thoughts on app store woes

As a software developer, I hear a lot of news these days surrounding the iPhone App Store. Most of it is centered on the horrible approval process. Yet, no matter how many sob stories I read, I never find them that shocking. What I do find surprising is that no one seems to be acknowledging the analogue between the App Store approval process and the requirements and testing required by game console manufacturers.

[Redacted], [Redacted], and [Redacted] all have guidelines for games that are released for their consoles. In every case there are strict requirements and testing for any piece of software intended for commercial release. I’ve worked at three game companies so far in my short career as a developer, and while I’ve never worked directly on meeting the certification requirements for a game, I’ve both seen and heard many struggles that make App Store approval seem like a walk in the park.

Submission of a title is in most cases accompanied by a fee. Failure to meet specifications (some of which may be undocumented) or pass manufacturer testing usually requires resubmission and repayment of the aforementioned fee. Requirements seem to change at the whim of the manufacturer, and it is not uncommon for games to fail multiple times. Not to mention that when a game goes to manufacture there is a per unit cost that is no trivial percentage of the retail price to add to whatever percentage your contract awards to the publisher.

I think what is really behind the complaints about the App Store is that most of its developers are transitioning from open application environments like PC, Mac, and the web, all of which have very few barriers between development and release. I can say that from a game development perspective, having worked on closed platforms, Apple’s offering with the App Store seems to be a favorable platform in terms of the app certification process.

Full disclosure: I’m a total Apple fanboy.


Doesn’t this sound appetizing: Meat Grown In Laboratory In World First

font stack dilemma

Helvetica? Oh, you must mean Arial!

While setting up a font stack for a page in my site I noticed that it wasn’t choosing the fonts in the order that I had specified whenever I viewed the page in any browser on Windows (XP). For the life of me it seemed like my fonts were getting ignored by the rules. I did a little Googling and found that’s exactly what’s happening. Apparently if Helvetica is specified anywhere, but not installed, Arial is considered the best substitute regardless of what your typographic sensibilities are telling you. In fact, this registry key is to blame (Update: some machines have additional things contributing to the issue as well):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes\“Helvetica”=“Arial”

Workaround? Call up every person who will ever view your website, and politely ask them to delete this registry key. Disregard what other implications that action might cause.

I’m hoping this helps illuminate the problem for anyone who can’t figure it out.

don’t fear 2012

An article just came out on Slashdot about NASA stepping in to calm peoples’ fears concerning the latest disaster film, 2012. It might sound quite humorous, but what I find a little disturbing is how frightened some people actually are. Here is a quote from NASA scientist David Morrison on questions he’s receiving from people:

I’ve had three from young people saying they were contemplating committing suicide. I’ve had two from women contemplating killing their children and themselves. I had one last week from a person who said, “I’m so scared, my only friend is my little dog. When should I put it to sleep so it won’t suffer?” And I don’t know how to answer those questions.

It’s sad to see people pushed into a frenzy over a movie, and not a very good one from what I hear.

@skoda on @technochocolate on