Archive for the 'Portfolio' Category

09
Jan

SpinImage DV QTVR

So, that Mac App Store thing you’ve probably noted some fuss about the last couple days? Here’s a nifty tip from Daniel Jalkut for some fun with that:

I can’t help myself.

  1. Quit App Store.app
  2. Open Terminal
  3. defaults write com.apple.appstore ShowDebugMenu -bool true
  4. Relaunch App Store

Enjoy it while you can. I’m sure it will be gone in the next update, especially if anybody at Apple sees this post.

Heh. Yes, no doubt it will be, but there’s some fun stuff to play with in the meantime there!

Aaaaaand while you’re checking out the Mac App Store, one of our little troll productions made it in for opening day: a version of the SpinImage DV 3D imaging product,

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which takes video of something rotating and outputs a user-rotatable embeddable QTVR/JavaScript/Flash component.

The strategy that the SpinImage folks decided to approach the App Store with was somewhat interesting: list on the store a QTVR-only version for $19, treating that as a low-cost introduction to the product, which people can then trade in for the rather more highly priced JavaScript/Flash exporting versions direct from the SpinImage website. An interesting approach to work around the no demo restrictions, certainly. Our biggest fear was actually that since QTVR manipulations are not available in QuickTime X and therefore cannot be built into a 64-bit executable, it might fall under “deprecated technologies” these days; but nope, sailed right through review with no quibbles.

Going by the first three days, the strategy seems to be getting off to a decent start — but we need to wait and see whether these App Store version purchases translate into upgrades to non-AppStore premium versions before making any grand pronouncements on its effectiveness. However, even from results to date we can make a tentative presumption that having a feature-limited version for sale on the App Store is significantly better marketing than having a full version time-limited demo available advertised via Google AdWords is, judging by what we’ve been told of how that was going in the pre-App Store days.

And hey, if you do feel like making rotating 3D images for your website … check it out!

SpinImage

07
Dec

50pm

Another piece with a trollish paw in its making debuted on the App Store today; 50pm — “A monthly collection of fine art photography portfolios with themes that are close to us all!”

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Bit of a winding road this one had to release; it was based on the TT320 project, and the authors found their experiences pretty much in line with our general suspicion that TT320 is more trouble than it’s worth unless you are, in fact, Joe Hewitt. So they went to our oft-referenced tutorial maestro Ray Wenderlich to see about getting the various issues sorted out, and Messr. Wenderlich referred them here because, well, we guess he has a soft spot for people who link to all his blog posts, apparently. So we sorted out the initial issue list … and then added more features … and here it is. If fine art photography is your thing,

Issue 1: Family Matters, comprises the work of four artists who share inside views of their own families. It covers American family life of various social classes and a Japanese family set against a recreation of paradise. Each of these artists has connected with their family to create a beautiful, strong and often touching photo story.

As an inspirational magazine, 50PM: Issue 1: Family Matters is an absolute must have for non-photographers and photography enthusiasts alike. Family is important to us all and we guarantee that you will revisit these beautiful photo stories time and time again to be entertained, moved and inspired!

then you know you want to get the iPad paid version; if you’re not sure, check out the free iPhone sampler!

50pm

19
Oct

BallZOut

So we’ve almost won the October Challenge now:

  • Make a game — check.
  • Take it to market — check. And no rejection cycles, even!
  • Sell one copy — 11 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, 53 seconds to go!
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This was a rather enjoyable little frenzy, actually, much more so than we’d expected given our previous history with commercial games programming. Which is actually a fair bit, starting with porting Dark Seed II to the Mac waaaay back in the day right up to little trifles (and some not so little) you can find on the App Store now. But the common thread throughout all of those is that our creative input was for all practical purposes zero; they’re either porting existing code, or implementing somebody else’s specifications. Doing so rather well, it is generally agreed, mind you; as nicely exemplified in what’s still our favorite review ever:

… Overall, Horse Racing Manager is a great port of a good game. It is bugless, it is an almost perfect replica of the PC version, it just isn’t a game that the average gamer would ever want to play.

