Concept-art-for-GoblinFor the past couple days we have been anxiously anticipating that imminent release of Ravensword: The Fallen King, the thread on our forums has been going crazy, and we even had Ravensword developers Russ Menapace and Josh Presseisen on our last podcast to talk about the game.

I suppose I should start with the good news first, in that I've been playing the 1.0 release of Ravensword most of this week, and the game is absolutely amazing. Similar to recent Elder Scrolls games like Morrowind or Oblivion, Ravensword is an open world roleplaying game with both a main quest line to follow and a considerable amount of side-quests. The developers have quoted anywhere between 6-8 hours of gameplay to complete the initial quest, and from what I've seen so far, that seems fairly accurate without even taking side-quests into account.

Ravensword_Mountain3

The Ravensword game world is surprisingly detailed for an iPhone game, and performs remarkably well for a game that is built in Unity instead of its own optimized engine. Along the way you will equip your character with all kinds of different magical items and slay hordes of enemies as the main quest line slowly reveals your character's mysterious identity. Utilizing familiar touch screen controls, navigating the world of Ravensword is as effortless as playing games like Gameloft's Modern Combat: Sandstorm [$4.99 / Free], which is often used as an example of highly refined touchscreen controls.

Now for the bad news. Not long ago we got word from the developers that Ravensword had been rejected along with a considerable number of other games built using the Unity engine. Unfortunately it seems that Ravensword like many other Unity games have found themselves caught in the crossfire between Apple, Storm8, and API calls which exist inside of all Unity games.

overview-broadStorm8, developers of iMobsters and Vampires Live were recently accused of harvesting players phone numbers using private API's and uploading them to their servers-- A gross violation of the iPhone developer SDK agreement. The Unity engine currently uses the two private API calls that Storm8 allegedly exploited to steal user data, _NSGetEnviron and exc_server. Mantas Puida of Unity Technologies explains these two API's utilized by the Unity engine serve the following functions:

_NSGetEnviron is used by Mono runtime to provide implementation of .NET core API method: Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable().

exc_server is also used by Mono runtime to provide graceful NULL reference exception handling.

According to a thread on the unity forums, a considerable number of games are being rejected for this-- even games without any kind of network functionality to transmit any kind of personal data.

On the brighter side of things, Unity has already been updated to fix these problems and a new build of Ravensword which includes the latest Unity engine has already been resubmitted to Apple for approval. Sadly, this does put Ravensword and all the other rejected Unity games at the back of the approval queue, but as I mentioned earlier-- Ravensword seems it will be well worth the wait.

  • applesauce25r624

    i'm never gonna get to see this game :[ (impatient)

  • ImNoSuperMan

    That really sucks :(

  • Howard

    Ridiculous....

  • http://www.runningwithscissorsgame.com Chris

    not too surprising, apple has always said that using non-published APIs will get you in much trouble if you get caught.

    • Rad

      I'm surprised they didn't ban Storm8 from the app store if this was true.

      Would be no loss to me I have never seen the appeal on any of their games or questionable dlc.

  • Howard

    "immanent release of Ravensword: The Falling King,"

    Hey guy's I know its a big disappointment, but you gotta at least get the name of the game right, lol!

    Lookout your maje......!

    • Brian

      Laughed out loud.

  • Mister Mumbles

    Sounds to me like Storm8 should be completely kicked off the app store for pulling such bull and not allowed to return. Not that I ever cared for the games but that kind of behavior is beyond shady.

    • http://ravensword.com AmazingRuss

      Storm8 should be torn into itsy bitsy pieces
      and buried ALIIIIIIIIVE!

      imho

      • LBG

        They deserve to be pierced by the tooth of a raging boar and then dumped on the ground repeatedly until death.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        Actually, they deserve to be turned into boars and end up in Russ's garden.

      • bassplayinDude

        Yay! Another Heavy Metal Fan! :D

      • http://forums.toucharcade.com/member.php?u=1830 Liam (aka TGR)

        All three of you...

  • Howard

    Surely the game doesn't have to be subjected to the same amount of testing that was previously done and a validation of the updated unity build, without the offending calls, will suffice?

    Also, couldn't there have been any advisory to warn people ahead of time that games submitted using the prior unity build and containing these calls would be rejected, or am I missing something?

