Saturday, June 20, 2009

C64 for iPhone: Rejected.

After a deafening silence, I can finally talk about my little side project.  I posted my initial efforts about a year ago and after the excitement of TUAW publishing a story, I spent some more time adding a keyboard and improving the performance with dreams of an App Store release.  That is, until reality sunk in.  There is an incredible amount of work to turn a concept like this into a polished, user friendly and legal product, ready for sale.  I attempted to find who owned the Commodore 64 brand, but constantly hit dead ends.  I finally took a break from C64 and played around with new projects, like the SID player.  It has made progress, but I'll leave that for another post.

Not much happened with the emulator for some time; however, everything changed when I received an email from Brian Lyscarz, a Danish entrepreneur who is now a resident of Sweden.  It turns out he is just as passionate as I when it comes to retro, and had personally funded some initial development of a C64 emulator for the iPhone.  Fortunately (for me) this didn't go too far and Brian found me because of the initial press.  Aside from an initial phone call, we have communicated entirely via email, post and Google chat, to achieve what follows.

We concluded (having never met) that the next obvious step was to form a company dedicated to retro gaming, and Manomio LLC was born.

As the months have gone by, we've really settled into what has become a great partnership.  Essentially, I got it working and Brian had the aesthetic eye and the skill with Photoshop to make it pretty:



The next hurdle was licensing.  Fortunately, Brian knew the right people, which lead to Manomio securing an official license for the brand from Commodore Gaming and Kiloo Apc.

The final hurdle was Apple and the SDK agreement, section 3.2.2.  We contacted Apple Developer Relations in the United Kingdom and explained our approach.  In principal, we don't allow you to download arbitrary content - we'll secure the licenses and release game packs officially via the App Store.  We agree it's not ideal, but we had to start somewhere.  If Apple loosens the reins, so will we!  They were very excited by what we had built and assured us we'd be okay given we weren't directly competing with the App Store and had locked down the emulator to only installing official titles.  They also mentioned there were already other 'emulators' available, like the SID player and SC68, which actually can download content freely via the net.  This leads us to today - we've been rejected on those very grounds.  We're going to resubmit with no access to BASIC, so it simply plays games in the hope it will be perceived as just a pack of games.

Hopefully we can be noisy across the digital communication channels and perhaps Apple will change their mind.  We have our first review in too, so go check it out!

Enough talk, here it is in action on a 3G (not my new 3Gs):

39 comments:

DnP said...

If apple keeps rejecting the app, spread it on cydia/icy.

May we play with the lite version without apple approval?

Adam said...

Looks very polished. I hope it'll get accepted by Apple in the end! I have a question -- will you be able to play arbitrary C64 games/apps on it? (ie. upload your own tape/disk images)

Cheers,
a.

Stuart said...

@adam,

Unfortunately the first release will no allow arbitrary content - only licensed titles will be allowed on the App Store as add-on game packs. We're actively seeking licenses, so hopefully we can provide a good catalog. If Apple loosens the reins, we will most certainly consider pushing an update to change this.

Cheers,

Stu

Anonymous said...

so let me get this right? you teased everyone a year ago about an emulator that everyone assumed you were going to release on cydia.. then you go air silent for a year because you were sneaking around to get c64 licensing rights. instead of noy just releasing this on cydia like zodtd does, and because of your greed to grab a few bucks you limit the ability to just play meager few games because thats all you have the licenses too..
you do all this and expect people are going to pay for the app?? sorry bloke if i dont feel much sympathy for you..

Stuart said...

@anonymous,

Where did I mislead anyone that I was going to release it on Cydia? I made it clear from the beginning I was using the $99 Apple SDK. I've mentioned the App Store a few times in past posts.

I can assure you, zodttd would be happy to make a few bucks for his efforts too, if Apple would let him.

