Author Archives: Kaalus

Windows Store Update

As you know since the last post, Survivalcraft is available in Windows Store.

WindowsStoreBadge

You can now play it with mouse and keyboard on your powerful PC. Happy days.

In the meantime I have been fixing some issues. First of all, when you buy the game it does not immediately detect that you have done so. I rely on an event in Microsoft API to tell me that license has changed, but apparently it never fires.

I should have known better, these days to rely on any API to work is madness! Always assume it will not work.

Therefore in 1.27.16.0, after you bought the game you need to restart it for the trial status to go away. But it’s not easy on Windows. I don’t know any other way of doing it than either switching off the device, or using Task Manager to kill the process. Anything else merely suspends the app. Another not so good decision on Microsoft side, IMO. All other mobile platforms let you kill apps and no one is complaining. Why take it away?

Anyway, the update should fix that. App now checks the license status every time it’s activated, not just on startup or non-firing event.

Another improvement is that dragging with right mouse button only takes one element from stack, not all of them. This should make it easier to split stacks (the hold method still works, like on phones).

Yet another improvement is more help text! Especially a long topic about electricity in the help section.

I am sorry that at the moment people in Russia and Brazil do not have access to the game. This is because these countries require special age certificates to publish a game. I skipped them from initial release to make things simpler. This update should fix that, as it is marked for distribution everywhere.

That is: everywhere apart from Korea and Taiwan :-( These countries have really atrocious age certification schemes that require you to have a physical representative in the country to obtain one! Because I am not currently planning a trip to far east this will have to wait. Sorry.

Please keep downloading the demo from Windows Store.

Woohoo, Survivalcraft in Windows Store!

Survivalcraft has been certified by Microsoft and is now available in Windows Store. That means you can play it on your PC, if you have Windows 8.1. Click here to see the listing in the store:

WindowsStoreBadge

This is a great moment for me, and a culmination of over 6 months of porting work, and one of the reasons the new Engine was created.

I tested it on Acer Iconia W8 tablet, Sony Vaio Pro Laptop with touch screen, and device emulator on Windows. During the cerification it was probably tested on more devices by Microsoft. I do hope that it is enough, and Windows is not like Android, where every device crashes in a different way!

Anyway, because there is a free trial, please go and check it out. We need that in these first days to get pushed up the rankings.

Laptop

This is now possible

You can control is via mouse+keyboard, or using touch, if you have a touchscreen.

Community Content back on both feet!

First of all, big thanks to everyone who submitted a nomination. I have been literally swamped with them. I replied to some people, but then realized I will not be able to because there are too many.

Please keep nominating. Look at the previous post for details.

We now have 70 verified and whitelisted items, most of them worlds. All of them are high-quality and objectionable content free. Some are truly spectacular!

For example check out all the electric games by mgblitz81: Road Rage 3, Flappy Bird. I love the cinema effect he got by placing the screen in a dark area. He also made a massive electricity tutorial: Electricity Unleashed. Well worth seeing if you have a few days time (it’s huge!). Kudos!

All these items are easy to find, they will be in the top 70 items when listed by rank.

Through whitelisting we now have two sections of Community Content. The manually approved ones, which are always at the top, and all the rest which is listed below. I think it’s a great arrangement.

I made myself a nice “Ban” button in my admin interface. Please do not post content unsuitable for kids, clan worlds etc. You may get banned!

Improving quality of community content

I have been thinking about how are we going to get iOS approved.

To resubmit, I need to make sure there are no “bad” worlds accessible through community content on iOS. And I need to do it fast, we don’t want to wait weeks.

I think the best idea is this:

  • I will manually whitelist certain high quality worlds/textures/skins on the server
  • iOS app will only display these whitelisted items; all other items will be hidden
  • On all other platforms, whitelisted items will be displayed first, the remaining items will be behind them (so all platforms benefit from this scheme)
  • Once we reach a certain number of whitelisted items, I will resubmit iOS with the filter on

For this to work I need your help: I need you to nominate which worlds/textures/skins are high quality and should be whitelisted.

Therefore I am now open to nominations. 

If you know about a world/texture/skin which is worthy of whitelisting, please email me at candyrufusgames@gmail.com, stating:

  • the exact name of the item
  • a few words why you think it’s good
  • set email subject to “Nomination” so I can easily see it

A few points:

  • The name you give me must be exact, otherwise I will not be able to identify the item
  • You must be reasonably sure the item does not contain anything unsuitable for kids, be it text on signs, phalluses made of blocks etc.
  • The item must be notable, for example a world with massive constructions, interesting electric devices, high-quality texture compatible with 1.27 version of the game, etc. If it’s a blank world with a few blocks added here and there, leave it out
  • The item name should not be fishy, any references to “love”, “romance”, “dating” are out

If you have something worthy that is not in the community content, it may be a good time to upload it and let me know about it.

You may have noticed that there is “Mansions” world at the top of list. It is the first item to be whitelisted. The whitelisting system already works, so you will see the results of your nominations in real time as I process them.