Hey, it keeps the mortgage paid. But there is a certain lack of creative fulfillment itch there, which over the years every so often we’d consider scratching. But then we’d remember that producing a successful game generally requires a vast array of talents which we pretty much completely lack, from artistic to marketing; and return to our accustomed mercenary pursuits.

Fast forward to September 27th when we stumbled across the October Challenge; and as it so happened, we’d just been moping about losing on October 10th the kinda cool we thought “BallZOut” name that we’d registered with Apple last spring for a project that ended up not happening, now that you can’t squat on App Store names anymore. Plus, we’d been thinking gee it would be a good idea to get some actual experience managing a Game Center enabled app before somebody required that in a project bid. So hey, let’s see if we can indeed achieve a MVP in twelve days flat — a challenge, indeed!

First thing was the game concept. Narrowed it down pretty quickly to a level-based physics puzzler being the only thing of conceivable practicality given a twelve day time frame; and as our name is “BallZOut”, well let’s make it … knocking. ballz. out. Like marbles, or curling. With some obstacles to make it not completely trivial. Yep, that’ll do.

Engine choice given the concept was immediate; as big fans of cocos2d, we’d bought the LevelSVG code referenced here to support the author back when it first came out, and it demonstrates Box2D physics engine integration and Inkscape document parsing for level design. So hey, there’s most of the heavy lifting done already! And yep, that worked out pretty much as well as could be hoped.

So, on to design. Did we mention above that trolls completely lack artistic talent? Why yes, yes we did. So how, you ask, do we address that problem? Why, by frantically mining every clip art/sound collection in our archives and every free clip art/sound site on teh Intertubez, that’s how we address that problem. Plus picking over the discards from our last project that involved a real artist, in return for throwing in a referral screen. Topped off with laying out all our text type stuff with Comic Life Magiq as a substitute for any actual art skillz. We’d like to think that didn’t work out half bad. For lacking completely in both investment and talent, anyways.

Game Center integration went pretty well, although designing in multiplayer somehow wasn’t practical in the timeframe. We’d like to get around to that sometime. As with a vast array of other features. And more levels. We did rather underestimate how long it would take to design levels even vaguely interesting, the last couple days were mostly spent constantly downgrading our expectations of how many and how interestingly designed it would be acceptable to ship with. 20, by the time we’d achieved a state of complete panic a few hours before Lose Your Name Day™. Definitely, we would like to find the time to up that. Significantly.

But under pressure of immediate deadline, we offered it up to the Apple gods just in time, and in the ten days since we did some looking around for easy ways to throw up a support website; settled on Templatic’s iPhone App theme, which worked out pretty well we think to throw up ballzoutgame.com in an afternoon. The $99 we paid for that being the only cash investment involved here so far, other than $29 for the newly commercial Zwoptex native version, a handy and highly recommended tool for your sprite sheet creation needs. Add in the probably 80-90 or so hours we spent finding artistic assets and doing the coding, and, hmmm, well, we’d still have to sell a pretty unlikely several thousand to make the exercise remotely worth it compared to doing a couple weeks’ worth of contract hours, actually.

But hey, as we mentioned at the start, it was quite a different experience and surprisingly fun to just full steam ahead weighing nothing but “latest wild idea” vs. “time ticking away” minute to minute. Not news to anybody who does these abbreviated development contests regularly, no doubt; but doing it just for the sake of it, that just doesn’t quite get us revved up. Add the “… and sell one copy”, now the addition of that external validation condition, that suckered us right in. So here we are … waiting to see how that works out!

30
Sep

Qmaster

And as a completely direct contrast to the frantic and minimal and solitary development of the October Challenge game we’re into right now, today we have for you an announcement of our latest completed game project making it to the App Store — the “Big Secret Project” that we’ve been hinting at for a very long time as it stately wound its way through development.

Introducing: Qmaster!

Masters of trivia have moved silently throughout time until now. You feel compelled to play the game. It’s not a choice and it’s a near universal compulsion among fellow Qmasters that they cannot resist – they must duel each other.