    • ThinkAboutIt

      They were warned. And I hope they test it just as thoroughly as the first time. Why risk security just to appease people with no patience? It will only be a matter of a week or two between rushing out a potentially unsafe product and testing it thoroughly.
      I know apple's system is far from perfect, but I much prefer their attitude to some of the posters, who only seem to care about appeasing their ridiculous impatience; rushing games through just because you don't want to wait a week or so is pathetic, short sighted and selfish.

  • The Sober Pilot

    I was a beta tester and it is worth the wait! Enjoy the game guys and gals!

  • http://deleted munkee

    Hey Eli, just a suggestion for you. Don't put the titles of your articles too literal. Make it a bit more inviting, still informative yet not revealing everything. Something like "the good and bad news about Ravensword" or "Ravensword is great, but.."

    It's different if your purpose is to report the whole thing on the title without wanting people to read your writing though, even the writing itself doesn't have to be interesting. As long as it reports what it has to, to hell with everything.

    • jp

      Are you serious? This is how headlines are supposed to be written. It grabbed my attention and I read the article because i wanted to find out more. I found out that who what where and why, but the main story is summed up in the headline. "the good and bad news" "its great but" You can't seriously think those are better...

    • jon

      You haven't done much work with SEO have you? This is how titles are written in the internet age. Google friendly.

  • asgasdxfsd

    OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

    Did you say ".NET"? I wasn't aware that .NET code could compile to the iPhone. Can someone do Java next? :P

    • ravenvii

      Unity is based on Mono. Mono is an open source implementation of .NET.

      That's the correlation. Nothing more.

      • WauloK

        Today's word is "Ikea" heh.

        You can program scripts in Unity using:
        * C# (.Net)
        * Javascript
        * Boo

        Boo does not compile for the iPhone.

        C# and Javascript will both compile to XCode once you export it with the Unity iPhone application.

  • Teagan

    They should put it on cydia store so some of us could get early

  • Dave

    I think apple did the right thing. Paying for a game does not give it's developer the right to steal my personal information.

    • WauloK

      The Unity application will not do anything with personal information. It doesn't even look at it. They are just saying that the other guys used similar methods to steal people's info, but Unity doesn't do that.

  • Tzke

    Bummer. At least the updated version has been submitted. In all sincereity, Apple should bump it to the top of thier que. I don't think anything malicious was intended on the part of the Ravensword dev.

    Patiently time to wait once again...

  • Howard

    "I don't think anything malicious was intended on the part of the Ravensword dev. "

    You don't 'think'??? Of course it wasn't or by any of the other devs utilizing Unity aside from Storm8. They are helpless victims in this.

  • Howard

    Does the game really have to be subjected to the same amount of scrutiny that it was previously subjected to? Surely a validation of the updated unity build, without the offending calls, will suffice?

    • TKO

      It would be nice to trust the developers this much, but if they did that *guaranteed* someone would use that as a trick to sneak something past them. ..With such a huge dev community I'm sure there's a total douchebag or two in there that would do that.

      Just a shame this totally freaking wicked game got caught up in all that. Can't wait for it to finally appear. *sigh*

      • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

        So that means we'll have GCJ support by next week, right? Right?

        ...

        What do you mean 'no'? Damn open source hippies...

      • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

        That's odd. The post above is supposed to be for "ravenvii" higher in the thread. Go figure how I managed to post it down here. :P

    • jp

      blame the dude that left a backdoor to basic in the C64 emulator for that, i love emulators, but that was a dumb move.

      But yea, im jk, we all know apple wont do that, and c64 didn't cause it, it just got lucky and slipped past.

  • Howard

    Was it not possible for Apple to assist its developers via an advisory warning devs ahead of time that games submitted using the prior unity build and containing these calls would be rejected...or am I missing something?

    • WauloK

      Apple does not tell Developers anything. You submit your app and wait. At the end you get "Accepted" or "Rejected". Sometimes they may tell you why you got rejected, but Apple do nothing proactive to help developers.

  • Howard

    apple

  • Droidaphone

    This sucks, but this is Apple doing their job, IE: protecting their customers.

    (as opposed to playing morality police or cow-towing to big devs)

    and I always KNEW some was shady about those 'social' MMOS!!

    So does this mean all Unity apps have been pulled??

    • WauloK

      No. Many other Unity apps are still in there, even ones with the same calls in it that Apple doesn't like.
      They are very inconsistent.

      Like the application about iPhones. One got in even though it had the word "iPhone" in it. Another did not because it had the word "iPhone" in it.

