At Zipline, we run a busy game studio as well as building the Moai platform. We know that successful games require great reviews, getting good reviews requires a great player experience, and ensuring a great player experience on all kinds of different devices and device OSs requires a lot of testing. We've learned a lot about testing since we started Zipline, and today we are announcing a partnership with AppThwack to help all Moai developers streamline their game testing on Android.

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AppThwack is a great service for Android game devs who don't have access to a large QA department or device budget. Simply upload your Android APK and see it run on over 100 real, physical phones and tablets in a few minutes (no emulation here). You can detect screen layout issues, crashes and other problems immediately. You can also instrument your APK via Robotium if you want to script more in-depth testing.

Using AppThwack, even the smallest studio can test their game for a fraction of the time and cost of traditional manual testing, and there are special rates for indie developers.

Sound useful?  You can sign up for a free AppThwack account here. Let us know what you think in the Moai forums.

A lot of modern mobile games are supported by mobile advertising (either exclusively or in addition to in-app purchases). But there are a lot of ad networks out there, and in some cases the the fill rates and monetization on a per user/per impression basis is quite disappointing. In this interview, Mike from the Moai team questions Ryan Morel (of PlacePlay) about the state of the mobile advertising space and innovations in the market.

 

 

- Mike.

The latest Moai SDK is now available for download. For this 1.3 release, we have new features, bug fixes and we have brought Android closer to feature parity with iOS.

MOAISim.setTraceback saw a lot of attention, which will allow for better error reporting. We've also got improved Crittercism crash reporting with Lua stack traces and support for the Facebook SDK 3.0 on iOS.

A special thanks to Moai contributors markusFisch, mirsadm, tommo, shanehyde, franciscotufro, and sgeos for their contributions to this latest release.

Coming up next for Moai SDK - support for iOS 6 and iPhone 5 with Xcode 4.5.

Here are the highlights of the Moai 1.3 release.

  • Added MD5 Hash Writer to compute a hash of a stream as it writes
  • Added Crittercism crash reporting for Lua stack traces, See samples/util/util-crash-report
  • Fixed network reachability initialization on iOS
  • Fixed input bug with multiple presses in one 'Frame'
  • Android - Fixed incorrect accelerometer data on tablets
  • Android  - Added C-Ares ( Fixes DNS lookup blocking on HTTP calls )
  • Android  -Added MOAILocationSensor
  • Android - Added MOAICompassSensor
  • Android - Fixed status bar issues with 3.1 tablets
  • iOS - Updated Facebook SDK to 3.0
  • iOS - Updated Crittercism SDK
  • MOAIApp - Added getUTCTime to Mobile
  • MOAILayer - Fixed bugs where MOAILayer:setVisible had no effect
  • MOAIHttpTask - Added 'getProgress' function to HTTPTask for Curl
  • MOAIJsonParser - Fix for issue with 64bit ints
  • MOAIFmodEx fixes for 'setLooping'

If you've wanted to see a neutral third party review and comparison of the Lua game development platforms available, the Game From Scratch blog has posted a "Battle of the Lua Game Engines" review covering Moai vs. Corona, LÖVE, and Gideros.

While Moai gets called out on being more difficult than some alternatives (as price for flexibility) and needing better documentation, the summary says it all:

"[Moai] supports the most targets of all the libraries, has complete source code, and more importantly, the source code is very well written and very easy to read."

"For a commercial product for iOS/Android, I would select Moai. The API is a natural fit to my coding style ( I prefer flexibility over accessibility for time critical code ) and the C++ source code is a great boon to me, but to a non-C++ programmer, this would obviously be less important. Also of course, the price is nice. Most importantly, the open nature means I know I will never encounter a problem that I can’t code my way out of, the biggest downside to Corona."

Thanks to Game From Scratch for a fair evaluation from a developer's perspective.

Great news: our buddy Paul Kulchenko just added Moai SDK support to ZeroBrane Studio! ZeroBrane Studio is a slick IDE for Lua and Lua-based frameworks that supports full debugging, watches and stack view. I took it for a test drive over the weekend and was really impressed.

Check out Paul's screencast for a demo of Moai support and the project links:

http://notebook.kulchenko.com/zerobrane/moai-debugging-with-zerobrane-studio

It's pretty nifty.

MirsadM and his company Gravity Four contacted us this morning about their newest game release: Fruit Versus Robot.  Made with Moai, the game is already available in iTunes, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store for Android.

