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Here are a couple of tips that can help shave valuable seconds off your times.

 

Tip #1

If you move close enough to the trail so that it appears on screen, it takes a finite amount of time for the tracks to fade in, so by the time they’re fully visible, maybe a second will have passed.

So, rather than wait for them to fully appear, if you are sure that you have moved within range, you can move on along the trail before the first tracks have become fully visible.

You can try this out in level 2, at the bottom right of the level. You should be able to head north very soon after emerging from the tree if you judge it just right.

 

Tip #2

This is effectively taking the previous tip to the extreme.

The tracker doesn’t even need to see the tracks, he/she only needs to smell them. The smelling range is just beyond the edge of the screen, so if you can straighten out or cut corners, or take a parallel path so that the tracks are just off the screen, the tracker should still be able pick up the trail.

This effect can be seen in level 3 when you turn left after the start and run along the top edge of the hedge. You can’t see the tracks to the south, but you can still smell them.

This tactic can be risky, though, because if you don’t quite run close enough to the trail, you’ll lose it and will have to go back to pick it up.

 

Happy tracking! 🙂

 

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Being a timed puzzle game, Animal Trackers can be quite challenging, as has been mentioned in a number of reviews.

Of course, different people like differing levels of challenge, so trying to cater for such a wide spectrum of skills and abilities whilst still providing a rewarding experience can be tricky.

Since Animal Trackers was released, I’ve been monitoring the Game Center leaderboards and have noticed that some people may be finding it a little more difficult than I had envisaged.

So, in order to address this, I am working on version 1.1 which will not only include more generous time limits for easy mode, but will also include a new ‘Explore!’ mode which will become available should the player fail the same level several times.

Once ‘Explore!’ mode has been made available for a particular level, you’ll be able to choose to play that level without a time limit, and in addition, the next level will automatically be unlocked. This will effectively become a ‘skip level’ feature.

I’ve spent a long time creating the 50 levels that make up Animal Trackers, so it would be a shame if everyone didn’t have the chance to play them all. The later levels tend to involve more strategy and forethought, but in ‘Explore!’ mode, you’ll be able to play them at your leisure.

More skilled players can still differentiate themselves, of course, by playing through the levels in ‘medium’ and ‘hard’ modes. These require you to track more efficiently, but as a reward, you’ll earn more points per completed level – significantly more in ‘hard’ mode.

Well, if anyone is finding any particular level too hard or too easy, or has any comments, questions or feature requests, please feel free to either post them here or contact me on any of the usual channels. I want to make Animal Trackers the best that it can be, so your feedback is vitally important.

 

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First Reviews

Here are a few reviews of Animal Trackers:

 

UK App Store

Great fun ★★★★★
by Mazza1322 – Version 1.0.1 – May 3, 2012

This is a great little game – quiet a challenge and good fun – lovely animation – lovable characters – all round thimbs up!

Addictive & Simple Tracking puzzles ★★★★★
by Great Apps Award – Version 1.0.1 – May 3, 2012

Simple visuals but fun “keep you on your toes” trying to out, out-fox that chicken quarry! Found the floating dpad easier than touch controls to see ahead worth mentioning, but hooked on some backtracking, double-trails already. An app worth a shot.

US App Store

Don’t let the cuteness fool you ★★★★★
by _burn – Version 1.0.1 – May 3, 2012

This is the perfect kind of game. It’s extremely cute and the different animals have a lot of character. It’s also very challenging so if you’re the kind of person that has to get 3 stars on every level you’ll be playing these levels quite a few times.

When you first start out, you start with the fox. If you let him sit still for long enough he’ll look up at you with those big eyes as if saying “C’mon, let’s go find that chicken PLEASE!!!”. That in itself makes you want to play each level over and over until you finally catch the animal you’re chasing. It’s also what gives the game so much character.

The levels are very well designed and they’re laid out so that if you want to get 3 stars you had better find every shortcut you can. You can’t just walk around, either, you’ve got to hustle!

Another thing for you 3-star people … the game supports GameCenter so you’re going to have to bring your A game in order to make it to the top.

This game is an easy recommendation. It’s cute, tons of fun to play, and can get very challenging. Highly recommended.

 

iPhoneGamer UK gives Animal Trackers (4/5) and sums up by saying:

“Recommended for those that love a challenge and also for those that love cute,colourful animal games with a difference.

That will if you persist with it ultimately give you a rewarding experience.”

iPhoneGamerUK review
 

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Here’s a snippet from level 34 of the game showing Coyli (pronounced ‘Kylie’, as in ‘Coyli Coyote’) tracking the rat through the mountains. (Scroll down for a running commentary beneath the video.)

 

 

Coyli first notices that the rat’s trail leads into a hole in the cliff face and surmises that the rat must have gone in there and come out the other side. So, she doubles back and goes round, avoids one pile of rocks and is stopped by another, but since she can see the rat’s tracks coming out of the other side of the cliff face and can also see another hole just in front of her, she doubles back again and follows the trail north.

Avoiding the piles of rocks as she goes, she soon reaches a dead end where the trail once again disappears into a hole in the cliff face. However, she also notices a distinctive green patch on the ground. Hmmm, what could that mean?

