聽Jeff Vogel講述自己選擇離開iOS平臺的原因

作者:Heather Newman

Jeff Vogel做事從不會手下留情。當他的獨立遊戲公司最近在iOS上發行了角色扮演遊戲《阿佛納姆2》又在不久後撤銷了遊戲後,我們知道他將能和我們分享一些重要的內容。

他表示並未對此感到失望。以下你將看到,雖然Spiderweb Software過去在平板電腦上賺取了巨大的銷量,但是你之後卻不會在iPad上看到他們的遊戲的原因。

Avernum 2(from venturebeat)

Avernum 2(from venturebeat)

GamesBeat:你已經開發了iOS遊戲一段時間了。爲什麼選擇現在放棄?

Jeff Vogel:對於蘋果產品,我們需要意識到的最重要的事是它們總是會很快便過時。蘋果的工程師總是不斷改變他們的硬件和軟件。根據我的經驗,任何誕生了幾年的設備都不可能再運行一些全新的操作系統。

我做了20年的蘋果設備程序編程工作也始終是一項複雜的工作。蘋果總是不斷淘汰一些早舊的代碼,並迫使程序員需要不斷學習並修改所有內容。有時候這些改變能夠成就一些更出色的設備和軟件。但有時候,這卻是不能帶給開發者和用戶任何好處的討厭的改變。而在你完全放棄前,這都是你需要忍受並學習的東西。

而對此蘋果並未作出任何反應。2014年,每天iTunes上會出現500款新遊戲。所以我認爲如果90%的遊戲開發者一夜間全部消失,蘋果可能會爲此欣喜落狂。Steam也是如此。

在某種程度上蘋果是很仁慈的。通常情況下當他們在設備編程方面做出巨大改變時,他們都會再沿用早前程序幾年去幫助開發者們進行調整。而《阿佛納姆2》所遇到的問題在於時機不對。

GamesBeat:爲什麼你們要撤銷《阿佛納姆2》呢?

Vogel:對於iOS 8,蘋果對程序如何創造一個窗口和註冊事件(遊戲邦注:碰觸,旋轉設備等)做出了巨大的改變。我開發了一款遊戲並在iOS 8.2上對它進行了測試。遊戲中的所有內容都能有效地運行於之前的系統上。於是我便提交了遊戲,它也通過了測試並準備發行。

但是在遊戲發行前幾天iOS 8.3出現了,並造成了一些巨大的變化。一些內容不能再正常運行了,並且在不同設備上也會出現不同的變化。

我找不到任何解決問題的方法,即使我這麼做了,我也不可能違背自己的良心去發行遊戲。據我所知8.4或8.5版本將破壞掉之前的所有內容,我也不敢保證自己能否不斷修改代碼,因爲蘋果肯定會再次讓我使用全新的代碼。

所以我需要擁有一個全新的遊戲引擎。我花了幾個月的時間去尋找並學習引擎,移植遊戲並測試遊戲。但是最終的銷量卻不能與我的努力持衡。要知道我每一天可是在與500款全新遊戲相較量。所以我最終選擇了放棄。

我猜在過去幾年裏已經有許多開發者離開了這裏。而他們可能並未像我一樣注意到這些。

GamesBeat:爲什麼現在iOS的改變會影響到你現在的遊戲,但是之前的改變卻對早前的遊戲沒有太大影響?

Vogel:我將不得不變得更擅長技能。我們的全新遊戲是一款64位體的應用。而之前的遊戲都是32位體。它們使用的是蘋果已經淘汰但仍然可行的早前的代碼基礎。但是我認爲現在的蘋果有可能徹底淘汰所有的32位體應用。因爲他們已經明確所有全新提交的遊戲都必須是64位體的內容。

如果我能夠創造32位體的《阿佛納姆2》,我便可能創造出一個1小時左右的有效版本內容。

蘋果宣稱支持32位體應用的時代已經完全過去了,所以我將只能永久地撤銷我的所有iPad應用。因爲我並不想欺騙用戶。

GamesBeat:那Mac OS呢?你們從一開始便一直支持着蘋果的臺式機不是嗎。

Vogel:對於Windows,微軟始終支持反向兼容性。所以我仍然能夠使用我在20年前爲Windows編寫的代碼,即我只需要做出一些較小的調整便可。但是我在20年前爲Mac編寫的代碼卻在10年前便過時了。當你在開發一款蘋果產品時,你可能每隔幾年就需要重新創造一些內容。如果你曾經好奇爲什麼Windows在企業環境中擁有如此強大的主導地位的話,你現在便能找到答案。

對於Mac,蘋果並未像在iOS那樣殘忍地淘汰某些內容,因爲有很多公司都在使用Mac,而那些大公司通常都很討厭各種不確定性。所以我可能會更長久地面向Mac開發遊戲。

同樣地,比起Windows我也更喜歡爲Mac創造內容。而這純粹是我的個人喜好。

Avadon 2(from venturebeat)

Avadon 2(from venturebeat)

GamesBeat:那Android平臺呢?你對此有什麼計劃?

