Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Detached retina problem

So it seems I am getting some negative reviews of Democracy 3 on the ipad because it doesn’t scale up the text for retina displays.

Firstly… hats off to apple for getting people to bandy about their ‘retina’ buzzword for high pixel density. Secondly… I always hated the idea of higher pixel density for the ipad. I have an ipad2, it looks VERY GOOD to me. I really can’t see how doubling the resolution would be worth doing, apart from the fact that it quadruples the amount of work the already fairly poor GPU has to do… but then what would I know?

So in an effort to improve feedback from app store review writing types, we are doing a patch for the game that effectively doubles the resolution of the text in the game.

Hopefully we might actually get some reviews then from people who like the game (over 1,000 copies sold in 72 hours so someone likes it), rather than the usual 1 star reviews, including one from someone who complains the game isn’t in Spanish? Well tough! it’s not in Farsi or Japanese either! do you review every non-Spanish game with 1 star FFS? If you bought the game and would rate it well, please take the trivial time to rate it on the app store, it takes less time than it diud to read this blog post and I do really appreciate it!

The only problem other than the complaints about retina are that the itunes sales figures update periodically, randomly, and I have no idea if sales today are good or bad, which makes planning marketing hard. BMT micro tell me INSTANTLY whenever I sell a copy. maybe if apple one day have BMTMicro’s money they will have as good a reporting system. We can only hope and pray!

I probably shouldn’t slag apple off, as I’d love them to feature the game, but fuck it, I’m indie, I can say what I like :D. I’ve been back in the UK too long, my old moaning and cynicism is returning. Must go back to the USA…


18 thoughts on Detached retina problem

  1. Ah, welcome to the “wonderful” world of App Store comments :-D
    The best ones are “I love this great game” – 1 star ;-)

    Seriously though, you need to aim for a nice velocity of high rated comments as, this week in Apple-land, that will do a lot to push you up the charts (that and downloads) and get you more visibility.
    Try to get that in before the 1 week cliff when Apple drop artificial support and your app drops like a stone.

    Just my 2p ;-)

    1. Yes there is definitely a trick to it
      If I ever figure it out I’ll let you know ;-)

      Actually there are some psychological things you can do, such as not asking until after the player has played a game or two or being more personal in your message.
      I haven’t grabbed D3 for iPad yet so not sure what you’re doing to ask exactly.

      1. You should gently remind players that like the game to rate it, by prompting them (and giving them the option to ignore the prompt and never see it again) once they’ve spent some time with it and you can be reasonably sure they’re happy customers. Say after 30 minutes play or so.

        We did this on our app (and it’s a very common tactic on mobile), and there was an immediate and noticeable inflection upwards on our average review score (we garnered several thousand additional positive reviews). As you’ve correctly identified, apathy from your genuine fans is the greatest threat to your rating; ratings are a bipolar distribution (all 1-star or 5-star reviews), and the unhappy customers (fairly or unfairly unhappy) are motivated. You need to rouse the troops.

        As others say, positive ratings are a big boon for chart placement, so it’s probably worth pushing an update for this.

  2. I’m seriously thinking of getting thus & I’m happy that you will try to improve the resolution although that’s not what I want.

    I would love the DLC. I’ve never played this game and I am so, tempted its still number one to get on my list but DLC is something I would like to see very much and is influencing my decision.

    Please make it available.

  3. For text it’s a big deal. 300 DPI was the baseline for printing by 1990. The retina iPad’s 264 DPI is pretty close, and it scores some extra points with sub-pixel anti-aliasing. The non-retina’s 132 DPI is good, but nowhere near print quality.

    The original iPad is great as an ebook reader, but the retina display makes it amazing. I can’t justify replacing my iPad 2, but I look forward to eventually upgrading as I do a lot of PDF reading in it.

    For games, I’m likely to notice, but I’m a font geek. I’m a bit surprised other people are. Perhaps they’ve become comfortable with the higher resolution, so the drop sticks out like finding a low quality fax among a pile of laser printed documents.

  4. It’s more work, but maybe you could give the player a one-off unlock or extra policy/boost to popularity if a player reviews the game? I’ve had apps ask me to review the game before and then have the prompt disappear after giving a review. Not sure if that’s worth looking into…?

    The 1 star reviews sound really annoying, especially since it looks a great game. Unfortunately I don’t have an ipad (I do have Android though if you can be tempted to do another port!), but otherwise this game would be an instant purchase for me.

  5. The problem is that since the resolution of the retina iPads is 4x that of the iPad 2 that the very same text that looks okay on an iPad 2 at its native resolution, since it is now being “blown up” to 4x resolution, looks pretty blocky and awful on the retina iPads.

    Other than that issue and things like certain menu items not working properly, e.g., you cannot scroll down to select from the bottom Party names on the dropdown, the game looks good and will get a decent rating from me once patched.

