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Show HN: I built an iOS remake of that old windows game SkiFree (thewaterbear.com)
107 points by dave_chenell on Jan 13, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 54 comments

Me too (sort-of). On Android. 2 years ago.


My stats: I only have a little over 21K downloads, and the non-ad version has only made a few bucks. Ad revenue equates to a couple movie tickets every so often I guess. Wrote it in Monkey-X for cross-platform functionality, but only ever put it on Android for some reason.

I've done no marketing. Never been featured. My dad likes it. I'm 35. I get sadder with every period I type.

EDIT: I wouldn't normally post self-promotion type stuff on HN, but I think it applies here because I did write a similar game, coded it by hand, put in the time, made my own silly graphics, but my stats represent the other 99% of us game devs that rarely get featured and remain off the radar. Some call our apps pollution in the app store, but those of us who legitimately write them are proud of them none-the-less, even if they make no money, though we'd honestly like them to.

I think a big difference is your game isn't as graphically polished - the OP has a buddy they work with and evidently knows more about graphics..

Also, last I looked at the numbers, iOS users pay more money than Android one. (sigh)

I'll check your game out next time I'm looking for an android game!

Thanks, I hope you get a chance to check it out. But I have to ask, and I know art is subjective, but why do you find his art style better? I see cubes and triangles. It's probably pointless, but I feel like, if I can see what everyone else sees, maybe my art can get better. Or maybe that's impossible.

Thanks for not taking this personally. I wish I could quantify verbally what makes his art distinctively better. Part of it is that he's tapped into the zeitgeist of iOS styling - the flat look, the muted colors with a heavy dash of grey, the minimalism. That styling has heavily influenced current app design across the board.

Looking at yours on the Play Store, some things stand out to my untrained eye:

- Drop shadows on the title.

- The trees don't look clean (and I have no idea how to dig into that).

- The end scene fonts don't look sharp - they look kind of comic sans.

- The configuration is accessed via buttons, instead of the standard Android styling of the "..." button.

- The icon's person graphics are both too detailed and not detailed enough - they are in an uncanny valley of "eh".

- There's no cohesion of colors: there are multiple shades of green; multiple colors of buttons; multiple shades of blue. Multiple shades is fine, but for UI elements, they are like different colored trim on a house for the same things - window sills.

If you have a friend who is into graphic design, have them write you a critique.

It also turns me off, hard, when apps have exclamation points in the title or the "Free" word. It signifies cheapness for some reason.

Art and design are subjective, but there ARE color schemes, game design "rules", and UX rules of thumb that will make your app more pleasing to the end user.

A good exercise would be to download/play the top 100 games on the app stores and write a sentence about each one articulating why you think it's a popular/good game. Over time you'll improve your sense of taste for good design.

Good luck!

Hi! Thanks for sharing. I agree it's important to talk about the 99% of indies who never get to the top of the app stores.

I downloaded your app. The best feedback I can give is that it's too difficult to get through the gates with tilt controls. It doesn't give me the peaceful sense of skiing down the slopes (that the iOS game above claims to provide).

There is a huge element of luck to it, but the top indie games all have a great sense of graphics design and UX design that make them a joy to play. Users are verrry picky, and may skip downloading your app even if the icon doesn't meet their bar of quality.

My dream is to be able to design something as nice as Monument Valley.

Thanks for the feedback, it's always appreciated. My high score is 72, the trick is to re-center after each gate ;)

Over the last year, I stopped releasing games. I used to just keep putting them out, thinking they were polished enough, because of all this talk about "just launch" and game jams like #1gam seem to encourage the "just make games" mentality.

However, while all that is great fun, I've changed my view. I'm now prototyping a lot, and will only work more on a game I fall in love with. At the moment, that's a point and click adventure game and enjine.

I actually like this Snowboarding game, and am proud of it because I think it's fun, but I'm with you.... It's time to shoot for the moon, set the bar really high and make a game that's truly special.

1gam and ludum dare are great ways to experiment with new ideas, but they rarely result in the level of polish needed to succeed on the mobile stores. Of course there are crazy success stories like Flappy Bird, but even Notch spent a lot of time iterating and improving Minecraft. Shipping v 1.0 is just the start!

I released my game on the app store a few weeks ago [1] (which incidentally kinda plays like both of your games), and I'm only around 300 downloads... But I'm sure more will come! I'm not really hoping to be featured though, it's too random from what I've seen.

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lina-a-game-about-lines/id89... - A big update is coming soon too!

Got the message,

This app is incompatible with all of your devices.

That's five different android devices.

Nice! Needs abominable snow monster though... :-)

And a keyboard https://xkcd.com/667/

Oh man! 9 year old me just flipped out. I can't believe you could actually outrun him...

I was blown away by that comic when I first saw it.

WHOA. Did not know that.

(edit: added sentence)

I put a snow monster in my Android version :) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.fizzl.ski&...

Although I wrote it 5 years ago, no clue if it works on modern phones...