  • Exhibit A

    1.)Does this mean we will have to start from square 1 and wait the full 10-14 days while they approve more fart apps that no one cares about? , OR 2.) Will Apple give this game priority in the approval process along w/ the other rejected unity games since it was resubmitted so quickly? Does anyone have a clue at this point? It's very frustrating. My son is having a fit because I can't buy this for him now! Thanks a lot Crapple!

    • TKO

      It will wait the full amount of time. That's the process. That's the way they like to do it. :|

      • Chad

        Which gets LONGER AND LONGER. Apple is crashing down a slippery slope with this app approval system that's getting exponentially worse.

    • Johnny82

      Whats with people always bringing up Fart apps? Its old, its done with. I bet your one of those ladies with the big 80's hair. Just can't let it go....

      • Exhibit A

        No I'm fortunately not, but I love how you donned your armor and raised your lil sword for the good of fart apps (applause) Congratz Sir fart a lot! R we a lil touchy feely over fart apps now? hmmn, I bet your one of those bozos who actually wasted money on a fart app, or actually developed one, or is too cheap for good apps like Ravensword so you hate on other people who can afford it. I'm sure your iphone is chock full of farts lol ...WTFrack! It's not that deep, so u can put away your sword.

  • TKO

    I'm seriously wondering why Apple *still* haven't expanded their approval team. Their market-share is only growing, so surely their developer base is only going to grow too. *sigh* This long approval process is really starting to annoy me. Digital distribution is supposed to be snappier than this.

    I'm just glad I've got a ton of other stuff to play right now, coz I'm not sure I can handle the concentrated bundle of awesome that'll be on my phone when this finally comes out. :D

    • spiffyone

      Well then, obviously you haven't experienced the "joys" of Sony's PSN for PSP.

      Seriously, even with the idiotic gaffes on Apple's part, and, in this case, the devs (by which I mean Storm8 and not the devs of Ravensword or other games caught in this mess unawares), the App Store is a virtual digital distribution utopia compared to PSN.

  • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

    Apple has been known to make exceptions for resubmissions -- I remember a game being turned around in a couple of days under similar circumstances. The problem is that what Storm8 did was actually a very serious breach of the SDK, so I wouldn't be surprised if they're now putting everything through the proverbial fine-toothed comb.

    • WauloK

      Some people submitted apps, had them rejected. Submitted exactly the same app with no changes and it got approved. Go figure..

  • dumas1000

    From my experience, it seems as if rejection in most cases means going back to the end of the line. I suspect apple will not review Ravensword again for another 14-days. Same thing definitely happened to iMech, amongst others.

    • Dark NRG

      it appears some things are fast-tracked, like when it's a x.x.1 update tho

  • Brian

    Oh man, Josh just spent months of his life for NOTHING. Apple straight up PWNED him. That's gotta hurt.

  • http://diamondtearz.org diamondTearz.org

    I'm with TKO- I have a hard time understanding while menial stuff like approval takes so long when they're getting well supported by the 30% they slice off the top!

    • http://www.mjonesgraphics.com Mark

      This sucks BIG time. At least the Unity engine has been modified now. I've worked on a few Apps now using the Unity engine, so perhaps I should go and spread the word.

      Josh, have patience. This game will be huge! :)

  • Dark NRG

    first minigore, now this. I knew those freakin myspace-like games were no good!

  • Peri

    6-8 hours? Better be $.99 or free. If they are going to ask $4.99 or more, then 18-24 hours should be the minimum just for the main quest, with an additional 18-24 including all side quests. So, should have between 36-48 hours--at least--for the kind of price I'm expecting they'll be asking. But, if it truly is only 6-8 hours, then it's a born loser and wouldn't even really be worth investing the time if free.

    • Droidaphone

      That is utter madness.
      Name one 3d rpg with 18 hours of content that you bought new for $5.

    • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

      You're being overly critical. Why, back in my day we'd pay $2 a floppy to get a shareware disk that might not even work! Much less be anything worth paying money for. Why, you kids these days are spoiled rotten!

      Seriously, though. $5 for 8 hours of QUALITY gameplay is fine by me. I'd rather pay a decent price for an awesome (albeit short) experience than pay a substantial price for endless hours of mediocrity. If you check Gameloft's recent sales, I think you'll find that many iPhone owners agree...