  6. I actually prefer playing Magic 2014 on my iPad 3 over my PC because of the higher resolution. The text is so crisp and clear it’s just a joy to read. Us young folk with our crazy awesome vision love it. :) Let us know when the patch lands and congratulations on your latest launch. Don’t forget to think about the expansions for IAP. ;)

  7. I saw this game being advertised on Facebook whilst on my iPad and whilst I very rarely look at the ads this one caught my eye. I went onto the App Store to have a goosey when I saw it wasn’t rated and obviously very new, I closed the page.

    Then today I saw the ad again and thought I’d see if anybody has reviewed it, which they had. Now the negative reviews you mention about the graphics did make me look into the game further and actually brought me to this site. The most I’ve ever paid for a game on the App Store is £3 for GTA vice city and I never spend more than 69p on anything else from the store.

    This game looks very interesting but for the ‘average’ person such as me (first time I’ve ever commented on anything to do with an app) £7 seems a bit stiff, so when I see that it wasn’t designed with the BUZZWORD retina iPads in mind (I have an Air) and that they graphics will be pixelated and blocky then it really does put me off. For £7 I expect an engaging but also astethically pleasing game.

    Reading this blog has made me want it even more and the fact you’re going to patch it means that I’m going to be buying it tomorrow so that I can get started quickly. I’ll hopefully be delivering my first ever App Store rating if its as good as I hope it is going to be.

    It might be annoying but I really do think this fix will help the sales, hopefully a lot!

  8. Regarding Matt’s suggestion of granting a bonus for posting a review: be warned that Apple is starting to ban apps that do that.

    As for the odd one star reviews: there was an article not long ago (alas I am on mobile so not in a position to easily find and link it at the moment) revealing what is behind the odd one star reviews in the App Store. There is at least one region in the world where for some reason people have come to believe that one star reviews are listed before the others, and so they all pick one star for their review, good or bad, so people will see their review first. Odd but true, apparently.

  9. Addendum: In iOS circles, shipping a non-retina app these days is seen as extremely poor form. I would have one-starred it too, had I bought it (I didn’t as I already bought the computer version.)

  10. Just to agree with Jeremy, don’t incentivise anything because Apple seem to be on the war path over that at the moment.

    Also to put the retina issue in perspective, the iPad 4, which was the first iPad with a retina display, came out in November 2012.
    The Apple ecosystem tends to completely cycle (i.e. evolve into something new) every 6 months so we’re roughly 3 – 4 generations post-retina at the moment.
    That’s why non-retina apps are seen as a “bad thing” tm

    Not convinced about the reverse value stars idea though, sorry ;-)

      1. Ah thanks Jeremy, very strange that the Turks think that it shows up first :-S
        Possibly a quirk of the Turkish Google Play store?

        I’m not convinced that’s why it happens in English speaking regions though.

        I /suspect/ it has more to do with laziness than anything, that they’ve written their comment and tried to submit only to be told they need to rate it too so they just hit 1 star because it’s the closest star to their thumb (for right handers) but I have no proof of that, it’s just a theory.

    1. Firstly, I gave the game a good review.

      Not down with the Apple hating though… Retina is a big deal, it looks blurry and noticeably fuzzy without it.

      It’s nothing to do with buzzwords it’s going from really clear ‘can’t see the pixels’ text everywhere else to ‘that looks like a low quality jpg of the text’ in game.

      Spanish stuff, fair play but don’t be surprised at people wanting the same quality of text they have throughout the whole rest of the device. (Virtually every app and game I have supports the retina resolution).

  11. I’ve bought it, but yet to play it, and I shall be sure to rate and review whatever I think. I saw the game on Steam but didn’t think I wanted to pay £20 for it. £6.99 is a hard sell for an IOS game, and although you say people can go-fuck-themselves if they think it over-priced, you are probably only losing sales and therefore making less money that your profess to like. However I do share your contempt for those people who think 99p represents the upper limit of good value – but I would urge you to experiment with ‘promotional periods’ at £4.99 to see what that does. Your game is unusual and I’d have thought Apple would want to promote it. There is definitely an opportunity with the UK general election next year – or for it to be included in a strategy game selection or similar. Lastly, on the the resolution issue. I found your dismissive response a bit self-defeating, but it sounds like you are responding to feedback. I have an Ipad Air and the display is gorgeous. Making full use of it, and interacting in a touch context can be transformative for a game. Embrace what the technology has to offer.

  12. I did ask you, way back when you first started talking about Dem3 on your blog, if you were going to support scalable font/ui; since us lowly pc dudes play on high resolution monitors!

    Also, I’m your age (and rocked out in bands for many, many years) and my eyes need halp!

    Still, I love your attitude and wish ya success with Apple-heads.

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