• Developers – Are You Using OpenFeint?

    If not, you should. And here’s why.

    What is OpenFeint?
    OpenFeint is a gaming network that developers can easily integrate into their iPhone games. It’s also free to Developers. They can offer it free because they take a commission from Apple for each application downloaded from iTunes via their interface. Awesome right? It comes out of Apples pocket , not yours!

    How long does it take to set up?
    20 minutes. I didn’t believe it myself, but there is a video from Alan Taylor that claims 19 minutes. I followed the video and it was very simple and as you probably know – nothing is simple when integrating a 3rd party product into your Xcode project. This was by far the easiest.

    Configuration is a breeze.
    You are probably thinking, “Good for you, but now you have to spend tons of time configuring it”. Wrong. I was surprised myself. Once you create a Developer account you have a control panel that gives you decent control over your game. They are working on more tools as I write this.

    You can set up a Leaderboard in less than 5 minutes. When you create one, it gives you an identifier that you easily reference in your code. Say the identifier in the control panel is “12345″. To submit a score from your app, your code is this simple:

    [OFHighScoreService setHighScore:score forLeaderboard:@"12345" onSuccess:OFDelegate() onFailure:OFDelegate()];

    This will submit to the local and global high score lists and then notify the user their score was submitted. One line of code!

    Achievements work the same way except when you create an Achievement you can also assign an icon and a Gamerscore value. I’ll get to Gamerscores in a minute. Once you submit, the server will be updated seemingly in realtime. All users will be able to see that high score or the achievement when they visit those screens within OpenFeint immediately.

    I’m not going to touch on everything you can do, but the time it took me to get 3 Leaderboards and 5 Achievements (with uploaded icons and descriptions) configured in the Developer page on my first try was less than 20 minutes. Adding more later only takes a minute. Updating my code to hook into that took another 20 minutes because for my Achievements I had to add some tracking into my code. Again, after the initial setup updates are trivial.

    Try writing something that quick from scratch. Try integrating some other 3rd party online scoreboard. Try even making your own local scoreboard. You can, but why would you? And yours isn’t going to be as elegant without lots of work. Check out what OpenFeint looks like to users:
    OpenFeint Leaderboards
    OpenFeint Acheivements

    Will users embrace it?
    Most developers don’t want to annoy their users and to tell you the truth, the first time I saw OpenFeint in a game I was hesitant to use it. I didn’t want to sign up and provide an email address and username/password. But OpenFeint does not need any of this information. By default it will assign you a random username like “Player2334″. You have the option to change it to anything you want in the settings without providing any further information. All scores and achievements are saved without users having to sign up for anything. When an OpenFeint user plays another OpenFeint enabled game, it will automatically remember them as well. After the initial dip of the toe in the water, I find that users will then really get into it. You can add other OpenFeint friends and see their game stats. You can see what your friends are curently playing. Many games have a moderated chat room too, so you can converse with people. It becomes a community within your game.

    When your friends get high scores or achievements, a notification popup shows up on the bottom of your screen if you are in your OpenFeint enabled game. It then elegantly goes away. This is another cool feature that users enjoy. As a developer you have control over those notifications as well. You can choose when and how to show them or you can disable them.

    What else do I like?
    Another major part of the OpenFeint gaming platform is Gamerscore. Each game can have up to 1000 Gamerscore points to award players with when they unlock Achievements. Your total Gamerscore for all your OpenFeint games is proudly displayed next to your name. Some people don’t care much but many gamers are very serious about getting lots of points. In fact, when I visit popular gaming forums I see a buzz about games that are OpenFeint enabled – like on DotioGames.

    A great feature for developers and users is one-touch purchases. When you check out what your friends are playing, you can go to a game description page with the ability to purchase that gave directly via OpenFeint. As a developer you can create that one-touch purchase page from your Developer portal page. This is free promotion of your application that you don’t have to spend much time on. I was blown away when I discovered that feature. Users want to see what their peers are playing. Hey, if a couple of my friends are playing a game in OpenFeint then I know it must be good. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be playing it. The best advertising you can get and it’s totally free.

    More free advertising. OpenFeint has optional Twitter and Facebook integration. Once the user turns those options on, every time they get an Achievement it will post to those services with an icon that you upload and the description you choose – as well as a tinyurl link to your application in iTunes. Users see it as gloating their success, meanwhile you get free advertising with a direct link for download. The amount of setup on your side is negligible.

    How is Support?
    Once I delved into coding and configuring I did have some questions. I went to the support site and searched for answers in the documentation. Usually though my questions were more complex. I then checked the forums. If I did not see my answer there, I posted my questions. It is obvious that the support team is overtaxed. The platform grew so fast I think they are still catching up with staff. They also have to staff the development side too so they have minor growing pains. Despite that, they are more dedicated than any other support I have dealt with – and I’ve been in software for over 15 years. They read every single post and if they don’t have an immediate answer, they tell you so and they set out to find you the answer. They NEVER leave you hanging. I posed one question that I didn’t even expect an answer to because it seemed like the current version just wasn’t set up to support it. I could tell the guy (jakob, who I’ve happily dealt with a couple times) sat there for hours in his own Xcode trying to figure out how to do it. A couple days later he sends me the solution. A solution to a problem that I figured was a shot in the dark. They are extremely dedicated and they don’t just reply with “Read the documentation” or “You can figure it out since you have the source”. Every case is tracked until it is resolved – no matter how small.

