HSOOC! nominated in Pocket Gamer Awards 2012 February 9, 2012Posted by Jesse in : Hypership , 1 comment so far
I just came across this news, and I’m totally blown away.
Hypership Out of Control! has been nominated in the Pocket Gamer Awards 2012 in the category of Best Action/Arcade Game. In the same category are Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Grand Theft Auto 3, Jetpack Joyride, and Super Mario 3D Land. That’s some crazy company. I’m beyond stoked right now!
Hypership iOS Postmortem September 28, 2011Posted by Jesse in : Hypership , add a comment
It’s been two weeks since we released Hypership iOS into the wilds of the Apple App Store. Sales have been good, and the critical response has been fantastic. I spend a small chunk of time each day scouring the web for information, and I’ve found positive reviews of the game in Russian, German, and Swedish. That is pretty crazy! I’m glad to have been a part of bringing Hypership iOS to life. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done, and for the first time I don’t feel foolish when I say that I’m a game developer.
I’m very happy with how Hypership is selling. As of September 27th, we have 2603 sales. It isn’t the next Tiny Wings or Angry Birds, but considering that I’m a hobbiest with dreams of someday being able to go full-time indie, these sales are great!
What went right
Working with an existing game
As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Hypership wasn’t an original game for iOS. It was originally released on the Xbox Live Indie Games service by Kris Steele of Fun Infused Games. (He later released it on the Windows Phone 7 marketplace as well, though most people are more familiar with the XBLIG version.)
Using a complete game for reference rather than a design document meant that I already knew that all of the mechanics were fun and we didn’t need to do a bunch of rounds of prototyping and testing. Plus, all of the art and audio assets were already assembled and ready to go.
On top of that, Hypership had built a small but very loyal fanbase. When we announced that the game was going to be coming out on iOS, the response we received was fantastic. I knew that we needed to deliver a game that lived up to their expectations, but also that they would help spread the word when the game was ready to launch.
iOS development tools
I’ve been using Windows and Visual Studio for nearly all of my development for well over a decade. Switching to using Mac OS X and Xcode was a particularly scary idea. Even now, I’m still not as comfortable as I would like. That said, the other tools that come along with Mac/iOS development are amazing.
I love the framework package system, compared to the dll nightmare I’m used to running into. Xcode comes preinstalled with all the tools and libraries needed to start coding, and you won’t need to install any libraries on your customers’ computers, as they are all packaged along with your application bundle. I’ve been singing praises for Instruments since the first time I used it. This is an area where Visual Studio is definitely lacking in comparison. There are awesome profiling tools included in the professional versions, but they aren’t nearly as easy to use. And Instruments is completely free!
When I built and shipped Kris the very first build of Hypership iOS, I found it to be an annoying process. From explaining where to find the unique device id, to using a wired connection with iTunes to install seemed confusing to me.
Luckily, that was right when Josh Whelchel introduced me to TestFlight. TestFlight completely automates several of the steps, and makes is very easy to install the test build wirelessly. They recently made the service even better with a ton of great features that I’m looking forward to using in my next game. If you’re an iOS developer and not already using TestFlight, you should definitely check it out.
We were really lucky with our launch. The day after we released, Hypership was featured in the “New and Noteworthy” featured section in the iPhone App Store. Then a week later, when that section rotated new games in, we appeared in the “What’s Hot” featured section. Apple also mentioned the game on the official AppStore twitter account, which is followed by 470,000 people. (In theory, anyway. I suspect a large number of those followers are bot accounts. Twitter is odd like that.)
We couldn’t have asked for better support from Apple. It’s a little overwhelming, and we realize just how lucky we’ve been.
We’ve gotten great reviews on a ton of sites. 148apps (4.5/5) said “Hypership Out of Control is a gem of an iOS game.” PocketGamer (9/10 gold award) wrote “there are myriad little touches that make Hypership so compelling.” TouchArcade said “It’s crazy fun.” We’ve heard that it’s likely that we’ll see reviews from some of the mainstream games press in the next week.
What went wrong
I think this is our biggest mistake. While Apple did a lot of work to support our release, there’s been a large delay in getting coverage on some of the bigger sites. (And the bigger the site, the longer that delay is.) Getting early sales is really important in rising high on the top games charts, and getting early coverage seems like a great way to help generate those sales. Now that we’ve dropped off of the charts, the coverage might not have as much impact as it could have.