I will be trawling the lists myself as well, but there’s only so much a single person can do.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Windows Store submitted

This is good news time. As promised a few days back, I submitted Survivalcraft to Windows Store.

Windows

This is a completely new platform, and vastly different from all the currently supported ones. Why?

  • You can play the game on your PC (provided you have Windows 8.1)
  • You can play the game like a normal FPS, with keyboard and mouse
  • The game will run blazing fast on pretty much all PCs, because it’s optimized for low-end phones

Looking forward to having it certified (or rejected…).

At the same time I submitted an updated build for Windows Phone. It contains a large number of memory optimizations and various fixes. Including, crucially, a fix for the freezing issue. Actually the freezing is still there, as it’s a platform bug, but should now unfreeze as soon as you touch the screen (current version needs an orientation change or pressing the power button to unfreeze – strange are the ways of Windows Phone).

The new build will also default to 96 blocks visiblity range on 512MB devices (Lumia 520, 620 etc.). This is to ensure that the phone does not run out of memory even with large worlds and hi-res block textures. As I mentioned previously, Microsoft have reduced memory limit in 512MB WP 8.1 devices to just 185MB, down from over 270MB in Windows Phone 7. It hurts, but I can’t do anything about it :-(

If you have a 1GB device (Lumia 925 etc.), you should be able to play safely all the way up to 256 blocks.

I am still thinking what to do with iOS build. Don’t worry – I will resubmit it soon, but I need to fix the bad worlds issue first.

iOS rejected

Apple have rejected the iOS build of 1.27.

This time it’s not a technical reason. It’s a bit of your fault actually!

Apple have taken their time, more than usual, and trawled through the community content. And they found the nasty worlds you submitted.

I don’t blame them, some stuff in there is quite upsetting. I can’t possibly moderate it all. Anyway, they want me to remove all the questionable content before I can resubmit.

I don’t think it’s possible for me to do it, there is just too much junk in there.

Therefore I will have to come up with another idea. The most radical one is to completely remove community content from iOS version of the game. I hope I will not have to do it.

Please stop posting rubbish and nasty stuff to community content, there are little kids playing this game.

In the meantime I have been working on Windows Phone and Windows Store versions of the game. I fixed the low memory issue, but the occasional freezing remains. It’s not a problem with Survivalcraft, but with Windows Phone. Other games and frameworks are banging their heads against the same wall: http://community.monogame.net/t/wp8-1-game-freezes-sporadically/1865

If I could only concentrate on gameplay and adding features, but 75% of my time is taken by silly bugs on various platforms.

Memory issues on Windows Phone 8.1

I have been getting numerous reports that the game crashes frequently on Windows Phone 8.1 devices.

Almost all the crash reports come from devices with 512MB of memory, which led me to conclusion that the game is running out of it.

After investigating, this indeed seems to be the case. While the game was happy to run on 512MB WP7 devices, WP8.1 has, for some reason, much more stringent memory requirements.

As it turns out, WP7 app on a 512MB device can allocate up to 276MB of memory before running out and crashing. On WP8.1 this limit has been reduced to 185MB!

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that today. This is just above a third of the device memory available. I think it’s a real mistake by Microsoft, and not the first one either. What is the remaining 2/3 of the memory being wasted on? If an user is running a foreground app, why the system can only allocate 1/3 of the memory to it? It should be more like 4/5, with the system trimming down as much as possible and killing background apps.

Anyway, I can wail and whine, but in the end we have to do something about it.

If you are experiencing crashes and have a 512MB device (Lumia 520/620/720 etc.), the only thing you can do is to reduce visibility range. Go down to 96 or even 64 blocks.

I will try to scrape some memory here and there, but 185MB is a pathetic amount in 2015. Especially that of these 185MB I am only directly allocating less than 100MB (with 128 blocks visibility range), and the game still crashes from time to time. The rest is apparently taken away by some runtime stuff that I have no control over.

All still in review

Both iOS and Windows Phone 8.1 builds are still in review.

I am aware that there are still issues with Android audio, due to Android bugs. I have a certain idea how to fix them once and for all, but I am not sure yet whether it will work. I’ll let you know soon.

Windows 8.1 build is ready for submission as well, but I am waiting to see how Windows Phone 8.1 will fare first.

Windows Phone 8.1 Submitted

I have just submitted 1.27 build for Windows Phone 8.1.

This is a new platform as well, although it was previously supported via Windows Phone 7 build.

I am no longer maintaining Windows Phone 7 – the new engine cannot support it as it is XNA only. In the unlikely case you are still using Windows Phone 7, you will be able to keep playing 1.26, but to get 1.27 you need to upgrade your phone to Windows Phone 8.1.

iOS submitted

Yesterday I submitted iOS build of 1.27 to Apple. They usually take 4-7 days to review it.

It’s so refreshing to have no audio or graphics bugs to workaround and no million devices to test on, every one misbehaving differently. Somehow everything just works as expected :-)

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