Technology

Accepting money on the iOS App Store – acquiring an EIN

To sell an app (or an in-app purchase) on the iOS App Store as a non-US citizen, a tax ID is required* to fill in a W8 form. That is either an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) or EIN (Employer Identification number).

As an individual, the ITIN would appear the most correct option. The last time I investigated it, it was a slow process that would require notarised copies of supporting documentation.

Getting an EIN is much easier, and despite the name, does not require you to have employees. All you need to do is be in business (which selling in the app store is) and being a sole proprietor (sole trader in the UK) counts.

In theory, you fill in form SS-4 to get one. It’s very straightforward, and even has an explanation of exactly which parts you need to fill in (look for notes for “IF the applicant… Is a foreign person needing an EIN to comply with IRS withholding regulations”.

In practice, it is even easier than that. You can apply for one over the phone. They will basically ask you the same questions as on the form, and then give you the EIN there and then. I called “first thing in the morning” (6am for them, 11am for me) and got an answer immediately (they warn you that you could be waiting an hour during busier times). The whole process took less than 10 minutes. The hardest part was confirming how my address should be written down.

The net result of all this is that Tic-tac-toe Collection’s single in-app purchase has been enabled (at least for beta testers).

* Whether it is actually required is unclear. The old Xbox 360 program, Xbox Live Indie Games, allowed developers to sell without a tax ID, but a 30% withholding tax would be deducted from your earnings. I believe the best result would be the same happening here. It’s also possible Apple would just not allow you to process sales at all.

Computers, Entertainment, Games, Technology, Video Games

Overcooked – Fun Coop Multiplayer Action

I recently a recorded a bunch of videos of the game Overcooked on Xbox One.

Your goal is to assemble meals out of various ingredients, cook them, and serve them. Over time the meals get a bit more complicated and the levels get a lot more complicated. It is strongly designed to be played cooperatively with up to four people, and even supports two players on a single controller.

My only complaint would be the difficulty is based too much on complicated level design (and jumps up a bit too quickly). Some times the controls are not exactly tight and you can end up selecting the wrong thing – having levels with moving targets or slippery floors for instance just accentuates an otherwise minor problem. I would have preferred more meal variations (that are also more complicated) on simpler levels.

But despite all that it’s a fun party game that almost anyone can play. And of course it is made in Unity.

One final note. The first video in the playlist above was generated by Google Photos. It turned out well, except for its automatic cropping.

Android, Android, Entertainment, Games, Programming, Technology, Unity, Video Games

Multi-platform – The real advantage of Unity

There have been quite a few mechanical additions since my last update, but the most significant thing in my latest video is it is the first on a non-Windows platform.

Unity has a large list of platforms it supports and a lot will work on all of them with no effort. For example, Gravitas currently builds and runs on Windows (Win32 and Windows 8.1 Store), Mac, Android and WebGL. With the exception of adding some settings (the Android package name for instance) I didn’t have to do anything platform specific for any of it.

Although there are very few hard limitations on what can be done on the different platforms, the wildly different performance characteristics mean you do have to think about different problems.

A more straightforward problem I recently solved (after the Day 20 – Android video was made) was to decide how to deal with different mobile device orientations.

My general philosophy is to try and support everything, so although landscape feels most natural for Gravitas, there isn’t really a reason not to support portrait. In fact, since the camera will adjust its zoom level to keep all the world on screen, it already supported portrait, albeit rather awkwardly. The dynamically generated levels are designed to have approximately a 16:9 aspect ratio. This means in portrait you get massive empty space above and below the planets, while making everything smaller than necessary. The solution? If the aspect ratio is less than 1, rotate the camera 90 degrees. This not only means portrait is supported, but in fact a far more general case of portrait-like aspect ratios is supported (and even better, has no mobile specific code at all).

Computers, Programming

[SOLVED] System.ExecutionEngineException: Attempting to JIT compile method

TLDR: Check multiple references to the same nuget package are all on the same version if you use the Mono linker.

Since my ability to post regularly on things I’m interested in is not great, I figured I could at least post stuff that might be useful.

I recently upgraded a Xamarin iOS app from the “classic” (32bit only) API to the Unified API. After doing so I got the error message:

System.ExecutionEngineException: Attempting to JIT compile method

.

This is caused by the Xamarin (Mono) linker removing code that is only referenced dynamically. The usual solution is to let the compiler know somehow that you are using the code (using a Preserve attribute if it’s your own code or something like MvvmCross’s LinkerPleaseInclude.cs otherwisr).

In my case, this did not fix the problem. It turns out the Unified API upgrade was a red herring. I had also updated a few nuget packages at the same time. One of them was used in several projects, but I’d missed updating one of them (so I had Project A using v1 of a package and Project B using v2 of a package). This meant my efforts to stop the linker from removing some stuff only worked on one version of the package.