TRAUMA iOS Released!

I am proud to announce that my game TRAUMA has been just released on the App Store. It is available here for $2.99. It is a universal App so it plays on both, the iPad and the iPhone.

It has been a surprisingly long way to get here. Almost immediately after the initial release of TRAUMA, people kept suggesting to me to release it on iOS. The iPhone hasn’t existed as a gaming platform back when I started development of the game. And so while it seemed liked it would be a perfect match, there were a lot of barriers to cross in order to actually make it work.

For starters, the game was made in Flash, which gets a reputation of being a bad match for iOS. It actually isn’t nowadays. You can publish into iOS directly from Flash. But TRAUMA uses some pretty CPU-intensive software-3D stuff which would have likely been prohibitive to release directly on portable devices. I wanted to avoid an issue like the excellent Machinarium App, which caused a bit of confusion for being iPad 2-only. Max Christ, a friend of mine approached me. He is a talented and passionate iOS developer. He was really eager to attempt a complete re-write of the entire game in Objective C. And that’s what we pretty much did. It seemed like a bit time-consuming at first. We had no idea.

TRAUMA iOS Development

A Meeting of the Generations – Making sure the game runs on multiple Platforms was a serious concern in the Project.

One thing that is easy to forget is that TRAUMA was developed for a pointer device. So for example, it uses the mouse-over concept to let players explore a screen with the mouse cursor. This doesn’t really transition at all into a touchscreen interface. So we had to come up with ways on how to make the game without it. We had an early prototype which was a straight port. Taping would be clicking. Holding and moving your finger would be searching for photos. Holding in one place would switch into gesture mode. It was really clunky and the game lost a great deal of it’s intuitiveness. Max finally figured out a neat solution. He made it so that players would primarily draw gestures. The photo-searching would step back somewhat – players could switch into a search-mode by holding the finger in one place. It really changed the dynamic of the game. On PC you could play through TRAUMA without every relying too much on the navigation gestures. On iOS, those became the primary way of movement. We realized that the level design was solid enough so you didn’t actually need the mouse-over-search except for maybe one or two places. It worked out pretty well. We had to add some minor last-minute interface tweaks based on beta feedback to help people through the more obscure locations.

Still, Max struggled for a long time with some pretty surprising technical issues. I’m not an expert on this, but it turns out rendering videos into textures was surprisingly difficult to do on iOS. We actually had to wait for a new version of the operating system to pull it off. Even then, squeezing that many images into the limited space of the iPad/iPhone required some smart memory management – something I never had to deal with in Flash. Max also had to create a gesture-recognition system from scratch. I based mine on an open-source re-creation of the Graffiti handwriting recognition of old Palm Pilots and it was ripe for a proper rewrite. And of course we spent a lot of time wrestling with my home-grown logic of level file syntax. All those short-cuts you can take as a solo dev come back to haunt you as soon as you bring other people in. Max wanted to do a write-up of the project himself. I’m sure he will go into more specific details.

TRAUMA-themed Muffins to celebrate the release

TRAUMA-themed muffins by @marieslogbuch to celebrate the release.

So there you go. We may be late with this but we really didn’t want to release this without making sure it satisfies our high standards. And indeed, we are really glad with how the adaptation turned out. The interaction changed substantially due to the different interface. Yet, the atmosphere of the original is preserved. And we were able to squeeze out some additional visual quality out of the assets we had. There is still one adaptation we are really eager to try before moving on. But more on that in the future. Until then, let us know what you think!

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

One response to “TRAUMA iOS Released!”

  1. Mattman

    Hey, great, I will check it out, if only for good old times sake ;)


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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