The End Of The Road

…for Jewels, that is. Okay, that was overly dramatic, I'll be the first to admit it! :D

Anyway, all jesting aside, it is time to move on. What I'm announcing is that I will not be actively supporting Jewels (nor iJewels) from this point onwards. Not to say that I've been very active lately in any case, but better set it straight out.

Instead I will be focusing my development efforts (time limited for various reasons — not the least of which is the fact that I'm working at home with a little child roaming around.. :)) toward my next game. Not to worry though, I have a feeling that if you liked Jewels, you'll going to like the next game even more… ;) The project is advancing slowly but steadily; I've written most of the technical back-end code and can focus on building the actual game play on top of the thing. I do have to draw all the artwork as well, so it is not going to be finished any time soon — hopefully sooner than later, though!

And no reason to worry, my dear Android users, despite my venting earlier I will be releasing for Android as well, and making sure both versions (Android and iOS) are on even ground this time. To be honest I've been using an Android device as my daily driver for almost a year now, it's good to be back! :D

* * *

Speaking of Android: the first mobile version of Jewels was released in late 2009 for Android, so I've been supporting this one game for over two years now (you could count the original PC-version from 2007 as well, but I didn't work on that but a few months in total). One thing is certain: mobile devices sure have changed a lot since 2009, my ancient by today's standards HTC Hero running Android 1.5 was cutting edge tech back then!

If you think the Android-version of Jewels is really crappy compared to the iOS-version (released in late September of 2010), you are entirely correct — after all it was the first thing I wrote after I got my Hero, and it was hastily ported from the earlier XNA-test project I had done (a.k.a the Jewels PC-version).

It would be interesting to take a look at the horrible internals of the Android-Jewels and see what I would do (and will do, for the next game!) better this time around. So that is precisely what I shall do: when I get the chance I'll write a post-mortem about Jewels.

* * *

To close this post, let's have a look at a few statistics for Jewels:

That one is the for Android-version. 21 million total installs during these two+ years. Only 6.26 million currently active (i.e. on users devices), though. The largest active installs I've seen was between 8-9 million. ~150 thousand ratings with average rating of 4.4 stars. For the iOS-version (courtesy of AppFigures):

About 4.25 million downloads. I couldn't get the average rating across all countries, so the stats above reflect US only (easily the largest of my user bases). Still pretty good. :)

Looking at the volumes, I'd hazard a guess that Jewels is the second most downloaded mobile game from Finland, after that one franchise involving pissed-off birds… (Do correct me if I'm wrong!) Not too shabby for a crappy first attempt at doing a mobile game. ;)

See you for the Jewels post-mortem later, bye!

Jewels on Amazon Appstore!

Just a quick update: Jewels (the Android-version, naturally) is now finally available on the Amazon Appstore. Be sure to take a look: here. Now, let us drive it a bit further up in the top charts, shall we? :D Seriously though, it's there — grab the game if you want to. :)

The Sad State of the Android Market..

Warning: this post is mostly a rant, with a bit exaggerated (but not much!) title to boot..

I've been meaning to write this one for a couple of months now, but never really found the time and actually got around to do it. So here goes. I started noticing a lot of games on the Android Market with familiar looking icons, and after closer inspection, it's clear that most of the graphics have been stolen from Jewels. I have not downloaded the games, but I would hazard a guess that the sounds are also taken from Jewels for most of these clones.

Do a quick search for "Jewels" on the Android Market. What do you find? I counted 8 (that's right, eight!) games that have graphics stolen from my game. Six (6) of those eight games have one of my Jewels graphics as icon image. One clone is the worst offender. It has stolen the graphics, the icon (yes, the actual Jewels-icon a couple of versions back) and get this… even the freaking app description is copied from my game! The best part — and the gist of this entire posting — the game is named Jewels.

Now let's be realistic: "jewels" is a common word. (All those eight games have the word in their title; most probably there other clones with stolen assets with other names.) It's not like I invented the word. But why on Earth does Android Market allow two apps (two games, both in the Casual-category) to share the exactly same name? Why? Especially when the copycat app clearly has stolen almost everything from the original app. I mean what the hell? Why couldn't they check for the app name and prevent duplicate named apps from the Market? I can see them allowing same named apps for different categories, but I don't understand the current policy at all. (Perhaps that other Jewels has some whitespace characters in its name, I don't know, but frankly I see no reason why names like "Jewels_", where _ is a space, should be allowed.)

