Category Archives: iPhone

Sugar Rush 1.1 Submitted

I’ve submitted Sugar Rush 1.1, which is a major update.

Our sales have been pretty low, but our free promotions, including the one last weekend, have been wildly successful (18,000 downloads in a single day). Therefore, I’ve made the difficult decision to move to a “Freemium” model, and I’ve made an effort to avoid pissing off existing customers.

Here’s the deal: Nothing will change for existing customers. If you upgrade from 1.0.5, you won’t see any ads, although you will still be able to purchase other premium items. New customers will see ads, but will have the option to pay $0.99 to get rid of the ads. The ads will work the same way they do in the current free version (which will be removed from sale), occupying the bottom of the screen when no bonus power is in effect. Unlike the current free version, there will be no limitation to the game.

You will also be able to purchase additional premium content. The first new item is donuts, which give you 3x the jump boost of cupcakes and occur much more frequently. You just have to buy it once and it will remain available. We will also be offering holiday themed packages and other items in the future.

Note that version 1.1 will require iOS 4.0. Anyone running iOS 3.x will need to continue using 1.0.5.

Sugar Rush News

I have a major update planned for Sugar Rush later this month.

I just submitted a minor update, version 1.0.5, which fixes some problems with the settings not being saved and updates the settings format in preparation for in-app purchase in the next update. Version 1.0.5 is the last version that will support iOS 3. The next update will require iOS 4 or later. I’ll post more details about the major changes coming after version 1.0.5 is approved.

iDjembe is now free

For some reason I don’t understand, iDjembe, which is my least interesting and lowest-rated app, is outselling my other apps, including Sugar Rush. This is not good because the low ratings brings down my average app store ratings, despite Removr & Sugar Rush’s much higher ratings.

Last week I tried to kill iDjembe by quietly raising the price to $1.40. That did stop iDjembe sales, but at the same time it brought down the sales of my other apps. Rather than kill it, I tried the opposite by making it free. That experiment seemed to work, and I’m now getting 700-800 free downloads a day, so I decided to keep it free and use it to help sell my other apps.

To go along with the pricing change, I submitted a minor update to iDjembe, version 2.1.2, which updates the info screen with the description & app store link for Sugar Rush, and makes the info button a little more prominent with a cute sugar rush player icon.

Screen Shot 2011-06-26 at 5.25.43 PM.png

Sugar Rush, Removr, and iOS 5

I’ve been able to test my apps in iOS 5 and the only one that has an issue is Removr. Sugar Rush is 100% compatible with iOS 5 and doesn’t require an update.

Removr immediately returns to the menu when you tap play or try to go to a level. I’ve already fixed it and will submit the update after some further testing as soon as Apple accepts iOS 5 application updates.

There seems to be a change in SQLite’s behavior under iOS 5 which affected Removr. I’m storing the level maps as a SQLite database in the application bundle. In the current version, I’m opening the database as follows:


int err = sqlite3_open([self.dbpath UTF8String], &db);

Under iOS 5, that fails unless readonly mode is specified when opening the database. The simple fix was merely to specify read only mode as follows:


int err = sqlite3_open_v2([self.dbpath UTF8String], &db,SQLITE_OPEN_READONLY,NULL);

I will release a Removr beta in the next few days to anyone whose device ID I have (I can’t add any new devices until July 16).

WWDC Wrap-up

I haven’t had a chance to write any blog posts last week while I was at WWDC, but I had a great time and learned a lot. This may have been the most important WWDC in recent years.

While last year’s WWDC focused primarily on iOS, this year’s conference was about equally split between iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion. Both systems share some major enhancements including iCloud storage and Objective C runtime improvements that make memory management easier and a lot faster. I can’t write about much of what I saw, since everything except the keynote is under NDA. I will say that I’m running iOS 5 on my iPad and Lion on my MacBook Air and I’m very happy with both and find them stable enough for regular use. I haven’t installed iOS 5 on my iPhone, though.

On Sunday I went on the annual bus Pilgrimage to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. As always, the only thing we were able to see was the Apple company store. I took advantage of it to pick up a USB Ethernet adapter for my MacBook Air, since large downloads aren’t allowed over wireless connections during WWDC. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the MacBook Air USB adapter is and how it just works without any fuss, unlike USB ethernet adapters I’ve used in the past.

1 Infinite Loop

WWDC isn’t all work. There are also a few fun events, starting with Tuesday night’s Apple Design Awards and Stump The Experts. One highlight of the conference is always the Thursday night WWDC Bash. Since the Bash moved from Apple’s campus in previous years to Yerba Buena Garden across from Moscone Center, Apple has been getting major bands to perform at the Bash. In previous years they had Ozomotli, Barenaked Ladies, Cake, and OK Go. This year they got Michael Franti & Spearhead for a great show.