    • http://www.runningwithscissorsgame.com Chris

      lol i agree.. mad as a hatter. or 13.

      it's very easy to have such a low price threshold when you a) have a lot of free time and b) get very little money

      honestly though peri, if you're not just trolling the boards, please check out any other games media as a comparison before commenting like this.. it just makes you look like a proverbial bum.

    • jp

      Id pay $5 all day long for a oblivionish game on my PHONE, even if I could finish it in a couple days. Its not like you could beat it in one sitting, and if you could you need a job or a gf.
      I'm buying this game, and all the EDGE games, F tim langdel!

    • iPhoneGamer

      If you're going to sit down, and play for 8 hours straight to beat the game in one sitting, then you my friend have bigger issues then to worry about $5 for 8 hours of time. You need to go outside, and join "life."

    • SirGawaine

      It's 6-8 hours on INITIAL quest, not counting the side quest. If you think you can do better, you are welcome to develop an app that is "between 36-48-hours-at least" and giving it away for free too if you want to. Instead of calling it a born loser.

    • TKO

      Wow Peri.. Are you trying to come across as a bad troll, or a self-entitled douchebag? Fine, don't buy it. We'd rather have intelligent discussion about the game here when it's out than yet another .99c whiner.

      I'm definitely buying it. Heck, I'd buy it at Real Racing prices. ..feel free to put paid for expansion stuff into the game later guys. Coz if this is half as good as it looks there will be a lot of us eager to pay for more. Meanwhile the .99c whiners can occupy themselves with rough and ready Roguelike ports.

    • http://musicgamespickles.blogspot.com/ Robert M.

      This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard on Touch Arcade! An 8 hour game isn't worth 5 bucks? Well I hate to break it to you but people buy console games that only last that long for 60 bucks!

      5 bucks for an 8 hour fully 3D open world iPod/iPhone game isn't bad! If you're that cheap then please just stop playing games or go complain about Cannabalt! Now that's overpriced!

    • rasterico

      6-8 hours gameplay plus additional side quests which will undoubtedly double that time for £3.49 and your'e complaining about it?

      I think you need to get things into perspective and think about what you could buy for that sum of money before coming on here and making yourself look and sound ridiculous.

    • jon

      I'm with you periwinkle if the game has less then fifty hours of game play it better be free. And if the game is free it better not have ads and it better have phone support. And... and... I want it to make the iPhone shoot diamonds out of the earphone jack every time I level up.

      Otherwise I won't buy it!

      • http://ravensword.com AmazingRuss

        Fear not! It does all that, AND gets your toilet bowl springtime fresh!

    • Peri

      Notice I said that IF they were going to charge $4.99 or MORE, than it better be much longer than 6-8 hours for the main quest. Let me clarify, since you all love to go off half-cocked: I suspect that if the developers really worked this up into a fully fleshed out CRPG with a 30-50 hour main quest, then they could and should charge $9.99 or more. And it would sell like gangbusters. I would pay for that.

      On the other hand, what I personally feel is a waste of time and energy is to just starting getting into a CRPG, and after a scant 6-8 hours it's over. I don't care if it only cost $.99 or is free. That is an unappealing investment. And I think any real CRPGer would agree. Of course, I understand that 6-8 hours is quite long for a bunch of whiny snot-nosed ADD prepubescents, who can't focus on something for more than a length of a fart. But, alas, that's the twitterized culture we now find ourselves in.

      Good day.

      • http://www.squarezerostudio.com squarezero

        Please do not speak for "real" CRPG players. We haven't give you permission to do so.

      • WauloK

        I believe it's going to be $6.99

      • Havoc

        I just envy you for having that so time to waste on video games.

  • http://www.hackdirt.com David

    This really sucks for Josh and co. I'm sure those pigs are getting it right now.

  • Dragoon

    The good thing is, that maybe the iController is already out, when the Game gets released, since I don't like the feeling of playing such a great game, sliding my fingers on a plane glass plate to controll it. ;)

    • Dark NRG

      true. may be the only thing keeping me from higher scores on fps/survival shooters.

  • SEN

    how many article cut off the part about unity engine, then publish to the mass.

    what the reactions will be like if toucharcade didn't do their homework to report the whole story?

    thank for the article, toucharcade!!

  • Trogador

    *Goes to buy Luxor*

  • acidbottle

    if southpark millionaire hadnt got a superb update this morning id have been really peed off at this news.

