every day. Plus some players have bought content and it would be unfair to penalise them. As far as is practical we’ll be keeping them updated too.

We’ve put a lot of thought into pricing too. With Flick Fishing we were one of the first app developers to recognise that gaining chart position made selling the game at the lowest price point of $0.99 worthwhile. That was of course the early days of the App Store and it worked fine then. However in the current App Store chart position isn’t quite so valid unless you can guarantee a top 10 position and way too many people seem to equate a $0.99 game with one they can wait for until it inevitably goes on offer as a free game. So we’re only going to keep the $0.99 price point for old games as a ‘budget’ label. These are our older or less popular games that we still want people playing but probably won’t have a lot of time to update that regularly.

For the bigger games we’re starting at $2.99 as a base point. Our thinking is pretty simple in that all our games are worth at least that and players who are only interested in cheaper or free games have plenty of options to trawl through 😉

Tiny TrackZ for instance is a simple (but rather deep) puzzle game, so the iOS version is going to be launched at $2.99 with the Mac version coming in at $6.99 (this covers the extra development time, lower customer base and wider range of machines to support). It may have some IAP packs to extend it at some point but only for big content add ons.

The relaunched Any Landing is going to be $3.99 as it will effectively be the same as the Play Nice version rewritten as if you’d paid the full $9.99 option for everything.  Fast Fishing will be $2.99 and Snap Match Soccer will be our first $0.99 budget title. We’re already testing the first version of Any Landing in paid mode.

Tiny TrackZ Promo Video

Here’s a little video we did for Tiny TrackZ!

The actual game will be out soon on August 13th for iOS and following soon after for OS X.

 

Music : “Ballycastle Bay” performed by the Fairey Band.

All rights reserved. Any unauthorised copying, reproduction, rental or broadcast of the information contained in this product is a violation of applicable laws.
Music under license from Delta Leisure Group.

Creating Mac App Store games with Unity

**** Technical stuff warning **** If you’re not a Mac developer, skip this one. It involves nasty stuff that’ll make your brain melt!

 ***** Update. Looks like we didn’t catch everything required. process edited with more correct info thanks to Apple’s DTS team ******

So, I’ve finally submitted the first beta of Fast Fishing to the Mac App Store and had to jump through a few hoops to get it right.

Most of the issues appear to have been caused by the way Unity builds its Mac apps without using Xcode and one issue which I’ll get into in a bit caused by its file system. They’re not insurmountable but as Mac Games aren’t that high on the Unity dev list and the addition of the App Sandbox in Mavericks and Yosemite, it can be a bit awkward finding reliable information on how to get it all right..

The good news is, I’ve got a build of Fast Fishing successfully uploaded to the Mac App Store (soon to be submitted), so I thought I’d share what I had to do to make it work 🙂

 

Firstly, as I mentioned, Unity has an annoying issue with its file system. Anything in your project folders gets a .meta file created for it (I’m assuming to help track it within the Unity editor). This is normally fine as long as you remember to build your target app *outside* your project folder, except for when you use any plugins..

Because your plugins are stored within the project folder, their bundle files all have .meta files in them. When it comes to signing, these meta files break the signing and as they’re data files in the root of the bundle (which is bad).

So before you do anything to sign your build, you need to right click the app build and “Show Package Contents”

Fast Fishing Show Package

You’ll find your plugins in the Contents/Plugins folder and for each bundle you’ll need to Show Package Contents too. Go through each of those folders (and any sub folders) and delete any .meta files in there.

Once you’ve done this it’s wise to make a copy of your de-metad plugins folder so for the next build you can simply replace it with your clean copy.

The other thing that Unity doesn’t quite handle is your Info.plist file which contains various bits of useful info about the bundle and things like your Copyright info. Again, I make a separate copy of this to clone into my builds each time.

Unity does create an Info.plist file, but it’s missing various items and others are rather generic “Unity Player” ones. So a bit of editing and addition is needed..

You’ll need to add the Application Category line with the specific App category/sub-category that your game is in, as well as the Copyright (human-readable) line with your copyright info.

It’s also the place to modify the Get Info String to your game’s name and copyright. Make sure the bundle identifier matches that of your game and its provisioning profiles (I’m working on the assumption that you’ve read Apple’s documentation and have development and more importantly, distribution profiles already done and downloaded for your game) as well as checking the Bundle Versions String, short is your App’s main version number and Bundle Version is the build number (this has to be different for each build you submit to iTunes Connect).

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 17.56.21

 

Copy this info file over the Unity generated one in your package (and make a backup) and you’re ready to start signing..

As the game’s going to work on Yosemite and Mavericks and be downloaded from the Mac App Store it *MUST* have the App Sandbox enabled. This protects users from any bugs in your code accessing and breaking things it shouldn’t. However it does mean you have to specifically add any features your app needs.

You create an entitlements file in Xcode (actually the easiest way is to create a dummy Mac application and add entitlements to create the initial file).

