Archive | March, 2010

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Star Fusion

Posted on 31 March 2010 by Todd

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Christopher Waite
App Store: Star Fusion $0.99

Star Fusion is an arcade style game where you control the Sun and try to intercept stars as they fly across the screen. This sounds easy, but it can be pretty tough the longer you play! The controls for this game require both left and right thumbs to be really affective. You control the vertical position of the Sun by sliding it up and down on the screen. The sun needs to be aligned with the stars that move from the right to the left side of the screen. Now, in order for the sun to capture a star you must use the thermometer control on the right side of the screen and if a star has a value of 25, then you need to set the thermometer control to 25.

The graphics are very well done and the clouds that move across the screen on their own are a very nice touch. The clouds can actually obscure your view of stars, but you can always grab a cloud and drag it to a more desirable location as it moves across the screen. There are various power-ups that either give you additional time or increase the score of captured stars. The game has fitting background music and sound effects when stars are captured. The help system is nice and makes it easy to pickup the game and understand what you should be doing. It might be interesting to have a level/wave type setup where you need to collect a certain number of stars to progress to the next wave and then when you stop/restart the game you could continue where you left off on say “Wave 12”.

[youtube J1N5ZsqGlDE]

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Shuttle Dock

Posted on 30 March 2010 by Todd

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Explore Systems, Inc.
App Store: Shuttle Dock Free

Shuttle Dock is a game that allows you to pilot Space Shuttle Atlantis as you try to doc the nose of the shuttle with various target crosshairs. The game features beautiful still background images that are provided by NASA. You control the space shuttle using thrust controls and are trying to doc with a target crosshair. The target will turn from yellow as you are getting close to lining up and the finally green once you are completely lined up. You must hold this position for three seconds and then you complete the docking and pass the level.

The game is very simple, yet it is actually fun. The background images are static so the only movement is the shuttle and you get to see the thrust actions. There is no background music, but there is really well done voice communication as you attempt to doc the shuttle. The targets actually become moving targets in the more difficult levels and that really helps keep things interesting. There are a lot of good levels in the base free version and then you can purchase additional levels. It might be more interesting if an update was released that would add malfunctions or flying objects/debris into the mix!

UPDATE: Joe was kind enough to let me know that there is in fact background music! I couldn’t hear it at my volume level, but turning it up a bit and you can hear the background music that actually is pretty nice. Thank you Joe!

[youtube PjgdJv7QAK4]

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Fowl Invaders

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Todd

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Convolution
App Store: Fowl Invaders $0.99

Fowl Invaders is your classic tale of redneck rampage meets chickens from outer space! This is a simple arcade style shooting gallery game where your objective is to kill every space ship that flies across your screen using missiles as your only weapon.

This game uses the Unity engine, which is becoming more and more popular with the indie developers. The music and sound effects are great. There are unlockable missiles and also various power ups that you can obtain while playing the game. The game is interesting and hopefully the developer will continue to expand to make things even more interesting. I would like to see the space ships have weapons that could harm you.

I think this game has potential and if you are a fan of shooting gallery games then you will probably enjoy Fowl Invaders, or if you just like shooting stuff with missiles! 😉

[youtube IPQPVfifaT4]

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Crunchy Planets

Posted on 27 March 2010 by TBS

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Oniric Games
App Store: Crunchy Planets $0.99

Crunchy Planets is one of those fun games that you would play when in a waiting room or standing line. The object of the  game is maneuver the alien around space, eating planets you come across. You use the accelerometer to navigate your way through space. Do avoid black holes, missiles, asteroids and inhabited planets or you will die. When eating planets aim for a combo, if you can call it that, it will increase your points and give the next planet a substantial amount of points.  While being the universe’s  trash compactor you will run into power ups. The three power ups ghost, magnet and shield will help you while eating planets. You will encounter blue orbs in space. Eat three of these to become a giant and eat anything in your path.

The graphics are cute. I wish there was a soundtrack to the game, but listening to my own music filled that missing piece. The sound effects are great. There are no controls except for the accelerometer. Keeping it simple, I like. The game is simple and fun.

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Indie Interview: Tilt to Live

Posted on 26 March 2010 by Todd

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Today we bring you an indie interview with Adam Stewart and Alex Okafor, the creators of Tilt to Live!

Company: One Man Left
App Store: Tilt to Live $1.99

How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
Adam: We set our sights on the iPhone around June of last year, and Tilt to Live is our first project. Before that we’d never done anything that would be considered “career” game development. We’ve been working as a team on pipe dream projects since high school, but Tilt to Live is our first commercial offering.

How long did it take you to develop Tilt to Live and how many people were involved?
Adam: Just two of us moonlighting as devs, Alex the Programmer and Adam the Artist. That’s how we address each other in casual conversation.

The moonlighting arrangement slowed the process down considerably. I think the game was started in June of last year, so it was almost 9 months before we agreed it was ready for launch. We could nearly have gestated a human being in the time it took to make this game. Because we both had day jobs to pay the bills, there was no financial pressure to “just get it done”. We took our sweet time exploring different ideas.

How did you come up with the idea for Tilt to Live?
Adam: The humorous look/feel was established as soon as we indulged that title: Tilt to Live. You can’t have a name that goofy and still try to look badass, so we just started running with ridiculous ideas. In the end, that helped set our game apart from all the glowing, techno-thumping shooters in the App Store. I don’t know why more developers aren’t sick of working in that style. It’s not bad, it’s just… well-worn. It’s the town doorknob.

The gameplay was inspired early on by Geometry Wars’ Pacifist mode. That’s the mode where they take away your ability to shoot, and you can only whittle away enemies by running through these bars that exploded. That was our nuke, basically, and from there we brainstormed different survival strategies that became our other weapons. It’s been exciting territory to develop, and we’re still not finished exploring it.

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
Adam: This time it was an idea within Geometry Wars that we wanted to explore deeper. A lot of our new ideas have been centered around fun ways to interact with the hardware (both iPhone and iPad). I personally get excited when I’m deconstructing something that’s already established. Taking a classic paradigm, deciding what’s fun about it and what isn’t, then brainstorming new ideas around that. It’s not easy to make that work, but I find that reverse-engineering a game or genre really gets my imagination going.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
Adam: Getting noticed in a marketplace as crowded as the App Store.  That’s the hardest part, which we’re hoping will become easier as we establish some kind of presence or (hopefully) fan base.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
Adam: During the very early stages, the enemies were just red dots and the player just looked like an arrow! We have come a long way since then. For Tilt to Live, our creative process went like this: There are red dots and a nuke … “Try this” … Build … “Was it fun? Okay try this” … Build … ad nauseam.  Just adding weapons and changing waves until it felt release-worthy.

Early Tilt to live!

Did you do any pre-marketing before Tilt to Live was released?
Adam: We sent out preview builds to a few web sites, and did maybe two press releases near the end. Our biggest push was after we had a gameplay video to show. It’s hard to build hype for your first title, since you’re on a level playing field with 100,000 other developers the app sites have never heard of. Any success we had there was due to Tilt to Live’s quirkiness and how we structured the emails. After some trial and error we found that the quicker we got to the point in our press releases and emails, the better our response was.

What are you working on now?
Adam: Tilt to Live isn’t finished just yet. We’re developing a new game mode for the first update that completely changes how you play the game. We call it Gauntlet mode. Players basically run a treadmill of spinning, smashing dot formations, trying to survive the tide as long as possible. That’s coming April 24th.

As far as future titles, we have our sights set on the iPad next. That hardware has a lot of potential.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
Adam: Both. We use a pretty diverse group as testers, including ourselves. If it’s not fun for the majority of us, or if it’s not a game that’d we’d be satisfied purchasing, it’s probably not worth releasing. We don’t always agree on what’s fun, but I think that keeps the end result from being “too niche”.

We also use reviews on the App Store and app sites as food for thought toward updates. We often agree with the feedback, and treat it the same as tester data.

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
Adam: We set out to make a simple, pick-up-and-play, casual game with minimal decision-making before starting a game. The update will have two screens prior to playing: a Gametype Select and the Assume the Position screen, which is actually two more than we were going for. Both are necessary and fairly common, though, so the concession wasn’t a total copout.

As far as difficulty, the feedback seems to be that half the people think it gets too hard too quick, and half think it’s too easy for too long. This tells us we’ve struck a decent balance between a hardcore and casual audience. We’re going to try to continue “swinging both ways” in the updates, though we’ve announced a hardcore-only mode called Code Red for the April 24th GameType update. The difficulty will be cranked up to 11 from the start, for the hardcore gamer on the go.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
We both just find the work rewarding. And if not for that, we get hungry. The people with the food ask for money. If we have none, we get motivated.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Tilt to Live?
Alex: Coding the more elaborate dot formations such as arrows and ping pong paddles was more challenging than expected. I went back to the drawing board several times trying to get this to work fluidly and still maintain good performance. What we have now works but I still think it could be done much better. We had a lot more ideas for this, but this proved to be one of the things that got down-sized for the sake of time and stability. But with the new update, Gauntlet Mode, it’s almost exclusively all elaborate shapes, so thankfully we’ve got a better system in place now for developing them!

