Unpublishing and back to blogging

My blogging for the past couple of years has been pretty sporadic, but after the latest update of the site, I want to give this a try again and write blog posts regularly. We’ll see how it goes.

Today I unpublished my very first Android app, “A Brief History of Rome”. BHR was basically an off-shoot of a simple little game I had programmed in Java to do some UI testing. During a weekend when I had a little time, I did the port to Android and published it. The reception was always mixed – some like the rogue-like strategy gameplay; others couldn’t wrap their head around a strategy game where the goal was not “world conquest” – but the feedback made me want to do something better. Which was what led to Pirates and Traders. “A Brief History of Rome” ended life with just above 50,000 downloads. Not bad for what was originally two weekends of work.

At the same time, I also unpublished the Retro versions of Pirates and Traders.

When I originally created Pirates and Traders: Gold, one of the things I promised was that I would use the money earned to improve the game with better graphics and add music. I did so, but by the time that work had been finished, the new version – today’s Pirates and Traders – looked and played quite differently from the original game. In addition to the new graphics, the RPG system had seen a complete overhaul, the map was completely rebuilt, and more depth got added to the game. But I didn’t want to publish a new app, as this would mean everyone who had bought the old version would have to buy it again, so I simply bumped up the version number to 2.0.0, and published it as an update.

Pirates and Traders 2.0.0 was a disaster. The jump from the old to the new version was huge, and that caused a lot of bugs – some of which affected savegames. It took months to clean up the mess. In retrospect, I wish I had done it differently back then, although I still feel it was the right decision to honor the promise I had made. But – as it turned out – many people actually preferred the simpler P&T gameplay of the original, to the new version and I started receiving e-mails from people asking for me to bring it back. Thus was born Pirates and Traders: Retro (and later, Old Gold). Making Pirates and Traders 2 actually the third game in the “series”… confused yet?

Unfortunately, by this point, the development of Android phones has outstripped the code in those games. I do not have the time required to go in an fix the code, and by this point, it is mostly unplayable on modern phones with high-resolution displays. So – I think – the best thing to do is just to unpublish them. The retro versions of Pirates and Traders ended up having been downloaded more than 65,000 times.

Now it’s back to work on the other projects. I would really like to be able to push the “Publish” button on one of those games this year.