Saturday, June 29, 2013

Free Pyramid 13 Game for iPad

Patience game (solitaire) addicts may be interested in a new Pyramid 13 Game for iPad that I released the other day. The app features two variants of the game (1 redeal and 2 redeals) allowing you to play Pyramid 13 in two different modes depending on whether you prefer a more 'strategy' or more luck-focussed game.

This free Pyramid 13 app features the same high-quality retina graphics as its sister app Solitaire Whizz, featuring a total of 20 different solitaire games for iPad.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Update to LetterMeister beta to improve animation/transition speed

Various App Store reviews of LetterMeister, while on the whole very positive, complain about slow menu animation speeds.

LetterMeister for desktop now contains an additional startup option to use fast animations. As the animation speed had been mentioned as a sticking point by a number of people, this option is on by default.

After more testing with the desktop version, the plan is to roll out the faster animations to the iPhone version.

Monday, June 3, 2013

2D game physics with Blosics

I recently reviewed a fun game for iPhone, Blosics, based heavily around "2D game physics", and a good example for developers thinking of devising such a game. As you'll see if you try it, the results can be quite addictive.

Oracle on security fixes to Java

At the end last month, Oracle's lead Java platform developer left a blog post giving an overview of previous and upcoming security fixes to Java. While this focus on security is promising (and necessary if Java is not to lose significant traction), the actual number of security issues still being discovered is still staggering for a supposedly mature platform.

A key change to the Java security strategy revolves around the behaviour of Java in browsers: signed applets will not automatically be "unsandboxed". Further more, Oracle is reportedly phasing out the use of unsigned and self-signed applets, combined with improvements to check the revocation status of certificates. This latter change is potentially significant for developers (myself included) who have been "lazy" with signing their apps, but probably a necessary step in the long run. (However, it is still important to have in the back of one's mind that knowing somebody's identity does not necessarily reveal anything about their intentions...)

Oracle are also addressing the issue that companies are being put off using Java server-side because of the recent reports of security issues with Java in web browsers. Technologically speaking, many of these fears are probably unfounded. But from a business point of view (read: how many programmers will be using Java in the future), Oracle does apparently understand the need to address perceptions of security as well as actual security issues.

In the meantime, a significant proportion of web traffic nowadays is coming from devices and browsers that do not support Java. I suspect that for client-side applications, many developers have already begun to adopt alternative solutions in any case.

Three vulnerabilities in IBM Java Runtime

I don't know how many companies are using the IBM Java Runtime nowadays (it was once a popular option on Linux). However, if you are, note the three vulnerabilities reported here. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the descriptions of these vulnerabilities are somewhat difficult to assess...!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A case study in the modernisation of an old gaming classic: Tetris

The game of Tetris represents an interesting example of how a classic can survive into contemporary gaming. As I mention in my recent review of Tetris Blitz, there are a few key gameplay tweaks that make the genre suitable for current mobile gaming. EA's somewhat aggressive selling of in-app features may put some players off, but the app will also serve as a lesson to would-be developers porting retro games to the smartphone platform.

BBC on the difficulty of targeting the Android platform

The BBC trust recently responded to a complaint that "the BBC had favoured iOS (Apple) over other mobile platforms with greater market share". The response essentially exonerates the BBC, concluding that "there was no evidence that the BBC had unfairly favoured the iOS platform when making development decisions and allocating resources". The apparent favouring of iOS was in a fact found to be for "objective" reasons in their parlance: essentially, the BBC's argument (upheld by the BBC Trust) is that it has so far been a more practical choice to focus on iOS because of the currently higher up-take vs development effort compared to development on Android, a less homogeneous platform and one with lesser rates of "engagement" as they put it.

From comments I have read from developers, it appears that some agree with this sentiment. But other Android developers apparently see the lack of homogeneity among Android devices as less of an obstacle than the BBC does. Some of the issues faced by small developers, without the resources to have multiple test devices, should be less of an issue for the BBC.

As Apple CEO Tim Cook has been keen to point out in a recent interview and in other conference presentations, Apple devices are responsible for proportionally more web traffic generally than other devices put together, possible supporting the BBC's "engagement" argument.

It will be interesting to see how this situation changes in the near future...

Solitaire Whizz free of charge this weekend

Card game lovers may like to know that Solitaire Whizz, my compendium of 16 patience games for iPad, is complete free this weekend.

Take advantage to download your copy now while the offer is still on!