This is a neat game that lets Android and iOS users build a player avatar and then compete with friends or other online users in a variety of trivia and arcade mini games.

Check out Fruit vs. Robot on your mobile device, and contact Mirsad directly through our forums if you'd like to roll out a mini game inside this competitive framework.

Korby Sears interviews Todd Hooper on the MOAI mobile game development platform, the state of HTML5, Strikefleet Omega, Wolf Toss, and Double Fine's choice of the Moai platform for the upcoming Double Fine Adventure.

Recorded at Casual Connect 2012 in Seattle, WA.

We've been talking recently to Alejandro Jiménez. Alejandro is working on a cool set of Moai wrapper libraries called Durazno and has also begun a tutorial blog to help people learn Moai/Durazno. I'm really excited by what Alejandro is doing and pleased to see great middleware projects like Durazno being built on top of Moai - it's exactly what I hoped would happen.

Please check out Alejandro's site and if you like what you see support him! Most Moai users wind up writing or using a wrapper, so if Alejandro's can help you don't be shy to let him know. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where his project goes.

Last week, RapidFire Studios posted about changing mobile game platforms and moving to a new title. It's a short article that gives you insight into their view point and goes through a pretty detailed comparison between Moai and Unity. Here's an excerpt:

When you’re running a business, you want to pay for things that actually matter. Moai is great in that regard. The engine itself is free. What you pay for (if you choose to) is their cloud offering, which allows you to build networked games, send push notifications, etc with a freemium, scale-as-you-go model. It’s free to get started and the fees increase only as usage increases. And the prices are very competitive.

...so we made Slots Tycoon and launched it today! We think Slots Tycoon has the highest production values of any slot machine game in any of the app stores today, and we know players love it already because reviews are averaging over 4 stars.

We expect great things from Slots Tycoon, and for good reasons. We've built in all the supporting services a modern mobile game needs and have been monitoring the game's performance as we tuned it for 8 weeks in a single geography prior to this launch. Slots Tycoon makes use of very detailed analytics, social gifting and invitation features, player re-engagement features, app performance monitoring, and customer support tools through Moai Cloud, and Moai partner services ApSalar and Crittercism. We already know the game makes a healthy ARPDAU, has high player retention, and crashes at a rate of less than 0.2% across all iOS and Android devices.

We're really excited about this launch, both because Slots Tycoon is a great casino game that players are enjoying, and also because once again, our small, focused studio team has been able to use Moai SDK and Moai Cloud to sim-ship a top-rated mobile game on both iOS and Android with everything the game needs to be an ongoing source of player entertainment and studio revenue.

Try your luck in Slots Tycoon today, and let us know what you think!

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If you're an iOS developer and sell virtual goods in your app, you've no doubt heard about the recent hack that gives users unlimited access to your in-app purchases by simulating the Apple services with a rogue server. Of course, this hack only affects apps that don't follow Apple's recommended practice of doing server-side receipt validation.

Fortunately, server side receipt validation is trivially easy to do using Moai Cloud. Sample code after the fold.

For HTTP requests Moai Cloud exposes curl and not much else. I've posted some HTTP boilerplate below the fold. This was hastily adapted from my own service production code. I'm posting it now for use in my next blog post. I'll be formally releasing a production-hardened version of this code (along with my web service utilities) in the near future so stay tuned.

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Louis-Philippe, the creator and editor of the Spanish developers blog Louesfera.com, recently interviewed Zipline CEO Todd Hooper about the past, present and future of Moai. You can read the interview online at:
http://www.louesfera.com/2012/07/13/interview-of-todd-hooper-ceo-of-zipline-games-usa/

The Moai team just wrapped up a great session in the Android developer sandbox at Google I/O 2012. Thanks to everyone who came and said hello, talked about games and Moai. We were also showing sneak peeks of some new Moai features coming in the next few months and some of the games Zipline has been working on. And of course everyone has been playing Strikefleet Omega!

Team Moai in the Android Sandbox at Google I/O 2012

Google had a slew of great announcements at I/O, including the gorgeous Nexus 7 tablet, which sets a new bar for Android tablet design and performance, and Android 4.1 aka Jelly Bean. Getting hands on with Android 4.1 showed that Google has done some great work on performance optimization that is directly relevant to game development, and we noticed  existing Moai games play smoother and better on Android 4.1. We'll be writing more on that topic soon, but the good news is that Google is more serious about games on Android than ever.