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Mobile Andrio

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Using Google Play Game Services now

For global leaderboards, achievements and challenge games I used the Scoreloop SDK for quite some time now. But there were two things which have bothered me with their SDK and the leaderboards. One thing is that I received quite a lot of crash reports originating from code of the SDK, even though I tried to update to the latest releases quite regularly. And secondly the leaderboard contain loads of top score entries where I can hardly believe that these scores are anything but cheat results.

Therefore, when Google released their Google Play Game Services some months ago, I moved from Scoreloop to these new game services for one of my other games - that has far fewer downloads and users than Mobile Andrio - in order to see how people react to the switch from Scoreloop to Google Play Game Services. After all one of the results of this is that the leaderboards get reset and also the UI is quite different. So people might like it more than the previous game service library, dislike it or don't care. It seems people don't really care too much. At least I did not get any comments about the change.

Since the crashes originating from somewhere in the Scoreloop SDK continued to come in as were cheat scores, I decided to switch from Scoreloop to Google Play Game Services also for Mobile Andrio. The new release of the game, which I just uploaded to Google Play, contains the new library. It will be interesting to see how people like the new version.
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Mobile Andrio

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Controls reworked

Judging from the comments for the app, it still looks like the touch screen controls are the weakest spot of the game. Therefore, with the latest update I reworked the on-screen joystick and on-screen d-pad. Both no longer allow vertical movement, so that it can no longer happen that e.g. moving a bit to high on the on-screen controls triggers a jump of the hero. Vertical movement is now only possible via the separate jump and duck buttons.

The downside is that on devices without multi-touch it is no longer really possible to jump & move at the same time, because two buttons now need to be pressed at the same time. For these devices - nowadays hopefully not too many - "tap the target" is probably the best choice for controlling the game (IMHO this is true for all devices, but this control scheme needs a bit of training before you get used to it).

So for all devices with multi-touch "on-screen d-pad + buttons" is now (once again) the default control scheme. Of course this can be changed via the "Edit Settings" menu, should you prefer another set of controls.
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Mobile Andrio

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Buying "coins" for challenge games

For quite a long time now, the game is offering the option to challenge other players and see who is getting the higher score in each of the player's next game. Both stake the same amount of "coins", the in-game currency for Mobile Andrio, and then start playing. The winner earns half of the pot, while the other half seems to go back to Scoreloop, the platform where this challenge game system is working on.

What is new since the last release is that players can actually buy new "coins" with real money, using e.g. credit card or Android Market billing. Previously it was only possible to get new "coins" by earning the game's achievements or by winning challenge games against other players.

It will be interesting to see whether people really like the idea of buying the in-game currency in order to be able to have more challenge games or bet higher stakes. And it would be cool to know what other game items people would like to see in the game and would be willing to actually pay for. But that's probably harder to find out...
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Mobile Andrio

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Full screen mode

There exists a blog by Reto Meier from the Android team (see below) about better not using the full screen mode for most apps. Since "immersive games" belong to the exceptions he does mention plus it would be nice to have some more screen real estate for the game, I thought it would be a good idea to make the full screen mode for Mobile Andrio configurable. Therefore, with the new release, the default is the full screen mode for the game, but it can be switched back to normal, where you have a notification and title bar, by editing the settings.
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Mobile Andrio

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New release 2.6.4

Today the new version 2.6.4 was released. It brings some changes to the score calculation, when awards for finishing levels get granted and adds the option to control the game using a joystick or gamepad connected to the device's USB port. Let's go into the details:

Scores: Prior to version 2.6.4 the complete points for a level were awarded only once the level was completed. This meant that, if the hero died prior to finishing a level, all points collected so far during that level were lost. With the new release half of the points get awarded immediately and the remaining points get awarded as a bonus when finishing the level. So there is still an incentive for finishing a level, but not all points are lost when the hero dies before the end of a level.

Awards: The awards for finishing a level now get granted a bit earlier. The first award gets granted after the first level gets successfully completed during a game, the other awards follow after finishing half and all of the levels. Like before with the awards you get some coins that may be spend for challenge games.

