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Topics - Brian Greenstone, CEO Pangea

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Air Wings / Voice Chat gone forever
« on: January 05, 2018, 02:38:55 PM »
I noticed in Apple's Game Center docs they are now classifying Voice Chat as "Deprecated".  I guess this was easier than fixing it.  It's gone for good unless there's a 3rd party alternative.


Air Wings / Air Wings 13.0
« on: December 21, 2017, 12:40:43 PM »
Once I get back from Christmas I plan on tackling the constant crashing issue by bypassing Apple's GKMatchmaker dialog entirely.  This dialog is responsible for 95% of the Air Wings crashing in iOS 11, and for the last 6 months I've done everything I can to try and work around it, but to no avail.

Luckily, however, there is a way in Game Center to create your own custom matchmaker dialog.   If Apple's bug is in the GKMatchmaker dialog itself then this should fix the problem, but if the bug is in the actual matchmaking machinery under the hood then it won't make any difference.  Also, some functionality will be lost by doing our own custom dialog, but the benefits should outweigh the losses.

Anyway, if this works out it'll be v13.0 and I'll be looking for beta testers.  If you're not already on our beta list from the previous versions and want to help just let me know your email address and I'll add you to TestFlight.



Air Wings / Air Wings "Complete"
« on: November 16, 2017, 09:32:07 AM »
The new App Store has pretty much eliminated any possibility of discoverability, and the app ranking no longer plays any significant role (thanks Apple for making it *worse* then before).  As a result there's no longer any problem with splitting up Air Wings into two different SKU's the free version and a paid version.  Previously, we would have never done this because we needed everyone downloading the same app in order to increase our rankings, but now that doesn't matter.

So, what I'm thinking about doing is creating a Paid "Air Wings Complete" version which would not have any in-app purchases or ads.  It would be the entire game all up-front for one price.

I'm still working on updating all the other games for the iPhone X, but once that's complete I may get this done.  Not sure if it will have any effect on anything, but we'll see.


Air Wings / 12.3.1
« on: September 28, 2017, 04:00:02 PM »
I'm going to push out a TestFlight build for 12.3.1 to all the testers, so please be sure you still have TestFlight installed.

I made some changes which I want to test to see if it reduces the number of crashes in the game.

Look for the new test version soon...


Air Wings / 12.2
« on: July 26, 2017, 12:16:40 PM »
I just submitted 12.2 which has the new player map feature.  Should be approved later today at the rate Apple has been approving things.


Air Wings / 12.1
« on: July 19, 2017, 08:11:59 AM »
I just submitted the latest update, and I'm bumping it up to 12.1 because it has a significant new feature.  Here's all that's changed in 12.1:

•  You will now see the other players Win and Flake ratio during the connection process (only if they're also on 12.1).
•  Fixed a major memory leak and a few other smaller issues.
•  For players using the game for free there will be fewer interstitial ads.
•  Implemented an additional flake-out test which won't affect anyone but the really, really chronic flakers.


Air Wings / Player Skill Groups
« on: July 15, 2017, 06:23:43 PM »
I decided to take a chance by turning on the Skill Groups which is a feature that has been in the game for a few years, but has been dormant for a while.  Previously, the game would match players in similar Skill Groups but only if there was a certain critical mass of players online, and that was 45 players.  We haven't had that for a long time, so there haven't been any skill groups.  The reason is that when Skill Groups are on it divides the player pool into the Beginners and the Experienced players which makes auto-matching more difficult.  I went ahead and lowered that critical mass value to 4, so it should be on just about all the time now.

I've been playing, and it hasn't been a problem for me since there appear to be enough advanced players online, but I'm a little worried about the beginners.  I really don't know what the spread on that is, so it's hard to say if they'll get enough auto-matches.  I'll probably rig a build of the game to think I'm a beginner just to see.


Air Wings / Air Wings Video Contest - Become Famous!
« on: June 29, 2017, 07:06:47 PM »
I was just sitting here making new demo videos of Air Wings for the new App Store on iOS 11.  Previously, you could have one 30 second long preview video for your app, but Apple has changed this for iOS 11.  Now you can have up to 3 preview videos for iPhone and iPad each, and they auto-play when you view the app on the App Store.  It looks really cool, because when Air Wings comes up you automatically see a high speed multiplayer battle going on.