Many of the sites we’ve contacted have suggested that they are interested in receiving information before release, and in some cases, they’d be willing to play a pre-release final build so that they could have a review ready at release time. I’ll be taking them up on that for future games.
Outside of the press, I think I’ll also try to build up some early interest by putting together some video development diaries. I’m a huge fan of what Wolfire has done in that direction.
When I first approached Kris about porting the game, our goal was to build Windows and Mac OS X versions of the game so we could submit it to Steam. There aren’t a whole lot of shooters on Steam, but my thinking was that the Mac games library is still pretty weak compared to the Windows side. Even so, they weren’t interested in the game. We knew it was a long shot, but I wish I’d gone directly to working on the iOS version, instead of spending a lot of time getting it to run well on the other platforms.
It wasn’t until near the end of testing that we learned that the game doesn’t work on second generation iOS devices. (iPhone 3G and 2nd Gen iPod Touch.) It would have been a difficult process to fix this, including buying a second generation device. With the fifth generation devices right on the horizon, it seems many developers are dropping support for the second generation devices, so we chose to do the same.
Based on my research, I don’t think it would have made sense to do all that extra work for such a small number of players, but I’m very sad that there are people out there who want to play the game but can’t.
Overall, I consider Hypership iOS to be a tremendous success. I’m really happy with how everything turned out, and I’m pleased with the iOS platform in particular. I’ve already started prototyping ideas for what my next game will be, and the future looks really bright.
Hypership iOS is available! September 15, 2011Posted by Jesse in : Hypership , add a comment
I’m thrilled to announce that Hypership Out of Control for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch is now available worldwide on the Apple App Store.
If you have a chance to try it out, we would love to hear your feedback!
This is my third game release (the first two on Xbox Indies), but I’m still just as nervous and giddy as I was the first time. I wonder if this ever goes away. (I hope not.)
Hypership for iOS is complete! September 12, 2011Posted by Jesse in : Hypership , add a comment
I’m happy to announce that Hypership Out of Control will be available on the Apple iOS App Store this Thursday (September 15th).
We’re really happy with the way it turned out. Kris wrote that he thinks this is the best version of Hypership to date. I know I’m having a lot of fun playing it. It’s definitely the best game I’ve ever worked on. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks.
If you’re a journalist who writes about iOS/mobile games and you’re interested in obtaining a review copy, please send me a note through the contact form.
Hypership plays great on iPad as well!
Hypership Update August 3, 2011Posted by Jesse in : Hypership , add a comment
A little over a month ago, I posted about my efforts to port Hypership to Windows and Mac OSX. The game is very close to being finished. It’s currently lacking leaderboard and achievement support, and then it needs buckets of testing, but it’s close.
I didn’t want to add a custom leaderboard/achievements system if the game ended up being published on a platform with those features. Kris submitted the game to Steam, but they aren’t interested in publishing it. I was really hoping that having a native Mac OSX port would help our chances, because their Mac games library is still pretty weak compared to the massive Windows side. Ah, well.
Now we’re looking into our other Windows/Mac OSX publishing options. Desura looks interesting, and I’ve signed up for the IndieCity beta. If anyone has other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
While waiting to hear back from Steam, I started on a new project. I’ve ported Hypership to iOS. It runs really smoothly on my iPad, and Apple’s Game Center is a perfect match for what we needed for leaderboards and achievements. Kris has ordered an iPod Touch for testing and is setting up an account with Apple (we’ll be publishing under his name, because it’s his game). Barring any trouble, we’ll be submitting the game to Apple for approval shortly. Yay!
Out of Control! June 28, 2011Posted by Jesse in : Hypership , 3 comments
Finally, the secret is out. Hypership Out of Control! is coming to Windows and Mac OS X!
For the last couple of months, I’ve been working with Kris Steele from Fun Infused Games to port his critically acclaimed game from Xbox Indies to other platforms. He’s been great to work with, and I’m really excited to be able to help bring his game to a whole new market.
There’s still a ton of work to do on Hypership, but the core game play is now complete, and we’ll likely be doing some open alpha/beta testing in the near future.
It’s been a challenge to learn new tools to get everything running properly on Mac OS X. The more I learn about working on the platform, the more I like it. I don’t see any reason not to make all of my future games cross platform, and I plan to keep developing my tools in that direction. In fact, as soon as possible, I’m going to investigate getting my tools to work with iOS and Android as well. That should be fun!