Things are getting exciting. This week, GameSalad was updated to version 0.9.3. Now it support’s Game Center Leaderboards — one of Apple’s social networking features for iOS games. I’ve been testing this feature with BOT, my new science-fiction role-playing game. This project has been an extreme challenge. But overall, the results have been amazing. This could be the biggest “Photics” project in the 12+ year history of the business. The game should be ready soon, but there are still some important matters to resolve.
One of the tricky things about testing this new feature is that an Ad-Hoc version of the app is required. Creating one can be quite time-consuming, as BOT has grown quite large. I had to put the background images on a diet — by restricting their color palettes. This slimmed down the app from 192.8 megs to about 70 megs. That’s still pretty big for a mobile game, but the size reduction has helped with testing. It’s quicker to upload my project to GameSalad and it’s quicker to install and load the app on my iOS devices.
There’s other prep work required. The app listing in iTunes Connect needs the appropriate Game Center data. This could range from the app’s identification, to the German translation for the word “Gold”. I was disappointed to find out that the German word for “Gold” is “Gold”. I thought it would be something more interesting, maybe a letter with a diaeresis or something cool like that. Anyway, the point is to identify and name the leaderboard. Is the scoring ascending or descending? Are you tracking time, money or numerical values? That’s all controlled from Apple’s website.
After experimenting with this new technology, it was a bit of a surprise to see one of my games in Game Center. Well, not officially. This was just sandbox mode. Developers can have their own little battleground to play with. That way, any possible errors or bugs can be discovered before the app is published. It still looked like the real thing though…
This brings the game to another level. Online features are critical to a successful app. I just checked the iTunes App Store. All of the top five games support Game Center. Would Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja or Tiny Wings be as fun without it? I don’t think so. That’s why I’m putting extra effort into testing and implementing this new feature. Even with GameSalad, it’s not as straightforward as it seems.