Gather online with those who dare to challenge your knowledge of trivia and embark on your journey to becoming the next Qmaster! Knowledge is power, and as each duel takes place, the opportunity for a promotion is at hand. Progressively improve and strengthen your abilities – where the few who remain will battle to the last…

Yes, you’re reading that right, it said “trivia” and “duel” in the description both. We think we’ve actually invented a new genre of game here, “Real Time Trivia”. At least, if there’s ever been any other networked head to head trivia duelling games, we couldn’t find them.

So the deal is, you’ve got a big whack of trivia questions — most of any trivia game in the App Store last anybody checked — and you answer those more or less as you’d expect in any trivia kind of game, aside from the fact that the questions and scoring are all provided by the server instead of on the device,

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and you build up your level in all the various categories of questions, so you’d have a set of scores that look like this:

Target_View.jpg

which your possible opponents can find as they browse for you on the map. Yes, as they browse for you on the map.

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So we don’t just have a head to head networked trivia game, we have a geolocating head to head networked trivia game. By this time, I trust you’ll agree we’re well into territory which counts as distinctly unusual indeed, and quite likely actually unique.

(Oh, btw, HOT TIP to avoid a rejection cycle: Notice in that last screenshot the lower left “Google” logo isn’t visible because the map extends under the mildly translucent bottom button bar? Uh-uh. No approval for YOU! So be careful with those map view boundaries.)

So there’s quite a bit going on here, indeed. The gameplay and structural design was set out by Charcis Games, the company created new for this game that it’s listed under in the App Store; all the client code was of course pounded out by your humble troll; the server side is a production of Justin Johnson aka FatBird.ca, whom we unreservedly recommend for your hardcore web server development needs; and the pretty artistry is the work of Justin Baker who brought the shiny real good as you can see.

Any-hoo, if that sounds interesting, it’s FREE! to download and build up your first few levels of questions with, and no ads either; the revenue model is that you purchase a subscription to gain levels past the first few, attack more often, reveal the correct answer when you’re wrong (that’s the green highlight in the first screenshot) and so forth. The idea being that there’s no barrier to getting people involved with the game. So here it is: go get involved!

Qmaster

25
Sep

HydroPro

Aaaaand today we have another fine, fine troll production for the handy pocket assisting of those home gardening aficionados in the audience: introducing HydroPro!

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It’s a conversion calculator, it’s a product catalog, and it’s a weekly guide to your cultivation needs:

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Client code by your humble troll; database support by the great folks at Appnovation; overall project under the auspices of Jake Press Agency. The same dynamic triplet that brought you Tap This by Sarah Melody and Touch To Give, and no doubt many more in future. Also it’s notable that they’ve done what’s by far the prettiest app website we’ve seen so far for anything we’ve worked on, and ranking up there with pretty much any of the prettiest you’ve seen as well we trust.

HydroProScreenshot.png

And hey, it’s free! So all you budding (heh) hydroponicists out there … this one’s for you!

HydroPro

14
Sep

TextMeLater

Ah yes, another little troll production skittered out into the light today: TextMeLater, the debut product from local dudes E-nnovative Solutions!

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And it’s a little goodie for scheduling, well, texts you want to send later:

Write. Schedule. Send.



Ever forget to send a text message? Do you wish that you could some how schedule your 
messages to send at a later time?



TextMeLater allows you to do just that. Simply write a text, pick a send time and be assured that you 
won’t ever forget to send a text message again…

So hey, if you need a text scheduling reminder service … you know what to do!

TextMeLater

20
Aug

iGoalKeeper

My, it’s been a while since the last time we had a new trollish trifle for you to try, isn’t it? Our recent projects do just seem to be wandering off into the weeds in every direction, cha. But hey, here’s one today; yet another in the ever expanding collection of trinkets for those great Wayz guys, it’s … iGoalKeeper!

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Just your basic catch the falling balls kind of thing,

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but hey, if you’d like a momentary diversion … there you go!

GoalJeeper

30
May

iRocco

Yes, it’s that time again, time for another chef-d’œuvre from the troll kitchen; and today the main course is something a little different, a step into the world of politics. Specifically, the upcoming Toronto mayoral election. No, seriously, the upcoming Toronto mayoral election. Presenting … iRocco!

