Hit The Button RPG 1.2 – Character profiles via CloudKit

This post is long overdue but here goes. Since its release, my iOS game Hit The Button RPG was not a very social experience for the players. Of course it had the Game Center leaderboards for showing off who has the most experience, but an important social feature was missing: players weren’t able to share their character with other players to show off progress and the items they’ve found. This was changed with Hit The Button RPG 1.2.

This feature was on the back of my mind for a long time. There were a couple of options how to realise it. The simplest one would have been adding a button which would tweet the character information in a standardised fashion – e.g. “Tmu | lvl 73 | str 265+36 agi 35+20 sta 75+30 #HitTheButtonRPG”. The amount of information would have been quite limited and the format would not have been reusable in other social media platforms like on Facebook or gaming forums.

The better option was to create a profile web page for each character. The challenge was that it requires a robust back end for storing and serving the information. First I considered writing my own back end, and while the playerbase of Hit The Button RPG is nowhere near the numbers where things like C10k problem need be to be taken into consideration, there are still other aspects, like security, that need to be addressed when creating such back end. This is were Apple’s CloudKit came into the picture. It provides a cloud-based storage for the application data. For Hit The Button RPG, this would mean save games which already contain all the necessary character information. Since CloudKit is part of the iOS framework provided by Apple, it is easy to deploy into existing apps. The pricing model is such that apps with a small user base (= small amount of data), will fit into the free use quota. Along with iOS app integration, CloudKit also has a JavaScript library for accessing the data via web pages. The JavaScript library was important as it enabled me to write a front end web page that pulls the character data from CloudKit and presents it with similar look and feel as Hit The Button RPG app would.

For the actual web profile implementation there isn’t much to write about. Basically:

  1. The website checks the Profile ID (e.g. A490412E-5DC4-4A5F-94B1-EB3D00878E11-0) from the URL.
  2. Fetches the corresponding save game from iCloud with CloudKit Javascript library.
  3. Renders the save game as a web page.

For example, here is my main character’s profile (click the picture to view the actual profile web page):

Hit The Button RPG 1.2 Web Profile

To summarize: it was easy to add this kind of web profile functionality, even to an existing app that wasn’t designed with this kind of use case in mind. Web profiles are pretty cool as they enable extending the apps functionality. In this case, I’ve added displaying some of the character statistics to the web profile. In the actual Hit The Button RPG 1.2 iOS application these statistics are not visible anywhere even though they are collected.





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Hit The Button RPG 1.1 – Now with weapons!

Hit The Button RPG 1.1 Last week I released the first major minor update for Hit The Button RPG and it is available on the App Store. Along with some balancing changes the big new feature was the addition of weapon drops. While weapons essentially work like other equipment – monster drop them, you equip them and gain stats, rinse and repeat – they add a new twist: chance on hit effects.

So far four effects have been implemented: stun, bleed, knock back and chain lightning. In spirit of the rest of the game, the chance on hit effects have randomly generated attributes such as probability, duration and how many times the lightning can bounce. During play testing the new effects seemed a bit underpowered but I’d rather start with them as such and perhaps give them a nice buff later on.

Definitely the neatest thing is that the equipped weapon is shown on character during action. It adds such a nice visual element that I may consider adding similar approach for other item slots.

Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick update regarding the version. I’d be glad to hear any suggestions on what more could be added into the game so please leave a comment below :)

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Hit The Button RPG released!

Hit The Button RPGIt’s been a long time since I’ve last updated this blog but I’ve been spending pretty much all of my free time to finalize my first iOS game Hit The Button RPG. Hit The Button is an action role-playing game with a unique twist: all player character controls such as moving, attacking, using special skills are done with a single button.

The development process began in summer 2014 when I started making the first working prototype of the concept – with some very ugly placeholder graphics.  For various reasons the development faded away from my weekly schedule during the autumn and the project was pretty stopped until summer 2015.

“Luckily” the summer of 2015 had quite bad weather throughout the whole summer so I had a good excuse to stay inside and write some code. Most of the added features were things I was interested in implementing; algorithms to control enemy spawn rates, randomly generated quests and loot. Eventually the game started to feel like it could actually become something worth releasing so I started putting more effort on creating content (new monsters and levels etc.), finalizing the graphics and the flow of the game.

At some point I had a “backlog” written on paper which I considered as “things that need to be done for the game to be releasable”. It was quite satisfying feeling just to know that kind of backlog existed. I’ve scrapped some of my older game projects before because it has felt like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel – like there’s an endless list of unknown things that would need to be done before the game would be ready. Even though I probably made one or two similar “things that need to be done for the game to be releasable” backlogs after finishing the first (Feature creep!), having that kind of backlog gave much confidence to drive the project to the release point.

And that point is now as Hit The Button RPG is available on the App Store.

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WaterBox project page available

There’s a new project project page available with some retrospective thoughts for my first mobile phone application: WaterBox. Released in July 2008, WaterBox was a fluid simulator for Symbian S60v3 phones (like Nokia N95) that is based on smoothed-particle hydrodynamics.

To the WaterBox project page

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