What’s Up Wallpaper FREE released!

Yes, that’s right! There’s now a free version of What’s Up Wallpaper available. :)
The free version is supported by ads, so it’ll be a sort of test for me as well to see if ads actually generate any money. Hopefully the free version will also gain some new customers who otherwise wouldn’t have tried the app, who’ll then love it enough to buy the paid version to support me. <3

Please check it out here:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=superamazing.whatsupwallpaperfree

Or scan the QR-code below:

 
If you’re a coder considering implementing ad support through AdMob in your app or game, I wanted to share some errors I came across and how to fix them.

Error inflating class com.google.ads.AdView
This error will appear only if you have an SDK version of 17 or higher, so that’s why it might show up “all of a sudden” even though your code is still the same. To fix it, your AdMobs lib needs to be placed in a folder called libs directly under your project folder.

Error: String types not allowed (at ‘configChanges’ with value ‘keyboard|keyboardHidden|orientation|screenLayout|uiMode|screenSize|smallestScreenSize’)
Your target SDK version needs to be API 13 or higher (Android 3.2), otherwise you’ll get the above error. I noticed that when I created an Android project in Eclipse and chose Android 3.2 during the initial wizard, it actually set it to Android 2.1, so if you still get this error, you might need to go to the properties of your project and manually set it to 3.2.

Invalid “adSize” SMART_BANNER
To use the SMART_BANNER option, you need to have an AdMobs version of 6.0.0 or later. If you’ve already added an earlier library version you should remove the old one BEFORE adding the new one. Doing the other way around was not a good idea in Eclipse. My project refused to accept that I no longer needed the earlier version, and would cry if I removed it.
Another thing I noticed about smart banners was that they weren’t working for me when emulating a small size device. They also won’t allow ads containing pictures rather than text if the “smart” size they’re assigned is not of the normal proportions (for example, a horizontal ad in landscape view). I actually decided to use the standard banner size called BANNER for my app, which targets smartphones of all sizes, and set it to centered so that it’d just fill the extra space on each side with my background color.

Happy coding!

Graphics?

So, the collaboration with that graphics artist didn’t really work out. Back to putting something together myself. In one way, it’s nice to make something where you’ve done absolutely every part of it, but it takes time and, more importantly, might not look as super amazing as it could. ;)
I had a change of mind on how to create the graphics too. While I still want to keep them simple and cute, I decided on a bit of a whim to create 3D-models and render them to get the 2D-art. This of course means that I had to refresh some old modelling skills and learn some new stuff, but I like learning new stuff and I think it’s a skill that’ll be handy in the future as well, so I decided to go for it!
(Now I finally understand why those 3D-artists seemed to have a thing for voodoo dolls… You’ll know what I mean if you’re a 3D-modeller. :P)

I’m using Blender which seems very nice so far and is completely free. :)

  

Above is an early test-render vs the hand drawn design for the main character. Even this early version feels a bit more professional in my opinion. Hand drawn can be charming, but I get the feeling that alot of people would feel that it’s more of a “real” game with the 3D-render version. What do you think? I would appreciate any feedback.

 

Inspiration <3

Today, I want to share something about what keeps me going and what inspires me.
While I do enjoy working on my game, I really really need variation! No matter how much I love something, I get bored if I don’t get to mix it up a bit.

So, here are some of the things I do in between the late nights of coding.. ^^

  •  Playing games! Of course! I guess this one was obvious. ^_~ I’m a big fan of MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online). Gaming is just more fun when you play together. And I’d say you form a special type of bond with someone when you know that you both depend on one other for each others’ survival (even if it’s just in a game). At the moment, I’m caught in Eve Online which is a sci-fi spaceships game where I mostly focus on PvP (Player versus Player) fighting and, while I sadly don’t have as much time for it during this spring, I also take great pleasure in running an academy corporation where I train up new pilots in the arts of PvP and survival.
    Other than Eve Online, I also like to jump into a quick match in lighter MMOs like Left4Dead 2 and most recently Dungeon Defenders. And while multiplayer games are great, sometimes you just need some time alone in one of your magical worlds. I’m currently playing Skyrim (classic medieval fantasy world with ALOT to see and do), where I’ll some day save the world, but at the moment I think joining the Thieves’ Guild should have priority.. ;)
  •  Dancing and workout. :) I absolutely love oriental dancing (aka belly dancing). It’s a great passion for me and it helps loosen up my shoulders after too many hours of coding. I’ve been stuck since I first tried it in 2006.
    Since about a year and a half (I think?) I’ve also discovered another workout form that I like more and more – pole fitness! Just as with oriental dancing, it has this addition of learning tricks which I love. It’s also helped me to finally get some muscles ;) and inspired me to build more strength in general.
  •  Traveling - I wish this was something I could do all the time, but I’ll need to get some revenue going first I guess. :P At least I have a laptop now, so in theory it should work!
    But even just a weekend away can really help me relax and find new energy. A couple of weeks ago, I went over to Holland to visit one of my many online gaming friends from around the world, and after coming back home I felt so much more energized and refreshed. There’s just something about being in a different place and atmosphere that kind of resets you.

