New default skin

You will not believe it at first, but there is a new default skin for the player coming in 1.26.

Here’s how it looks like at the moment:

NewSkin

 

I know it looks spartan, with just boxer shorts and no other clothes. But there is a good reason for that – it’s the new major feature coming in 1.26. Because of it, the player will not look like that when he disembarks the intro ship, despite having a half-nude skin texture. The new feature will also hopefully make survival mechanics a little more complex.

With this monster hint I am sure you will easily figure out what the said feature is :-)

The default skin is still in work in progress and I may change it a little.

Memory Changes

The new build with fixed memory leaks and new texture is already on Google Play (1.25.15).

I also decided to completely change the way terrain memory is managed. This should result in large savings in memory usage at the cost of more frequent allocations. As a result, the game should be playable (without running out of memory and crashing) at higher visibility ranges than previous 1.25 releases.

Because it’s a large change, there’s always risk of screwing something up. Please download and test, I want to publish for remaining platforms as soon as possible and get back to work on 1.26.

I’ve already completed work on a bunch of smaller new features for 1.26, but there is a new large coming as well. Has been requested many times. Guesses welcome as usual :-)

Memory Issues

I haven’t been writing for a while, but that does not mean nothing is happening in the world of Survivalcraft.

First of all, I am going to make another interim release in 1.25 series before 1.26 hits the headlines. The are many reasons for that, but the most important one are memory issues. I discovered a fairly nasty memory bug in the game that causes some serious leaks from time to time. I am aware that people have been reporting more frequent game crashes with the latest version, especially on memory constrained devices such as iPods and older iPads. As of today I stopped work on 1.26 features and applied myself to fixing that.

Another thing is a new blocks texture and icon:

Icon

When Survivalcraft was created in 2011, mobile devices were much slower and their screens much smaller than today. As a result, the game was designed for a 4 inch 800×480 screen, which was high end back then. Obviously, it’s no longer the case in 2014. Therefore, I decided to up the resolution of the default blocks texture to 512×512.

You can already find the new blocks texture in Amazon version of the game. Other platforms should receive it soon as well.

 

Community Content Ranking

I think you noticed that already, but a couple of weeks ago I made a large change to the way community content is ranked. This roughly coincided with 1.25 release.

The problem was that the old algorithm was putting too much stress on number of downloads and ratings.

The new system takes into account a lot more factors than just raw downloads. Most importantly, the older the content gets, the more it gets downranked. I think this is good, because once something gets to the top of the list, it starts amassing hundreds of thousands of downloads and ratings. It then becomes even more entrenched at the top, other content never has any chance of dislodging it.

Now, with time working against it, anything near the top should not stay there for months on end as it was before.

I am still occasionally tweaking various parameters in the algorithm, but it’s not a major change, just small corrections.

I wonder if Google guys feel the same when they tweak Google Search ranking algorithm :-)

iOS approved

Finally Apple have reviewed and approved 1.25.8, which hopefully is the last bugfix release in 1.25 series. Apple device owners should be able to download it shortly, if not already.

Some explanation to do with ART runtime support on Android. I don’t expect you will get much speedup from running Survivalcraft under ART runtime vs Dalvik. The reason for that is Survivalcraft, being multiplatform, interfaces with the system libraries in a minimal way. Probably less than 1% of code can be speeded up by ART.

ART support is nevertheless important, because other apps designed specifically for Android can see more tangible gains. More and more people will make the switch away from Dalvik.

Anyway, it’s good to know that ART support seems to be working. Thank you for all the feedback!

 

ART on Android

I asked this already on Twitter, but to get more responses here it comes again:

In 1.25, I made some changes to make the game run better under experimental ART runtime on Android (which is the successor of Dalvik). I haven’t tested those changes yet, but I am curious how it fares on various devices. If you are running ART already on your phone/tablet, could you please let me know whether the game works properly, and what device do you have?

Amazon out

Quick update: 1.25.10 has just been approved by Amazon. Now only waiting for Apple.

1.25 Bugfix Updates

I have just uploaded the update that fixes importing a world with embedded blocks textures or skins to Apple App Store and Amazon App Store. Windows Phone does not need this update, because it’s not affected by the bug (which had to do with an issue in zip compression). Google Play already has it (1.25.7).

Updated iOS version is 1.25.8, Kindle is 1.25.10. They both have to go through certification/review process that usually takes a few days. I will let you know once they are approved.

Hopefully this is the last update in 1.25 series, which will allow me to focus more on 1.26. I have done some work there already, but nothing to announce yet.

1.25.7 out on Google Play

Another bugfix release in 1.25 series should be downloadable in a few hours. This update fixes the following bugs discovered since 1.25 was pushed out for all platforms:

  • Fixed a bug with worlds containing block textures and character skins not importing properly on Android/iOS/Kindle
  • Fixed iron and stone fences floating in the water

Obviously it’s the first bug that necessitated the update – fortunately it does not affect Windows Phone.

Once I verify this release causes no problems on Android, I will release for iOS and Kindle.

 

Error loading texture

There is a moderately annoying bug in Android, Amazon and iOS versions of the game. Windows Phone is unaffected. Somehow it slipped through the release sieve. When importing a world that has a blocks texture or character skin set, these will not be imported correctly and “Error loading texture” message will be displayed. Sometimes the world may even fail to download properly and be corrupted.

I have reproduced and fixed this bug. I will likely release a bugfix update soon.

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