Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Frustrated developer diary: my game anticipated Minecraft Earth but PlayStore see it as a misleading content


Is the PlayStore overprotective towards big brands bullying small developers?This is my experience.



Wrldcraft is a massively multiplayer AR blocky sandbox and exploration game where the contents/buildings are persitently geocached in a seamless grid covering the entire earth for Android and iOS devices. It was avaiable for the public since this March when it was put in open beta and it was officially released this June and then updated often. It is going quite well on the AppStore receiving lot of love from iOS users. In the last eight months the game was updated dozens of times with lots of contents, bug fixing and updated store listing assets or screenshots.
Even though it was announced and released before, spoiler alert, Minecraft Earth this is what happened.


The story:


Few days ago I did a simple category change on the Wrldcraft PlayStore developer console app listing: from "action" to "simulation".

I received an automated mail telling me:
Issue: Violation of Google Play policy
Google reserves the discretion to include or remove apps from Google Play. We may take action based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, a pattern of harmful behavior or high risk of abuse. We identify risk of abuse using various items such as previous violation history, user feedback, and use of popular brands, characters, and other assets.

Ok, fine, it is an error and this not the first time they stop an update for this game, as said before the only thing I changed was the "Category" how can this violate a Google Play Policy?

I made an appeal asking to reinstate the update and asking to know which content is under investigation/accusation.

This the reply:


"We advise you not to try to imply an affiliation with another entity where none exists.
For example, as stated in our previous email, your app's store listing information contains third party contents that are prone to abuse: Minecraft"


Obviously I was very meticolous in avoiding such a contents and every single pixel was handmade expecially for the blocky part.


I tried to ask to again to the support wich content on the listing is bad for them but the reply was:

 "I’m not able to provide any more information or a better answer to your question. In our previous email, I made sure to include all the information available to me."


What? Are you kidding me? You don't know which content isn't good for you? Is a screenshot? Is it a sentence in the description? Is it the video? Is the game itself? Is a texture?

It's like being accused of a crime and you must prove your innocence but nobody tells you what is exactly your crime and neither when or where. There's a Kafka's novel like this, it worths your time.



Now I'm in the position where they refuse every update and I'm doing tries changing a screenshot or a text until I find the one they THINK is a violation. I'd even removed tags or reference to Minecraft from the game blog in case their powerfull and soulless search engine is going to dig there to find a just cause. Ridiculous and frustrating.

After more that 20 attempts and after I removed almost everything in the game PlayStore listing the "update" was approved and I received this mail from the Google Play Team:

"I could see your app WrldCraft was resubmitted earlier and has been published on Google Play.
For your reference, we don't allow apps that imply an affiliation with another entity without proof of permission to use third party's assets that may result in misleading users."

I don't still know what was the offending content.



Some facts I want to shout out: (because I don't simply roll over and die)



I know what do you think now: "Wrldcraft is a Minecraft Earth clone, you deserve this even if  there is no actual violation."
False. Wrldcraft was announced, revealed and released to the public months before ME was announced. When Microsoft/Mojang announced Minecraft Earth my game has been in public open beta for two months. More details and evidences here, it is all well documented. I'm not not a guy telling "hey, I thought that before any other" because I DID this before any other. There are builds, posts, reddits, press releases, video and players confirming this all over the internet. I don't say that M.E. copied my concept, but at least it's fact that I didn't ripped off their.



I knew the mood "it's a Minecraft Earth clone" could be an issue in the very moment, this summer, I asked to feature my game between AR titles, or at least give it the listing it deserved, and I was told that it was too similar to a well established IP. 
What IP? Minecraft? It is pretty different and Wrldcraft was a geolocated augmented reality game. Maybe Minecraft Earth? It wasn't even closed beta at that time. Consider as well that Google play features lots of blocky games. Now, this sounded like "your game is a serious threath for that well established IP" to me, that is good for my ego as developer but very bad for my game possibilities to succeed on PlayStore.



Conclusion:


PlayStore is getting, in my opinion, too overprotective towards well established IP's and big brands. They must also consider that the voxel blocky games are a genre today, like FPS or platforms, or is it Call of Duty still a Doom clone?
The really weird thing is that PlayStore often highlights, promotes or reccomends blocky games that are barely Minecraft reskins, so or they have an issue with my game or their algorithm hates me. You know, a
lgorithms have feelings, I'm a programmer, I know.
It's very frustrating being bullyied and punished because you, a sole little indie dev, anticipated, of months, the newest big brand game concept, doing basically the same thing they do before they even announciated the title and with some feature ME don't have (still). (example given: Wrldcraft don't have that pretty limited "plateau" concept, Wrldcraft subdivides the entier Earth in a seamless  geocached half square meter grid and building are connected seamless as well, all over the globe surface)
While I'm speaking about block size: did you noticed that in Minecraft Earth the block size changed from the original Minecraft's one? Guess what's the new (full scale AR) size?



