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iPhone: Pocket God 1.28 - The Pyg Chill (Update is OUT)

11-28-2009, 07:03 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Location: San Francisco, Ca
Posts: 1,477
Pocket God 1.28 - The Pyg Chill (Update is OUT)

lol, the days are getting shorter and our updates are taking longer. We are actually working on a lot of different things, things that are also taking a lot longer to kick off than we originally thought, hoping to have an announcement this month, but January at the latest. Its definitely another game in the Pocket God world, itís different than the main Pocket God game and we will still support the main game for a while, we have the next two update in the trilogy to finish at a minimum. Plus the current game will help promote our future projects so we don't want it to ever completely go away.

So, we submitted The Big Chill last Monday, we were told by other developers that the 24th was the last day to submit a game (or an update) and be guaranteed that it would be approved before the holidays. Now, we did a little digging and Apple didn't confirm that with us but 4 weeks should be enough time for the update to get through approval. Hopefully it will take more like 2-3 weeks like usual, I am sure Apple is working their butt off trying to get as many apps approved before the holidays as possible.

This update is pretty humongous, itís about 2 and a half updates worth of functionality in a single shot. Originally, we wanted to give ourselves a little rest (lately, we crash pretty hard after we submit an update) and only do a new location, some basic functionality, a skin pack and the memory cleanup so we can keep adding more graphics without crashing. We took a week and a half to work on design for our other project and rest up a bit, then we realized that there was a possibility that we could only get a single update this year because of all the apps that are being submitted. We decided to do a bigger update that was more of a holiday update, include a mini game and some other functionality that's a little above and beyond the original scope.

So, this update has the following. Dynamic Texture loading (more on this is a bit), the ice island, a new map screen with a cool transition, an Ice Monster, an interactive Igloo, and the holiday SkinPack. Now, we really didnít want to cheese out with the Ice Monster and do something like the T-Rex or the Spider so we really pushed this quite a bit and made it more like a real boss monster. He starts off where the volcano is located and rises up out of the water and throws snow balls at the pygmies. In order to hurt him, you have to flick pygmies at him like you are flicking them into the volcano. The tricky thing is that there are different modes to the Ice Monster, just like a traditional Boss monster, sometimes he attacks, sometimes he recharges, sometimes he can block your shots and you have to figure out his weakness to beat him. This is probably worth 1 update, we put a lot of time into him.

The Igloo has much more functionality than something like the Out House. You can toss a pygmy or fish into top of the Igloo and when both are in the Igloo, the Pygmy starts a fire and eats the fish. If you try and stick two Pygmies in the Igloo at the same time, the first Pygmy gets thrown out of the door of the Igloo and bowls everyone in his way off the island. If you tap the Igloo while the Pygmy is cooking the fish, the fire explodes and fires the Pygmy out of the roof like a cannon. And of course you can hit the Ice Monster with the Pygmy Cannon, but itís hard to catch more fish while the Ice Monster is throwing snowballs at you. This and the Ice Island is probably worth another update.

The Map screen is something we were thinking of doing for a while, It gives us a lot more room and flexibility for adding new locations. It also makes the world seem a little deeper. The thing that convinced us to do it was the Dynamic Texture loading, when I first started working on the optimization, I needed something to mask the texture transitions from one island to the other.

That leads into the Tech part of the update, the Dynamic Texture loading. We used to have a series of 6 1024x1024 texture atlases that contained all the graphics from the game, all mixed together in no particular order. I reorganized it so we have 4 main 1024x1024 atlases, 2 compressed, 2 16bit. Then assigned each island its own 512x512 atlas which I swap out when we load a new location. At first I wasn't sure how noticeable the load would be but it turns out that it only takes about a tenth of a second on a slow device to load it into memory. Then, for the skin packs, I have a custom 256x256 atlas for big skins like the trex, but for smaller skins, I just update their textures in the atlas its located in. ie, letís say the bird is in Atlas 1. When a user switches the skin, I take all the graphics for the bird and blit it into the parts of Atlas 1 where the old bird textures are located. The only drawback to this is all the pieces of each skin need to be the same size. I will probably work around this limitation later on but this is still a pretty big step forward for us.

The other part of the Tech update is that we are caching all the leaderboard scores and achievements until you open feint. Before we would send a message to the leaderboard every time you killed a pygmy or game it a gift, and on some devices, you would see some bad stuttering while it was updating the server. This change actually improves the framerate by a huge amount. btw, this is no fault of feint, we are simply abusing their server and using the leaderboards in a very non standard way. lol. I donít think any other games on feint have more than 70 leaderboards in their game and send new high scores every time a character gets killed.

The holiday skin pack is pretty cool. We tried to mix up the ideas a bit and not do things that are too christmassy, but to do things that are more associated with the holidays and the season. We made some objects into toys, candy, or ice statues. The volcano is actually Santaís workshop. The statue is a giant nut cracker. (lol, nut cracker).

The one thing that we didn't add to this update was temperature change. We really wanted to add it but we were running low on time and it seemed like the igloo fit better. We will be doing a temperature change as part of the ice trilogy. So it's coming up. About our schedule, it looks like we will be moving to every 3-4 weeks between updates from now on. We have to kick off the projects I spoke about at the start of the post and also, just give ourselves time to rest.

11-28-2009, 07:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 10,506

11-28-2009, 07:05 PM
Joined: May 2009
Location: The Golden State
Posts: 5,809
Oh wow

Add me on Steam for TF2: eggzbacon
11-28-2009, 07:06 PM
Oh, very excited... Hope apple lets it out of review fast!

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11-28-2009, 07:07 PM
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: At that place... with those... people...
Posts: 1,195
Cool! Can't wait!

OMG. Double Rainbow!
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11-28-2009, 07:12 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 464
Wow! Awesome update! S'gonna be great!
11-28-2009, 07:12 PM
Joined: May 2009
Location: Here...
Posts: 923
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great work dave! too bad there's no temp change now...

PS: no news about the PG anniversary?! NOOO!!!!
PPS: ill write a dual review later...

11-28-2009, 07:13 PM
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 458
Wow, that's a crap load of awesome. The igloo sounds interesting!
Beastly, guys.

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11-28-2009, 07:14 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: England
Posts: 3,254

11-28-2009, 07:14 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: India
Posts: 14
oh yes!!..one of the best part of PG is finally here (SOTI).
way toooo coooooool icon...literally