Friday, July 16, 2010

PNG Stacking to Cut Sown on Graphics Load

This should be filed under the 'why didn't I think of this earlier' category. Except that it didn't become as much of an issue until the iPhone 4 and @2x graphics started coming into play and needing to keep games within the 20mb download limit for downloading to an iPhone over the 3G network.

So... We have a few poker games for iOs.
Poker games need cards.
A deck of cards (with both standard and 4-color decks) requires 78 "card face" images (13*6).
The iPhone version of our game(s) has two sizes of cards--one larger set for the individual players and a smaller set for the board. 13*6*2 = 156 images.
It also uses a different set of board cards for 1-player and 2-player games. 13*6*3 = 234.
iPhone4 adds retina @2x versions of things. 13*6*3*2=468.
Poker 1 on 1 with Vanessa Rousso is a universal app, so it needs the iPad cards, too (13*6*3*2)+(13*6) = 546 images.

That adds up...

So, by using a single PNG-24 blank as the background of every card and then stacking a cropped PNG-8 of the card face on top of it, we can get a perfectly looking card with the full alpha channel shading at a fraction of the download size per deck.
iPad HD deck alone dropped from 1.62mb to 517k.
The full compliment of iPhone decks (multiple decks @1x and @2x) dropped from 5.63mb to 2.47mb.
A zoomed in look in PhotoShop can show very slight dithering on some of the face cards when converted to PNG8, but this will be imperceptible in the game. (Look at the blue border as it passes over the queen's head. See the dithering? I didn't think so.)

These will all be implemented (but won't be noticed) in the next update of Poker 1 on 1 with Vanessa Rousso, Heads Up: Hold'em, Heads Up: Hold'em HD.

What WILL be noticed is that this frees up over 4mb for new content.

This technique could be used for any card game, domino game, etc. and any game that uses tiles or rectangle shaped game pieces.

You're welcome.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On The Horizon

Spent all last week in Vegas playing ~$200 tournaments (Aria, Wynn, Rio). I played 6 and cashed in 2. But they were small cashes, so I ended the week down a bit, but played well and had a fantastic time.
Laurence "Luckbox Larry" Hughes had a great run in the WSOP main event, winning $36,000.

This week I've been making some drawings about what is on the horizon for the iPad and iPhone (Can't quite just call it iOs, even thought that's more accurate.) Here is a PhotoShop screenshot that should get the current fans of Heads Up: Hold'em or Poker 1 on 1 with Vanessa Rousso exited about what may happen next...

Fun times ahead.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

App Demo: Poker 1 on 1 with Vanessa Rousso video

Here is the full review from TUAW.
The review starts off strangely, but ultimately they like the game a lot.

That's me explaining and playing the game in the video. Pretty cool! The link & video are currently (as I type this at 10:45pm on June 30) making the rounds on twitter among Apple and iPhone re-tweeters. Pretty sweet!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"What's Hot"

Heads Up: Hold'em HD was picked as a "What's Hot" in iPad games by Apple.

Which has helped make it the...
#1 iPad casino game.
#1 iPad card game.
#1 iPad GAME.
#4 iPad App.

Woo hoo, and thank you!

Heads Up: Hold'em (iPhone/iPod)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heads Up: HD Available Now

Heads Up: Hold'em HD was approved late last night. If you've got an iPad, it's pretty great!

The winning-hand-glow will be added to the iPhone version(s) very soon! Seeing the glow in action was a "Why didn't we do that a year ago" moment.

Why does it give me joy that the "Settings" button has the king stabbing himself in the head? I don't know... (But I'm the guy who made the settings button, so it wasn't just an accident.) And it gives me further joy that it kind of looks like a swordless hilt on the dark background...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Heads Up: HD submitted

Heads Up: Hold'em HD for the iPad is submitted to Apple and should appear in the AppStore very soon! I played yesterday's build on Mike's iPad and it is extremely cool. We added a few fun iPad exclusive things, such as:

Much bigger and more 'real' looking cards. This is a big improvement with the additional screen real-estate. We didn't need to stylize the cards like on the small iPhone screen. The player's cards and the board cards are all the same size. Just like in real-life.

We added a glow to the winning 5-cards. (Not so "just like in real life.") This will probably be added to the iPhone game in the next update. And will (hopefully) cut down the confused emails from people who don't understand when their pocket pair gets counterfeited.

