Your neighborhood is a horror movie! Are you the hero? Grab your shotgun, start that chainsaw and find out…

Zombie Hood brings a ground breaking game layer to Foursquare to create an experience that combines creativity, strategy, fun and scares for all ages. Scavenge venues to find weapons, food, and other loot to use in the fight against the shambling hordes of the undead. Fight with zombies and band together with other survivors to fortify your safe house and take back your town. Zombie Hood’s unique brand of snack play means you can dive into the zombie apocalypse 30 seconds at a time while you catch the bus or stand in line at your favorite coffee shop.

Key Features:

  • Awesome new weapons including M1 Abrahams Tanks, Plasma Chainsaws, Superhero Costumes, Crossbows, and Katanas!
  • New Safe Houses sub-game allowing you to collect and fortify locations in your Zombie Hood
  • An epic PVP battle sub-game letting you take the fight to the streets against other survivors for more cash and XP
  • Did we mention that zMart now uses a coin based system to make grabbing loot, weapons and ammo quicker, easier, and much cheaper?
  • Oh yeah, and we give you 40 FREE COINS to buy whatever you want in the game… gee we’re nice guys
  • Hordes of zombies built to be specific to the types of venues you visit
  • Integration with Facebook and Foursquare to share the action with your friends

Interview with Matthew Brennan of IRL Gaming

My name is Matthew Brennan, I’m a co-founder/director of IRL Gaming, we’re based in Sydney Australia. I’ve been working in the Sydney area as a web developer/ Front-end engineer for about the last 12 years. I’ve worked for companies such as Yahoo, NineMSN, News Digital, and Vodafone.

IRL Gaming was formed toward the end of 2010 by myself and a few other friends Daniel Eyles, Henry Cho, and Chris Spicuzza. We came together and decided that rather than talk about all the ideas we had, we might as well act on them. We came up with the idea of a ‘Location Based Mobile Gaming Platform’ that we could build ‘snack play’ style games from. One thing lead to another and we applied for the first year of the StartMate startup incubator program here in Australia. We ultimately beat out around 90 other startups and were accepted as one of the final five companies chosen.

From there we’ve spent the last 12 months refining our idea and working on our flagship game ‘Zombie Hood‘, a location based survival game that turns your local area into the Zombie Apocalypse where you must scavenge local venues as well as battle zombies and other players to survive.

My role within IRL Gaming besides being a co-founder and company director is the front-end lead for app development. I mainly build the front-end UI and bridge the gap between the UX crafted by Henry and designs done by Chris, with the backend web services and game logic created by Dan.

“…I see a lot of questions asked on the Ti Q&A forums that could easily be avoided or fixed with some basic JavaScript knowledge, and remember people jQuery is not the same JavaScript you need to get old-school with Titanium…”

What made you choose Titanium as your platform?
All of us come from a web background, I’m a front-end developer, Dan is a back-end engineer, Chris is a web designer, and Henry is a User Experience Architect. This made Titanium the obvious choice to hit the ground running and get something out and into the market as fast as possible. None of us has any iOS or mobile app experience, so we didn’t to spend the time leaning Obj C to create a full native iOS app as our first attempt into this area. Instead we used what skills we had and managed to get things up and running a lot faster than we would have done, had we chosen to go full native from the start.

How long did it take to design, develop & test the app?
Because we were accepted into the incubator program that went for 3 months we gave ourselves a deadline of 6 weeks to design, and develop a working demo to showcase to potential investors in the USA, as part of our incubator program we were taken to Silicon Valley for two weeks to pitch our idea to investors and other start ups.

We managed to hit our deadline and by the time we got to the USA in mid March 2011 (6 weeks from the start of the program) we had our first working demo of the game.

We kept things pretty simple in terms of the way we worked – we borrowed the methods we’d used as web developers and applied them to our app development. Henry would come up with the UX wireframes first, we’d all go through them to ensure we were all on the same page. Chris would then take over and work with Henry to get the actual UI designed. Then I would start to cut up the designs and turn them into a working front–end. Dan would be working on the web services and the game logic and once that was ready, we’d connect the front-end UI to the web services and then repeat the process screen by screen.

Was the integration into Facebook & Foursquare straight forward?
Not at all, but we got there :) We ran into a few problems early on with oAuth 1.0 and I wrote a couple of blog posts about the issues we had which you can find here:
oauth-xauth-and-titanium-the-problem/ &
oauth-xauth-titanium-the-solution/

Once we got that problem sorted it was a piece of cake, we wrote our own libraries for handling requests and implemented it into our core framework.

It should be noted, that the problem was never the 3rd party APIs but rather the way Titanium was making the requests.

Do you use a 3rd party for notifications & in-app purchases?
For in-app purchases we use the Ti.StoreKit module, that’s available from the Appcelerator Marketplace. It was pretty straight forward to integrate and get working, we did a few tricky things to help speed up the response times and give the users constant feedback as to what was happening during the process, but beyond that its relatively easy to get up and running.

For notifications we use a lot a local notifications using the Ti.API, for push notifications we’re looking at using Urban Airship but haven’t actually started to yet as we’re still working out what’s best for us.

Are there any tips & tricks you would like to share with the Titanium community?
Memory matters. We really struggled early on with the speed of Titanium when it came to opening new windows. Dan spent a lot of time on finding a solution that worked for us to make our app really responsive but still allowing us to open a lot of new windows. As a result Dan wrote a window manager that handles all of the windows used within Zombie Hood, it allows us to switch between windows, and screens with virtually no delay or lag, that you see present in Ti Apps after you start getting a lot of images and elements on the window.

Image compression, your Ti App will get big fast if you use a lot of images, even more so if you want a HD version of your app for Retina displays. Look into ways you can use transparent PNG 24bit images but reduce the colours to help keep the file size down.

Dan also developed the JSONDB module (https://marketplace.appcelerator.com/apps/1089), which is now available on the Appcelerator Open Marketplace. After developing two releases of the game using SQLite we decided to move over to our own NoSQL, document based data management solution to speed up development and make working with data easier using JavaScript.

Learn the quirks of the platform and use them to your advantage. We do a lot of tricky stuff inside Zombie Hood to get the most out of the Ti Platform, it wasn’t easy but its worth it.

Finally, get good at JavaScript, luckily for us both Dan and myself had been using JavaScript for years and it really helped a lot, actually understanding JavaScript. I see a lot of questions asked on the Ti Q&A forums that could easily be avoided or fixed with some basic JavaScript knowledge, and remember people jQuery is not the same JavaScript you need to get old-school with Titanium.

Are you available for freelance work?
We certainly are, both individually and as a company. Not only can we build awesome Ti Based apps, but we’ve also got years of web and mobile web experience.

Download it from iTunes here
Website: http://www.irlgaming.com
Twitter: IRL Gaming