Sentinel Command Status

Posted by | August 18, 2015 | Uncategorized | No Comments

Wrapping up our launch weekend, a few bumps but overall a good launch.  Thanks to everyone who has purchased the game, and for Owen and the staff at Pocket Tactics for publishing a thoughtful review of the game.

We had to push out two releases.  The first was to raise the minimum iOS from 7.1 to 8.0.  I’d used a set of SpriteKit functions that were added in iOS 8.0, so any device that was using 7.1 would get a crash.  An easy fix, but unfortunately it meant some players who had bought our game had to decide if they were ready to upgrade to iOS 8 or not.

The second release was a little tougher.  I had about five players report the game would go to a gray screen right after the splash screen.  No crash, just no game.  I spent hours trying to repro this issue, inspecting the code, looking for answers on the stack overflow and apple dev forums.  Finally I found a thread on the apple forums, where an app was going to gray screen on iPad for an iPhone only game.  We had started the game as a Universal app, and had switched to iPad only once we determined there was too much information that needed to be displayed to work well on phones.  Some of the universal storyboard assets and configuration settings were still present in the app, so I cleaned those out and pushed a test build to the five players who reported the issue.

That first change didn’t fix the issue – but it did change the behavior. Now the app crashed after the splash screen.  At this point I knew I was on the right path.  Within about an hour, I came across another thread that indicated a crash after the splash screen occurred due to a localization configuration issue in the storyboard.  I changed the localization settings to use English localizable strings, pushed out a build, and voila, problem resolved.  I’ve only used Apple’s expedited review request once before, I try not to abuse it, but I used it this time and am grateful that it exists.  Within 24 hours the fix was pushed out as v1.3, along with some gameplay balancing changes.

I checked our last two games, and both also had this localization setting unchecked.  I suspect many of the crashing issues in those games that we’ve never been able to solve are caused by this bug.  I’ve submitted builds to Apple for both 137 BC and Heroes of the Revolution for review (non-expedited, so expect about a week to see those go live).

I wouldn’t have been able to resolve that bug so quickly without Apple’s integrated Test Flight, and the support and patience of the five players that worked with me to troubleshoot the bug.  It’s a good reminder for all of us to reach out to the developer and give them a chance before submitting that 1-star review…

Looking forward: we’re going to keep monitoring the forums at Pocket Tactics and TouchArcade (where Sentinel Command discussions are ongoing) for suggestions about how to improve the game, as well as any reported bugs.  Mark and I are in the process of replacing the Daraay base art (we were never satisfied with the visuals of the base battles).  Once that is done, we’ve kicked around a couple of ideas on a final boss battle once all of the Daraay bases are destroyed.  Austin has offered to compose a special theme for the final battle as well.  More on that later once we’ve fleshed out the concept.

Look for a big v1.4 release in the coming weeks with these changes.