Friday, October 19, 2012

Google Play Gift Cards

Picture of Google Play Gift Cards

Google have finally announced google play gift cards, something we have been crying out for a long time. Its a much welcomed step that opens the play market to people without credit cards, which is something I blogged about last year.  From the announcement it appears to be arriving in the states soon and I for one am hoping it arrives in the UK soon after.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bugsy gets its 1st Review

I'm very excited to announce that Bugsy has received its 1st review from the guys at PlayAndroid.Com.  We received a very respectable 21 points which compares very favourably with other games in our category.  Go check out the review now - the video is awesome!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

HTC Hero running Android 2.3.7 (Briefly)

I've finally rooted my trusty HTC Hero!

I'd like to say it was a straight forward process but frankly it wasn't.  The main problem is that most of the guides seem to forget that when you have 2.1 you cannot run install apk files (eg backup, root & flashing apps) onto your sd card!  A good work around is to have HTC Sync running with your phone connected and then double-click the apk on your PC and then it is installed on the phone via htc sync.

I Initially flashed to cyanogen 7 and whilst I initially loved the new features it came at a cost. The base android install seemed to take all my memory so I was constantly getting freezes and reboots. I also made the mistake of setting a mp3 ringtone using the music player - every time my phone lost signal it played the track through the speaker at full volume - the only way to stop it was to remove the battery! To add insult to injury there is no way in to change the network notification tones or unset the mp3 ringtone!

I spent several weeks persevering and tweaking settings and flashing the nightlies with no real improvement. I eventually gave in and went down a level to cyanogen 6.  What an improvement!! It's so much faster and stable over cyanogen 7 I've got heaps more memory for apps and its been running for 2 weeks with only 1 crash. I'm pretty happy It's like getting a new phone! If you have a HTC Hero GPRS I would advise against upgrading beyond Cyanogen 6

I'm not going to risk setting a mp3 ringtone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview at

Frederik over at has just published his interview with yours truly. go check it out!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Challenges faced by a Paid App Developer

Bugsy has been available on the Android Market for three weeks now.  Its a cheap Paid App at only 99c or 60p in the UK. So far, despite my initial word of mouth marketing, downloads are disappointing. Of course its a brand new app and nobody has heard of it or me yet and I have to keep on spreading the word but so far this hasn't been the barrier. The barrier has been with Google's payment system.

Bugsy is a great app! People who have it love it. Its Simple to play and appeals to everyone, even folks who don't normally play games. I have several friends with Android who played beta versions and gave great positive feedback so you would think that they would be the first to buy the app right? I did too.

Challenge 1 - Promotional Copies
Android market offers no way to offer people a free copy of my paid game.  I would like to give free copies to the folks who helped test it, game ideas and, of course, to reviewers sites as part of my marketing.

I've followed widespread advice to implement Google Market Licensing (LVL). With this is place the The only options you have are to make a "special build" without LVL or ask someone to buy and then refund the credit card.

Special Build without Licensing
I have a few issues Using this approach the recipient would:
  • Install via USB
  • Trust that I've not added anything malicious
  • Repeat for each update
  • Have an version of my app that they could be easily redistribute 

This is far from ideal if I give someone a free version of my game I would like to have them receive updates! Also distributing a version without licensing is fine amongst my friends but sending them on spec to review sites seems a bit risky to me. 

Buy Then Refund
This seemed like the best approach to me however when I tried it I found 2 major flaws
  • Once you refund a user LVL no longer reports them as licensed!
  • Review sites do not seem to entertain this idea at all.

The only option you have for distributing a free version of a paid game that has LVL protection is to make a special build with LVL taken out!  The checkout process really needs to add support for promo codes. The lack of such a basic feature really hurts small developers trying to make their mark.

Challenge 2 - Do you trust Google with your Credit Card?
It turns out that most people I have spoken to do not trust the payment mechanism. Android Users do not want to link their credit cards to their phones. Even when I have offered to refund the card! The main reasons I am hearing are:
  • "My kids play with my phone and I don't want them buying things"
  • "I don't want to 'accidentally'  buy *stuff* when drunk!!! "
  • "If my phone is stolen my credit card might be cleaned out"
  • "Google Checkout is new and I don't trust it yet"

These are valid concerns and they are all things that could be easily addressed but are sadly lacking in the Android Market.This is clearly hurting my sales and is something that Google needs to address.

Challenge 3 - Purchase for Other People
Android Market also has no concept of buying an app for someone else.  A friend wanted to buy the app for their son who has his own android phone. Obviously he didn't want his son to then be able to buy anything he liked from the market!

In order to do this He had to associate his own card with his son's google account, buy and download the app. And then spend a considerable amount of time working out how to remove the card details from the account.  It's great that he took the time to support me but I couldn't expect that from a regular consumer.

Apple users have the iTunes Cards. A prepayment system so which allows the recipient to buy things without needing a credit card. It's perfect for a gifts and buying apps for someone else. Why don't we an  Android Card? Its such an obvious thing to do I'm surprised it hasn't been done already.

Conclusion - Challenge Accepted!
Selling paid games is not easy for a small indie developer. I've followed blogs by other developers who have tested the ad supported model and whilst my downloads are much lower my earnings so far are pretty much the same.  I've got to admit that I didn't think the market checkout process would be such a hindrance but hey, that's part of the learning process! This is blog is all about concept to cash and finding the best way to get my app on to users phones is definitely a challenge I accept!

Bugsy is a simple and addictive game available now on the Android Market!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Android Sdk Revision 13: Unknown option: --output

I'm just preparing a new release of Bugsy and I see that there is a new version of the android SDK. I really wish I had resisted the urge to upgrade!

When I try to do my release build with "ant release" I now get a build failure when proguard tries to write Its dump file. "Unknown option: --output". A Quick search on google turns up .... nothing ...   Again why did I upgrade???

Here's the output of the build.

 [proguard] Printing classes to [C:\Work\bugsy_workspace\bugsy\bin\proguard\dump.txt]...
     [echo] Converting compiled files and external libraries into C:\Work\bugsy_workspace\bugsy\bin\classes.dex...
    [apply] unknown option: --output
    [apply] usage:
    [apply]   dx --dex [--debug] [--verbose] [--positions=<style>] [--no-locals]
    [apply]   [--no-optimize] [--statistics] [--[no-]optimize-list=<file>] [--no-strict]
  .... snip .....

C:\PROGRA~2\Android\android-sdk\tools\ant\main_rules.xml:487: The following error occurred while executing this line:
C:\PROGRA~2\Android\android-sdk\tools\ant\main_rules.xml:203: apply returned: 1

Total time: 12 seconds

After an evening of hacking and hair-pulling I've finally gotten to the bottom of this. SDK Revision 13 Requires Android SDK Platform-tools, revision 7.  For me the key news is that "Android SDK Platform-tools, revision 7" is not an older version of "Android SDK Tools, revision 13". Surely it would be easy to name these more clearly?

To get the latest platform tools look in the Android SDK & AVD Manager. In eclipse this on the Window menu. Click Available Packages, Expand Android repository, Check "Android SDK Platform-tools, revision 7" and hit Install.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bugsy Released to the Android Market

After what seems like months of effort our first game, Bugsy, is now released to the Android Market.

Its a simple and fun game that anyone can play. Help rescue Bugsy by squashing the evil paint bugs.

Bugsy is available from the android market here :

I've also set up a game support site. It's still pretty light but you can find it here: