Update: I carved out 184 MB of media from our bloated game file so that our game data is now 90.7 MB of which 85.5 MB is our game and of which about 60 MB are videos.
So I reconfigured our game design to be terribly simple so that ARIS and iPad don't have to "think" as much, so almost everything is linear, so that we almost never use the Tabbed Menu, but at least the content does load promptly and the procedures essentially run. Half the time when going to the Map, ARIS still crashes (that could be related to the fact I switched over to Local Evaluation instead of Server Dependent...? or it could just mean the iPad is too slow...), so for our upcoming iPad demo, I have carved out the Map function so we're almost purely just moving directly between plaques and conversations without any user flexibility. We'll just tell people this is what they will unlock when they arrive at our site. This will serve for the demo on an iPad where these are stationary stations, but is unfortunate considering the theoretical capacity of ARIS, which I am finding to be limited by its practical capacity.
One thing this is teaching me: my earlier qualms about Notebook are doubly justified. Not all our game data bloat was from player Notebook posts (most of it was our own media files from other sites or sites in development, some of which we will have to figure how to incorporate into our overall user experience in some way at some point, perhaps as interlinked games rather than one biggish one), but enough of it was from user Notebook posts that if we were to release this to the public and invite them to use Notebook to post content, the game would rapidly get too unwieldy data-wise no matter what. I cannot count on Notebook to perform the function it's for. We are going to have to imagine how to route our users to a Facebook group to post their user-generated content. My previous qualms about Notebook were that it was difficult to use, hard to segregate from game play, and generally clunky. Now, the data bloat rationale is going to motivate us to avoid Notebook altogether.
Is anyone using Facebook for ARIS logins or cross-connecting with Facebook in lieu of Notebook or similar functions? Any possibility of having ARIS sense Facebook tags or having some intercommunication between the two could allow--theoretically--for tagging in broader social media space that could still be read as ARIS triggers? That would be useful as it would extend the realm of relevance of our game and ARIS beyond the fishbowl. I'm not sure how that connectivity might work from a technical standpoint. That's the only piece that Notebook offers directly that other social media does not--that its tags can be considered with the internal ARIS game logic. But for now we will have to sacrifice that for base functionality across more devices. This is unfortunate because it means that a whole spectrum of in-game incentive mechanisms is lost--I can't nudge players to post/tag stuff to get points or unlock bonuses if what they cumulatively would be posting just gets too large to be handled.
In reference to my other post about difficulties with Game Duplication, later on this evening I did notice that one duplicate game did populate my editor menu (although now the challenge will be to eliminate the two other ghost partial games that may or may not be visible to other ARIS users--presumably partial duplications that I can see as a user but not access as an editor...perhaps that issue will resolve itself over time?).
I have not yet explored the linking to YouTube option to further reduce our media data footprint and will report back to this forum with any observations if/when we are able to try that. If others have gone this route, I would definitely be interested in learning from your approaches.
I appreciate everyone's support and hope that this lengthy log may serve to help others with an example of the data size of the ARIS game having an impact on whether it will load and whether it will function on some devices. I'm not sure that the sluggish performance on iPad itself is attributable to the data size of the game, however. I suspect as David suggested the data size impacted whether or not it would load at all. But there may be other performance issues either related to my particular game design that cause problems or to older iPads vs. newer iPhones and ARIS.