  • 2kitties1cup

    If the unity team can so easily remove the illegal code, why was it there in the first place?

    Unity engine games have all sucked. They were all Jacky and offered nothing of quality. It's my guess that unity knew damn well that they were stealing personal information.

    I hated every unity engine game I was tricked into buying. Now i hate them even more. Let's make sure they don't change their company name and try to do it again.

    • 2kitties1cup

      Jacky = hacky. Stupid iPhone spellcheck!!

    • jon

      Thank you, you've demonstrated a sincere lack of comprehension.

    • xyxyx

      i believe that one of the owners of unity also is owing a lot of monies to a freelancer and did not pay up if you do a google search

      • AkCharlie

        CCCCCC COMBO BREAKER ! I love you guys

      • WauloK

        lol Akcharlie

  • Miguel de Icaza

    The article conflates two unrelated issues into one.

    The "Unpublished APIs" that Unity used are merely the APIs that Mono has used for years on OSX. The NSEnviron one was used on MacOS as MacOS had a broken "extern environ". The mach one is to turn segmentation faults (when the program is buggy) into a useful stack trace.

    Neither one of those have anything to do with stealing user's private information.

    Those APIs were used because the Mono port for OSX has used them for years. The code was developed some 5 years ago, and when Mono was ported to the iPhone, it ported with minimal changes: compile the source, and if it fails, fix it. There was no Apple tool used to identify "private" APIs, so nobody caught this.

    It turns out that environ is now fixed on the iPhone and modern OSX (we still need to keep it for old users of old versions of OSX around though) so the code can go.

    The mach one is easy to fix: use it during development to show gracious errors (or alternatively, generate more bloated code) and remove at deployment time.

    The article incorrectly bundles the two issues together.

    • http://www.ramtiga.com Jashan

      Thank you for clearing that up!!! Unity + Mono simply rock - and mistakes can always happen.

  • http://forums.toucharcade.com/member.php?u=1830 Liam (aka TGR)

    I don't think it's fair to put up an old video. The animation has really been cleaned up and the controls have been changed. Post a newer video please.

  • Amber Rowland

    Unity iPhone App Store Submissions - Problem Solved: http://blogs.unity3d.com/

  • 2kitties1cup

    Unity engine apps are LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAME

    • http://angryant.com AngryAnt

      Do you have any specific feedback for leading titles such as Battle Bears / Castle Warriors / Zombieville or Samurai - Way of the warrior?

      I'm certain the authors would appreciate the effort.

  • Barney Fife

    Hey write your applications the way that Apple defines and you would not have to worry about Apple rejecting your app's

    But hey if your stealing personal information from the user's iPhone than F u and you should be black listed

    • http://angryant.com AngryAnt

      Agreed. Storm8 needs to burn in the special hell ;)

  • SJK

    The approval process is good, both for the developer and the consumer. Read the SDK documentation and you'll see they are pushing for higher quality apps. I do think Apple is slowly, too slowly, improving their process, and am optimistic as a developer.

    However, I wish they would change the fundamentals a bit more to make it more developer friendly and encourage better testing, and more creativity

    Better testing : to get you app tested, developers need to secure UDIDs from beta testers. This is very difficult, and as a results skews your testers to the more techy crowd. You can use apps to get UDID off of phones (Ad Hoc Helper, Nextive), but it's still too difficult/expensive. If Apple made it easier, you'd get more apps tested by their target demographic, get more feedback, and the app would be less buggy in the first version that goes submitted. That would help get rid of the silly errors that clog the Apple review process. How about a simple, beta-code generator that you email to say, where anyone receiving it can test your app? Apple could impose the same 100-testers per year limit as they do now.

    More creativity needs to be at the focus of Apple app store. With the push to getting bigger brands involved, I worry about the small developer who has a great idea but doesn't have the $$ to stay in the game. If Apple doesn't help these developers market their app, it's a total loss, as marketing amidst 100k apps is difficult and expensive. My recommendation is that Apple waive its 30% revenue share UNTIL the app has generated $10k in total revenue. That way Apple has the incentive to promote/find ways to get users to find the new apps -- if they don't then Apple doesn't make any money until the developer has made some. May not cover the app developer's time spent, but at least you aren't robbing precious dollars, while not providing any help. If Apple helps with marketing/discovery, then the 30% is worth it. Let's align the incentives here.

  • http://twitter.com/contentwritten Chong Gudgell

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