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Archive for September, 2011

First Details

Well, I’ve finally created a final version of the Animal Trackers trailer and I’ve also updated the blog to include some screenshots and a few details about the game itself.

I’ve still got a few levels to create, but I’m hoping to have the game feature-complete within the next couple of weeks.

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I have been planning to include leaderboards and achievements in Animal Trackers, stored both locally on the iDevice and also online via one or more services such as OpenFeint and Game Center.

Ideally, Animal Trackers would use both services and thus cater for a wider audience than either service would support alone, but having become mindful of the 20 MB OTA limit that I mentioned the other day, I decided to check just how much extra memory will be added to the application file.

Well, I was amazed at what I found; OpenFeint adds a hefty 3.4 MB or so, whilst GameCenter adds approximately 50 KB. Yes, you read that right, 0.05 MB!

This disparity is easily explained, however.

OpenFeint has a lot more features than the newer Game Center, but more importantly it has to include all the graphics that will be required.

Game Center, on the otherhand, being newer has fewer features, but also crucially has all the necessary graphics built into the operating system, so they don’t need to be included in the application itself.

On the flipside, though, OpenFeint will support all iDevices using iOS 3.0 and above, but Game Center requires at least iOS 4.1 to be installed.

So, what shall I do?

I think the best line of action at this time would be to build local leaderboards and achievements into Animal Trackers and test for Game Center availability at run time. This will mean that any device running iOS 4.0 or older won’t be able to share scores and achievements online, but the number of players who this would affect is dwindling every day.

As for OpenFeint, I would like to include it at some point, but I think it’ll have to wait until Apple increases the OTA limit again, hopefully to something like 30 MB.

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Just recently, I’ve noticed that it’s been taking over a minute to install Animal Trackers on my iPod touch where not so long ago it would take much less than that.

Looking at the application file in the Build directory, I discovered that the game was now weighing in at over 40 MB as opposed to 19.6 MB just a month ago, partly due to all the graphics and animation that I’ve been doing, but also because of the three background tunes that I created. The biggest culprits, though, were four old versions of the background tunes which were taking up 14.8 MB in total!

The three latest tunes, however, having been recorded at 192 kbps were taking up 3.2 MB each, so by converting them to 128 kbps I managed to get them down to 2.4 MB each (without any appreciable difference in sound quality), saving a further 2.4 MB between them.

In total, then, by Cleaning all Targets and overwriting the music files with smaller versions, I managed to save over 17 MB, resulting in a 23.5 MB application and an install time that was 20 seconds quicker. Having performed a dry run of the processes that the application will undergo once it’s been uploaded to Apple and had their special sauce added to it, the game still weighed in at 21.1 MB.

As of September 2011, though, there is a limit of 20 MB for any app that can been downloaded over the air (OTA) via 3G (without the need to tether the iDevice to a computer), so going over that is sure to have a significant impact on sales, since impulse buys whilst out and about will not be possible.

To make matters worse, there are still five more levels to add with their own graphics and animations, with all the graphics so far being rendered at standard iPhone resolution. Once retina and iPad graphics are added, the application size will soar well above that 20 MB threshold!

So, initially at least (after having done some more optimisation), I’ve decided to launch the game with standard resolution graphics and three background tunes to ensure that the game can be download OTA. Hopefully, by the time I’ve created the high resolution assets and upgraded the game to make best use of them, Apple may have raised the OTA threshold to something more suitable.

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