Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fate Core Folio Developer Diary

Last night I uploaded my 4th app to the Apple app store, so I figured I'd talk a bit about the process.

At the tail end of November I saw a preview for a Kickstarter project for Fate Core. I knew that the campaign would be wildly successful. (Actually, I underestimated how much it would raise by a good deal.) I was just about done with my LWRPG character sheet app, and thought that it would be a good candidate for another character sheet app. I searched around the app store a bit, and it looked like there wasn't another player in the market at all.

Fate Core uses the OGL license, and is also under a very non-restrictive Creative Commons license. Anyone can create something like this with no problem. I contacted Fred Hicks, the main face behind the Fate system and Evil Hat Productions in general, and asked for his blessing. He said that I may not be the only person attempting it, but to have at it. I spent some time going over the Fate Core rules from the December preview of the Kickstarter, and really started plugging away at the code during Christmas Break. It took almost 3 months of work in my free time to get it completed.

I pulled out the dice roller from the app early on, and made it a stand alone iPhone app. I tossed it up on the app store for free in early January. It's been getting pretty consistent traffic since then.

With this app, I decided that I wanted to support both portrait and landscape with two separate layouts so that users would have more options. I decided to implement the two layouts by putting two different views into one XIB file and keep both views in the same view controller. In hindsight, I think this was a mistake. I had a lot of trouble getting the rotation to work properly in all the subviews. Next time, I'll make sure to do separate view controllers for both orientations. Eventually I got everything working by having the master view controller set a "isLandscape" variable in the subviews.

I thought a bit about the skills pyramid, and how to enforce users to keep their skills in the pyramid. Then I found out that not all of the Fate settings require you to stick to the pyramid. So I decided just to leave it up to the user and their GM to stick to the pyramid or not. Jason, who helped out with beta testing, gave me the suggestion of color coding the skills to easily distinguish them.

I also spent a couple days poking around with Dropbox trying to sync the data so that if an iPad gets wiped, not all of the files are lost. I hit some pretty major roadblocks in this, and decided to push that off to an update. I still plan to make it happen, just not for a while.

I have a handful of other features that I'm going to be adding in with the 1.1 update. I'm going to spend some time on a couple other projects, then come back and start on 1.1 in a few weeks.

If Apple approves of it on the first try, (I don't see why they won't) it should get released by next Monday. I have the price set at $2.99 (in the US).

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