You’ll need the App Sandbox entitlement (set to YES) and if you’re accessing anything on the internet, you’ll need com.apple.security.network.client set to YES too

To cover Game-Center you have to manually add the following entitlements in your entitlements file (normally Xcode would handle this for you..)

 

com.apple.application-identifier   xxxxxxxx.com.mycompany.gamename  where the xxxxx is your team ID

and

com.apple.developer.team-identifier  xxxxxxxxx   where xxxxxx is again your team ID

(these are also handy for iCloud and Handoff).

I put my entitlements file in the root of my Unity project folder

Another key step is to include a copy of the provisioning profile in the app bundle before signing it. It goes in the app bundle at Contents/embedded.provisionprofile.  Again, this is something Xcode would do for you normally that you have to do manually when building with Unity.  Do this for both development and distribution builds including the correct development or distribution profile.

 

After messing around with it to get it working I actually created a short script to handle my signing. It also copies the Info.plist file into the game package just so I don’t forget 😉

Note we have to sign the libmono.0.dylib and libMonoPosixHelper.dylib bundles that Unity adds in Frameworks too. Essentially *ALL* code has to be signed so the App Store knows it’s you that created it and it’s not been bolted on later by anyone with naughty intentions.

here’s the script…

cp “/Projects/Fast Fishing Mac Info/Info.plist” “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app/Contents/Info.plist”

codesign -f -v -s “3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Strange Flavour Limited” “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app/Contents/Frameworks/MonoEmbedRuntime/osx/libmono.0.dylib”

codesign -f -v -s “3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Strange Flavour Limited” “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app/Contents/Frameworks/MonoEmbedRuntime/osx/libMonoPosixHelper.dylib”

codesign -f -v -s “3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Strange Flavour Limited” –entitlements “/Projects/FastFishing_Unity/Fast Fishing.entitlements” –force  “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app/Contents/Plugins/BigDamnMacPlugin.bundle”

codesign -f -v -s “3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Strange Flavour Limited” –entitlements “/Projects/FastFishing_Unity/Fast Fishing.entitlements” –force  “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app/Contents/Plugins/P31MonoBridgeMac.bundle”

codesign -f -v -s “3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Strange Flavour Limited” –entitlements “/Projects/FastFishing_Unity/Fast Fishing.entitlements” –force  “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app/Contents/Plugins/SocialNetworkingPlugin.bundle”

codesign -f -v -s “3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Strange Flavour Limited” –entitlements “/Projects/FastFishing_Unity/Fast Fishing.entitlements” –force  “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app/Contents/Plugins/StoreKitPlugin.bundle”

codesign -f -v -s “3rd Party Mac Developer Application: Strange Flavour Limited” –entitlements “/Projects/FastFishing_Unity/Fast Fishing.entitlements” “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app” –deep

echo “Fast Fishing Mac Signed”

Here I’m signing my own BigDamnMacPlugin (which is a bunch of bits Unity doesn’t do that I need for my games) as well as the various Prime31 plugins I’ve used. (great plugins btw. awful IKEA level of documentation on the Mac versions 😉 ).

It’s worth reading up on codesign in the developer documentation. Very handy tool.

Next we need to build the App installation package. This is the file that gets uploaded to the Mac App Store and can be used to install the game for testing purposes..

I’ve done myself another script here, even though it’s just a single line. It’s a long line 😉

productbuild –component “/Projects/Fast Fishing.app” “/Applications” –sign “3rd Party Mac Developer Installer: Strange Flavour Limited” “/Projects/FastFishing.pkg”

Both codesign and productbuild use your distribution certificate to sign and then package the build.

Please note that your distribution build can’t be tested locally. For local testing, use the same script but without the entitlements (and your developer provisioning profile in the bundle instead of the distribution one). When installed via the app package your sandbox ID will be needed to activate the game.

When you launch the game, you should see a dialog pop up that tells you that the game was purchased by a different account, so you need to sign in with one of your Mac App Store Sandbox test IDs here for the game to launch. Don’t use your normal login, it must be a Sandbox ID.

If this works, your game should launch and elements such as Game Center etc. should work. If you’ve got a feature that’s not working, that normally works when the game’s not signed for the sandbox, check the console logs to see if the sandbox is denying anything. You may need to add more entitlements.

*Note*. If like me, your sandbox test ID isn’t for the US store, your first login will be prompted by “This account uses the UK store” or otherwise and the App Store will try and change countries to whichever one you set it up for. It will fail of course because your App doesn’t exist yet 🙂 Don’t worry about this. Once it gets over it, just launch it again and it’ll be fine 🙂

Now you should be able to use Application Loader (launched from Open Developer Tool in Xcode’s menus or direct from the Xcode package folder) to select the .pkg file you’ve created and upload it to iTunes Connect. The app name *must* match the App name you’ve got in iTunes Connect for it.

 

Hopefully this will help someone avoid the issues I had trying to get this working and there’ll be more games on the Mac App Store.

Thanks to Apple’s DTS crew for their help with this. Fast Fishing for Mac has now been approved and ready for sale on 1st April (our 11th birthday!).