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Ernest Woo
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Finally got featured in Gamasutra! Yay!

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ErnCon 1.0.8 is available on Amazon App Store! There are a number of fixes included in this update including a more solid login process, simplified controls for fighters, and UI fixes for tablets and the Galaxy Note.

Remember, ErnCon is a free download!

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ErnCon 1.0.5 has been published to Google Play. This update doesn't contain anything earth-shattering and is mainly a response to feedback from the +Android Developers April 6th Friday Review.

Feedback received from +Dan Galpin and +Ian Ni-Lewis basically boiled down to:

1. Main Menu -> Start Game -> Press BACK button quit the entire game.
2. Back buttons in general can be done away with (apps should rely on the system BACK button).
3. Target the highest SDK possible to avoid backwards-compatibility functionality you don't need (soft-menu button in ICS, compatibility resolution in 3.2+ tablets).
4. Add a mechanism to invite players to play games together

#1 was my mistake. I erroneously thought it was the Main Menu -> More options that I broke rather than Main Menu -> Start Game options. Main Menu -> Start Game -> BACK button always quit the game erroneously. This has been fixed and this speaks to the value of having a 2nd set of eyes look at your apps. Amazing how the use-case was just never exercised in my day-to-day testing.

#3 was an easy fix - bumped up targetSdkVersion to 15.

#2 was the interesting one that had implications throughout the regular UI. Here is what changed:

1. Main Menu no longer has a More sub-menu. Removing all Back buttons from the Main Menu and its sub-menus actually gave me space to promote Options to the Main Menu and Allies to Start Game sub-menu. This has the pleasant side-effect of making Allies and its social functionality more visible.
2. Missions and Survival's old Back button was replaced by a Store button that goes to the Store. Going to the Store after finishing a Mission is probably a common use-case; forcing players to go through the Main Menu hub seems painful the more I think about it.
3. Store no longer has a Back button. The Store is almost always the end of a particular activity stack. Other than the tutorial (more on that after this), a player generally only needs to go back to whatever he was doing last (Missions or Survival).
4. When visiting the Store after the tutorial mission, the Back button was changed to a Continue button that takes the player straight to Missions. Based on feedback from a friend, the Back button in the store was extremely ambiguous in the context of the tutorial. Where are you going "back" to? Back into the tutorial mission? Using the word "Continue" atleast gives an idea of proceeding through the tutorial. I've also added one-time instructions dialogs to the Missions and Allies screens.
5. Allies now has an Invite button. Since a player doesn't need to go straight to the Store, adding an Invite button seemed to make sense.

I'm still deciding whether I should implement an "Up" button although in ErnCon, it would essentially be a "Back" button and we'd be back to square one. I'm also getting ready to submit to Amazon App Store and noticed the Kindle Fire hides the system BACK button when running fullscreen. Any bets whether the "no back buttons" policy will cause a rejection?

#4 I kind of punted on by adding a generic Invite button that just launches a "text/plain" ACTION_SEND intent. I'd like to see if Allies gains more usage with its new placement before putting more functionality in that screen. Player-to-player invites is coming as I finish up deeper Facebook Opengraph integration.

Check out the screenshots to see what I'm talking about. Better yet, download ErnCon and see if my decisions make sense. I probably will have to deal with a couple "I hate change" negative reviews though.
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Some lessons learned while marketing ErnCon

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