Well, she knows that the rat most likely would have come out on the other side of the cliff, but how is she to get there?

Taking a mental note of where the other side of the cliff would be, she endeavours to trace a route around the whole cliff face in order to get to the other side and pick up the trail.

On the way she comes to yet another pile of rocks, but this time she can’t go around it. However, she has some powerful claws and so slashes the rocks out of the way (by the player repeatedly tapping the pile of rocks).

She then continues on her way, ignoring the tracks she found earlier, and smashes through or avoids rocks as she sees fit, all the while being mindful of where the trail is likely to reappear.

And lo and behold, rounding the last corner, she picks up the trail again and is sure it’s the right one because she can see that familiar green patch of ground that she saw earlier.

 

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It’s been a while since my last post, but I’ve been busy updating Animal Trackers and have been posting on the following Touch Arcade forum:

http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?t=133322.

 

So, for the next few posts, I’ll be playing catch up.

Animal Trackers has been through a few changes since the pre-release trailer was made, so I created a new trailer with a few modifications.

Incidentally, it’s entitled, ‘The REAL Official Animal Trackers Trailer’, because on YouTube there is also an unsanctioned copy of the video with ‘Official’ in the title.

All truly offical videos will only be on the ‘AnimalTrackersGame’ YouTube channel.

 

 

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Mystery solved

Well, I received another reply from Apple the other day as to why Animal Trackers is not showing up in the iPad app store and this time it made sense.

It would appear that only apps that natively support the iPad, i.e. pure iPad apps or Universal apps, will actually appear in the Categories listings of the iPad app store. iPhone / iPod touch games do not.

So, anyone browsing the Games category sorted by Release Date on an iPad will not see Animal Trackers or any other iPhone only game. 😦

Well, if I’d known that when I began making Animal Trackers, I’d have endeavoured to make the game Universal.

But since it was my first iOS game, I didn’t want to run before I could walk, so to speak. There was also the problem with iOS 3.0 returning a view with the wrong orientation when creating a new view controller, so I had to force the game to use iPhone dimensions, just to get it to work.

Well, if Animal Trackers is going to have a chance of being even remotely successful, it will need to be Universal, so I plan on doing that conversion in the future. It will take quite a bit of work to do, though, as some of the puzzles and all of the times will be affected by a change in dimensions.

This is because if the iPad were to display the terrain over the whole of its screen, it would be able to show slightly more terrain at any one time than an iPhone would. This would mean that some hidden golden eggs may become visible and also shorter shortcuts could be taken, which would confer an unfair advantage to iPad players.

Still, I’m sure by the time I come to do the conversion, I’ll have worked out a reasonable way to do it.

It has taken two and a half YEARS of work to get Animal Trackers onto the App Store.

So when it finally went live on Thursday 3rd of May 2012, I watched the midnight train (apps are released onto the App Store at midnight local time) pass from New Zealand (at 12:00 GMT Wednesday), through to Russia, Australia, Japan… Europe, the UK…

I searched for Animal Trackers by name in the App Stores for a number of countries, with it appearing in a few of them shortly after midnight local time. And since this was my first iOS game, I was pretty excited to see all my hard work finally get published.

But then I noticed that something wasn’t right.

In iTunes on the Mac, it said ‘Released: 03 May 2012’, but in the App Store app on the iPad, it said ‘Updated: 02 May 2012’.

On the iPad, I then looked at the list of Apps sorted by Release Date, but couldn’t see Animal Trackers on there with the other 03 May 2012 apps, and it wasn’t there with the 02 May 2012 apps, either.

Ah, I thought, it must just be taking a while to appear. So, I went to bed and got up the next morning, and checked again.

But no, it still wasn’t there.

So, I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled that list and Animal Trackers was nowhere to be seen.

I’ve so far exchanged emails with Apple three times, but the problem persists.

And this is a HUGE problem, because as a one person indie developer, I have no advertising budget, so the biggest bit of publicity that Animal Trackers is likely to get is to be at the top of the release date list in every country with an App Store – and Animal Trackers is not on ANY of them! 😦

All I was hoping for was at least a few people in each country to see the app on the list, buy it, like it, show it to their friends, who hopefully would buy it and show it to their friends, etc, with all these little ‘pockets’ of Animal Trackers players springing up globally – and hopefully, eventually, becoming one big ‘pocket’.

I’m fortunate to have had a few people find it, who must have read my postings on Twitter, Facebook, and a couple of forums, and therefore knew that the game existed. And the ratings that I’ve got so far are all 5 stars, so the game does have merit.

But that is just a handful of people, not the thousands of potential customers that a global outing would elicit.

So, the initial high of excitement from release onto the App Store has now long since drained away as I contemplate where to go from here. I gave up my job to develop Animal Trackers and am relying on its sales for a long-overdue income.

I’ll try another round of press releases to various websites, but the pre-release round garnered no response whatsoever. So, I won’t be holding my breath.

I’m giving it two months.

If I can’t turn this thing around by then, I simply can’t afford to work full time on app development anymore.

If the game was rubbish and no-one would have bought it anyway, it wouldn’t matter and I’d just have to accept that. But it’s the fact that people really do seem to love the game and it’s through no fault of my own that I’m in this situation.

😦

 

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