Monday, June 21, 2010

Surprising Progress

So I got some sleep Friday night after posting up about how crappy I felt. Saturday wasn't bad - I could breathe (mostly) and I had some level of mental alertness. We had an errand to run involving a road trip to Laramie (about 2.5 hours away "by way of the regular highway" (article here and lyrics here). We saw a flyer at Cathy's gymnastics for a dog looking for a new forever home. We called up Susie's mom who agreed to take the dog provided Susie thought it would be a good match. We met the dog (his name is Tank) on Wednesday, thought it would work, and picked him up Friday. Saturday was the hand-off to the mother-in-law in Laramie, so we packed everything up and headed off north. Had a pretty relaxing trip back Saturday night and I crashed pretty hard that night.
By Sunday I was feeling a LOT better, despite being awakened way too early by Cathy (she doesn't quite understand the whole "daddy gets to do what he wants to on Father's Day"). Still, I felt much better Sunday and decided to finish up Dragon Age: Origins (which I did). It was a somewhat hollow victory, though, so I went back a few saves to play a different path through the game. I'll be curious to see what's different about the two paths.
The good thing was by not working on OttoJotts at all on Sunday I was that much more excited about doing it today. I went home for lunch and got some good work in on the game. Makes me wish I didn't need to go back because things were working well. I've got a few screens added at the beginning of the game to allow players to create games. I've done a little bit with the multiplayer stuff, but that's actually not an Alpha 2 item but more like Alpha 4. Still, the basics are there for it. The single player selection is coming together pretty well.
I also touched base with a UI designer to see if she'd be interested and what she'll charge for doing the UI for it. Right now it's pretty cheesy, but it's functional. I'd like this to actually be good (maybe even compete with Words with Friends kind of good) and I know enough about my limitations to know that won't happen if I do it. :)
I've also touched based with Greystripe, a in-game advertiser that does the ads for Words with Friends, and will be looking at incorporating that into the game. That's a later addition as well. Maybe Alpha 3 as Alpha 4 is looking pretty full with the multiplayer games being added.
So, I'm pretty happy with things despite losing an entire weekend (well, one day by choice). I think Alpha 2 release might be this weekend if things keep going well, even if I run into a few bumps on the road. I did realize this weekend that I've been working on this (very) part-time since 29 April. That's kind of scary, actually, but things are progressing. It's just an important personal milestone to get this done and out in the wild. Once that happens, I feel like I can really claim to be an independent game developer. :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Illness = No Work

So since my production of Patience I've been feeling "not too well". I had some kind of bronchitis thing going on the first week of production, but got on antibiotics and felt awesomely better by the end of the run. Then it came back. Right now I'm finding it hard to breathe while I sit at the computer. And that's after taking Mucinex DM.
One of things I try to avoid doing while ill is coding. I found pretty early on that my thought processes don't operate at peak efficiency and that I end up having to refactor some of the code I write while under the weather. It's not as bad as a CUI (coding under the influence), but it's a close second.
This illness has delayed my work on OttoJotts, but things are progressing. I've got scrolling working properly and added some information about which guess has been posted. I still have several things to finish for this alpha - primarily statistics tracking. I'm doing it locally for alpha 2 and will store it in the DB for alpha 3+. Alpha 3 may incorporate multiplayer or I may punt on that until Alpha 4 - still deciding how much work needs to be done for the current tasks associated with 3.
Overall, I'm just hoping that I'll be getting better and then able to focus on getting the alpha work done. And then get it out to my testers. Or so I hope.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Alpha 1 Released!

I went home over lunch (the spousal unit is "not well") and decided to take another stab at the installation. I cleaned everything, rebuilt, and sent it back to her email address. When I unzipped everything and dragged it onto her iTunes it seemed MUCH happier - my icon showed up in her Apps list, which was nice. When I click "Sync" it all installed happily and life was looking much brighter. When I ran it on her iPhone and it actually WORKED, that was great (and it connected to the website to get the word list), life was FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!
I've packaged everything up and sent it out to my alpha testers who will hopefully be able to install it and test it. And I hope they'll be able to read the help screen. In the interest of just getting the alpha out the door I opted to punt on the scrolling help image. It's a placeholder anyway and I couldn't see continuing to hold up the alpha to make it work when it wasn't going to be in the final project anyway. The existing solution is less-than-optimal, but it's also temporary.
In the meantime, my game is now out in the wild. A momentous day for Otto Von. W00t indeed.

Alpha 1 Updates

Well, it was a busy weekend for the Empire Lyric Players, which meant it was a busy weekend for me (because I'm president of the group). Rehearsal Friday til 10:something-way-too-late, Saturday off (I played a TON of Dragon Age: Origins - definitely needed the break to stave off the pending mental collapse), then move-in on Sunday, which went much faster than I expected. We arrived at noon to help unload and they were finishing getting everything off the trailer into the theatre. WOW. I don't think move-in has ever gone that smoothly or had as many participants (practically the entire cast was there). Then errands on Memorial Day and first rehearsal in the theatre. Hard to believe our show goes up in 2 more days!
But wait - wasn't this a post about Alpha 1 Updates? Why yes, you're right - it is! Thanks for the reminder. So where IS Alpha 1? The short answer is "coming soon". The longer answer is a bit more complicated. I was having any number of problems getting my app debugged. It was working fine in the simulator, but as soon as I installed it on my iPhone it would crash on launch. No warning - just "no longer running". I couldn't attach a debug process, the console log (thank you Xcode Organizer!) showed nothing untoward, NSLog messages showed nothing... I was at a complete loss. I restored my phone to just 3.1.3 and then re-synched with iTunes. Still no love. Then, magically, it started working.
For anyone who's been a developer for any period of time, the "magically disappearing bug" is a frightening thing. Why did it go away? When will it resurface (because without fail it will)? I still can't find anything wrong, though, so it's hard to say it wasn't not some kind of configuration problem, but I'm not happy. I thought I would try to install it on Susie's phone as well to see if it surfaced there (I turned mine into a development device so I could see what was happening, but it didn't help). When trying to install on Susie's phone I got the strangest error:
The application "OttoJotts" was not installed on the iPhone "Susie's iPhone" because an unknown error occurred (0xE8008001).
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Why would iTunes not know what the error is? Oh, au contraire, mon frere, but iTunes DOES know what it is. What error 0xE8008001 is telling you is that you have an unsigned application that iTunes won't let you install on an iPhone. In other words, iTunes thinks the application is not a valid App Store or Ad Hoc distribution. Of course the question now is why doesn't iTunes think it's a valid ad hoc distribution? As to that, I'm uncertain at present. I need to dig into why it doesn't seem to think that I'm building an application with the right provisioning certificates. The error I was getting before from her iTunes was that there weren't any valid provisioning profiles for the application, which seemed odd as it was the exact one I was including in the build settings. She's running her iTunes on Windows and I'm on Mac, so that's always a joy, but still I've done it previously without too much trouble. Definitely more digging necessary, but here's the kicker - this is HELL WEEK.
What is Hell Week? In performance parlance, it's the week before a show opens. Every night is a rehearsal and generally you're still working a regular 9-5 (-ish) schedule that week, so you're up at the butt-crack of dawn to get to work, work a full day, then go to the theatre and spend another 5-6 hours at rehearsal. Then back home to bed all to do it again the next day. Good thing the show opens on Thursday. We have a JDBC movie night on Friday and I might end up crashed on the field at Invesco/Mile High. :)
Over the next couple of days I need to figure out what's up with the provisioning profiles and see why this isn't working as I thought. Maybe in a couple of days I'll actually have the Alpha done and out to testers. When I do, I'll make sure to let everyone know via this blog.