Even though I just made a bunch of videos that I was planning on using, it occurred to me that I could make this into a contest of sorts.  If you think your flying skills are up to the task you can make a video of you flying in a battle, and if it's good enough I'll use it on the App Store for iOS 11.  That way everyone seeing the game on the store will get to see you in action.

To make a video of the game you just need an iOS device made in the last ~3 years and Quicktime Player.  Do this:

1.  Launch Quicktime Player on the Mac
2.  Select File -> New Movie Recording
3.  A new record window will appear, and next to the red record button you'll see a pop-up triangle.  Click that to see a list of video and audio input sources.  Be sure to select your iOS device for *both* video and audio.  For Quality select High, but DO NOT select Maximum (that setting causes the video to stutter).
4.  When you're ready press the Record button and it will record you iOS device and doesn't affect the performance of the device at all.

When you're done Quicktime will ask you to save the movie.   From there you can load it into whatever editor you want (I use the old Quicktime 7 Player which lets you edit movies and do lots of cool stuff).  Find your favorite 30 seconds of video and save it.  The videos will be recorded at 60fps, but the Previews can only be 30fps, so you might want to change the frame rate when you save the edited movie out.  That will make the file smaller, but if you don't know how to do that don't worry, I can change it here.

Once you have your videos ready just upload them anywhere I can get them (Dropbox, iCloud, FTP site, etc.) and then email me at  From there I'll check them out and choose the 3 I like the best for iPhone and the 3 best for iPad.

There's no huge rush on this because iOS 11 won't ship for a long time, but it would be nice to get the videos ready in the next few weeks.  Just remember that the videos I'll be looking for should have these qualities:

1.  A good consistent frame rate.
2.  Lots of action packed into 30 seconds
3.  Stuff that makes people say "oooh!  aahhh!   wow!"
4.  Does it make me want to play it?
5.  I'll be looking for a variety of levels and planes being shown, but it's ok if each video only shows 1 plane (hard to do much in 30 seconds).

Thanks, and have fun!


Air Wings / Connection Failures Explanation
« on: June 17, 2017, 08:19:46 AM »
I figured I would do a detailed explanation of the Match Connection startup sequence to try and better explain why it fails so often, and what has improved in 12.0.

STEP 1:  GKMatchmaker

When you start a match we invoke the GKMatchmaker dialog which is part of Game Center / iOS.  Once that dialog appears our app isn't even running anymore - it's all in Apple's hands.  Nothing has changed here because nothing *can* change here until Apple decides to fix things on their end.  When a connection fails when this dialog is up it is because Game Center isn't working properly.  In iOS 10 Apple started spewing out all all sorts of debug information to the Console, so we can see what Game Center is doing, and the number of error messages that we see from Game Center / Game Kit is rather mind boggling sometimes.

The bottom line is that nothing has changed here, and nothing ever will unless Apple does it on their end.

STEP 2:  Handshaking

Once GKMatchmaker has found a Match it returns control to Air Wings.  The first thing the game needs to do is choose a Host, so each player picks a random number and sends that number to all the other players.  The player with the highest number wins and is chosen as the host.  However, this is where almost all of the Connection freezes occur at this stage.  Even though Game Center has told us there is a Match and the players are connected, occasionally no data is received from one or more players, so everyone else just sits there waiting for the missing data until it times out.

A while back we thought the solution was to spew out many copies of this "Ro-Sham-Bo" number in the hopes that at least one copy would make it there.  It's unclear if this has made any difference at all.  In certain rare cases it might, but generally speaking if a player's data stream isn't working properly then sending 1 or 1,000,000 copies of it won't matter because they are never received.

Once again, nothing we can do about this since this has been a long-standing bug in Game Center.

STEP 3:  Setup

This is where things are better in 12.0.  Once the Host has been chosen he first arranges the players in a lineup and sends that to all of the other players so that everyone knows the proper player order.  Next, the Host picks the Level to play and sends that to the other players.  Once the other players receive the Level Number the game begins.