Vogel:Android真的是一個很難開發的平臺。這裏有無數不同的設備,你很容易在這裏出錯。這裏還存在許多有關編程和支持的問題。

重要的是,我只是一個人,雖然我還蠻聰明的,但是我卻只能精通一定的事物。我也想要面向Android和Linux發行遊戲,但卻是心有餘而力不足。

Gamesbeat:所以爲什麼你最初會決定面向iPad發行遊戲?

Vogel:因爲我認爲iPad真的非常酷。它很簡潔且很神奇。並且這裏也存在巨大的利潤。所以我纔會選擇面向該平臺發行那麼多遊戲。

但是現在的我已不如過去那般精明能夠賺到更多的錢。現在更多錢流向了免費遊戲和簡單的益智遊戲。該平臺上最受歡迎的遊戲並不是我所編寫的那類型遊戲了。

GamesBeat:是否存在任何可能性能夠將你從新帶回這一平臺上?

Vogel:說實話,也許某一天當我醒來時我會迫切地想要研究全新代碼並創造一些與時俱進的新內容。那麼我便會找到一個iOS引擎並嘗試着自己是否能夠使用它去創造想要創造的內容。如果它是可行的,我便會認爲它將持續發揮作用幾年,然後我便會因爲有趣而回到這個平臺上。儘管它可能仍和幾年前一樣不能幫助我們創造出更多收益。

這種情況是有可能發生的,但是時間不可能持續很長。而在長期範圍內我將會專注於編寫《阿瓦登3:Warborn》。

GamesBeat:這對於Spiderweb和整體的手機平臺有什麼意義?

Vogel:這對於手機平臺來說沒什麼特別意義。沒有人會在意我的。

對於我個人來說,我會非常難過。我熱衷於成爲一名iOS開發者。我認爲這是一件非常酷的事,但是這次退出卻讓我覺得自己越來越不像是一名開發者。我也找不到其它自己所信賴的遊戲發行方式。是的,我仍然不想欺騙任何人。

GamesBeat:你期待人們會有什麼反應?

Vogel:我敢保證有些開發者會這麼說,“這個人太愚蠢了。他就是個菜鳥。是個失敗者。他是一個比我還糟糕的開發者。”也許這並沒錯。我的主要專業是設計。我並不是一名優秀的程序員。我很認真地學習如何讓所有內容有效地運行於我們的目標平臺上,然後我便離開去做下一件重要工作。這就像是一個小小的家庭產業。如果我們有能力聘請一名iOS專家的話,我們便不會遇到這樣的問題了。

但事實就是如此,有時候你想要做的事並不能幫助你輕鬆獲得回報。而我們所從事的這份工作的部分任務便是去識別出這樣的時刻並適時作出正確的選擇。

本文爲遊戲邦/gamerboom.com編譯,拒絕任何不保留版權的轉發,如需轉載請聯繫:遊戲邦

‘Apple doesn’t care’: Why one longtime indie role-playing game maker has left iOS

HEATHER NEWMAN

Jeff Vogel never pulls any punches. So when the longtime indie success story released the Avernum 2 role-playing game recently on iOS — then yanked it days later — we knew he’d have some pointed things to say.

He didn’t disappoint. Here’s the story of why you won’t be able to get future Spiderweb Software games on iPad despite the company’s successful sales for tablets in the past. Also, a suggestion: Better move fast if you want the company’s older works on the platform (Avernum, Avadon, Avadon 2).

GamesBeat contacted Apple for this interview as well and didn’t receive a response.

Oh, and he dropped a teaser about the new Avadon game, too.

GamesBeat: You’ve been developing for iOS for a while. Why stop now?

Jeff Vogel: So the most important thing to realize about Apple products is that they are designed to become obsolete fairly quickly. Apple engineers constantly change up the hardware and software. In my repeated experience, any device more than a few years old loses the ability to run the new operating systems.

Programming for Apple devices has, for the 20 years I’ve been doing it, been a continuous hassle. Apple constantly makes the old code obsolete, forcing programmers to relearn and revise everything constantly. Sometimes, these changes lead to better devices and software. Other times, it’s just obnoxiousness with no gain for developers or users. It’s just something you learn to live with, until you give up.

And Apple doesn’t care. Why should they? In 2014, 500 games came out on iTunes a day. A day. I suspect that Apple would be ecstatic if 90 percent of game developers disappeared overnight. See also: Steam.

Apple is merciful in one way, though. Usually, when they make a huge change in how their devices are programmed, they let the old code work for a few years to help developers keep up. The problem with Avernum 2 HD is that this didn’t happen this time.