The conference ended at noon on Friday, so I took advantage of the rest of the day to enjoy San Francisco. I walked from Moscone to the Ferry Building & took lots of pictures, which you can see here. I only brought my Canon G12, since I didn’t feel like lugging the D90. I’m very happy with the results, both for still photos & videos.

A big piracy problem

Our early sales for Sugar Rush were very low, despite a big PR push.  We had a problem on the first day when the screen shots disappeared for a few hours after I tried to update the description & screen shots. Second day sales were even worse.

However, I noticed something very interesting: the number of users in Game Center and the number of users reported by Flurry Analytics were at least 3 times the total number of sales reported in iTunes Connect. At first I thought the iTunes reports were delayed, but a google search revealed that there are lots of pirated copies available. If the numbers are accurate, this means there are at least 3 or 4 times as many pirated downloads as we had legal sales.

I’m amazed and disappointed that an app can be that widely pirated after only two days of sales, especially when the legal sales were lackluster.

As a result I’m very unlikely to develop any future iOS apps, since it looks like I can’t make a living on app sales.

UPDATE: according to a source, the illegal copy got 2000 downloads, which is a lot more than 4x the number of legal downloads.

Sugar Rush

For the last 2 months I’ve been working full-time on Sugar Rush, my new iPhone game. It’s finally going to be released on Tuesday, May 10. We now have a new company, Notion, founded by myself & Patrick Mandia to market Removr & Sugar Rush, as well as other apps we develop in the future.

Thanks to Jonas for designing the original Flash game and providing the graphics for the app.

We’re now designing the iPad version, which will be a separate app since we want to take advantage of the larger display and provide an alternative to accelerometer control, which can get tiring with an iPad.

Useful tools for iOS developers

Although Xcode is all you really need to get started with iOS development, there are a lot of useful tools that can make your life a lot easier.

When you’re writing code, Accessorizer can eliminate a lot of the drudgery. You usually find yourself creating lots of properties, which involves declaring an instance variable, adding a @property declaration, and @synthesize in your implementation file. With Accessorizer, you simply select the instance variables, hit a hotkey, and copy the generated code into your source. For example, if you have the following ivars:

NSString *title;
UIView *aView;
NSInteger count;

Accessorizer will generate the property declarations & implementations, which you can customize. In the simplest case, you’ll get this:

@property (nonatomic, copy) NSString *title;
@property (nonatomic, retain) IBOutlet UIView *aView;
@property (nonatomic, assign) NSInteger count;

@synthesize title;
@synthesize aView;
@synthesize count;


You can also have it generate init & dealloc methods and accessor methods.

For source control, you’ll probably want something more advanced than Xcode’s built in source control, especially if you’re still using Xcode 3.2.x. Even with Xcode 4, it only tracks files included in the project, not related files such as artwork & documentation not included in the project.

For Subversion, I like Versions. After looking at every Git GUI client, the only one I found that I like is Tower. For a file comparison & merge utility more advanced than Apple’s FileMerge, I like Changes. It gives a lot of display options and is also really nice for comparing directories.

If you’re using Cocos2D, you’ll need a few utilities to generate sprite sheets, textures, and particle effects,

One tool that’s absolutely essential is a sprite sheet generator such as TexturePacker. It takes a collection of single images and packs them into a single image file with the most efficient arrangement along with a plist that tells how to access each piece. TexturePacker is available in several free & paid versions.

In many apps, you’ll use some particle effects such as smoke, fire, and explosions. Particle Designer makes creating them fun & relatively easy with a large online collection of shared emitters. The plist file it generates can be used with a single line of code.

If you’re using a tile map, Tiled is a nice, free tile map editor.

If your app uses the accelerometer, you’ll need iSimulate to test it in the simulator. iSimulator consists of two components: an iPhone app and a library you include in your simulator builds. When you run the iSimulate app, all movements & multi-touch events will be sent to your app.

Finally, you’ll need to create a nice demo video for your app. Sound Stage is a great way to record videos from the simulator. It can record either the app content only, the app running inside the iPhone, or a custom background. You can also use iSimulate with it.

Minor iDjembe Update

I just submitted a minor update to iDjembe that adds Retina display graphics, a new icon, and a new app info screen. For some bizarre reason it’s selling fairly well, so using it to cross-promote Removr and my upcoming game, Sugar Rush, may help the sales of my other apps.

Speaking of Sugar Rush, the first beta went out yesterday. I’m still waiting for some of the final graphics & sounds. The release is scheduled for Apr. 28.

Color done right

Although it hasn’t attracted all of Color’s hype (and $41M funding), Clixtr shows how a similar concept could be done right. Instead of strictly location-based photo sharing, it creates location based events that anyone can join and add photos. You can also see any nearby events, as well as the newest & most popular events everywhere.