One of the problems I’ve been struggling with recently is a lack of exposure for my apps, Solar Explorer and Exoplanet Explorer. This has caused them to lose rank positions in the Education category in Android Market and I believe it was the result of changes I’d made to the apps in late December, which although improving them, also caused them to be shared less.
I made some adjustments a few weeks ago, and it has had a positive effect, resulting in a doubling of the rate at which my apps are shared. This has significantly boosted downloads of the free versions on SlideMe and AppsLib markets, but hasn’t translated into increased sales. Sharing on Android Market increased from such a low level that it’s only really stopped the decline, and has yet to turn into measurable growth.
Because of this, I’ve decided to branch out and produce a series of free apps to stake out a presence in other categories besides Education, which will hopefully draw more attention to my work from people who don’t frequent the education category. As Shiva3D is really designed for producing game and multi-media applications, I’m going to write some simple games, but I’m going to make them as awesome as possible.
Simple and awesome. What could possibly go wrong?!
The player controls a microbe located at the corner of the game board, and has the ability to change it’s colour using buttons arranged along the bottom of the screen. The colour changes will spread across the board to other microbes that are the same colour as the player’s, but only if they are touching it, or another that is the same colour. The player only has a limited number of colour changes for each level, and a level is only complete once all the microbes are the same colour.
Much of the last fortnight was actually spent constructing the menu system that you see in the game. I’ve written it in such a way that it’s easy to configure is reusable, so that I can take the menu system, apply a coat of paint, and use it again in the next app. The framework will be shared between all the apps I write, so that if I upgrade the framework for one, I’ll only need to recompile the others for them all to inherit the improvements.
It’s actually been a fascinating project so far, especially now that it’s been uploaded and I can see how people are playing it. There’s only been a handful of downloads so far (damn you Android Market’s lack-of-discoverability!), but it’s nice to see that most of the users who have tried it have actually kept it installed and played it a few times.
This is actually the second game I’ve written, the first being a shoot-em-up called “Scumble” written way back in 1991 on my Commodore Amiga, which was released to Aminet and is probably out there on the Internet somewhere. I’ve long since lost the source code, so I’ll have to track it down one day and relive the olden days with an Amiga emulator.
Why such a large gap? I, like many programmers, was afflicted with the chronic inability to finish a project because I’d get bored after the fun bit was done and think of something more interesting to write. I’ve since learned secret of how to deal with that phase of a project: I start to lose interest, I write up a list of everything that’s left to do and then make myself complete each item, one at a time.
It’s a painful process, but it gets the job done.
That’s the first game out of the way, so it’s time to start on number two. I expect this one will feature monkeys and bicycles, and should be complete with less than 14 days of development time.
But you never know, it could turn into something completely different.
RIM have finally confirmed that I’ve scored a free Playbook, and that it’s going to ship shortly. Exoplanet Explorer will appear on App World soon after the tablet falls into my hands.