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Now, just in case anybody happened to miss this before, Galactic Troll HQ is in downtown Vancouver, and that is a long ways from Toronto. We have absolutely no idea what the issues are in the Toronto mayoral race, nor do we have any idea of how Messr. Rossi stacks up against his competitors …

… other than that quite obviously his campaign has the most discerning taste in iPhone developers compared to whomever that competition is! And since we can’t think of any other way other than choice of iPhone developer in which the office of Toronto mayor could possibly affect us, well that’s quite enough to merit The Official Troll Endorsement, isn’t it now?

(If, on the other hand, you need some other proof than “has a troll produce their iPhone app” of the manifest suitability for high office of a political candidate — although we certainly can’t imagine why! — then here is the campaign website for you to figure it out for yourself.)

And we do have a warning for anyone planning something along these lines, specifically that includes a “Donate” page: You know that bit in the agreement, section 3.3.21 to be exact, where it says

Your Application may include a direct link to a page on Your web site where you include the ability for an end user to make a charitable contribution, provided that You comply with any applicable laws…

Now, it says “a direct link to a page on Your web site”. Is it not reasonable, we ask rhetorically, that to take a URL and load it into a UIWebView should qualify as “a direct link to a page on Your web site?” Well …. not so much, it turns out:

Donations are not permitted to be taken within the application, however it is possible to provide a donation link to your web site. This link is required to open Safari to collect the donation. We encourage you to make the necessary changes to your application and resubmit it for review.

Begosh and begorrah! What, we ask, WHAT is the significant difference between “load it up in a UIWebView” and “required to open Safari”? Mutter, grumble. Well, now we know. And hey, at least it wasn’t rejected for anything actually wrong with the code.

So there you go. Should you have any interest in the Toronto mayoral race, Dear Reader, you know what to do!

XPilot

12
May

Labyrinth Soccer

Oh hey, look what we missed a couple weeks back: The latest little bauble the Trollwerks foundries clanged out for those fine Wayz fellows (no one shows you a better time in Tokyo, we guarantee it), Labyrinth Soccer, is out in the App Store!

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It’s a trivial little diversion, but it’s a trivial little diversion that you can actually play between two people with one iPhone, which is something we haven’t seen as much of as you’d think. Is it just us that only really ever plays games when we’re standing in line somewhere with an iPhone-less friend?

A technical note of mild interest is how easy it was to integrate the cocos2d + Chipmunk physics game screen into a UIView-based structure — as a matter of fact, that’s a standard UINavigationBar you see at the top of the screenshot. Good job that cocos2d, and getting better all the time, yes it is!

Soccer

27
Mar

Poses Professional

So yep, here we are again with another shipment from the laboring minions of the Trollwerks empire to all of you out there: and no doubt to your complete lack of surprise, after a one-product break we’re back to displays of conspicuously concupiscent femininity. Introducing Poses Professional,

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and its companion free version Poses Sampler!

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Yep, that IAP-enabled upgrade of the Poses series that we’ve been mumbling about getting around to any day now for around six months, yes we finally got everything sorted out and guided through approval, which was a bit of a trick with three current app updates, two new apps, and six IAP items between them.

The reason all this needed to be synchronized is that the original three volumes of 368 poses each we’re now making available as IAP items — but you can’t share purchases between apps directly, plus we wanted purchasers of the originals to transfer over their content without paying again. So how we ended up handling that is sharing a keychain between all five apps, and purchasing a volume in either new app or running the original volume apps marks a flag in the keychain for the new apps to download the appropriate content from our servers. And no angry emails or crash reports showing up in the first three days, so apparently it’s all working out well, to our mild surprise. Er, we mean, as we confidently expected.

Any-ways, this is a moderately interesting controlled experiment in pricing, going from high (by App Store standards) priced content to a lower priced paid entry plus a freemium model, and we’re going to be fascinated indeed to see how that works out. So all you photographers out there, you know what to do!

Poses Professional