Hmm, I could fill a very long list here as my friends well know. Whenever someone talks about something they like to do I tend to go “Oh! I’ve tried that too. It’s alot of fun!”. Having “nothing to do” just does not exist.. ^^

I think variation is good for the work you do as well. I’ve found ideas from places I wouldn’t have expected, and just broadening your perspective of the world around you can go such a long way.
But most important of all – we all need to have fun and enjoy life, and variation helps you see the little things that you love every time you go back to something.

You Win!

This is the lovely and very encouraging screen that now meets me every time I play through the currently existing levels. :) It makes me happy.

Since last time, I’ve had the not-so-much-pleasure of hitting bed with flu and fever. Luckily, (or am I being sarcastic now..) last week was supposed to be my week off. :P So, yeah, I guess I at least managed to take a break from my work on the game.. ;)

Now I’m back on track again, and I’ve implemented a system for automatically fitting together a set of graphics bits into walls of arbitrary shapes. It seems to be working pretty well, and without any problems. Ahh, the magic feeling when something just works as it should! I was pleasantly surprised.
Here’s an example of what it looks like in a stage very close to the one I showed a screenshot from last time:

All the walls are marked the same way in the level file, so it’s up to the code to figure out how to display them so that they mold together into cohesive walls. I decided to do it by setting up 15 different pieces that cover half a tile each as in either the left side or the right side of it. (They also cover about a third of extra space above to give a sense of height as they cover part of the player when he walks behind them.) The code will then generate a short text based on in which directions there are other wall-bits of the same type (ie “ud” for connecting walls up and down from the current one) and then look up which piece should be used from a map of strings to integers. (String = piece of text. Integer = whole numbers.)
I hope that explanation made sense even to non-coders. :)

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates on the progress!

Early stages

Today, I want to show some bits from the early stages of making a game that you probably never saw unless you either make games yourself or have close friends who do. Because at this stage, it looks like crap. ;) When I talk to friends who have never been involved in a coding project, the reactions are usually that the whole process seems a bit like magic. Sometimes, it is.. ^^ But there are also the early sketches and more or less successful attempts, as well as the lovely placeholder graphics sometimes referred in a derogatory way to as “coder graphics”. ;)

So, here’s a taste of this charming art style!

This is a quick sketch of what a level in the game will look like. I decided to go for a front-and-above perspective to give a clear view of what’s going on while having a bit more depth than pure top-down. The outer walls have been folded out to give a better sense of the setting.
I browsed screenshots from old RPGs from the 16-bit era and realized that the perspectives are pretty damn weird, but as a player you accept them, and they work pretty well.

And now, the first official screenshot from Hotel Blood & Breakfast! Behold its beauty!

Yep, this is what it looks like when you’re playing the game at the moment. While *some* magic is involved on the way to a finished game, there are also some dirty steps in between. ;)
This one shows what a level looks like after being loaded from a file like this one:

tiles
ababababab
bababababa
aaaabbbbab
aaabbbbbba
aabbbbbbab


objects
-A------A-
AA------A-
--------A-
--AAA---A-
----------

This way, I can easily build new levels using simple text files without writing any new code. A primitive but rather convenient editor.

I hope you’re more excited than ever to learn more about the game and see how it proceeds. ^_~

Website launched!

Finally, the website is ready and launched! No more “coming soon”. ;) Check it out at http://www.superamazing.se/!

The game is moving forward, under the working title of Hotel Blood & Breakfast. (Wouldn’t you wanna give it a visit? Of course you would! That’s what the main character thought too and came to regret..) I wouldn’t go as far as calling the player character a “hero” because you’ll mostly be running from your enemies rather than fighting. The closest you’ll come to fighting is in the final stage where you’ll get to defeat the big boss of this lovely venue. You won’t get to kill him though, cause honestly, I like the antagonist alot more than the protagonist.
Oh, and I’ve got to see some samples from my prospective graphics artist and I loved them! In fact, I loved the sketches so much that I’m willing to let go of more of the graphics making if he has the time and will to take on more! Really looking forward to getting my hands on something I can try in-game too.. ^^ I’ve been working on the basic engine, so I should be able to deliver a desktop version to him that he can play around with before too long. That’s one of the magic things with using libGDX for developing. You can switch between launching a desktop java application and an Android application with just the changing of a few lines of code. (Or more conveniently, link your main code to 2 different small launcher projects.)

Finally, I want to announce that my app What’s Up Wallpaper has had some improvement to its picture-finding methods and should now find more varied and more wallpaper-friendly pictures. :) Please send me feedback if you tried it!
I’ve also added support for Danish after getting my first Danish customer! \o/

Thank you for reading! Please leave a comment. :)

Springtime, gametime!

