Players gonna play…

World of RoboFarmCraft has been in the app store for about a month and a half now, and it’s doing fairly well.  We didn’t put all the word-of-mouth features in right away because I wanted to get initial feedback and fix any bugs, but it turns out that things were “pretty good” from the start, and they’ve gotten a lot better as of v1.4 (current).  And I’m really excited about v1.5, which should be submitted to Apple in the next couple of days (so: in the store in a little over a week or so).  v1.5 has a very-much improved new-user experience and some substantial in-game price reductions.

At any rate, I wanted to take a minute to thank all the people playing, and especially those who are taking the time to let me know how to make things even better.

MV5BMTg1MTQxODMxOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMTEwODg4._V1_.jpg

If you’re loving the game, one thing you could do to help us out is to log into the iTunes store and leave a review.

If you know of ways we can make the game better — we want to hear about it!  Leave us comments, or use the bug-report email in-game.

Thanks!

Movin’ On Up!

World of RoboFarmCraft just keeps getting better!

I’ve done pretty well keeping to my one-per-week update schedule and the app is definitely improving by leaps & bounds with each release.

movin-on-up

Apple’s initial review times were 8 days, so I kept getting scooted back by a day.  Then I accidentally released v1.3 with a crashing bug (after only 3 days waiting for review!), so v1.3.1 is sitting in the queue (5 days so far) waiting to fix that.

But I just sent v1.4 to QA, and I think it’s looking pretty solid.  There, we add the social stuff — achievements that can be shared on Facebook or Twitter, “Rate This App”, etc.

I also substantially reduced a lot of the prices, including the cost to hurry things up.  And the tools times (hoeing, planting, sawing) are all reduced by 15%.  So that’s pretty nice.

So, once 1.3.1 is approved, we can put 1.4 into the queue for Apple’s approval, and that should hit the streets in about a week and a half.

I’ve got 2 more updates before Thanksgiving weekend, when I hope to put in the last big release before Christmas.  We’ve got a few ideas, and I’m pretty excited about getting them out to the public.

Looking forward to 2016, we may slow down the release cycle a bit and start taking on some bigger features.  We’ll see how it all pans out, but that’s the current plan.

WoRFC gets its “Leet-wings”

Heh.  We added case# 1337 today, now the WoRFC database is officially “Leet”  😉

leet-case

Ok, it’s been a while since I posted; time for a quick catch up…

v1.0 hit the App Store on 10/8.  It’s been going pretty well.  One user found a crazy login bug that, luckily, no one else experienced.  I was able to remove the offending code from the server immediately, then test & fix offline.  (It was a part of the login process that removes ever-growing transaction records from your farm data and puts them into the database, so the only side effect of it being disabled for a week or two is that farms grow bigger.  They’ll shrink down again once I re-enable that code.)

leet-wings

v1.0.2 (which included planned-changes for v1.0.1) had a bunch of small bug fixes.  Nothing too terrible, but stuff that needed to be done.

v1.1 (“Content & Help cleanup”) hit the app store yesterday.  As the title suggests, it mostly contained cleanup of the help screens and other content (images, sounds, etc.) tweaks.

As each new build hits the store, I submit the next, so we’ll continue with approximately-weekly updates (gated mostly by Apple’s review times, which have been running 7-8 days).  v1.2 will be “UI cleanup” and generally just smooths-over a lot of the UI, making things easier to use.

You can see the upcoming planned updates through v1.7 — again, “approximately weekly” (gated by Apple review) — on our release notes page.

After v1.7, we’ll continue doing updates, but less frequently.  This should allow us to tackle bigger feature-sets and do bigger/better things.  Actually, v1.7 (focus on soldering experience) might be a 2-week update.  We’ll see.  Maybe there’ll be a v1.8 “soldering-experience, part 2” or some such.  Soldering has improved a lot since the beginning, but it’s still a weak spot in the game and, since it’s a key part of game-play, we want to make it uber-smooth.

(The other weak-spot in the game is the “first 10-minutes” experience, which continues to get better, but still has lots of room for improvement.)

As always, we’d love to hear your comments.  You can put them here on the blog, in the forums (“Gameplay Feedback”, “Bug Reports”, etc.), on our Facebook page or file a bug from in-game.

Onward & upward!

eat-1337

WoRFC’s Up goer 5

(World of RoboFarmCraft explained using only the ten-hundred most common English words.)

xkcd

At the end, World of Made-man/Make-trees/Make-things is a growing game where one puts baby tree parts in the ground and takes the grown tree parts.