Not expecting sympathy from anyone, but to call me greedy when I'm just attempting to provide a little extra for my wife and two children is pretty sad for you, cobber.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in how you are updating the display. I also have an iphone game that builds its own frame buffer, and needs to get that to the display quickly. Although the apis exist, getting them to perform quickly has been tricky. I'm wondering if you found a better approach than I did. Thanks.

DnP said...

Is it able to run the latest scene demos,or just the old games?

Adam said...

It is quite funny when someone is whining that *he* don't get something for free but he is too afraid to sign himself under his own post for everyone to see how much free content/stuff he given to the community. So the question remains -- Why should you receive freely if you don't contribute? Just my $0.2.

Cheers,
a.

Anonymous said...

why don't you distribute it via Cydia store ???

I have already spent more than 20€ on various apps like swirlymms and irealsms and similar stuff that interests me.

I would not mind to spend few € for this app too, but only if it would be possible to run my own .d64 .or .t64 files.

Since I would like to be able to play my own demos and code from the good old c64 days.

If you can't provide that, there is no point of this emulator. We will have to be patient and wait for someone else to port any c64 emulator to iPhone.

I wish you all the best with your project.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but this emulation is pretty lame. I guess you would have been faster to port these few games to iphone instead of coding the emulation.

Every fans of the c64 has a totally different taste, so releasing tiny game-packages with early c64-games just doesnt satisfy anyone.

With the publicity around the rejection you will most probably make quite some money. But this isnt the emulation everyone is waiting for on cydia.

BZT: Thanks a lot! With announcing to work on a c64-emulation 2008 you stopped every other try to do so. So your "emulation" is a slap into the face of every real c64-fan.

Anonymous said...

The restricted title approach makes it more than a bit disappointing. I want an emulator to play the games *I* want to play. Not the ones you happen to get lucky and get licenses for. Why pay for an app that only plays a limited selection of outdated games? Sorry, I just got my hopes up. FWIW, it does LOOK nice. But functionality/extensibility is king. I'd take a crappy looking emulator that plays the games I randomly want over a smooth and polished one that doesn't any day. Good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

what had you planned for the price of this if apple would had let it in appstore?

Stuart said...

@anonymous re: 'restricted approach' ...believe me, we wanted to take that approach too, but we have to take what we can get from Apple initially. If we can convince Apple to loosen the reins, we will definitely take advantage of it.

Anonymous said...

I think it's awesome. Too bad you can't release it just as an emulator and have basic included.

a. said...

Hi. HP just released a programmable calculator for the iPhone. Looks like the will not always enforce that requirement.... see http://gizmodo.com/5302633/hp-invents-time-machine-converts-iphone-into-classic-calculator

If you ask Apple about this, please let me know the outcome

Anonymous said...

fairly depressed about this news - i was really looking forward to this...

Stuart said...

@depressed,

we have resubmitted, so fingers crossed that we're okay this time!

Cheers,

Stuart

Stuart said...

@anonymous,

re: teasing everyone...as I said, zodttd is happy (and rightfully so) to get a few bucks for his efforts.

DnP said...

@Stuart: Have you resubmitted the same, or a cutted one?

Anonymous said...

Said when you started the project it'd be rejected, but you seemed to think I was wrong.

And the SID player you said you were working on never came to fruition so you were full of crap there too.

In short, you failed at everything.

Well done for getting so many peoples hopes up. The C64 thing you can pass the buck to Apple (despite it being clear even to this non-developer that a C64 emulator wouldn't be allowed), but the SID player, you made so many promises and delivered on none of them, so it's hard to find any sympathy.

Claus said...

Finally your C64 emulator is done. I have been waiting for it ever since i bought my IPhone.
I think it looks very promising. I really hope you get it accepted this time. I will definitely buy it, also if it is not able to play arbitrary games. It really brings back some good memories.

booyaa said...

good luck stu!

i'm really annoyed with fickleness of the app store approval process. i do wish they'd sort it out!

as soon as it appears in the app store i'll give it a whiz! the c64 is still very close to heart!

Stuart said...

@booyaa,

thanks mate - hopefully we'll see something very soon!

