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