How and why we made the One Hit Kill app

ohk-app-iconWhen One Hit Kill ships in September, it will have printed rules in the box like every other game.

But because OHK is designed to grow and change — both with our own expansion packs and user-created variants — we wanted to be able to quickly update and “officialize” rules to reflect the state of the game.

So we did what we do. We made an app.

The One Hit Kill app is free in the App Store. There’s also a web app that works on Android and other devices.

Under the hood

This is our first iOS app written in Swift, Apple’s next-generation coding language. Nima Yousefi originally prototyped it in Objective-C, but when it became clear we would be using primarily stock elements and libraries, he rewrote it in Swift.

Nima reported very few issues making the change. Swift is certainly readable. It’s the first app we’ve made where I can look at the code and basically understand what’s happening, so that’s remarkable.

Within the app, the pages themselves — from rules to the FAQ — are written in Markdown, and rendered as text rather than web views. (We do the same thing in Weekend Read.)

The app pulls its data from the cloud: Rails running on Heroku. From a web interface, we can update the text and images for any piece of content, then push it out live. It’s not Facebook or Twitter levels of performance, but it meets our lightweight needs.

We are on the verge of submitting version 1.1 of the OHK app, which trades out some of the table views for collections. That allows us to flatten some of the hierarchy and show more cards at once, particularly on the iPad.

Making it work on Android

Because a lot of our backers will be on Android or other devices, we wanted to provide a version of the app for them as well.

After considering several alternatives, we chose Framework7 to build a web app that would work regardless of the platform. Framework7 unapologetically tries to fake an iOS look, but our Android users haven’t objected. For iOS developers in similar situations with fairly simple, text-based apps, we’d recommend giving Framework7 a look.

There can only be One

Our primary reason for building the One Hit Kill app was to make it easy to update the rules and artwork.

Another goal was to protect the name One Hit Kill.

It’s not an idle worry. The Exploding Kittens game in the App Store is terrible: a generic whack-a-mole with no relation at all to the wildly popular Kickstarter. No doubt thrown together in an afternoon, it’s attempting to draft off the Kittens brand name. (The developer’s other games include “the 2048 game” and Flappy Chappy, neither of which have any reviews.)

The One Hit Kill app should at least stave off the most obnoxious clones, and keep the name available to us down the road.

So take a look at the app, and check out the web app if you’re curious.

One Hit Kill itself is available exclusively through Kickstarter, and only until June 5th.

Back to 100

Scriptnotes: Ep. 198

This week, we time-travel back to our first centennial, a live show in Hollywood with special guests Aline Brosh McKenna and Rawson Thurber. We discuss the rise of the “writer-plus,” the importance of early mentors, and the emails that outline the very origin of Scriptnotes.

Through the past 100 episodes, a lot has changed, so John provides updates on some topics, including how the Golden Ticket winner presaged the later full script challenge. So even if you listened to this episode 97 weeks ago, you’ll find something new.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 5-19-15: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

One Hit Kill is now on Kickstarter

OHK Key Art

Minutes ago, we launched the Kickstarter for One Hit Kill, our new card game of ridiculously overpowered weapons and monsters and cuddly rabbits.

UPDATE: We funded! Really quickly. We’ll be sending out the game in September — and this will probably be the only chance to get it this year, so don’t wait. We also announced our stretch goals and achievements, including an app.


After months of work and testing, we’re damn excited to show you what we’ve designed. We’ve been playing the game non-stop, and it’s time to release it into the world.

With your help, One Hit Kill might become your new favorite game. Please check it out!

How do bad movies get made?

Scriptnotes: Ep. 197

Craig and John tackle a single topic: bad movies and how they happen. Having experienced the process first-hand, they report on how bad ideas make it to the screen, and how good ideas go wrong. There’s no single answer, but a range of patterns that end in terrible movies.

In follow-up, we talk about still-forming plans for the 200th episode, new USB drives, and favorite episodes.

John’s game One Hit Kill launches on Kickstarter this week. Check it out.

And if you work for Bethesda, Craig really wants you to make Fallout 4.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 5-17-15: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

The long and short of it

Scriptnotes: Ep. 196

John and Craig dig into the listener mailbag and take questions on TV producer credits, jealousy over other writers’ success, writing tight vs writing long and plenty of other follow up.

It’s a jam packed episode worthy of a long commute.

We also have information on the card game we playtested in LA a few weeks back. It’s called One Hit Kill, and you can see some of the artwork and play our mini-game at now.


You can download the episode here: AAC | mp3.

UPDATE 5-7-15: The transcript of this episode can be found here.

Check out the game we’re making

Back in March, I put out a call for playtesters. They answered, and together we took over a game store on Wilshire for one night, working through the new card game we’re developing.

We had temp cards with no artwork — even the title of the game was omitted. Didn’t matter. The players dug it.

“Fun + fast. Catan meets Magic meets Uno.”

“Old-fashioned and modern at the same time.”

“If a mad scientist created a card game, this would be it.”

There’s still plenty more to do, but it’s time to start telling people about the game — including the name.logo

It’s called One Hit Kill. It’s a game full of ridiculously overpowered weapons, drawn from science fiction, myth and popular culture.

It has Krakens and Portals to Nowhere. There are Time Machines, Elven Bows and Railguns. Even Cthulhu’s Granddad makes an appearance.

You can check out some of the weapons and other cards at our prelaunch website:

Sign in, and you’ll get a special URL to share with friends to unlock additional cards. (Yes, even the prelaunch is sort of a game. We can’t stop ourselves.)

The first person to unlock all the artwork will receive one of the numbered decks from the playtest.1

We anticipate launching One Hit Kill sometime next week. Follow us on our brand-new Twitter account for details: @onehitkillgame

Thanks again to our 30 brave playtesters. Excited to show the rest of the world what you helped shape.

  1. Yes, the system logs IPs, so spamming a bunch of fake email addresses isn’t going to win you anything.