Cheers,
Stu

DnP said...

Is there any progress with the approval?
What have been removed from the app before submitting again?

Jani said...

Stuart, I'm very impressed with your emulator! Though I too am quite disappointed if the emu only runs a limited set of games in the end, as my primary use for it would be to watch anything that the still strong C64 demoscene provides, like Deus Ex Machina by Crest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEjXGIkQCcI
and Edge of Disgrace by Booze Design: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFdjWSaDlIo

I really, really hope that Apple gives green for the full-blown emulator (and that it would be possible to use D64 disk images as on other emus as well)!

Benjamin Rossington said...

Dude... I'll pay pal you $20 for a copy of this right now.

Do you want/need more than that?

I say, release the un-inhibited emulator into the wild for a fee greater than what the appstore version would cost.

Begin taking pre-orders and see if you can hit $500 worth of pre-orders or something...

I *really* want BASIC on my iPhone... I got some old Compute! Gazette magazines with games in code form I want to play again... and the changes you've made/have to make will totally strip that possibility away.

Great idea, great appearance... sounds like the speed is there as well... what about the sound and the outer border gfx? You know, some games do the color bar thing on the border... is that supported, too? Or the 'fast' mode of the CPU? I could keep going, but I won't... Feel free to email me.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I don't give a "fudge" who you try to feed with by making this a selling app. If you come from the 64 era (and I suppose you do) you should have known what "we" are up to. Making big money is not! I won't tell you where you can stick an AppStore C64 emulator without Basic support and the abillity to load any D64 image but I guess you will know anyway!

Make no mistake: I think you are doing a great work, but who cares anyway when greed kicks into affect?

Well, prolly not me Mr. Greedybloke.

Hope the second one gets rejected to ... Apple can you hear me?

Anonymous said...

Blog owner approval... nice way to go!!!

And you are crying for community support to voice up against Apple's approval policy?

Anonymous said...

Anything?

Anonymous said...

Is it still based on Frodo or Vice? That could be another problem depending if they are GPL licensed etc. because while you have a license to use the Commodore software and ROMs, you would have to distribute the source of the emulator code itself.

Stuart said...

@anonymous,

No, nothing yet; however, I contacted Apple on Friday via phone to find out what is happening. Hopefully a response soon.

Cheers

DnP said...

Have You got any response?

DnP said...

More than a month and nothing from apple?

DnPRuLZ said...

How can DS Double Sys be in the appstore? It emulates a handheld console, it can RUN game cards.... fck. Where is c64?????????

Bobbus74 said...

Hope apple approve this soon. Looks like a nice polished emulator. Good luck with the 2nd submission.

Rob said...

Hi Stuart

I'm Pretty confident you will get the approval next time. With the withdrawel of Basic and locking remaining doors in the code you are most likely ending up with a C64 gaming pack.

This is not bad at all, though miles away from a Virtual C64 - it's a pitty. It was a good oportunity while knowledge and skill (you and Brian) joined together.

I think it's unfair to 'demand' you to release it into any 3rdparty app. store like Cydia etc., The resources put into your project should be rewarded - this has nothing to do with greed, I certainly didn't get my C64 for free in the 80's!

If not the full Ipod C64 - What would be the next best thing? For me it would be the look and taste of a C64! I think a lot can be done with screens showing 'Basic' running, maybe as a dumb text-editor or the sound of a 1541 floppystation that has a problem reading ;-)

So let's see when it will be available - the screenshots are for sure very promising - fantastic graphics!

Go 64!

Rob

Anonymous said...

Releasing the app on Cydia IF Apple doesn't approve it is a great alternative. I guess that a lot of people are willing to donate to you for this great emulator. Real C64 enthusiasts will support you.

AND it would give people a MAJOR reason to jailbreak! :)

I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

/Mackie

Stuart said...

@Mackie,

Thanks for the encouragement, mate. Let's hope Apple approves us soon!

Cheers,

Stu

Christian said...

How cool is that!

I'm impressed