Chips show in your "Stack" so you don't just have a number to go by. We also added so pushing in your stack pile will go all-in without needing to spin the chips over into your bet pile.

Bluetooth covers all versions of the game. so iPad vs. iPhone/iPod works.

We added a "$1k Flip" as a bonus (totally skill based) game against Money Mark. You each throw $1000 into the pot and deal the cards to see who gets it. Flip4rollz, baby!
This idea had been around for a while as something fun and silly to do but we just over-thought it and anticipated that it would mean writing a special-case game... All we had to do was set a crazy structure: $1000 buy-in, $1000 stacks, and blinds at $1000-$2000. Let the regular game rules take it from there. With the Play-Again button, you can mindlessly gamble all day!

We added a game-logo card protector for winning a hand with Jh-Js. These cards also are modified in the deck to look like each half of the game's logo. (The first version of this card protector was in a square border, but it was unplayable because you always thought you had been dealt a jack when it was sitting on top of your cards...)

This one should have been in the iPhone version, but we just plain forgot. An "Aces Cracked" card protector.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heads Up (HD) (soon)

It's still preliminary, but the iPad version of Heads Up: Hold'em is coming along nicely!

One irony is that I haven't actually played it yet (Mike has) because I'm waiting for the 3G iPad. I'll probably go play the game on Mike's iPad in a day or two when a few more changes have gone in.

It is looking pretty cool! The cards look more like a real deck of cards. You can see the chips a lot better. (And you can really see how grimy and gross I made the cash-game chips--just like in real-life.)

The plan is that the controls will work about the same as the iPhone, but moved around a bit so it can be operated using your thumbs while holding an iPad in both hands...

It will feature at least one new (exclusive) card protector for winning a hand with Jh-Js (the game's logo) and possibly also an "Aces Cracked" award which *should* have been in the iPhone version already. :-)

Bluetooth games will be compatible with the iPhone version.

Look for it soon!!

PS: Version 3 of the free iPhone version is submitted and should also be available soon...

PSS: Camera for iPad has been getting lots of press and is one of the top iPad photography apps. It lets you use an iPhone as a wireless camera for an iPad (or iPod touch).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Heads Up: Hold'em version 3 is out

This post will be pretty short and sweet. Heads Up: Hold'em version 3 is available now. I am incredibly proud of this game and I can't wait for people to see how much fun it is to play the wireless 2-player game!

Go get it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Case for Headlight Software

Here is the quote from an Apple executive explaining why most 'sexy apps' have been removed from the AppStore, while Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, Playboy, Maxim, and a few others remain:

“The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format.”
(Source. Reprinted everywhere.)


Part 1: We ARE a "well-known company."
Headlight Software has been in business since 1997 (Only 2 years less than Maxim, according to Wikipedia).
GetRight® won the Shareware Industry People's Choice Award in 1999 & 2006.
GetRight has appeared on many "Best of" and "Editor's Choice" lists through the years.
GetRight has over 13,000,000 downloads from alone.
FTP on the Go was featured as an Apple "iPhone Apps in Business."
FTP on the Go is on the cover of "Incredible iPhone Apps for Dummies" book.
iCatchall Tools was an Apple Staff Pick in March of 2009.
Heads Up: Hold'em won 2nd place in the "Best App Ever Awards" Casino Game of 2009.
Knife Dancing (on the date of this writing: 2/23/10) is the #1 free Simulation game, the #9 free TOP GAME, and the #15 free TOP OVERALL APP.
(EDIT: Later on 2/23/10, Knife Dancing moved up: #1 Free Simulation Games, #1 Free Arcade Games, #2 All Free Games, #3 All Free Apps.)
(EDIT: from 2/24/10 - 2/26/10 and counting, Knife Dancing has been the #1 free game, and #2 overall free App.)

All that adds up to a company that is well-known and well-regarded in the independent software developer industry.

Part 2: All the 'sexy' pictures were "previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format"
Every single photograph used in Poker vs. Girls and Poker vs. Guys is available for purchase on That is where we got them. (Our secret is out!)
Here are a some samples. (You will need to activate adult content on istockphoto--not all the pictures in the sequences shown here were used in the game.)
Opponent #2
Opponent #3
Opponent #5

In my opinion, stock-photography qualifies as "previously published." And I would say that the internet would make things "available broadly in a well-accepted format."