“Make-trees.”

However, instead of you doing the putting yourself, you tell made-men to do the putting for you. The telling is done by showing the made legs, eyes, hands (to pick-up or drop things) and sticks (also made) either to first power or through simple thinking boxes (AND, OR, NOT…)

“Made-men make-trees.”

Simple things (wood, baby tree parts, wet ground) can be made into things, which can be used to make more better trees and the things to pick them faster, and also make more made-men.

“Made-men make-trees and things.”

You can buy and give-for-money from the tree-making place of a friend, visit other people’s tree-making places, grow and form groups.

“World of Made-man Make-trees Make-things.”

Thanks to #upGoerFive

The start of it all.

Apple, into your hands I commend my app.

We submitted!

<wait, wait, wait>Has my app been approved, yet?!?!  😉

(Ok, ok… it typically takes 7-8 days, though I’ve been going through a lot of beta reviews, so maybe it’ll be faster.  Or maybe something will happen and I’ll be one of the “lucky” 24-day apps.)

What a long, strange trip it’s been!

tie-dye

Now to start working on next week’s submission: v1.0.1 (app internals cleanup.)  🙂

It is finished!

Today (11:03am, Sep 22, 2015), almost exactly 11 months after starting on this Grand Adventure, I sent “Final Candidate-1” to beta testing.

FinishLine

“Final Candidate” is software-project talk for “if you can’t think of a good reason why we shouldn’t do this, this is the piece of software we’re going to ship to customers”.  In this case, the only change between the accepted (QA-approved) FC and the shipping v1.0 of the product will be a change of version number (to “v1.0”; it’s currently v0.9.0 and, if we have to fix something, the next FC will be 0.9.1, etc.)

Actually, I guess things are really just starting, eh?  But this phase is finished, and I’m surprised at the degree to which my relief is felt physically.  Yay!

Ok, onward & upward — here we go!  🙂

Business slogans on a road sign exit

The Last Mile…

We’re in a funny stage of production where there are a zillion things to do, but half of them aren’t outwardly visible and the other half should probably wait, just because we’re so close to shipping it’d be a shame to break everything at this point.

breaking-and-entering

I did find a rather gnarly security hole that I’d intended to plug months ago but forgot.   (“Use the bug-base, Luke…!”  😉 )  It was a bit scary, since I had to re-do both login and save and, if I screwed it up, it would mean everyone’s farms would be reset until I could manually fix them, which is a long and tedious process.

Fortunately, the the change was also small and straightforward, and I was able to do it in little bits and test along the way.  In the end, it was a lot of nervous-paranoia over nothing, and now farm security is substantially improved.

I also took some time to tackle power (robot-battery) usage, which was still stuck in the placeholder-numbers phase that I set back when the on/off switch was implemented.  My changes came as a bit of a shock to the most circuit-intensive beta tester, but we agreed that they were, overall, an improvement, and much smaller changes could be made going forward, if needed.

But, as a result of all that, I also implemented “you can upgrade your robot’s battery”, this afternoon.  It’s the only upgrade at the moment, but it’s an important one and, as things progress, now the infrastructure exists to implement other robot-upgrades, as we decide to implement them.

So, the main thing we’re waiting for now is final art.  I’m expecting the last of the trees and other misc art in the next few days, then it’s just the icon, splash and avatar.  To be honest, I’d be ok releasing v1.0 with the current splash and a minor tweak to the icon that I can do myself, so it’s really just the sprite-sheet for the robot.  I’m told that’ll be a week or two, so I’ll look to have some productive time while waiting for that.

Unfortunately, I sort of have to wait until the final art before I can re-do the help animations.  Maybe I’ll just put those off until after v1.0.  Or maybe I can do them during the week-long review period, and just push them as an update immediately upon release.  Or something, I’m not sure, yet.

Anyway… I just wanted to post a quick “what’s up”, since it’s been a couple of weeks.  Things are happening, but it’s mostly just “getting ready to submit” stuff.  And the few items I mentioned.

“Soon!”  🙂

P.S.  It’s been “7 bottles of beer on the wall”* for a while, now, but they’re all paperwork things like “integrate the final artwork” and “update the web-site with the App-store URL” — stuff like that.


* “_#_ bottles of beer on the wall” is the phrase I’ve been using to mark the countdown of the number of tasks left on my to-do list until we ship v1.0.

