A few of you Amazon mobile application developers may have gotten an email about Amazon Merch. This is a way to create t-shirts to promote your apps on Amazon. Not only can you create t-shirts for your apps, you can also then advertise them in the apps.
I don’t use Amazon’s ad service for my apps, so I’m not sure how it works, but I did decide to create a t-shirt for Maddie Bear.
It’s been quite awhile since I last released a game for myself. The other night, I decided I would try to push out a game in 3 hours or less. The result is Maddie Bear in Space.
It’s available for iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Android and Android TV and requires a simple touch or button tap interface. You collect as many moons as you can and avoid the spikes to gain a high score.
In my last post, I wrote about my experience using Construct 2 to build HTML5 games. Since then, I have improved the Maddie Bear’s Sticker Hunt game to support touchscreen devices/game controllers and hidden areas. I’ve also created a game for toddlers that I was able to export as a native iOS application, started listening to the C2 Podcast, and the generous folks at Scirra gave me a review license for Construct 2 so that I may write/record tutorials how to use the software.
If you’re interested in Construct 2, you should definitely listen to the C2 Podcast by Alvarop and ArcadEd. They talk about their experiences using Construct, monetization and have special guests. I really enjoy listening to it as I’m working on games.
I also created a simple demo game for toddlers that I’m going to turn into a video tutorial course. It will be a great way for people unfamiliar to Construct 2 to see what it can do. It will cater to those who download the free version (4 layer limit and HTML5-only publishing), but I’ll also show you options on how to publish to an iPhone if you have a paid license. It’s also compatible with smartphones/tablets, so you don’t need a computer keyboard or game controller to play it.
In July, I signed up for the Android TV Developer Program. Without notification, they shipped me the developer’s kit and I received it yesterday in a plain brown box with a plain white box inside of it. There wasn’t any paperwork saying what it was or why I received it, but thankfully I remembered filling out the form months ago.
It’s about the size of the Amazon Fire TV and the game controller is almost identical, as well. One side of the device is smooth and shiny, the other side has triangular points and an LED light. It also comes with a USB developer cable you can use to hook it to your computer, or you can always sideload .apks via wi-fi and Terminal/Command prompts.
So far, my impressions are that it’s just like the Fire TV except with less features, which is to be expected since it isn’t available to the general public yet. If you’re not a fan of the Apple TV or being stuck in Amazon’s ecosphere, it will definitely be worth checking out, though.
This is the month of my daughter Maddie’s birthday. To celebrate, I’m giving away Maddie Bear’s Birthday for iPad for free for a limited time. Some of you may remember the days when the birthday kid in school would bring in cupcakes to celebrate their birthday. This is Maddie’s version of that, everyone gets a free iPad app. If you could leave a review as a birthday gift to her, it would be very appreciated.
I’ve finally decided to give Adobe’s portfolio site “Behance” a try. I was skeptical about the site for awhile because I thought it was just an easy way for people to rip off each other’s work, but now that I’ve been using it for a bit, I’ve grown to love it as a source of inspiration. There are so many great artists displaying their work on there, just looking at their pieces makes me instantly want to draw. It’s like a Facebook/Twitter for visual artists.
Today I started a comic strip series about Maddie Bear. It lets me keep the characters going without the time investment of writing another full-length book. If I end up creating enough comic strips over time I might turn it into a comic book like Calvin and Hobbes, but for right now it’s just a creative outlet that I enjoy.
Last week I finally caved and purchased an Amazon Fire TV. I was very skeptical for awhile about purchasing one, especially since initial consumer reviews considered it an “in-beta” product and that the USB port on it doesn’t even support external hard drives or thumbdrives yet. However, a colleague of mine raved about it since it has the capability to accept XBMC and other 3rd part applications, so he actually bought 5 of them. Also, since I created Maddie Bear’s Snack Time for the Fire TV, it seemed like I should be able to test it for myself on an actual device.
Unboxing/Set Up/App Development
Unboxing it reminded me of unboxing the Apple TV. It was just the unit, remote, and a power cord. Setup was also the same, just plug it in and hook it to your TV via HDMI cable and the unit powers up. One thing that I thought was strange is that there’s no way to hook the Fire TV to your computer for app development, it has to be done through your Terminal/Command window. Once you have your Fire TV set up, you’ll have to go into the Settings > About and get its IP address. Then on your computer, connect to it via Terminal/Command window to push apps via adb commands (./adb connect <ip address> ; ./adb install AppName.apk ; etc.). This is pretty easy and I suppose it does save you the time from having to attach/detach the unit from your computer over and over.
Memory is kind of an issue depending on how many apps/games you plan on installing. After the operating system and XBMC, I had a little over 5 gigs of space left. This doesn’t sound terrible until you consider the fact that a lot of the higher-end games take 2-4 gigs of hard drive space. For example, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas takes up almost a gig. Then when you go to play, it says it needs to install another 2 gigs of data. If I were able to hook a thumb drive to the Fire TV and install games on that, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but since it wanted over half my available space, I opted not to install GTA.
Games and apps are categorized as Remote support or Game Controller support. Initially my game Maddie Bear’s Snack Time only supported the remote because I didn’t own a device to map out the game controls. I purchased a game controller and was able to add controller support by the following day. From a consumer standpoint, I do prefer games with controller capability, it makes it feel like you’re playing a real video game and not just an Android app that was ported over last second. Also, as a consumer, I really want there to be more great games available. The more I play on the Fire TV, the more I find myself enjoying the experience as a gaming machine.
If you do develop a game for the Fire TV and integrate Game Circle, Amazon is running a promotion where they’ll give you Amazon coins to give out to your customers. For example, (at the time of this writing) if you purchase GTA San Andreas, you’ll get $20 worth of Amazon coins as a bonus. Unfortunately, Corona SDK does not support Game Circle as of this moment, so Corona-made apps are not available for the Amazon Coin promotion. If you’re thinking about making an app with game controller support, I would purchase a game controller as soon as possible. Amazon is running a limited-time promotion where you receive $10 of Amazon coins and a $7 game, “Sev Zero”, with the purchase of a game controller. So essentially, you can buy a $40 game controller, get $10 of free coins, get $7 Sev for free, buy GTA for $7 with the coins, get another $20 of free coins, and end up with $14 of games, $33 of Amazon Coins, and a game controller for $40.
Since Amazon is giving away from coins like candy, it’s helping indie developer app sales. Where normally people might be hesitant to purchase a game that only has 1 or 2 reviews, now they’re free to buy it since they’re just using coins they got for free. The more developers are able to give away free coins from feature Game Circle apps, the more it helps the community as well. If you’re looking for a great platform to check out, I’d recommend getting a Fire TV.
Looking to make your own Fire TV app using Corona SDK? Check out Ed Maurina’s Fire TV plugin here.