Conclusion (for real this time)


Come on Google Play Team, be kind with my game. How could a small indie solo developer without a well known IP and very limited resources be a threat for a multi billion giant game studio with unlimited resources? I just want to fight in the PlayStore arena with both hands free but instead I feel like someone is holding me down while a titan is beating me and a sniper targets me.

Monday, 9 September 2019

WrldCraft new release is rolling out


WrldCraft is now 1.0!!

in these days the new release it is rolling out on AppStore and Playstore.
It contains important fixes, new blocks and features.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

WRLDCRAFT is coming on June 14th 2019, preorder now!



The Italy based indie developer Running Pixel is excited to announce that today starts the pre-registration for Wrldcraft, the cloud based geolocated augmented reality, persistent, massively multiplayer, sandbox and exploration game for iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets. The release date is set on June 14th 2019.

Craft, dig, explore. Everywhere, forever, for real.

WrldCraft is the first, huge, massively multiplayer, full scale augmented reality, geolocated, persistent, voxel based, cloud based, sandbox and exploration game that turns the entire world in a giant explorable sandbox full of fun and surprising interactive shareable experiences.
Sounds cool enough? The player have all the power and fun of a open world MMORPG and the freedom of a sandbox game just in his hands.
Craft full scale structures around the world, other people can visit them and help you building bigger castles if you want. Challenge your friends with the AR archery, fight monsters, explore and dig to discover the relics hidden around the world.
All the things you build in the real world will remain forever in that place visible to everyone and under your control, even from you couch.
Did you know? Structures can be connected each other for miles seamlessly, so you start from a point, your friends starts from a point miles away and both meet in the middle. You could even rebuild the Great Wall in another place of the world if you and your mates have anough time!
Don’t want to make all that gamer things? So, just build your pretty house, a pool in a park or virtual street art, leave messages to your partner, visit other players creations and all the millions things you can do with Wrldcraft.
WrldCraft is free to play.

WRLDCRAFT is cross platform and works on all the ARKit and ARCore enabled devices. Build in AR like no other before!

WrldCraft is ready for pre-order and pre-registration on both AppsStore and GooglePlay starting from today here:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.runningpixel.wrldcraft
https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=1439737097


The official Wrldcraft worldwide launch date is set to June 14 2019

For more info http://www.wrldcraft.com

Short Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIK9c5IBVC8


Thursday, 11 April 2019

Friday, 8 March 2019

Open Beta stage (hooray!)

WRLDCRAFT is ready for an important step, the OPEN BETA stage! This means that everyone can test from now on this game giving suggestions, feedback and helping me in catching bugs and bottlenecks.

 Grab your copy right now.
Android: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.runningpixel.wrldcraft
iOS: https://testflight.apple.com/join/0XyIbOpc

 Please fell free to share these links with everyone. The more test, the better. Every beta tester is allowed to grab as many plot of land he wants for free! (please do not abuse :D)

  Note: This open beta is limited to 20000 users (10k android and 10k iOS) 



Get on AppStore  Get on PlayStore

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

WRLDCRAFT - the story behind

WRLDCRAFT has a story, a long story.
Everything starts  in the Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) age, good bless you XBLIG, platform and market where in 2012 I made a quite successful Minecraft Like sanbox game called Miner4Ever. XBLIG market does not exist anymore but loved that game and I learned a lot about voxel engines, shading techniques and multiplayer.
It was not enough, I wanted to port it in the real world and IRL. After some attempts with marker based AR (I lost the videos of that) the true plot twist was in 2017 when I put my hands on a mobile device with Google Tango in, that is a precursor of current ARKit and ARCore and this is what I did in early 2017 (a tech show-off video, not a real game).




So digging and building in real world with persistence using Augmented Reality was totally doable. Unfortunately there were not many Tango enabled phones around, so I put the project in standby waiting for a diffuse technology letting me do a real game with all the features I dreamt.
Today ARKit and ARCore are mature enough to do what I have in mind. Persitence, cross platform, world anchored buildings, cooperative building, multiplayer experience and much more.
Two months ago I leaved my daily job as Technical Leader, resumed my old dream, worked hard, and this is how WRLDCRAFT project is born!

http://www.wrldcraft.com/index.php/2018/11/13/wrldcraft-the-story-behind/

CONTINUE...

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

ANNOUNCING WRLDCRAFT - RESHAPE THE WORLD - MULTIPLAYER OPEN WORLD GAME




I'm proud to announce that WRLDCRAFT, the very first AR massive multiplayer open world sandbox game for iOS and Android, is coming soon!!


Please find more details on http://www.wrldcraft.com