The Swag Is In!

There’s still a little ways to go on the final artwork, but we have enough pieces that we were able to cobble together the start of the Robo-Store.  (Check back often over the next few weeks, as we’ll be expanding as more final-art rolls in and adding more products once we get some spare time.)

Worfc author, Ted, enjoys a hot cuppa while putting the final touches on the game before we ship.

Worfc author, Ted, enjoys a hot cuppa while putting the final touches on the game before shipping (“Soon!”)

Impress your friends with your amazing good taste — both in clothing/jewelry/dishware and in games — with some super-stylin’ worfc-gear!

“On the list!”

For the next couple of weeks I will be mostly doing chores related to wrapping-up the game and getting it ready to submit to the iTunes store.  For the most part, the bugs are fixed, the features are in and things are nearly ready to go; from here on, it’s 99% paperwork and pencil-pushing to get vsn 1.0 out the door.

Paperless-Office1

I’m going to be starting a thread in the worfc-forums to cover “on the list” items on an ongoing basis, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts here for what is planned for immediately following the release of World of RoboFarmCraft v1.0.

First, I plan to do regular releases for the foreseeable future.  The current plan is weekly updates for at least 4 weeks, then every-other-week for at least 8 weeks, then regularly scheduled updates based on the needs of the game at that point.  Of course, this plan is open to change based on user feedback and there may be a hot-fix or two in there to deal with crises, but that’s the basic plan as it stands, today.

So, what’s coming up in the next few updates…?

* Beta-5  (in a couple of days.)

  • I recently implemented the ability to give “Login rewards”.  It’s not set-up for regular use, yet, but the idea is to give little daily “treasure chests” at first login.
  • The game now saves an “offline” version if the farm can’t be uploaded to the server.
  • There is some new artwork; most noticeably the logic-gates.

* Final betas and v1.0 (over the next 2-3 weeks.)

  • As mentioned above, this is largely paperwork chores.
  • We’ll be integrating all of the “real” artwork from the art department.

After v1.0, the high-on-the-list items are:

  • Continue to tweak game balance, which is largely the price of crafting and the time it takes for crops to grow.  What we have is pretty good, but I want to check the game-progress telemetry against the first bunch of public players.  My goal is to present activities and challenges, while continuing to provide a sense of accomplishment and progress.
  • Continue to make the UI run more smoothly/easily.
  • Additional circuits to further the cause of farm automation.  Some ideas:
    • Chest-O-Matic: place a chest into it, and it has pins for select-next, drop-on-ground, add-to-inventory.  Basically, this circuit allows programmed-access to a chests’s inventory with pins similar to what you have on the robot’s inventory.
    • Select-O-Matic: (These are just working names 🙂 )  A 3 or 4-slot item into which you indicate either tools or inventory, and it allows you to select that tool or item.  So, for example,  you could use pins-1, -2, -3 to select Hoe, Dibble or Saw.  Or you could use them to select Iron, Copper or Silicon seeds.  Etc., whatever you like.
    • A “thumb drive” to allow saving/restoring robot/chip circuitry.
  • A way to visually differentiate chips-in-inventory.  Maybe by colors (dyes made from flowers?), or maybe a 4-char “label” that can be read by a Text Comparator.  Then again, the Select-O-Matic might make this moot.
  • Deep-inventory — so you can craft using materials that are stored in chests, stored in your inventory.  I haven’t yet decided if this should be always-on or if you craft a (consumable (but cheap-to-make)?) deep-search circuit that allows this behaviour.
  • Allow multiple-stacks of the same type of item in inventory (incl. chests), as a switch.  When active, you could have multiple stacks of (currently) 200 of something, they would just occupy multiple inventory slots, as if they were separate items.
  • Improvements to soldering.  These are many and varied and not-clearly-defined, but the soldering UI is definitely a weak spot in the app.  Some ideas include:
    • “Modes”, so connections can be made/broken with fewer taps
    • More user control over trace-paths (possibly including segmented traces.)
    • A “probe” that can be put on traces to display the signals passing.
    • Single/10-step mode to aid with debugging.
    • A separate “lab” where circuitry can be tested/explored without altering existing circuits.

There’s actually quite a bit more, but that’s what’s near the top of the list, and should keep us busy for a while.  Again, I’ll be updating the forums on a regular basis as the list evolves.

P.S.  25 bottles of beer on the wall!  🙂