USB joystick or gamepad control: If you have an Android device with Android 3.2 or higher and this device allows the connection of a joystick or gamepad via USB (the Acer Iconia A500 is such a device), then it is now possible to control the game using your USB joystick or gamepad. Direction control should work immediately, the buttons can be configured using the Assign Keys dialog. If you belong to those who own the necessary piece of hardware, then give it a try.

Have fun with the update!
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Mobile Andrio

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Some screenshots of the game. Here the joystick control is being used, where the small joystick control in the bottom left corner can be moved into the direction the hero should move. But the default touchscreen control scheme is "tap the target", where you tap the location on the touchscreen where the hero should move to.
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Have them in circles
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Mobile Andrio

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Check out the new promo video for the game!
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Good Vibrations ;-)

The recent release v2.8 of the game adds vibration effects for game events like jumping, bumping in or on monsters and collecting coins and bonus items. It's IMHO pretty cool to get this additional haptic feedback in addition to sound and visuals, but if you don't like it you can disable it in the game settings.
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Mobile Andrio

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What to learn from comments in the Market, episode 1

Took a look today at comments on the app in the Android Market for the game. What's interesting to see at first sight is that ratings with comments are mostly very low ("this is the worst game I've ever seen") or very high ("best game ever"), while the rest of the ratings is a bit more evenly distributed (except that five-star ratings are given the most, by far :-) ).

I also take a look at the comments because sometimes (unfortunately not very often) they give some insight on problems in an app. Since I've often seen complaints about the game's controls, I took a closer look now on comments regarding the controls. Here are some examples:

1. "Awesome Game good... Controls REALLY GOOD CONTROLS COULDN'T BE BETTER"
2. "Mobile Andrio Didn't like it. Controls stink."
3. "Controls useless Looks good enough but moves too quickly and ends up running into little red ball monster thing"
4. "Terrible...the controls are useless!!!"
5. "Controls suck On screen controls are worthless. It just does random jumps and moving when the screen is touched."
6. "mobile andrio i really dont like this came....oy is hard to play on a touch screen"
7. "Would be better with easier controls"

So what can we see? First, most comments regarding controls are negative ones, where users tell me that the controls are difficult or unusable. Second, there are some (the first in the list above is not the only one) comments that tell that the controls are great. So what is true now?

Personally I get the feeling that many of those complaining about the game don't read the popup text that gets displayed prior to the first game and which tells how the controls work. E.g. comment no. 5 above looks like that, because the user did not understand that you have to click the point where you want to move and that clicking a point above the hero lets him jump. Of course I can understand that people don't want to read a lot of messages, but instead want to start playing the game. So what to do instead of such a simple message? A tutorial? I tried that with another game of mine and it looks like it did not work.

Anyone have an idea how to best introduce the controls to the users?
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Mobile Andrio

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Problems with the controls?

Despite the fact that the game supports control via keyboard, orientation sensor, trackball and touchscreen (and combinations of these) including some customization options, a lot of people still complain that the game is difficult to control. But I'd like to know what exactly is the problem as well as whether people have a suggestion how to improve the controls.

So, if you belong to those people who dislike the current controls, please give some feedback about the precise problems and perhaps also a proposed solutions. There are a lot of people who comment the game, writing about the controls and using all types of swearwords, but this does not help in improving the game. Therefore please post some more useful comments here (or write an email to me via the developer contact link in the Android Market app) and help making the game better.

Thanks
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Have them in circles
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Story
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News for the Mobile Andrio game app
Introduction
Mobile Andrio is a 2D side-scrolling jump-and-run game in the style of SuperMario, Giana Sisters and similar games. It (currently) has 16 levels ofincreasing difficulty.

Highscores get uploaded to the social gaming network Scoreloop, and you cancompare your highscore with those of players all around the world. Furthermoreyou can start challenge games against other players to determine the betterplayer in a 1:1 situation.

The game can be controlled using keyboard (preferred), touchscreen, orientationsensor or trackball. The keyboard assignment can be customized and it is possible to use from a set of different on-screen controls for the touchscreen.