Thursday, December 23, 2010

Three months of Portaballing

It's been three months since Portaball got released. I figured it's a good time to make a summary of this period. To begin with, I've got mixed feelings regarding Portaball's success. When I jumped into the iPhone development and started working on Portaball, I was hoping to sell 1000 copies. Considering that I didn't have any experience in serious programming not to mention fact that I've never finished any programming project it was quite an optimistic projection.

Soon after release it turned out I underestimated my own piece of work. Portaball is actually quite good game. AppStore reviewers seem to like it a lot, currently averaging at 4.5 stars. Review sites also seem to enjoy Portaball. Grades aren't that great, however it's mostly due to the fact that they're based on 1.0 and 1.1 versions of Portaball. Obviously it's my problem, I should have made Portaball better at the very beginning. However, if it wasn't for customers' feedback I would have had absolutely no idea how to improve. It's a lesson learned: make your beta tests group larger than 1 friend ;)

As of today, 2970 people bought Portaball (including promo codes). It's quite disappointing. I think the problem was lack of advertising. At the very beginning I've decided I didn't want to spend any money, plus, any ad campaign would require a lot of funding to even be noticeable. Making threads on forums and throwing promo codes at people does little as well. However, my largest sorrow was getting ignored by TouchArcade. I'm aware of fact that TA rarely reviews puzzle games and Portaball ain't that awesome, but I believe that getting noticed by this site could have a great influence.

As you can see on the graph, the sales were inconsistent. Every time the sales rose, it was due to being featured by Apple. Moreover, getting featured is the only way to actually sell any significant amounts. Those flat weeks mean selling a dozen copies a day at most.

The highest Portaball ever got was 8th in Top Paid in Poland. Portaball was reviewed by the biggest Polish Apple-oriented website - Here's the historic moment:

Unfortunately Polish market is relatively small, not to mention that Portaball was in top 25 only for two days. Still, I'm happy for this achievement. I'll keep this picture as a happy reminder.

Summing up, AppStore is hard. I think it's fair to say that indies days are gone. Sure, it still happens that an excellent game developer appears and makes some serious impact, Matt Rix is great example. The thing is, iPhone gaming has gotten much more serious with titles like Real Racing, Infinity Blade and all the EA's stuff. It's almost impossible to compete with their resources. There is one thing that indie devs can do: make your game as great, as polished, as fascinating, as fun to play as possible. That's what it's always been about anyway!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Portaball 1.2.1 goes live!

It's not a well-known fact, but Apple allows developers to apply for an expedited review, should there be a valid reason. Since it wasn't me who changed iOS API, I didn't hesitate to do so. It worked! I've received nice e-mail from review team that they've made 'one-time exception' and Portaball was rushed into review. 

As a result, Portaball 1.2.1 version is now available and hopefully fixes Game Center problems.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Game Center problems - Update 1.2.1 submitted to review...

As it turned out, Apple has changed the way Game Center authenticates user in iOS 4.2. Due to this fact it is now only possible to submit score and achievements on fresh run of Portaball. It means that game must be closed from multitask menu and opened again in order for Game Center to work.

This is a really troubling problem. I'm really sorry I haven't checked release notes on Dev Beta of iOS 4.2, I should have done that. I've just submitted Portaball 1.2.1 which fixes this issue. Hopefully situation like this will never happen again.

Portaball 1.2 goes live!

Tonight Portaball 1.2 finally got approved! As a result it is now available for download:

Portaball on iTunes

As well as upgrading full version, I've made Portaball Lite to version 1.1 adding tutorials and 5 more levels from original version. You can get it in AppStore as well:

Portaball Lite on iTunes

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Portaball 1.2 submitted to review!

I expected it to take me two weeks and here we are, right on time. Just to highlight it one more time, here is 'What's new' list for Portaball 1.2:

  • 30 new levels! 
  • new tutorial system 
  • ball movement indicator 
  • new leaderboard 
  • 9 new achievements

I've also improved few other things as well. Both restart and exit button will now require confirmation, you will no longer accidentally ruin your almost finished level. Few new sound effects are introduced, this should make Portaball a little bit more alive. Finally, I've fixed little bug that under very rare circumstances would cause crash.

I'm happy for this new update. I personally think it's great improvement for Portaball, it will surely make it much better!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Portaball 1.2 - new features incoming!

Portaball 1.2 update is now in development! Here's the list of so far planned features:

  1. 30 new levels - this one is great, all fresh new levels for free, making it total 80 levels available! With new puzzles come new types of elements.
  2. Interactive tutorial - this will make jumping into Portaball much easier. A follow trough, step by step guide will show the basics of Portaball. 
  3. Ball movement indicator - When paused, a motion blur 'tail' will appear behind ball. This help as a reminder of ball's movement. You will no longer wonder where the ball was moving.
  4. New leaderboard - compete with players worldwide on getting least portals in new set of levels
  5. New achievements - for every achievement junkie out there

I'm spending all my free time working on this update. However, there is still a lot to do. I estimate I should be done in two weeks, don't forget it will take some time for apple to review.

All in all, it's great to work on Portaball again!