Yes, I would love to ski as a sasquatch

Not the snowman, but there is an In-App purchase for "The Bear"

Is he similar to the monster in Ski Free in function?

The IAP for the bear, lets you ski as the bear https://twitter.com/davechenell/status/545580869696888833, Chasing monsters coming soon http://thewaterbear.com/obstacle-avoidance-a-i/

Who is "we?" At first I thought you did the whole thing by yourself and was going to say I'm always amazed by the people who can design and code, especially a game. Seems impossible. Great stuff regardless how many people worked on it though. That's insane you did literally no marketing and the App Store picked it up like that, especially these days, congrats!

Thanks I appreciate it. I do design and code yet I work with my friend Eric on everything. I think working with someone is good for your product and sanity :) We also got extremely lucky that Apple featured the game.

Just a quick note: if I turn the audio off and then tap "Main Menu" in the settings screen, the audio turns back on. I like the game!

Thanks I appreciate it! I will definitely fix that in the next update.

For 200k downloads, I would think there would be a few more ratings on the app. My app Orb has about 2000 downloads and about the same number of ratings. I do like the game graphics quite a bit and I love the simplicity.

[1] - https://joeblau.com/orb/

This looks gorgeous. On a related note you can get the original game too - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/skifree/id588839086?mt=8 Not as pretty though :)

I don't know how they can say they're the "official" one, or use the original assets, when the publisher of it has nothing to do with the original SkiFree author (nor is there any mention on the original SkiFree page about it having an iOS version). And then on top of all that, to charge money for it when the original is free: http://ski.ihoc.net/

Does anyone know the process Apple uses to decide to feature an app?

Is there a process completely separate from initial approval that goes through every new app, or does it just come down to piquing the interest of someone in the approval process?

I'm not trying to take anything away from this game, or its developers, but this sort of success in the first week from a developer with only one other app in the app store seems akin to hitting the lottery.

I've heard from a few people that they've been selected for featuring during the approval process. I haven't been able to verify that, but it sounded plausible.

The only method that I'm aware of that Apple gives for promotion is to contact them at appstorepromotion@apple.com. I've never gotten a reply from them, not sure if anyone else has, but that's the official address.

Another method that seems effective is networking with important people at Apple. I know of at least two instances of apps being featured based off of knowing the right people at Apple, but I'm not sure the best way to find those people or to get their attention.

Super nice, dude!

I made a port (rather than a remake, like yours, with fancy new graphics ;) for the web which works on mobile: https://basicallydan.github.io/skifree.js. It has the monster and snowboarders.

Yours is much prettier though :D Nice work and well done on the success!

There's a constant background noise in your homepage video that doesn't seem to be related to what's happening in the game. Is that intentional?

Yeah, its the sound from the game, a sort of white noise to add atmosphere? Real music and sound effects will be coming in an update :)

The default skis carve like crap, can I rent some demos?

Well done! Just one thing I noticed, the speed is mph and the distance unit is meters. Would be nice to change speed to km/h.

Looks great! Reminds me of http://www.mythicmtn.com/

Sadly no iOS here. Did you include the monster? Because it sais endless. I hope that's just to trick people.

Nice game! (Yes, soothing and stressful.)

BTW I got a "Welcome back (some name)" message on the first play.

You do realize this is the Game Center message and not actually from the app?

Reminds me of Intellivision Skiing

I really like the game and the graphics, but what kind of license of Unity3D is it ?

When you jump, it still shows the skid marks. Other than that, this is awesome!

Nice game! Screenshots are missing for iPad in the App Store

Ingemar's Skiing Game was one of the best versions...

Congratulations! What platform did you use to build it?

Thanks! It was built in Unity3D

Will you be releasing an android version?

Can someone explain something to me. When using a cross-platform engine, like Unity3d, why don't developers release it on more platforms? Is it difficult to do so? Is it a lot more work to release on other platforms?

Yeah, Android version is coming soon, hopefully before the end of Jan. I did use Unity3D, and while it is very easy to port, releasing on two platforms can be time consuming for one person while I'm freelancing fulltime. Dealing with tracking bugs, IAP, GameCenter, Google Play, optimization, Screen sizes etc adds up. Also I lack an android device at the moment for reliable testing.

I built a cross platform app a while back. The major barrier to releasing it right away for every platform was QA testing it on the myriad devices and OS versions we wanted it to be stable on. The framework only went so far for working out issues on devices with so many combinations of screen sizes, resolutions, and ratios, not to mention memory, cpu, and graphics capabilities.

Android users often harp about apps that are released first for iOS, but it's much easier to QA on a fairly limited number of devices, launch the app and start proving your idea/generating revenue on iOS first. At least in my experience, releasing a cross-platform app for both operating systems at the same time means either delaying iOS to QA Android properly, or releasing a half-baked Android version that gets 25 1-star reviews right out of the gate because of a weird edge case bug with some device you didn't test on.

awesome visual design, and the physics of carving through the snow is super satisfying/addicting. great job man!

Absolutely love the game! Well done!

Oh man, this takes me back!

Gorgeous UI and artwork!


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