It has been a while since my last Halogen related post: many apologies! It isn't because the game has been forgotten or development has stopped. Quite the contrary - this post is late because Halogen has demanded so much time! And now, it is time for a special announcement!!
Halogen is now available on the App Store!
It has been a while coming, and it feels great to finally have it out and doing its thing. I guess it is a bit like giving birth, except for the physical pain. And the mental and physical changes that childbirth brings. And also, this is a videogame. But nonetheless it feels like after a long and protracted labour, we can now hear the pitter-patter of tiny pixels, and beam like proud fathers at the newest RocketHands baby!
Now, I promise we will continue the Dev Diary installments - there is still plenty to share concerning game mechanics that were invented, major 'rules' changes that had to happen, and hairpin turns that were done on the design side to make this game fun to play and a lasting challenge. Those entries will be appearing in the coming days and weeks: for now though, it is time to celebrate Halogen's release on the App Store. If you have an iPad, you should go grab the game right now! You won't regret it!
Which brings up the topic I really wanted to touch on: Customer Satisfaction. Taking a glance across the App Store, the vast ocean that it is, you realise just how much is out there. Of course there are shiny sparkly things featured on the front page, but when you start digging, really taking a look under the surface, you see a lot of grey. By grey I mean…mediocre. And by mediocre, I mean crap. A lot of comments that say 'Don't buy this app, it is done in 5 minutes' or 'this wasn't worth $0.99'. Really? - It has to be pretty bad to not be worth a buck!
The main reason Halogen took as long as it did was because for the longest time it just did not meet the minimum threshold for quality. I mean, aside from it being an insane task developing a game in your 'spare time' when you have a full-time job and family commitments, being your own worst critic tends to push the release date out further and further. I just couldn't bear to release a half-arsed game and have people play it. Have people pay money for it, in good faith. If I played the game and winced at something that happened, I wrote it down and made sure it was fixed in the next iteration. If a menu wasn't doing it's job it was tweaked. If a sound was annoying it was investigated and remedied. This process happened literally right up to the last minute before I submitted the game for release. Most importantly, I wanted there to be enough of a challenge in the game for people to actually get a run for their money. For players to be able to feel that levels weren't just slapped together, but were there by design rather than by accident or as an afterthought.
I wanted the player to know that there had been effort. That someone actually cared about the game content. That's what we are all about at RocketHands: We Care.
Nobody wanted this game done and dusted more than me, but at the same time I was the one holding it back too. People would ask how it was going and I would say 'Oh I should release at the end of this week'. That was the line for weeks and weeks, because I just kept finding things that could be better. I just couldn't put it out and charge good money for it if I felt it was lacking: it needed to justify and earn its price tag. Special thanks in this regard need to go to Andrew Macgregor for his ability to break the game (thereby making it better), and Nick Takayama who not only tested the game for countless hours on his iPad but also gave plenty of useful advice and feedback. Also putting in a sterling effort was the author of the game's pumping soundtrack: Fellow RocketHand Dan Adams!
So it is out there now. Is it perfect? No, of course not. Things can always be better, there are always improvements. But it is at a quality level that I am more than happy with. It is fun and polished. It is addictive and challenging. It should meet people expectations and surprise them at the same time. And there is enough there for people to sink their teeth into, with new challenges and features planned for future releases.
It has been a blast to create, and exciting (although nerve-wracking) to release. It kind of feels like sending your kid off to their first day of school - you brush their hair and tie their shoes and wipe the vegemite off their face, but at some point you have to let go - and you worry if the other kids will like them.
Thats why I was so pleased to read this on the US App Store:
I guess there's nothing to worry about.