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A Long Way Home Redux

Almost 3 years ago I released A Long Way Home for the iPad. Lots of people loved it. A few people downloaded it :). Over the years I’ve ported it to Google / Kindle / Nook / iPhone / Windows 8 and most recently Tizen. It was well received, and has generally gotten well reviewed in every store it’s been in. Toucharcade even reviewed it. Over the years these ports have been based on the original code, warts and all. Every time I ported the game I saw inefficiencies in the code, images I wish I had spent a little more time on and just stuff that drove me crazy.

I finished up my last major game release last fall (CAT-ACLYSM, free), and since then have been releasing a few small children’s apps, figure out how to actually use keywords to my advantage, and going back and updating some of my legacy apps. This week I set my sights on A Long Way Home.

What started out as a simple rebuild so I could update my keywords has taken on a life of it’s own. The game is now going to be free to play. I did ad some interstitial ads (between scene changes), but that is it. No IAP, No time outs or warm downs. Just a few ads to help pay the bills. I also redid a number of the graphics that always bugged me, fixed some inefficient code (I was able to basically create a single function to replace 100 individual ones in one case), and even redesigned the level selection screens. The list is too long to remember :).

Tonight I am embarking on adding in Amazon’s Game Circle to complement Apple’s Game Center. This is somewhat of a pain since Apple recommends leaderboard names like where Amazon wants leaderboardname. I have to add code to see if I’m on iOS or Android and the load the right string. Hard? No. A pain? Yes.

I’ve also been going back and forth whether to update the game to Retina artwork. Most of the artwork was designed before the iPad 2 had even been talked about, so for the artwork that is not vector (90% of it), it would have to be redone. Upscaling just doesn’t look good :) We shall see how that path looks this week. I’ve reached out to some of the original artists to see if they still have the original artwork. If they do, we shall see how it goes.

So that’s where the game stands right now. It will be a new release in the app store. The legacy version of A Long Way Home will continue to live in the store so people who have paid for it in the past don’t get an ‘update with ads’, but it will no longer be supported.

You can find more information about A Long Way Home by visiting it’s page on my portfolio.

On Keywords

As I pass my 5th year of developing mobile apps, I’ve been looking back at my catalog of apps, pushing new updates to older apps, publishing to new stores and planning what apps I’d like to work on for the following year. As with every app I publish, once it’s been released in the wild I look back at what I did well, and what I could have done better. Sometimes it’s the way I coded a particular scene, other times it’s the icon design. Almost always is keywords. For the life of me I have not been able to figure this out to my advantage. I’ve tried doing it myself, using Google’s keyword tools, even finding random keyword generator websites online. None have left a particularly good taste in my mouth.

A few weeks ago I came across Sensor Tower. I used it for a few days, but it didn’t particularly grab my interest. It didn’t seem to give me anything I didn’t already know. Today however I gave it a second look. Nothing had changed since my first look, I guess I just gave it a more serious look.

I’m in the process of updating one of my most well reviewed games, A Long Way Home, to be a free to play app. I’m going to be re-releasing it on iOS Google Play and Kindle. I decided it was a great time to revisit the keywords I had selected. I thought I had selected some pretty great keywords. I was wrong.

After inputting all 17 of my keywords I was presented with a nice overview of how good/bad they were. I was surprised that for two of my keywords my game didn’t even rank. Two other of my keywords had my app ranked well over 1000. Five more keywords had my app ranked over 200. Out of the 17, only 5 keywords had my app ranked under 100. This was a problem.

The first thing I did was immediately remove all keywords that had me ranked over 300. As many of you know, you only have 100 characters to work with in the iOS app store. Removing those keywords dropped me down to 49. Sensor Tower has a nice Keyword Optimization section which suggests keywords based on your existing keywords. Using that I was able to find a few high traffic low difficulty keywords to add to my list. I then moved over to the Keyword Suggestion section and found a few more.

There is also a nifty Keyword Research section where you can type in a keyword and see what apps appear. I used to just open up iTunes to do this, but this was a lot more convenient.

Keyword spy is a nice way to compare the keywords of another app against yours. Most of my apps are not competing with others (with the exception of my very own Flappy Bird clone :) ), so this was not as useful for me.

I do wish the price was cheaper. Even the indie pricing is more than I am willing to spend on a monthly basis. If it was under $20, I think it would be a no brainier.

So anyways, if you are looking for a way to improve your keyword rankings, give Sensor Tower a shot, it may give you the edge you need.


CAT ACLYSM is now in the Amazon App Store!

CAT ACLYSM is now available for the Kindle Fire platform of devices and any other android device that has the amazon app store installed. CAT ACLYSM is a free game, with In App Purchase for mega bombs if needed.

You can download it below.

Please vote for A is for Alphabet!

A is for Alphabet is up for App of the Week over at iHeartThisApp. Please go vote by clicking on the little red heart!

CAT-ACLYSM Contest – Win a $50 Amazon gift card

Congratulations Quennie V for winning the CAT-ACLYSM Contest!

I’m throwing a contest to celebrate the launch of CAT-ACLYSM, so here is your chance to win a $50 amazon gift card.

Entry Instructions:
1. Download CAT-ACLYSM for your iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch [free]
2. Play through the first 9 levels until you reach the upgrade screen.
3. Go to the Game Statistics Screen (three little bars in top left of main screen) and take a screenshot
4. Email the screenshot to with a subject of “CAT-ACLYSM Contest”

Additional Entries:
Get a second entry for retweeting this!

On Thanksgiving day I will randomly select an entry and email them the $50 gift card code just in time for Black Friday!

Contest Rules:

  • Contest runs from 10/23/2013 until 11/27/2013 11:59pm
  • Winner will be posted here and contacted via email by 11/28/2013 11:59PM
  • One entry per person. Anyone caught breaking this will be disqualified
  • I reserve the right to investigate any cheating or tampering before announcing the winner
  • I reserve the right to alter or end the contest at any time
  • Failure to follow entry instructions will result in disqualification
  • No purchase necessary

Sample Entry

CAT-ACLYSM 1.2 has been submitted!

CAT-ACLYSM v1.2 was submitted today and addressed some issues I received via email. It contains the following:

– Tweaked controls
– Expanded instructions
– Added a helper to main screen
– Fixed a bug where spamming the explode button would crash the game.
– Updated screenshots

If all goes well, it should be hitting the app store in a few days.

In the meantime, why don’t you download CAT-ACLYSM in the app store, after all it is free!

The CAT-ACLYSM has begun

The CAT-ACLYSM has begun. Go bring destruction upon the world.

Download now from the App Store

The CAT-ACLYSM begins in 2 days.

In two days the CAT-ACLYSM will commence. This is your warning.

CAT-ACLYSM commencing

Tonight, after many months of work, CAT-ACLYSM has been approved. It will be released on October 20th as a universal iOS Device. It will be coming to the Amazon App Store shortly after.

Visit to sign up to be notified upon it’s release / future updates.

The countdown has begun. The CAT-ACLYSM is coming!

iOS 7 Support Update

This weekend I submitted the first batch of updates of my games. Trace Your Name, Monster Matcher, Owls, Must Keep Counting and 1 to 100 all had updates pushed. Trace Your Name also had left handed support added while 1 to 100 and Monster Matcher both had major overhauls.

More are due this week.