Thus Poker vs. Girls and Poker vs. Guys pass Apple's own criteria for continued sale in the AppStore!

Furthermore, OUR APPS WERE POKER GAMES! They were not simple gallery apps. Users could not even browse through the photographs without playing the game.

Ironically, the sexy photos were added after-the-fact in order to show off the poker game. Not the other way around. We didn't find pictures and then slap an App together in order to sell them. We made a poker game and then looked for ways to sell more copies of it. After not-too-much-thought, we arrived at the 'add sexy pictures' conclusion. (It worked, by the way. Poker vs. Girls outsold Heads Up: Hold'em while costing more and offering fewer game options.)

Parental Controls are available on iTunes, iPhones, and iPod touches. We rated these games as 17+ and we have no problems with people using their parental controls to block these apps if that is what they choose to do. However, I object to unfair treatment because my company isn't as well known as some other company.

In conclusion, there is no difference between our apps that have been banned and the ones that remain for sale in the AppStore. Except, of course, that there is no "Headlight Software Magazine" for people to subscribe to on the iPad.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author, Peter Burford, as an individual and do not in any way reflect the opinions or policies of Headlight Software, inc.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feb 21, 2010: Sexy iPhone apps...what's left

Two days ago "Poker vs. Girls" and "Poker vs. Guys" were pulled from the AppStore due to 'overt sexual content.' They weren't alone. There was a purge of hundreds (thousands?) of other apps.

Sadly, the degenerate gambling aspects of our game could not overcome the PG13 pictures we had attached to it. If you would still like to enjoy the gambling part, you can do so with our 2ND PLACE AWARD WINNING app Heads Up: Hold'em!

So what's left? Well, I ran some searches using one of our other tools and got some interesting results.

NOTE: These results are based on apps which had been (at some point) in the top 200 of their category and are no longer there. If an App is not in the top 200, but is still in the AppStore, I it may slip through these (unscientific) results...

Search Results Remaining Comment
boob/boobs 105 0
stripper 2 0
hottest 11 0* One non-sexy app remains.
butts 7 0
butt 93 0* "Button" mixed in results. No "butt" apps remain on charts.
hottie 35 1
models 31 1
strip 57 2* "Air Strip" and "Stripe" mixed in results. Those aren't counted here.
hot girl 134 2
Bikini 129 2
nude 9 5
girls 349 19* Most remaining ones are 'sexy' apps. Some not.
sexy 439 63* Mix of things here. Not just gallery apps.
sex 580 127* Big mix of things here.

swimsuit 9 4 3 of the 4 remaining apps are Sports Illustrated.
Playboy 1 1 Playboy app didn't show up on any other results...
Maxim 26 2* "Maximum" mixed in results. "MAXIM Hometown Hotties" removed. Two other MAXIM titles remain.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Heads Up: In development...

First, I really think Heads Up: Hold'em is the front-runner in the Casino category of the "Best App Ever" awards. If you haven't already voted for us, PLEASE DO!

We are hard at work on Version 3 of the game which (I think) is going to impress people. The biggest new feature is 2-player games on different iPhones using Bluetooth! I can't wait for people to see that. I've only played an early prototype so far, but it's going to kick ass.

We also have some fun new single-player options--specifically more of a 'career mode' where you can build (or lose) a virtual bankroll by playing matches against the computer players. The game will have 12 computer players grouped by "Home game," "Local Casino," and "Las Vegas." Here are some screen shots:

(These pictures are from the current in-development build. And may change between now and the final release...)
LAS VEGAS games play against the hardest players on a more luxurious table. (Although betting 40 into a 660 pot might not be the best example of 'hardest players.')

"Home Games" are played for low stakes on the kitchen table against the weaker AI players. A much improved player selector lets you change your opponent every game without needing to go into the settings page.

We also have over 35 awards and card protectors that can be unlocked, used in the game, and posted to Facebook. Here are a few:
I will try to get a video showing a wireless game as soon as possible. I can't wait for more people to see & play this!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vote for Heads Up: Hold'em

Vote for Heads Up: Hold'em for best iPhone Casino game! Vote now! You don't need an iPhone or to play poker, just vote. I want to WIN!!!