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Is there method in this madness?

Fare City 1.1 is the fourth release I have done through the App Store and I thought I understood how things worked. I would submit the binary, wait a couple of weeks, receive the acceptance email one day at around 3-4pm, and the binary would be live in the App Store that evening (though eastern countries like Japan and Australia would get it almost as soon as the email arrived).

Yesterday I awoke to find that Apple had sent the acceptance email for 1.1 at 11pm local time, so most countries had been shipping the update for several hours before I knew.

Does this matter?

Well, I suppose not a great deal, but there is one of those many quirks of the App Store that makes it annoying. When you submit an application through iTunes Connect you have to supply a load of marketing material along with the application – the icon, screenshots, the product description, etc. (If you have localizations you need to provide descriptions and screenshots for each.) When you submit an update you will probably be changing a lot of this stuff. But for most of it you can’t! There is only one product description and one set of screenshots per application (per localization). So you have to wait until the update is actually in the App Store before you can update the materials.

So, for most of Friday if people looked at the App Store they would see that 1.1 was “coming soon”, even though iTunes showed that the app was version 1.1. Not exactly earth shattering, I admit, but hardly the slick marketing machine of Apple myth. I just can’t understand why Apple doesn’t include product description and screen images in the update – they already have to maintain a second copy of the app binary and icon anyway.

Well, time to climb off the soap box. The good news is that Fare City 1.1 is now in the App Store – enjoy.

It’s time to begin again

It is with acute embarrassment that I notice I haven’t blogged in over a month! I am not sure where the time has gone but such is how we live much of our lives.

For Fare City fans, the most exciting news is that version 1.1 was submitted to Apple a week ago. If recent performance is a guide then we may hope that it will appear in the App Store in a little over a week from now, just in time for you all to update ready for some holiday gaming.

I have already covered the change of leaderboard in a previous blog, and I’m going to do another entry on my experience of integrating Open Feint, so I won’t say much here. However, I will mention that the update attempts to post your existing high score to the appropriate Open Feint leaderboard. In doing so it uses the local cache of your leaderboard entry so it won’t work if you have reset your stats since posting your best score. I did experiment with scraping the online information but it needed just too much code payload. I apologize in advance for any high scores that are lost – you will just have to post a better score with the new version.

So what else is new? For what seems like ever we have been promising a new map for Fare City. Version 1.1 has Metrotown, a more suburban setting with a less regular grid, and a train you need to avoid. Here is a screenshot of the new map in action:

Screenshot-full11-1

Pretty nice, yes? One of the great things about this map is what you can’t see – the infrastructure that is now built into the game to support maps and their unique features. This means that future maps can be added much faster.

Something that keeps coming up is the difficulty of the game. Quite simply, the speed is just too much of a challenge for some players. Well, help is at hand in the form of Rookie mode. In it the game is still the same but everything is done at a more leisurely pace. The taxis are slightly slower and they arrive less frequently. And to give you a helping hand you start with two insurance stars – just like that. Of course, Rookie mode is not just for new players, anyone who wants a little more relaxing play will enjoy it.

At the other end of the scale is Time Trial mode. If you thought First Shift was frenetic, just wait until you’ve tried this! You compete against the clock, with a starting time of just 90 seconds. Each fare you deliver buys you a couple of seconds more, so you really have to keep motoring. Also, the taxis arrive much more quickly than in the classic game, so the last few seconds of the game can be pretty crazy. That is, if you can get there – normal insurance rules still apply.

Well, I hope that has whet your appetites. It has been a long time coming but I hope you will find Fare City 1.1 worth the wait…