5 things Apple could do to make Game Centre better.

Apple are known for their ability to look at something and see why it is good, not just from a technology perspective but the user experience and joy of each individual tiny action. One area I feel they have struggled though is Game Centre, here are a few ways I think they could improve it:

  1. Cumulative Gamer Score  - Each game centre game has achievements but there is actually very little incentive to go out and grab a heap of games in order to boost your cumulative total of gamer points. It's gotten better in iOS7 but still a long way off being perfect. The Gamer Score needs to be a bigger feature and everywhere.
  2. Better Friend Management - Why not integrate with Facebook, twitter, contacts, etc to build up a large friends list of gamers who you can invite and challenge to games? Then take it a step further to show their gamer score and some other details on their contact page and integrate game invites and special sharing of custom game events via iMessage.
  3. Allow Developers to Share certain Content in GameCentre App - We all have the little game centre app on our phones but it is rarely visited. Apple need to find a way to boost it's usefulness by allowing for news, deals, content offers to appear on a "wall" like feed. This feed can also show significant game events like someone getting an achievement or sharing a high score / screenshot.
  4. Party Functionality - Now that MFI controllers are coming it is fair to say iOS is stepping up it's game. Wouldn't it be great if you could have something like a group FaceTime call with 3 or 4 friends then, switch to a match of a FPS game with all of them in the same group and continue talking maybe even with a PiP.
  5. Allow Developers to Be Your Advertisers - This really isn't hard, if games were able to integrate more fluently with game centre and show players their cumulative gamerscore, what friends they have online, what their friends are playing, do they have room in party, etc. There are so many ways developers can promote services of game centre and it will only encourage more people to use it.

While I understand a lot of these features have probably been denied in the past because it would take away from their overall goal of having a phone or tablet for all purposes, not a heavily game orientated platform, these changes might help people discover portable gaming and how great it can be.

I'm sure they are watching what Microsoft and Sony have been doing with their latest consoles and I hope they plan to learn from their trials.

Notography Updated for iOS7

"Notography" breaks my rule, when designing iOS apps I try to stick to the simple rule of:

"If you can't sum it up in one sentence, it's too complicated"

That said, it is the app I am most excited about. It is artistic, it has flair and it is unique in a way that even if someone tried to copy it, they will probably misinterpret what it is and botch their design.

Notography can't be summed up in one sentence but it is definitely something special and those who understand it, love it.

I feel like I've let a few fans down with the delayed release of patch 2.01, when iOS7 was released it came with unexpected challenges. While it is yet to be confirmed I believe there is a bug in iOS7's AVfoundation framework (the tools used to directly control the camera), specifically it caused memory issues when repeatedly opening the camera, which is a fundamental part of my apps design.

It took a long time and a lot of trial and error to come up with an effective work around for the problem. I am very pleased with the solution I came up with and Notography users can enjoy a faster and more robust experience than ever before.

I'm really excited to share version 2.01 with you, it has been submitted to Apple for review and hopefully will be available sometime within the next week. Thank you for your continued support and my apologies for any issues the delayed release of this patch has caused.


The quiet part of the year

I don't like keeping users of my products in the dark but there really hasn't been too much to share in the last few months, partly because I needed a break and also because I wanted to concentrate on my day job. I haven't given up on making products though and have been working hard with what time I have to be able to provide you with great products!

Here is an update on where I am at with each product:

Defects Collector - I would love to increase the rate additional features are added to this product but if i was going to do that then I'd have to change it to a subscription based model. Which I don't want to do because there are already products like fulcrum which offer fantastic subscription services and I want this app to stay in the domain of a "pay once" product for easy and fast inspections.

Notography - Big update coming soon, plenty of improvements to take advantage of iOS7. 

 Flood Damage Assessment - This product is now fully owned by Shepherd Services Pty Ltd and it's development can be followed on their website.

My list of outstanding projects hasn't been updated in a while, a few things have changed but I am committed to delivering on schedule.

What does the introduction of MFi game controllers mean for developers?

