The Germans are coming!

Alternate title: Get local, stupid

A very nice customer named Nico emailed me a few weeks ago to ask if it would be possible to get Randominion translated into German. While localizing my apps into as many languages as possible would be great, I am a stupid American who only speaks English so I'd have to pay someone a lot of money to do the translations.

Fortunately for my German customers though, Nico is such a nice guy that he offered to do all the translating for free. So he and I have been working together to get Randominion up and running in another language.

However, as the old saying goes, it's only the second language that's hard, the rest are practically free. This is not an old saying, but rather one I just made up. It still applies though, because when I was first writing the app the idea of having it translated never even crossed my mind so I didn't code for it from the outset.

This is a mistake I shall never make again. It's clear to me now that it would have been much easier if I had been writing this way all along as opposed to trying to refactor later. I'm nearly done though, and the updated app should be on the story in the first few days of 2013 (iTunes Connect has a nasty habit of closing for the holidays, the nerve). I'm also hopeful that other people will come forward and offer to translate the app into their native languages as well, because now that it's ready to be translated it's really quite easy.

So if you're a programmer and you're reading this do yourself a favor, make your apps localization friendly from the outset, because sooner or later (maybe not even for the current app you're working on), you're going to need something translating and you'll be so glad you're ready.


It's All Custom

Alternate title: Panels All the Way Down

In an effort to get all my apps up to 2.0 (why? Because! That's why!) I recently submitted Randominion 2.0 for review.

Even more than with Hero Helper, Randominion really deserves the 2.0 moniker. Almost everything about the app is new, from the interface to the algorithm. Randominion now sports the popular "sliding panel" interface (see: Path, Facebook, and about a dozen other apps). This frees up more vertical space on the screen and things generally are less crowded.

Speaking of the new algorithm, you can now choose to have either more or less attacks in your random game, not to mention you can swipe-to-replace a specific card to fine tune your random game a little bit.

The downside of the big rewrite is iOS 6 is required going forward, but this doesn't cut off any hardware that was previously supported, so hopefully you update as aggressively as I do and won't have a problem.

The update should be available any day now, so look for it. I think it's a huge improvement and I'm sure you'll agree.


This one goes up to 2.0

Alternate title: When this baby hits 2.0, you're going to see some serious shit.

All's been quiet for a while, and that's been because I've been working on huge updates for both the apps. So big, in fact, that both apps are getting upgraded to version 2.0. Still free updates of course, but I'm changing and adding a lot.

The biggest, and most obvious change is both apps are getting a new theme, each unique but still consistent with each other. I've long felt that my apps needed a coherent look in order to stand out but at the same time make it clear they are from the same company. Now I'm bringing that look. The only downside is in order to do that I needed to bring Hero Helper up to iOS 5, but considering what a small percentage of iOS users are still on 4.x, I think it's worthwhile.

There are other big changes coming that I'm not ready to talk about, but they include new gestures for Hero Helper, and a total algorithm rewrite for Randominion. Both changes are designed to make the apps easier and more powerful to use.

Versions 2.0 should be rolling out soon, I think you'll really like them.


Everything Louder Than Everything Else

Much has been happening here behind the scenes, even though it doesn't look like it. But like a duck swimming like mad just below the surface, I too have only maintained a thin veneer of calm.

First off, Hero Helper. Updates have been brisk, if not quite as timely as I would like. Cryptozoic's release schedule for new cards is absolutely breakneck and I've been attempting to keep up as best I can. All I can say is, thank god for sites that sell individual cards, cause other I'd be up to my knees in WoW cards by now and I don't even play that much! As for stats, I can tell you that update numbers have been higher than I would have thought, which to me says people aren't immediately deleting the app. I'm going to PAX East in April and it will absolutely make my year if I see anyone using the app "in the wild".

I'm also hoping to have not one, but two apps ready by the time PAX rolls around. The first is called Randominion and if you can't figure out what it does by the name, it's probably not something you'd be interested in. If you can though, I think you'll like it. It'll do lots of cool stuff like keep whitelists and blacklists so can include or banish any cards you choose. And in addition to creating random games for you it'll let you make and save specific ones so you have everything you need at your fingertips.

The second app is gonna be a stretch to be done in time, so I don't want to say too much about it. But apparently I'm in the business of making apps that help you play analog games, and the third app will be no exception.

So lots of things are happening, and all of them are competing for my undivided attention, but you're going to see some new stuff coming out real soon. I'm excited.


Getting Lost in a Blizzard of Open

Earlier in the year Blizzard (makers of World of Warcraft) released public API's to interact with some of their data. While grinding through the Firelands (for the millionth time) an app idea struck me. Generally, I try to make apps that I would want to use, not ones I think would make me the most cash. That's probably why I don't make much cash from them, but I digress.

My app makes use of various API's from Blizzard and a few weeks after I started working Blizzard handed down some rather...strange restriction and guidelines. Several weird items in there, but the most surprising was:

"Premium" versions of applications offering additional for-pay features are not permitted, nor can players be charged money to download an application, charged for services related to the application, or otherwise be required to offer some form of monetary compensation to download or access an application when those features use the API. Applications may not include interstitials soliciting donations before features or functionality becomes available to the player.


The programming code of an application must in no way be hidden or obfuscated, and must be freely accessible to and viewable by the general public.

The theory being that if they force everyone that uses their API's to make their apps free and open it'll foster all this wonderful cooperation and the world will be sunshine and puppy dogs.

I feel strongly that the opposite is true. If you force someone to give away what they work on, you'll only get hobbyists and tinkers to make anything for you. Serious artists can't afford to spend hundreds of hours on something they are going to give away. Fortunately after a day of constant communication with Blizzard I (and others such as the excellent Ask Mr. Robot) were able to work something out so everyone is relatively happy.

People have this notion that free and open always produces the best software. While that may sound like it's true, in practice that's rarely the case. You want the best, you get a professional, and professionals get paid.