Archive for the 'cards' category
As some of you may have noticed by now, you can no longer play against other people in Hearts Net using Game Center, if you’ve upgraded your device to iOS 7. I know it’s common for iOS apps to be broken by new versions of iOS, but for me, this is a first, which I was not expecting. Multiplayer games may also be affected if you use WiFi or Bluetooth, but I am less sure in those cases. I haven’t done very much testing yet.
Rest assured, this bug will eventually be fixed. But for us developers in the Apple ecosystem, there is a lot of new stuff to be dealt with recently: Xcode 5, 64-bit iOS devices, iOS 7’s entirely rebooted user interface. Hearts Net has never been the prettiest app in the store, but I am at the very least going to do enough work on it so that it doesn’t look completely out of place in the new user paradigm.
I don’t have an estimate on when I can get to all this, because I’m pretty busy at work right now. But you can be sure that Hearts Net will continue moving forward.
Hearts Net version 4.0.6 is now available for download on the App Store.
Game Center multiplayer games turned out to be a lot of work. While I was in there messing with the network code, I also added Bluetooth support. This is probably the most work I’ve done for any release of the game to date.
If you like to play via the intertubes, feel free to add me as a Game Center friend. My alias: allen.brunson
Incidentally, I also fixed that suspend/resume problem that some people were having.
Game Center integration, and by extension, multiplayer games across the worldwide internet, is taking a lot longer than expected. For one thing, I discovered the hard way that it is impossible to test without two physical devices. I was able to test WiFi multiplayer games using only my Mac and a real iPhone, but that doesn’t work in this case. I only have one iPhone capable of using Game Center, so I had to order an iPad, which has not yet arrived. But I’m pretty close to finished now, no kidding. While I’m in there mucking with the network transport, I decided to add Bluetooth support as well, so that local multiplayer games will not require a WiFi connection.
This hasn’t worked really well in the past, but I’ll try again: Is there anybody out there who would like to help beta test? You could be the very first person to play an internet-wide game of Hearts Net.
Note that being a beta tester requires a fair amount of technical sophistication. Despite recent progress, such as TestFlight, installing beta apps is still sometimes frustrating. And if you are not able to clearly articulate how and why things are going wrong, then you won’t be of any use to me.
And now, here’s a little bonus for the three people who read my blog: promo codes for Hearts Net. For those who haven’t done so before, here are instructions for redeeming promo codes. That article is specifically about iTunes gift cards, but you can do the same thing with promo codes.
I was reluctant to give these out for a long time. But Apple recently changed their rules: people who download apps with promo codes cannot write reviews. This prevents people still upset about my neutering Hearts Solo, over a year ago, from using the codes for no reason other than leaving malicious, hateful reviews. Incredibly, there are people out there with nothing better to do than still be angry about that. For the rest of you: Bon appetit!
Well, dang. Quite a few of you have emailed to let me know that I have once again reintroduced the “shy robot” bug.
Some players have reported that when the game is interrupted in some way and they come back to it, the robots won’t play anymore. Here’s a simple workaround. Press the home button, which will take you back to the iOS home screen. Then press the game’s icon to restart it. Problem solved.
This has to do with the new multitasking features found in iOS 4.0 and later, which I did not test thoroughly enough. In my defense, this bug has an entirely different root cause than the last time I had a “shy robot” problem, so this is not strictly a regression.
Thanks to the help of an intrepid beta tester, I found and fixed this bug, and also devised the workaround. I would submit a new version of the app to Apple, but I am right in the middle of futzing with the multiplayer networking code, which is at the moment completely broken. So I think I’m going to wait until I get the whole thing finished, and submit a new version at that point.
Keep those emails coming. I read all of them, and respond to most. It was because of all the emails I got that I knew about the scope of this most recent “shy robot” problem. In the few cases where I don’t respond, it’s because the author was either incoherent, rude, or both. Sorry, but the measly few bucks you spent on the game is not sufficient motivation for me to put up with abuse.
Thanks to everyone who has stuck with me for all this time. I am amazed that the game is still selling pretty well, despite being in the store for more than a year. Evidence suggests that most iOS games tend to peak early and fizzle off to nothing soon after, but that’s not the case here. It looks to me like I’ve got a lot of old-timers who have been playing my Hearts game pretty solidly for quite a few months. I’m still working on improving it, albeit slowly.
February 17, 2011 1:37 am
After a week of waiting in the approval queue, Apple has finally put my new versions of Hearts Solo and Hearts Net into the store.
Alas, this is version does not yet include Game Center integration. This just fixes some graphics glitches, and updates the artwork so it doesn’t look quite so horrible on the iPhone 4’s retina display.
I had hoped to have a new high-res version of all the card face graphics, but the ones I’ve included here are just the old card graphics run through ImageMagick, which hopefully defeats the jaggies a little bit. I contacted a couple of graphics artists about drawing me a new set of cards, but they all wanted more money than I can afford for the job. If one of you enterprising readers thinks you could draw me a new card deck for, say, 600 bucks or less, I’d love to hear from you.