The problem is that according to the Game Center docs there are two ways to send Data:  reliable and unreliable.  Unreliable data is not guaranteed to arrive, and not guaranteed to arrive in order, but its faster.  This is how the gameplay data is sent when planes are moving around and firing.  But for the Setup all data is send Reliably.  However, we discovered years ago that "Reliable" data was no more likely to arrive than "Unreliable" data.  Those packets got lost all the time.  However, up until now we had always assumed that if they did arrive, they at least arrived in order.  This was not the case, and occasionally the level # would arrive before the player lineup.  This caused some synchronization problems that ended in either a crash or just something crazy going on.  If the code noticed the problem then it would abort with a Connection Failure message.

Now that we know the Reliable data is no different at all from the Unreliable data I've changed v12.0 to account for this, and it handles these situations much better.  As a result I estimate there should be maybe 25-30% fewer connection failures than before.

STEP 4:  Game Play

Sometimes a connection just plain sucks.  In these cases you'll see players skipping all over the place, flying off the map for a few seconds, etc.  This is not a bug on anyone's part, it's simply crappy network connections.  The game attempts to detect these sorts of things and deal with it.  In a 2-way match it's impossible to determine if the bad connection is on the sender or receiver's side, so it can't do anything about it.  In a 3 or 4 way match, however, if all of the players agree that one of the other players is going berserk then that player gets kicked out.  But those cases are quite rare because most of the time one player will have a perfectly good connection with the "bad" player even tho the others are having serious trouble.

I hope that helps explain a little about what's going on.


Air Wings / 12.x
« on: June 16, 2017, 11:54:09 AM »
Here's a little peak at a small change I made for the next update:


Air Wings / 12.0
« on: June 09, 2017, 01:26:10 PM »
Check out our Facebook page to see what's coming in AW 12


Air Wings / Weirdness
« on: May 28, 2017, 01:04:38 PM »
Every so often someone reports an issue where the other player appears to be invincible.  No ammo shots seem to do any damage.  I've gotten these reports for at least 3 years, but I've never ever seen it happen until just now.  I was playing a 4-way match with someone named VINNY.  When VINNY got down to his last life nothing I shot at him did any damage at all.  Even suction cups which were clearly stuck to him.  The only thing that seems to damage him was ramming him.

So, at the end I rematched him.  Same thing.  When he got down to his last life he became invincible.

Anyone else ever seen this pattern?


Air Wings / Air Wings 11.2
« on: May 22, 2017, 01:28:10 PM »
Here's the latest on the next version which I'll submit next week:

• Voice Chat didn't work out.  It's still broken on iOS 10, and my bug report that I filed with Apple last year says "Duplicate" which means another developer reported the same malfunction.  So, it's up to Apple to fix voice chat before we can bring that back.

• I've implemented my own Invite / Rematch system which makes up for some of what Apple did to Game Center in iOS 10.  Now, every time you play a game it remembers who you played and stores it in a list.  When you start a game on the Main Menu you are presented a new screen where the old "2 Player / 4 Player" screen used to be.  Instead you are given the option of Auto-Match or Re-Match.  If you select Re-Match it brings up a dialog showing all the players that you have played.  The list is sorted by most recent.  Here you can select up to 3 players to rematch.  From here it's up to Game Center because it sends the game invitations out to those players via the usual method.  So, now it's much easier to play people again, and they don' have to be in your address book!


Air Wings / New version
« on: May 14, 2017, 06:52:04 PM »
A new update has just been released - first update since September.  It *might* improve the auto-match connection success rate.  Please let me know if you notice any difference, but it may take a week since it depends on lots of people having this new update for it to make a difference.

Also removed some banner ads and updated some 3rd party libraries.


Air Wings / Ditching Game Center
« on: November 28, 2016, 10:37:26 AM »
Let's face it, Game Center has been abandoned by Apple.  In ~5 years that I've been reporting bugs to them I can't think of a single one that's actually been fixed, and with each iOS update they continue to break more and more parts of Game Center.  iOS 10 was the final straw because some genius at Apple though it was a good idea to remove the Invitation system, and the part that remains no longer works.  Voice Chat went from buggy to unusable, as it was causing the game to crash in iOS 10, so it had to be removed from the game.  Don't even get me started on the connection issues....

Anyway, I would like to replace it with something, but so far I haven't found a viable alternative.  Google Play has their own Game Center API equivalent, but unfortunately, the login system is HTML based, so the SDK won't work on an AppleTV which does not support HTML.  So, I'm hoping that Google with eventually update their SDK to support the AppleTV, and when that happens I'll try swapping out Game Center for it.  It can't be any worse, right?


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