    Why do I sound like a fanboy or employee?
    I guess you could accuse me of being a fanboy but I have no affiliation with OpenFeint in any way except I use their product in my games. I went though my own trials as a new Developer trying to get a global high score system working before discovering the OpenFeint platform. I know how difficult it is to integrate that or anything remotely like what they offer from 3rd parties or from scratch. I initially only anticipated using the Leaderboard, but the more I used it and saw how easy it was, the more I added to my game and was amazed at the end result relative to the effort I put in. Why reinvent the wheel? They have everything I needed and then some. And they seem to be cranking out more and more.

    I heard about OpenFeint months before I integrated it. As a developer I didn’t understand what it was or what was involved so I held off. I wasted my time needlessly. I don’t want you to make the same mistake.

    If your app has OpenFeint and a friend is playing my game, maybe your player will download my game when they see a friend playing. The same can happen for your game.

    The more games that have OpenFeint, the more users will accept it and actually look for it. That’s more users that can potentially see our games. And once OpenFeint gets the player web site ready, players will have even more visibility to our games.

    And lastly, I thank OpenFeint for making a great platform that any developer can easily integrate. With all the difficulties involved in creating an app from scratch, the whole experience made my life much simpler. If you have used it in your game or will do so, I bet you will feel the same way.

    Thanks for reading,
    James Dailey
    Author of DieMonstersDie!

  • Application Description

    50% OFF!! Hurry!

    DMD Icon

    Hi! Do you hate monsters?
    Me either.  But slaying them in a video game is entertaining and that’s what DieMonstersDie! is all about.  You see, Transylvania is a peaceful place – at least it was until recently. Towns all over the region are being overrun by irritable monsters and nobody knows why. What they do know is they can’t fight them off alone. In comes Wolfgang – monster hunter extraordinaire. He doesn’t hate monsters either, but he has seen this thing before and he knows just how to handle it…through superior firepower!

    You control Wolfgang in his quest to stop the monster onslaught. Rip them apart with a chainsaw, flambe them with a flamethrower and blow them up with mayhem guided missiles all in the comfort of your salty palm. Upgrade your weapons, your health and even add regeneration to your arsenal as the monster parade never cedes.  If that doesn’t whet your whistle, take advantage of the RAGE button to unleash a devastating spurt of extra power.  Don’t just blindly abuse it though hot stuff – there’s always something waiting, watching and ready to avenge the deaths of the lesser minions.  You’ll need everything you’ve got to survive…even then you won’t.

    DieMonstersDie! can be as fun or as difficult as you wish to make it. Play on easy mode if you want to sit back and blast some baddies or to unlock achievements quicker. Play Medium or Hard to challenge yourself and to show your buddies and the world that you dominate.

    - 2 Different Control Options (In Options Menu)
         Slider Control and Tilt Control
    -5 Upgradeable Weapons (Use Pause/Upgrade Button)
         Chainsaw, Uzi, Flamethrower, Guided Rocket Launcher, Laser Gun
    -3 Upgradeable Abilities (Use Pause/Upgrade Button)
         Rage Button, Higher Max Health, Health Regeneration
    -3 Difficulty Levels With Online Leaderboards
         Easy, Medium, Hard
         Each Leaderboard has Global, Friends and Personal views
    -Special Unlockable Gold Edition Weapons
         Each weapon has a Gold Edition to show off how good you are.
    -Multiple Bosses
         Each boss is angrier, scarier and stronger than the last
    -Unlimited And Dynamic Gameplay
         Each wave of monsters is randomly generated so you never know what’s coming
    -Pause At Any Time
         Pause the game at any time to purchase upgrades or to take a break
    -Save And Resume Game
         After you defeat a boss, the game will automatically let you save your progress.
         You can resume a saved game any time you play.
    -User Options
         Turn on/off Music, Sound Effects and Blood/Fire effects
    -Unlimited Ammo
         Don’t worry about managing your ammo, just worry about surviving

    *OpenFeint 2.1 Integration – Including Twitter and Facebook!
    -12 Unlockable Achievements that add to your Gamerscore
         Weapon Achievements, Rage Achievement, Gold Weapon Achievements, more
    -View and compare your scores and achievements with others, including your friends

    -Twitter And Facebook Integration
         Post your Achievements and High Scores to Twitter and/or Facebook if you wish
    -Connect with other players
         Other top selling games use OpenFeint. You can see who is playing what game.
    -OpenFeint does not require you to sign up or provide any personal information to use the great features listed. You will be assigned an anonymous automatically generated user ID or you can create an ID. The ID is used for all your OpenFeint enabled games.
    -DieMonstersDie! does not have have the in game chat feature.

    *Get more information at http://www.diemonstersdie.com
    *Get game support at support or [email protected]

    Upcoming Features
    -Campaign Mode
         Travel city to city to collect bounties on your way to defeat the final boss
    -Arena Mode
    -Weapons Pack
    -Monsters Pack
    -Customizable Heroes
    -In Game Challenges to friends via OpenFeint
    -More Achievements
    -Cheat Codes

    Cooking Dinner