September 7, 2010 11:15 pm
Hey folks! Long time no see! Sorry about my long absence. I started a new job and they are running me ragged. I work on a big complicated iPhone app during the day, so I don’t feel super inclined to work on yet another iPhone app on nights and weekends.
What makes me feel extra sucky about all this is that the money I have been making from Hearts Net has been steadily growing, despite my neglect. I’m not going to quote actual numbers, because that would sound like bragging, but. Pretty close to covering my rent every month. That’s substantial. So I feel like I owe something to you fine folks for stuffing so much money in my pockets, and I am forever planning to get a new version into the store, but I haven’t done so yet. Boy, do I suck.
I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to, though. I’ve mostly got the game updated for iPhone4. I know the current graphics look bad on a Retina Display, so I’ve fixed most of them. I don’t think I’m going to be able to update the card faces, though. I’ve explored various avenues, and I don’t see how I can get decent high-res cards without paying at least a thousand bucks. That’s steep, even given the substantial amount of money I’m making from the game. If any of you out there are graphics pros, and you can find a way to get me high-res playing card graphics for 500 bucks or less, I am all ears. Doesn’t have to be exclusive card graphics, either. If you sold them non-exclusively to somebody else first, I’m cool with that.
I have been reading about Apple’s new Game Center feature with interest. I’ve so far avoided adding across-the-internet play, because that would involve running my own server, and I don’t want to do that. It’s an ongoing expense, I would have to police the server for abuse, I would be the system administrator, and so on. But it looks like Apple is willing to do all that for me, including passing network messages between players. If that’s true, Game Center would save me a great deal of time, money, and grief, so I will be using it.
Finally, here’s a very nice video review that this guy did for my game: ThatSnazzyiPhoneGuy reviews Hearts Net. I’ve been aware of this for months. In fact, I even gave this guy a promo code for the game. But I just couldn’t watch it. My feeling is: hey, I know which parts of my game suck, I don’t need other people to tell me that. My friend Steph said it was a very positive review, but I still never got around to watching it, until tonight. She’s right, it’s very positive. The review was worth the promo code (heh).
Here’s some answers to the review. He seems to imply that you need a network connection to read the game’s help text. Not true! The HTML help files are stored locally in the app. Also, he wonders why I added the AutoPlay feature. The reason is that it makes the game a whole lot easier to test. Notice all the times he has to stop concentrating on what he’s talking about to play a card and keep the review going? Now imagine me, by myself, trying to test millions of card plays in network games.
Apple just gave me a little over 500 bucks for a month of Hearts Net sales. That seems pretty good to me. Plenty good enough to keep maintaining it. It appears that the iPad version of the program has boosted sales a bit.
So, I’ll be working on new features and more devious player robots in the future. Might not be for awhile, because I recently started a new full-time job which is taking most of my time. But the game is still very much on the list of my current projects.
A new version of Hearts Solo is available today. This one has all the latest stuff I’ve added to Hearts Net, including the theme selection feature, and native iPad support.
You still can’t play a game all the way through, though. This app is just a no-cost way to preview the features available in Hearts Net.
Well! I am as surprised as anyone that I have managed to jump through Apple’s series of fiery hoops and get the iPad version of my game into the App Store. And it’s still two days before normal humans will be able to get their hands on actual iPads. This version runs on iPhones and iPod Touch devices as well.
I’ve made yet another attempt to fix the two big bugs people have been reporting, and I have reason to believe I actually got them this time. So, everybody upgrade, and let me know how it works out.
Pretty soon I’ll be releasing a new version of Hearts Solo that is also iPad-capable. It still won’t let you get all the way through a game though, sorry. It’s just for demonstration purposes.
One thing I’ve learned about my hardcore players: you guys love the games played and games won counters. I thought it was a silly trifle when I added that feature, but many people consider it indispensable. Some people report they’ve played many hundreds of games, which they know due to the counters, of course. One person told me he uses a calculator to compute his win/loss ratio. So I suppose it’s not surprising that some of those same people are upset when the counters are off.
For reasons I still don’t fully understand, some players have reported that the game counts don’t always update correctly. I’m told the numbers are sometimes smaller than they should be. I haven’t been able to get a good handle on this, because the people experiencing the problem tend to be less technical, and aren’t able to give very detailed feedback. But I’ve finally found a player who was willing to perform a lengthy and involved experiment, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got it nailed down.
I asked this person to exit the program back to the home screen at the end of every game. After doing this for several days, he says that this does indeed fix the problem for him. So in the next version of the program, I’ll make it save its game counts at the end of every game, so you won’t have to do it manually. In the meantime, if the game counts are really important to you, you can do what this person did, and exit the program at the end of every game.
I’d like to say I’ll submit a new version of Hearts Net to the store right away, but I’m super busy working on the iPad version right now. Soon, though.