Aeolus Released

My first game – Aeolus – was released last week :)

Aeolus – Greek God of Winds. You play the god of winds, amusing yourself with the mortals who venture into your domain. Yes, for some reason I believe every game has to have a story behind it (no matter how tenuous) :)

It’s an iPhone game that involves guiding hot air balloons to landing pads using swipes and taps. The simple gameplay makes it easy to get started and get through the levels. Getting the high scores is not so easy, with obstacles and different balloon types getting in the way.

It’s been over a year in development (for various reasons that include procrastination, too much XBox and a day job). I’ve got to admit I’ve had a lot of fun and learned a lot by doing it. A lot of the game has changed since the beginning too. Many of my original ideas about the gameplay, the look and the feel of the game have been cast aside along the way. Some were a bit painful to see go, others simply got left behind as the game developed and they no longer fit.

The result of this trimming and re-design is actually a really good game. If that sentence sounds like I’m a little surprised it’s simply because this is the first game I’ve ever done. My efforts have been to make something that I found fun, and make it to the sort of coding standards that I’m used to at work. I was also lucky enough to team up with a graphic designer friend of mine. Thanks to him my original developer art has largely been replaced by good looking graphics that are a world better than I could do and really give it a professional finish.

The big question is, of course: How did it do?
The answer is, equally of course: Good (as I’ve actually released my first game) but not great – sales were in double digits on the first day and have fallen since.

While my dreams of writing the next big thing in the iPhone world may be slightly tarnished, I can’t say I’m that surprised. I’ve already researched how these things work and know it is competitive, and it can be very difficult to get your app seen long enough to build lasting sales. Fortunately, this wasn’t a fire-and-forget plan. To-date I’ve only received positive feedback from people who have tried it, which means I’m pretty sure the game is actually pretty fun and addictive. I also have many ideas for new levels, updates, additions and improvements that will continue to improve the quality and quantity of the game. Rather than feeling disheartened, I’m actually feeling more motivated.

However, this is also uncharted territory. As a developer and project manager I’ve never had to do any sales, marketing or advertising so this is all new to me. So… if you have any advice, links or help on the marketing and advertising side of things (or personal anecdotes, ancient wisdom, prophecies, spells, voodoo or snake oil) I’d be grateful :)

If you like your non-violent arcady, puzzly, simulationy, strategy type games (still not sure quite how to class it) then please check it out and let me know what you think.

How to Replace an Image in Xcode

I’ve been playing with a lot of graphics in Xcode over the last few weeks and had a lot of trouble replacing images when not changing the file name. It can be pretty frustrating, for example, when resizing images to have Xcode refuse to show the new size.¬†For some reason it keeps the old version of the image no matter how many times I delete and re-add it, or clean and rebuild the project.

I hit on the following sequence that works every time to replace images:

  1. Delete the original image version from within Xcode. Trash it. (Make sure you have the new version of your image available outside the project area first, of course…)
  2. Clean the project.
  3. Quit Xcode completely and restart.
  4. Copy the new file with the same name back into the project area.
  5. Re-add the file.

It might not be quick, but it’s worked every time for me so far. Given that other strategies for clearing things involve digging through files to find the project installation on the simulator to delete (and I can never remember where that is), this at least seems fairly simple and straight forward.

Hope it helps.