Taking the game from a jam game - basically a gameplay prototype - to a (mostly) finished product on a commercial platform was an interesting journey. That was the point, really - I wanted to learn about the processes involved in taking a game all the way and publishing it. Google Play is probably the easiest publishing platform for developers, as far as I'm aware, but it was still something that needed to be learned.
The decision to include In-App Purchases was based on two things, the first of which was, quite honestly, a whim. The second reason I decided to do so was that I wanted to learn the technical requirements and methods of implementing payment solutions into Unity applications. I generally don't play much in the way of free-to-play, or indeed mobile at all, but since this is a tiny game that's easy enough to play, I didn't feel that the freemium elements were particularly mailcious.
The gameplay itself is identical, though I touched up the graphics a bit and expanded on the interface. Most of the changes went into expanding on the GUI and fitting it to Android devices, and setting up an IAP system for a few small gameplay bonuses. I didn’t actually change the gameplay balance to accommodate the IAP scheme – the game is perfectly playable without them. Instead, they basically just make the game easier, if that’s something you’re interested in.
I spent a lot of time struggling with the whole in-app purchasing thing, in fact. I used the OpenIAB plugin for Unity, which has a few issues – it’s hard to figure out when OpenIAB is ready to start performing billing and inventory operations, and the event-driven structure means that there are delays involved in getting feedback from it, so you need to use round-about ways to get information at the right time relative to the rest of your code. Since it’s fairly new, the documentation isn’t yet completely clear, though that’s something that the developers seem to be working to fix. Took me about a day and a half to get running properly, a more experienced developer will be able to figure it out sooner.
The game was tested on Nexus 4, 7 and 10 devices, and has screenshots uploaded for each of those screen sizes, but I still get the “Designed For Phones” tag, and I don’t know why, so that’s something I need to figure out. Sometimes there are also stuttering issues, which I still want to get to the bottom of, though they don’t appear to impact gameplay all that much.
Overall though, I’m happy that the game works and is out there. I decided to release it mostly as an experiment and as a learning exercise – how do you make Android games ready for release? How do you actually build an IAP scheme into a game? How do you Beta test and publish using the Google Play Store? I feel I’ve learned a good deal with regards to all these questions, and that’s really what I set out to do, so I’m happy with that.
I hope Star Prober brings you at least a few minutes of entertainment! Once I’ve waited a bit to see if there are any outstanding issues for other users, it’s off to the next game. Maybe MiniLD #50?