iOS 11 finally killed my game I made in 2011

Sep 20, 2017 ios11 squiz trivia objectivec
I spent about a good year making my first iOS game along with my brother beginning in 2011 during the app 'gold rush'. It was an enormous effort for such a small game. At the time I wasn't satisfied even after launch but looking back and opening the game now and then I'm proud of what we made - sQuiz Reel Trivia.

There were other trivia games on the store but we decided to make a trivia game that tried to capture the casual movie goers to movie buffs. Though we only accomplished making the game impossible, which I like to think now could have a cult following if we had kept it up.

Despite going against the MVC paradigm I'd learnt in university and making it as easy for myself as possible, the learning curve for Objective-C was steep. I had literally had no modular code, array indexes were leaving their bounds, memory was leaking, my laptop was boiling my lap loading the simulator. I had NSLog's littered throughout my code, with warnings upon warnings about memory and deprecated functions. I think the worst part from memory was connecting all the views together. Shoutout to Cocos2d for making everything a lot easier and to Ray Wenderlich's iOS tutorials. I'm pretty sure Cocos2D are still around today but Apple did make their own SpriteKit a few years after 2011. It was a learning experience like no other. Making something from scratch rather than following some lab sheets telling what you to do is milestones away from each other. What I failed to realise was not only did I have to design the game, graphics and the rules, the code encapsulating the classes and data had to be designed as well and I can say in the end it wasn't world class code, though it was organised by view, I'd give it that much but I believe the MVC pattern would have suited it much better for future iterations.

It also never stood a chance against what other apps had released at the time, with their fancy 3D or smooth 2D colourful graphics, high quality orchestrated music, branding, advertising. Back when the app store was organised in a different fashion, there existed a section just for trivia apps (just checked on iOS 11 and it's back!) we'd reached the top 3 in the Trivia section for Australia. Which was amazing except for the fact that Australia was a small market ha-ha. The app survived via word of mouth, and through gaming forums (Neogaf). There was overall good reception but the game was much harder than we anticipated. When we first began to write trivia questions, we'd watch each movie so that things were still fresh in our mind. But if you hadn't seen the movie before or hadn't watched it in a long while, the question was literally impossible. Scores were very low all round and despite being a movie buff myself, I'd fail numerous questions too. Admittedly I never finished the game, there were over 1500 questions and each new game tried to bring in fresh questions to add replayability and a never-ending feel.

Why am I proud of such a simple quiz game? sQuiz had very little engagement during gameplay, it may have sparked some nostalgia with certain movies and brought to light some events in movies that people didn't notice before but I spent a lot of time on the opening screen. This is one of the main reasons why I was proud of the game. Each time I'd open the app on occasion, it never felt old, each time Apple released a new version of their mobile operating system, it would also still work (I guess the code wasn't as bad as it was!). The menu, the music, the graphics really put me in my place that I was about to enter something great. And to top it all off, I had placed a new fact about a movie on the front to add a little spark. I think I'd really captured what I had intended from the beginning.

The app totalled about ~4000-5000 downloads. I had plans to release sQuiz 2.0 but they never came to fruition, as bigger companies like IMDB had released their own powerhouse trivia app and I even thought of using their API but I didn't believe it was worth the time. I went on to make Mach X which was my sci-fi inspiration of Jetpack Joyride, and I do feel the same appreciation for making it and opening the app. The atmosphere in the main menu is awesome.

Both sQuiz Reel Trivia and Mach X are no longer on the app store unfortunately but if you do a quick google search for the games you can find screenshots and comments about what people thought about the game. I currently do not have any plans to come back to them but who knows I do need ideas for Augmented Reality. Maybe an AR trivia game?

You can find the sQuiz code here:

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