Well, it's finally happened: In the early hours of the morning, R.A.B.B.i.T. passed submission on the Apple store! The entire process took around six days to complete from start-to-finish.
But before we can release the game to the app store, there's a few things we needed to consider, which we are going to briefly talk about, below:
R.A.B.B.i.T.'s PLANNED PR CAMPAIGN
Over the past few weeks, we've been building a small PR campaign around R.A.B.B.i.T., including putting together a trailer and developing a press page for journalists. The final step in this plan was to release the game early to certain journalists by giving them access to the iOS build on Test Flight.
Unfortunately, to release a build externally on Test Flight, a BETA build needs to go through a similar (although smaller) submission process, which takes a day or two. However, we didn't realise this until more than a day after we submitted the main game into submission. So we were already four days in when the BETA completed it's submission.... And FAILED!
Now, bear in mind that the main game still hadn't completed submission yet (not even with a fail) so we were kinda shocked by this revelation. Especially as the problem noted by Apple was 'It locks up on a black screen'. We requested some more information about this, but went about creating a potential fix (we had to guess what the problem could be: We figured that the Game Centre sign-in was causing the game to appear to lock up, when it really wasn't).
But by the time we were ready to put together a build and submit a new BETA, the main game had now completed submission (and passed!), this left us with a bit of a problem: The game could now go live in the app store, but it would have no PR backing at ALL.
We decided this was a bad idea.
RE-SUBMITTING R.A.B.B.i.T. ON IOS
We decided the first thing to do was to get another build of R.A.B.B.i.T. together, then decide on what to do next. So we spent today refining a few bits and pieces of the game's launch code (i.e. the order and timing in which it starts up), notably making sure that the sign in code can never interfere with the presentation of the game (i.e. leaving it on a black screen as it transitions to a new menu).
But as we were sorting out these potential issues on iOS...
MEANWHILE IN ANDROID LAND
We've been having a bit of a problem with Android lately: Around the time we were testing the latest build of the Unreal engine to see if we really could launch on iOS, we noticed that Android was now having trouble with Signing into Google Play services. Bear in mind that this is a completely new issue that we'd not encountered before, where the device would refuse to sign into an existing account!
Then today we realised that this wasn't R.A.B.B.i.T.'s problem: It was happening on all kinds of other games AND that it appeared to be OS related. Turns out, it wasn't a problem at ALL! It seems Google now requires you to create a user ID for your games (something similar to XBL or PSN usernames) and it was refusing to sign in until this was done. The reason we didn't spot this before? Only one out of the four accounts we have is doing this. Guess the others are lagging behind?
Anyway, so now we had a working Android version too. If only that other issue (the big crash problem we've been dealing with for the last three months) was fixed too... Well, what do you know?!:
This morning we got an update from Epic. After more than two months of back-and-forth, they had FINALLY managed to track down a device that showed the same crash as us! Which means our estimate of releasing R.A.B.B.i.T. on Android suddenly dropped from "Who knows when" to "hopefully VERY soon". But, of course, this threw another spanner into the works in regards to how we proceed forward.
MAKING A DECISION
So now we had a potential fix for the 'broken' iOS BETA (we still don't know what was wrong with it), we'd made some nice changes to the way we handle online signing in/out (including writing some specific logic for Android/iOS to handle each platform's quirks uniquely) and the loading process is visually much cleaner.
We decided that the best thing to do at this point was to re-submit the new version of the iOS build to the store and let it re-run through submission. We've also put a new version of the iOS BETA into mini-submission to try and get a version out to the press ASAP.
As for Android, we've put together a final release build of that too and uploaded it to the store. For now though -- as that crash currently persists -- it'll remain in a tightly controlled closed BETA.
RELEASING THE GAME
With no reason why R.A.B.B.i.T. would fail Apple's submission process this second time, we're looking at putting the game out to the app store on Tuesday 8th of March. That's regardless of whether the new iOS BETA build makes it through or not (if it fails, we'll point press towards the closed iOS BETA or get them to wait for release of the full game on that date.
Android will be out ASAP. Based on past experience we're estimating this to be around 2-3 weeks, but it's just going to be a matter of luck as to how long this takes (and presuming the issue really is fixed this time).
It's been a looooooong time coming, but we're almost there now. We're looking forward to you all being able to play the game shortly! :)