How much space a game takes up on their device probably isn’t something most players think about, until they run out. At that point players go into the system settings and enact… The Cull (it helps if you imagine a high pitched horror scream about now).
Before this point, all the apps are happily arranged on the player’s device, but then suddenly it’s every app for itself, with each listed under the cold, uncaring eye of ‘how much memory does this take up?’
We know from experience that the higher your app is on that list, the greater the chance you’ll be deleted in The Cull (aaiiee, etc.). Obviously how much the player’s enjoying that game makes a difference, but it’s all too easy for a promising young app to be cut down before its time for being too damn big.
Games can take up a lot of memory for several reasons, but the main culprits are the quality and amount of its ‘assets’ – usually the graphics and audio (with the game’s engine making up the rest). In Combat Cards case, most of the memory is used by all the miniature photo’s and, to a lesser extent, the banner artwork for the Campaigns.
Naturally, the amount of space used by our miniature photography will increase over time, as we keep adding more and more cards to the game. But, equally naturally, we don’t want the game to get too large and end up getting chopped in The Cull (aaii… actually, maybe it’s not a scream, perhaps it should be ‘dun dun dunnn!’ music).
One solution we’re using is for the game to only download a card’s artwork when it’s needed – i.e. the first time you see it. This is why you’ll sometimes see cards displayed with a placeholder ‘?’ style image, until the game has grabbed the correct miniature artwork.
This means the game gets larger on your device over time, but at least that ties in with how long you’ve been playing it, and therefore you’re probably enjoying it, so hopefully are less likely to kill it in The Cull (dun, dun, du… nah, it’s not the music).
The main factor which dictates how large each miniature’s image is, is it’s size (or more accurately, resolution). Obviously building a collection of ‘Eavy Metal painted miniatures is a key driver behind the game, so we want the art to be as high res as possible.
But there’s a sweet-spot between super-high res images which make the app huge, and ‘Fuzzy McBlob, the Space Marine’. At the moment, we’re focusing on quality over memory footprint, but it’s possible we’ll have to vary this over time in order to avoid The Cull (wait, maybe it’s a ‘Mwa-ha-ha!’ laugh?).
Feel free to let us know if you’d prefer Combat Cards to have a smaller memory footprint (at the expense of high-res miniature art), or if the quality of the miniatures is more important. And think about this the next time you’re mercilessly deleting apps from your device in The Cull (Mwa-ha-ha! Yep, nailed it).