GamesBeat: Why did you pull Avernum 2?

Vogel: For iOS 8, the current version, Apple made huge changes in how programs make a window and register events — touches, rotated devices, etc. I developed the game and tested it on iOS 8.2. Everything was fine with the older system. I submitted the game, and it passed testing and was ready for release.

Then, a few days before release, iOS 8.3 came out. It caused a wide variety of massive breakages. The thing didn’t work, and it broke in completely different ways on different devices.

I couldn’t find a way to work around the problem, and, even if I did, I couldn’t release the game in good conscience. For all I knew, 8.4 would break everything, or 8.5, and I couldn’t be sure that I could always fix the code, as Apple is determined to make me use entirely new code.

So I’d need to get a whole new game engine. It’d take weeks to find it, learn it, port the game, and get it tested. The likely sales didn’t justify the effort and hassle. Remember, I’m competing against 500 new titles a day. So I gave out.

I suspect a lot of developers have disappeared over the last few years. They just didn’t get noticed like I did.

GamesBeat: Why did the iOS change affect that game in ways it didn’t for your earlier ones, which are still available?

Vogel: I have to get boring and technical. The new game is a 64-bit app. The earlier games are 32-bit apps. They use an older code base that was frozen by Apple and still basically works. However, I expect, any day now, that Apple will obsolete all 32-bit apps. They already require all new submissions to be 64-bit.

If I could make Avernum 2 HD 32-bit, I’d have a solid working version in about an hour.

The moment they make noises about 32-bit app support being entirely removed, I will remove all of my iPad apps from sale permanently. I do not want to rip people off.

GamesBeat: What about Mac OS? You’ve been supporting Apple desktops since the beginning.

Vogel: For Windows, Microsoft is all about backward compatibility. I can still use code I wrote for Windows 20 years ago, and it’s fine with only minor tweaks. Code I wrote for the Mac 20 years ago became obsolete and unusable about 10 years ago. When developing for Apple products, you usually end up having to redo a ton of stuff every few years. If you’ve ever wondered why Windows has such impenetrable dominance in the corporate environment, this is a major reason.

Happily, for the Macintosh, Apple can’t make things obsolete quite as mercilessly as it does on iOS, because a lot of businesses use Macs, and big business hates uncertainty. So I’ll probably develop for the Mac for a long time to come.

Also, I prefer to work on Macs instead of Windows. This is a personal preference. I don’t get into passionate arguments about whether Windows or Mac is better, as I am no longer 19 years old.

GamesBeat: What about Android? Any future plans?

Vogel: Android is really hard to develop for. There’s a million different devices, and something will go wrong on many of them. Lots of coding and support hassles.

Here’s the important thing. I’m only one guy. I’m pretty smart. I can hold a lot in my brain. However, I can only maintain mastery of a certain number of things. I would love to release games for Android and Linux, but I just don’t have the brain space.

GamesBeat: So why did you originally decide to release games for the iPad?

Vogel: Because I think iPads are really really cool. I still do. They’re neat and magic. Also, there is a ton of money in it. So, so, so, so much money. Infinite money. That’s why so many games are released for it.

I’m just not big and savvy enough anymore to get a good chunk of that money. The real money goes to free-to-play money-drainers and simple puzzle games — that are also free-to-play money-drainers. The games most popular on the platform just aren’t the sort of games I write.

GamesBeat: Is there anything that would woo you back to developing for that platform?

Vogel: Honestly, someday, I may wake up and have a weird urge to dig into new code and do something techie and funky. Then I’ll get an iOS engine and play with it and see if I can get it to work. If it works and I believe it’ll keep working for a few years, I may jump back into the platform for fun. It’ll never make as much money for us as it did in the early days, though.

It might happen. But not for quite a while. For a long time, I’m going to be pretty jazzed about writing Avadon 3: The Warborn. [That’s the first time Vogel has publicly announced the new game’s title –Ed.]

GamesBeat: What does this mean for Spiderweb and mobile platforms in general?

Vogel: It doesn’t mean anything for mobile platforms. Nobody cares about me.

For me, it just makes me really sad. I loved being an iOS developer. I though it was really cool, and quitting made me respect myself less as a developer. But, well, I saw no way to release a game I could believe in. Again, I don’t want to rip anyone off.

GamesBeat: How do you expect people to react?

Vogel: I’m sure some developers are going, “Wow, this is is such an idiot. And a noob. And a loser. He is such a suckier developer than I am.” And it’s probably true. My main expertise is design. I’m not a great coder. I learn enough to get the thing running reliably on my target platform, and then I’m off to do the next huge job. It’s a small family business. If we could afford to hire an iOS person, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.

But as it is, sometimes a thing you want to do is too much hassle for the rewards. Part of being in business is recognizing those moments and making ugly choices.(source:venturebeat)