The Market is also riddled with app spammers, developers (in the lowest possible meaning of the word) that pump out dozens of sub-standard apps and spam them in with different developer accounts. This is of course a whole different issue, and one that doesn't really matter to me, but it lowers the quality of the marketplace on the whole. I feel that Google should do some cleaning up on the Market, get rid of all the crap — and of the spammed apps using stolen assets (the most obvious cases, at least).

All this "steal assets from a popular game, and name it similarly" is of course to get a share of the attention those popular games receive. I guess I should be flattered that people bother to steal those graphics? :P Nevertheless, I'm sure that more popular apps have it worse than I do: look at all those wanna-be Angry Birds -games on the Market. Just sad…

* * *

As you can see, I'm not thrilled with the Android Market as it is now, and I shall carefully consider whether to bring my future games to the platform at all. Apple has things far better on the App Store; the control is much tighter, but at least it keeps some of the crap out. And they don't allow two apps with the same name, something that became clear to me with iJewels. Not to mention I've come to like the iOS-platform much more than Android, but that's a different story..

This stealing assets thing is also one of the reasons why I still haven't (and never will, it seems) added the music from iJewels to the Android-Jewels. It would be stolen the instant I hit the big ol' Publish-button on the Market. :(

Happy Holidays!

(a bit late now, but anyway…)

Happy holidays folks! :) Here is an appropriate picture of our baby girl, Nella (click to enlarge):

Jewels / iJewels FAQ

The following are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Jewels and iJewels. Please do read these before contacting for support, as I get several support requests a day for these, and I am no longer answering questions that are in the FAQ list. Thanks. :)

General (Jewels and iJewels)

  • Problem: I used to get really high scores and now I cannot get them! Or: the latest update broke the game, cannot get high scores any more!
    : I have not touched the game mechanics / rules except when adjusting the Timed mode. Not once. What explains these complaints then? Well, the game is based on (pseudo) randomness, so it's just a case of plain back luck(tm). Simple as that. :)
    Short answer
    : Bad luck, try again. ;)
  • Problem: I don't want to submit scores, how can I disable the score submission?
    Solution: You can disable the score submission by going to the Profile-page from the main menu.
  • Problem: I want to submit scores but don't want to register to Scoreloop!
    Solution: You don't have to register in order to submit scores. You only have to accept their terms, and a generated player name is assigned to you. You can change that name from the Profile-page. You don't have to provide an email address, it is optional.
    Short answer: You don't have to register.

On iJewels (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad)

  • Problem: The game stays waiting for download / update, i.e. the icon is grey and there is "Waiting…" below it. What do I do?
    Solution: This is not related to iJewels but iOS, as I have seen this on other apps even before the first iJewels was released. The apps seem to download normally, but are still left in pending state. In any case, restarting the phone has always corrected this problem for me.
    Short answer: Restart your phone.
  • Problem: The game freezes or crashes!
    Partial solution: No permanent solution right now. Restarting the game (by killing it first from the task list) should help. I have been unable to reproduce any crashes or freezes, apart from score submission related "freezes" that have been solved already in the game updates. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to fix something that cannot be reproduced reliably. :( Check out the question below, if that's what you mean instead.
  • Problem: Switching away from the game and later resuming the game sometimes leaves you with black or white screen.
    : The framebuffer doesn't get recreated properly for reasons unknown. This happens occasionally, and in my testing it seems that going away from the game and returning once again fixes the problem. I.e. press Home-key and then get back to the game. Killing the game from the task list (hold down Home-key) and restarting should also fix this.
    Short answer
    : Try pressing the Home-key and then returning to the game again. Or kill the game from the task list and restart it.

On Jewels (Android)

  • Problem: Android Market force closes / crashes while downloading or updating Jewels. The game cannot be uninstalled either.
    Solution: This is a bug with the Market. Clearing the Market cache should resolve the situation. Go to Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications -> Market and clear the cache.
    Short answer
    : Clear the Market cache, see above for details.
  • Problem: Why does the game need access to my phone calls and/or access the internet?
    Solution: The Phone State-permission has nothing to do with phone calls, instead it is needed to get the device ID, which is required to use Scoreloop (as the SL profile is tied to one physical device). Internet access is naturally for the global scores, and also for the ads. The does work fine without a connection, though.
  • Problem: I keep getting notifications from the game that an update is available.
    Solution: Update to the latest version from the Android Market. The update checker has been disabled for several versions now, so you must be running a quite old version of the game.