Phil: I’m taking pictures of the borq queen and her offspring today
Me: No kidding? Prepare to be assimilated
Seagull Bags is a small Columbus-based company that makes (what else?) bike messenger bags and accessories. I’ve wanted to get one of their bags for a while, since the satchel that I currently use is designed to carry vinyl records, and can’t easily hold the stuff necessary for a work commute.
Well, this story actually started last year(!). While browsing the Seagull Bags website, noticed that they didn’t have any sort of “preview” feature for ordering their custom bags online. I had been tinkering around with Flash for a few months, so figured I might be able to offer some sort of a trade – “programming a bag preview widget in exchange for a messenger bag” sort of thing. I also already knew Dan McKewen, the owner of Seagull, through church, so I already had an “in.” Well, Dan liked the idea, and I started mucking around, trying to create a Flex app that would be a suitable order form replacement. I actually got pretty far, in spite of my lack of knowledge regarding Flex. What held me up was that I needed some good photos of messenger bags to use in order to create a “preview” of each custom bag. Dan promised me some, but he was always busy, and the project got pushed to the back burner.
There were a few delays (such as me trying to publish my first iOS game and the birth of my daughter), but the form eventually got done! I think it works pretty well, and gives you a decent preview of what you’re getting before you plunk down some of the cold, hard-earned. Check it out at the Seagull Bags site.
A few months ago I decided to try my hand at iPhone development, and the result is finally with us. Presenting Nonogram Madness for iPhone and iPod Touch!
For those of you who’ve been following along at home, late last year I made the first version of Nonogram Madness in Flash using the Flixel framework. Since I knew I would have to learn both a new language and a new programming framework to create anything on iOS, I decided to re-work a previous creation. I thought since the core logic had already been programmed, porting would be relatively straightforward.
Obviously, in the end it was a bit more complicated than that. There were lots of unexpected challenges, such as dealing with touch-based controls, as well as creating all-new puzzles. It’s been the most ambitious project I’ve done in my spare time to date, and I’m actually pretty proud of it.
In fact, I enjoyed the process so much that I created an LLC to publish the game under. The company is called Ganbaru Games, and while right now it’s not profitable at all, I’m hoping that perhaps if I get enough decent games out there, I can take advantage of the “long tail.” The word “ganbaru” means “to try ones’ best” or “to work hard” in Japanese, and that’s the philosophy I’d like to bring with me in game creation.
Reggie Fils-Aime sez that the iPhone platform isn’t a serious competitor to Nintendo’s handhelds. As far as depth of games goes, I’d be inclined to agree with him. Nintendo does have 20 years of handheld console experience, and even the most basic Game Boy game usually has a lot more depth than the average iPhone OS title.
However, I think there’s a reason why gaming has exploded on iPhone: it allows casual game makers to easily develop and publish games on a handheld pseudo-console. Nintendo has DSiWare, which is a digital content distribution system similar to the App Store, but the speed bumps to publishing on each platform are remarkably different.
To develop for the DSi, you have to fill out an application which states why your company has the experience necessary to develop DS titles (a side note: your company has to have actual offices… can’t be a home office). Once you get approved, you can purchase your DS development kit (no idea how much it costs, but probably a substantial amount). Then you can actually make your game. After that, you have to get your game approved to be distributed as DSiWare.
To develop for iPhone OS, all you need is a Macintosh computer and an iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad. All the programming tools are free. To test your game on your actual hardware and distribute via the App Store, you pay $100/year to be an official developer.
The difference is astounding. I will probably never make a game on a Nintendo platform (although I’d love to some day), but publishing for iPhone OS is easily within my reach. All I’m saying, Nintendo, is that you might want to take a page from Apple’s playbook here.