Unpublishing and back to blogging

My blogging for the past couple of years has been pretty sporadic, but after the latest update of the site, I want to give this a try again and write blog posts regularly. We’ll see how it goes.

Today I unpublished my very first Android app, “A Brief History of Rome”. BHR was basically an off-shoot of a simple little game I had programmed in Java to do some UI testing. During a weekend when I had a little time, I did the port to Android and published it. The reception was always mixed – some like the rogue-like strategy gameplay; others couldn’t wrap their head around a strategy game where the goal was not “world conquest” – but the feedback made me want to do something better. Which was what led to Pirates and Traders. “A Brief History of Rome” ended life with just above 50,000 downloads. Not bad for what was originally two weekends of work.

At the same time, I also unpublished the Retro versions of Pirates and Traders.

When I originally created Pirates and Traders: Gold, one of the things I promised was that I would use the money earned to improve the game with better graphics and add music. I did so, but by the time that work had been finished, the new version – today’s Pirates and Traders – looked and played quite differently from the original game. In addition to the new graphics, the RPG system had seen a complete overhaul, the map was completely rebuilt, and more depth got added to the game. But I didn’t want to publish a new app, as this would mean everyone who had bought the old version would have to buy it again, so I simply bumped up the version number to 2.0.0, and published it as an update.

Pirates and Traders 2.0.0 was a disaster. The jump from the old to the new version was huge, and that caused a lot of bugs – some of which affected savegames. It took months to clean up the mess. In retrospect, I wish I had done it differently back then, although I still feel it was the right decision to honor the promise I had made. But – as it turned out – many people actually preferred the simpler P&T gameplay of the original, to the new version and I started receiving e-mails from people asking for me to bring it back. Thus was born Pirates and Traders: Retro (and later, Old Gold). Making Pirates and Traders 2 actually the third game in the “series”… confused yet?

Unfortunately, by this point, the development of Android phones has outstripped the code in those games. I do not have the time required to go in an fix the code, and by this point, it is mostly unplayable on modern phones with high-resolution displays. So – I think – the best thing to do is just to unpublish them. The retro versions of Pirates and Traders ended up having been downloaded more than 65,000 times.

Now it’s back to work on the other projects. I would really like to be able to push the “Publish” button on one of those games this year.

Comments back on…

As you may have noticed if you’ve visited here once in a while, I’ve turned comments back on for the blog. I turned it off some years ago, due to the amount of spam that it generated and since the forum more or less filled the need for somewhere to discuss. Now that I’ve closed down the forum, I’ve turned on the comments field again, so that people who do not like to use Facebook, have an alternative to contact/comment on my games. Comments are powered by Disqus, though, as I didn’t want to go back to the fully manual spam removal of the past.

Anyway, if you have comments, feel free to state them here, on Twitter, or on the Facebook page. I rarely have the time to respond right away, but I do always (try) to respond.

Small Battles Closed Beta

As mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been working on Small Battles for the past couple of weeks. And after this latest round of improvements, I feel that it may be ready to go into more intensive testing.

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So what is Small Battles again? It’s changed a bit in the details since I first announced it, but essentially it is a large scale tactical combat system that covers ancient, medieval, and renaissance warfare. The game is intended to allow the player to refight any of the great battles of history of the era in a compact turn-based format and features low unit density (10-15 units per side), hex grid battlefields, and fast battle resolution (typically 6-10 turns).

I’m looking for people to help with private Beta testing of the game, before I release the first version on Google Play. Essentially, this means that you get early access to the game (through Google Play) while it is still in a somewhat rough state (though hopefully not too rough). I’m looking for feedback on a number of things, such as the UI and feedback mechanisms, as well as the ever-present need to test the game on other hardware/OS combinations than my own. I particularly need players who are willing to go multiple rounds with the AI and describe how they took apart the AI to me, so that I can try to improve it.

The beta version focuses on the Ancient world and features three “tutorial” battles, as well as the two historical battles of Dertosa (215 BCE – Rome vs Carthage) and Bibracte (58 BCE – Rome vs Helveti).

If you’re wondering whether this relates in any way to Pirates and Traders 2, then yes – it does. Assuming that this turns out to be not awful, I intend to implement port battles in P&T2 using the same system. Just instead of Legions, Catapults, and Archers, you’ll be fighting with pirates, sharp-shooting buccaneers, and cannons.

If you’re interested in helping, contact me with your name and e-mail address (need the one you use as your Google ID on the device(s) you intend to test on), either on twitter (@MicaByteGames), PM on Facebook, or by e-mail (support at micabyte com).