Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Getting on the Mac App Store

Big Mountain Snowboarding was just released on the Mac App Store, 1 week late for the grand opening. We started on the port as soon as the "within 90 days" announcement was made.

Technical Difficulties

I talked about a lot of the details of the port in a previous blog post.

Playtesting and Revision

Big Mountain Snowboarding was created as a handheld tilt game. Obviously that's not the ideal control scheme for someone on a 27" iMac. I wanted to do something cool with the touchpad so we turned it into a joystick, and made a couple fallback controls for people who don't have a touchpad. We had some back and forth and some revision on some pretty bad early controls.

We then took a macbook over to the bostonindies demo night and got some people we don't know to play it. The people struggled with it. The controls were not good enough to release at that point, so we spent another couple days trying to improve it. They are much improved, but I'm not convinced they are awesome. We'll probably have to make a couple patches before we really get there.

Apple Approval

Our first attempt at submission happened on 11/19/2010. We never left the waiting for approval stage. I had made several improvements and decided to pull the app to upload another attempt on 12/1/2010. After a couple weeks of waiting we got a rejection because the .app name was not the same as the application name, "Big Mountain Snowboarding OSX". I fixed this and resubmitted. About another week later we were rejected for having "OSX" in the name. I think whoever said the names didn't match up could have also mentioned that the name was unacceptable, but ok.

On 12/30/10 we were approved and all set to be a launch title. Then a few days later I noticed a game-breaking bug that slipped in to the game when making the build to remove "OSX" from the name. We share our engine between all of the games we make and we don't branch, so development of one game can cause us some bugs in other games.

I submitted another build at about 3 in the morning of 1/4/2011, with the app store set to launch sometime on 1/6/11.

Actual Launch

We had to make the decision between missing the app store launch or shipping a broken build. We were worried about getting nothing but 1 star reviews early on killing any chance of future sales, so we removed the app from sale before launch. We watched 1 million downloads happen on the store the first day while not being a part of it. It was a tough call, and I'm still not sure which was right. I woke up early on Tuesday to pull the app and we had already sold 4 copies at $4.99 each.

I was getting a little anxious earlier today about whether or not being "developer removed from sale" was preventing our approval so I sent Apple a mail asking about it. I guess someone from Apple liked the game because we were approved shortly after and placed in the "Staff Favorites" section of all games. I also dropped the price to $0.99 for the launch to try to get us some initial chart placement.

I'm hopeful. BMS isn't the game I'd make from scratch for the Mac platform, but it wasn't a viable market back when we started. The more platforms with an audience available for the little guy the better.

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