Another WWDC and another swag of great feature and framework updates for iOS and Mac OSX. The introduction of Sprite Kit and update of Game Center is a much needed step in the right direction for producing more and better games on iOS but one feature that really interests me is the introduction of MFi game controllers. 

In the past if developers wanted to be able to support controllers on their iOS games they would have had to use 3rd party bluetooth controller which pretty much just emulated a keyboard being attached. This wasn't bad but it also wasn't overly popular and had limited use. The iCade was a popular devices along with the iControlPad, there was even an app so you could use a second iOS device as a controller called Joypad. All of these systems were fairly easy to implement, the problem is though not many developers did, instead opting to focus on the built in tools like accelerometer and on screen controls. 

So the introduction of controllers that are easy to implement to a consistant standard is a pretty cool thing. What do developers have to think about though?


Very soon when kids go to their apple stores or local electronics store they will start seeing some very interesting controllers on display, there might even be demo units out for kids to have a play on. They will probably sell reasonably well and in the short term if there are only a handful of games which support these controllers then you have a huge opportunity to boost sales of your apps. 

It's also an opportunity to do things differently, there has always been a gap between games based on consoles and those based on touch devices due to the difference in controls. This is no longer such an issue. 

People don't remember all the products that do great things, only the ones that do them first. 


Gameloft also released a controller once for use with their games, it's sales were pitiful but that may just be because it only worked on a very small selection of their games. One thing that really stood out on their first person shooters though was that it was much easier to aim at something with a controller than with the touch screen, just like it is easier to drive a car with a controller than an accelerometer. 

There is a huge balance risk here as the control scheme could potentially change the difficulty of the game quite heavily and reaching a mid point is hard work. In a first person shooter you may have to have higher aiming assists and racing games may need more powerful driving assists, etc. You also run in to the problem that the Wii had with Mario Cart by designing it to work with those annoying plastic wheels, the game became so simplified that it just wasn't fun to play with a controller, there was no depth and nothing exciting about driving.

Reaching a midpoint where both playing with the device or with a controller feels equal will be the hardest thing developers need to deal with.

Hybrid Controls

One idea Apple seemed keen to push was using the controller for some things but then using the screen or accelerometer when it makes sense to. The case controllers that keep the device in the centre could make use of this fairly well. 

To me, it seems like something worth exploring. That same theory is what made the Nintendo DS a very popular console before the rise of iOS gaming, so it is definitely an area worth exploring. I'm sure finding a new and exciting hybrid control scheme would be a great way to get featured by Apple. 

The challenge here is supporting gameplay when a controller isn't actually connected, you need to be able to design it in a way so that the two control elements don't get too jumbled when you are just playing on the single screen. 

Don't forget the screen!

While controllers are cool, not everyone will use one and not everyone who uses one will take a controller everywhere they go. You should still offer the alternative of onscreen controls or similar and unless you specify your app is controller only fairly clearly and have good reason for it, your app would probably be rejected. 


Imagine you have a computer or iDevice with an Apple TV and controller in the house, you can pretty much emulate a console experience! Playing the game live on TV with your controller while the computer or iDevice handles the game like a console.

Optimising your game to run over airplay could extend sessions of play quite significantly, don't believe me? Try comparing the average play time of a kid sitting in front of a TV playing a game to that of a kid sitting in their bedroom on an iDevice. More play time means more iADs presented, more in-app purchases bought and more feedback on your product.

Cool! So how do I get started? 

If you are a registered developer you can get started right now, the only issue you will have is that you will have a small testing window to see if it is all working. The first controllers come out in fall around the same time as iOS7. 

One final thought... 

If you can now share the same achievements and leader boards over both OSX and iOS and share game data and state information via iCloud between OSX and iOS AND use the same controller for both OSX and iOS AND use Sprite Kit to developer games that will work with the same code on both OSX and iOS.... doesn't it seem like the era of true mobile gaming has begun where you can start, stop and pick up your game / match from where ever you are and whatever device you are on? The first game to take TRUE advantage of the opportunities Apple have provided, will be pretty damn awesome!