So.. time to get ready for this spring! :)
My first app was just the start. I wanted to make something that I could finish and publish to get a first taste of coding for Android and see how publishing (and hopefully promoting) your stuff works.
I realize that publishing your app or game is just the start of it. Now I’ve gotta make people see that it’s out there too! And, of course, keep supporting it based on user feedback. :) I’ve come to love the app myself, and I’m not gonna just forget about it. ^^

But it’s also time to plan for this spring. As mentioned in an earlier post, I’m attending a 1-year education that’s focused on making a project happen – from planning to running/managing to evaluation. The education ends in May this year, so my plan is to have a first version of a game ready and published by then. As always when I plan something, the goals tend to get rather grand.. ;) But I’ve tried my best this time to find a balance between wanting to do everything and not wanting to lose 4 months of sleep! (We’ll see how that works out though.. *haha*) At least I’ve been wise enough to add priority levels in my plan, with some goals of what I pretty much *must* finish at certain dates, but with lower prio stuff put into the plan that I can cut if I need a buffer.
I talked to a classmate of mine about this problem, and she confessed to have a bit of the same thing. You want some super amazing goal to keep yourself motivated, but you also don’t want to put yourself off by having a time plan that will inevitably fail at day one. It’s a fine line to walk.

I’ll let you know more about the game in future posts and show some screenies when I’ve come as far as that. :)
Right now, I’m getting the basic stuff started, starting on the game engine, creating a storyboard, and figuring out the format for my levels. I’ve been looking around for a nice graphics engine to use instead of being stubborn and doing everything from scratch, and found a nice project called libGDX which I think looks promising! The community for it seems nice and friendly too. :)

Lastly, I’m very happy that I think I’ve found a potential graphics artist!
The style will probably be a bit like old SNES RPGs – cute and fat little things. I’ll do at least *some* part of it myself because I just can’t resist the temptation, but my timeplan will be alot more realistic with some help. And I totally suck at making backgrounds, so that’s something I’m especially hoping to get some pro-help on!
Hopefully we’ll find a way to make it work for both of us. ^^ If we do, I’ll give you some sneak-peeks of some of his previous arty stuff!

Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment! :)

First App Released!

The 15th of January 2012 was a big day for SuperAmazing. Our first app, What’s Up Wallpaper, was released!
I’ve been working on it during the later half of autumn/winter 2011 and then took a short break at the end of the year before making the final fixes and uploading it to Android Market in January. Feels pretty good to see something you’ve made yourself “out there”. :) Now I just need to find a good way to let people find it. Sadly, they’ve removed the “Latest Apps” category on the market, so there’s no easy way for new developers to get their 15 minutes of fame. But I’m gonna see if I can promote it through developer forums and the like. And, as you’ll notice if you know me in real life, I’ll try to spam my friends a bit and hope the word spreads.. ^^;;

So what was the hardest part? To be honest, for me, it was that moment of hitting the “Paid App” checkbox.. Part of what I want to try during this year is to see if people are actually willing to pay a small amount of money to get my stuff, but for some reason it makes me REALLY nervous to actually do that. Somehow I was envisioning angry customers raging about the 1 Euro they’ll never get to see again. *haha*
Luckily, I’ve calmed down a bit from that first fear, and even come as far as taking the courage to actually tell my friends about it. (Yeah, I was nervous about that too!) ^^;;
Which brings me to something I want to say…

A big big thank you to my FIRST CUSTOMER! I had the honor of seeing my first app in the hands of a real life costumer who also had some very good feedback, leading to my first update about a week after the initial release. You can thank her for a more user friendly behavior of the Update Now function. :)
As I also know her, I can truly recommend taking a look at the website for her company Mandalou Design (only in Swedish, but you wanted to learn that language anyway, right?). She makes lovely unique clothes by using mostly recycled retro-style pieces of cloth. Absolutely worth a look!

And finally, I also want to extend a big thank you to my friends Tim and Tobias who helped me with a language check for the Dutch and German versions of the app. So far the menus are all in English, but the logic behind the image selection has been optimized for English, Swedish, Dutch and German (each selectable on its own or together).

And thank you all for reading my blog. ^^ If you want to stay up-to-date, please use the RSS-feed to subscribe! And leave a comment before you go. :)

Starting something amazing…

August 2011, Stockholm, Sweden. I start out on an education called Projektverkstan – literally meaning The Project Workshop.

At some point during the first month of school, we’re set on the task to arrange an event for the rest of the class. My group arranges a treasure hunt. Another group arranges a workshop where we create a symbolic image for each of our projects. We’re asked to include the name of our project. I had none. I write Super Amazing Games & Apps and amuse myself over how over-the-top and cocky it looks on my framed image.

December 2011. I create a developer account for Android Market. I kinda liked the name SuperAmazing.. I’ll keep it.