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
Alex: Stopping what you’re doing and go do something else. Music is always an inspiration, but just getting out and trying to experience new things really helps get those creative juices flowing. Even if it’s as simple as going for a walk to a part of the city or a park you’ve never been to before.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
Adam: To give a general idea: Horse the Band, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, and The March of the Penguins soundtrack.
Alex: Some days it’s chill-out lounge music, other days it’s classical/orchestral music, others it’s just random music from more mainstream sources.

What was a must have during the development process of Tilt to Live?
Alex: The biggest design goal was to create a game that requires zero tapping of the screen during the gameplay to fully play the game. We wanted to explore the mechanics of tilting exclusively, and also avoid the “hand in the way” problem that could be a huge issue in a fast-paced arcade game.

How much did the art drive the game? The vision of what it was to look like how much of that was the driving force?
Alex: The art and music definitely guided the overall humorous feel of the game. But from a game mechanics perspective, the art took a back seat to how the game played. We would come up with abstract mechanics and gameplay ideas first and then try to fit them in aesthetically. The art made the mechanics standout and not the other way around. In the mobile space, I personally feel gameplay is more important than theme. Themes work to get the player initially interested.  If the theme and gameplay are at odds with each other then it won’t hold their interest for long. While working in a constrained box (Like “Tilt only gameplay”) can really help push the creativity of mechanics, trying to make game mechanics ‘fit a theme’ doesn’t seem to have the same effect.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
Alex: XCode, Subversion, and Dropbox are kind of standard I imagine. As for a tool I use that a lot of iPhone developers probably don’t is Blitzmax. It’s another language entirely, but it’s proved to be extremely useful in prototyping early mechanics and algorithms quickly without all the “gotchas” of setup, initialization, and memory management in Obj-C/C++. Audacity has been key for me. I use it to mix, edit, and export the audio.

Adam: The artwork was wrought primarily by Illustrator, and I used Flash to mock up some of the animations. Also pencils. It took a lot of sketching to get the enemy design just right.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Of course.

We want to thank Adam and Alex for their time and we can’t wait for the update for Tilt to Live!

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Indie Interview: Labyrinth 2

Posted on 25 March 2010 by Todd

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Today we bring you an indie interview with Anders Mårtensson, one of the creator of Labyrinth 2!

Company: Illusion Labs
App Store: Labyrinth 2 $4.99

How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
For about two years. I used to work at a major mobile phone platform manufacturer before.

How long did it take you to develop Labyrinth 2 and how many people were involved?
About 10 months for 4-6 people.

How did you come up with the idea for Labyrinth 2?
Well, Labyrinth 1 was our first game, and there was so much more we could do with it. We thought we could include obstacles, and also a level sharing system so that people could share their own levels easily with the world. Those ideas ended up in our first sequel, Labyrinth 2.

What inspired you for Labyrinth 2 from initial concept to formalized game?
Pinball games!

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
Being bored gets us creative, so we leave the office for a while, and since we miss our little computers and get bored, all kinds of ideas keep popping up in your head. Beer helps too.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
Getting coverage on major non-gaming sites.

Can you describe your development process?
Get an idea. Take a week off the ongoing project. Do a prototype. See if it turns out great. If not, go back to the ongoing project. If yes, go back to the ongoing project and revisit idea later. Repeat.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
Pretty much a one-man-job, and lots of coffee. And having the time of your life.

Did you do any pre-marketing before Labyrinth 2 was released?
Not much, we just released a video on YouTube and emailed a bunch of sites.

What are you working on now?
iPad versions of Labyrinth 2 and Touchgrind.

Any plans for updates to Labyrinth 2?
We have done a few already, but I think/hope we’ll put together some more obstacles and also new themes.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Labyrinth 2?
Getting multiplayer working. Multiplayer is in fact one of the hardest things to implement, I don’t think people realize that.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market Labyrinth 2?
Getting featured by Apple! Especially in their TV commercials.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
A great deal. We usually have beta testing before we release it to get some feedback on how to improve things.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
Mostly ourselves. No-one likes having someone telling you what to do, and when to do it. We like being our own boss.

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
Beer. And playing games on Wii and PS3.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
Pretty relaxed, no hard deadlines. The last month we are all super stressed though. We like listening to “Indie pop rocks” on Soma FM (http://somafm.com/play/indiepop)

What was a must have during the development process of Labyrinth 2?
Fun!

What games influenced you in your decision to make Labyrinth 2?
Labyrinth 1, obviously. And old school pinball games.

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
I’d say pretty close. Some objects didn’t end up in the final game though.

Before the release of Labyrinth 2 were there any huge last minute changes?
Not really.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
The community feedback and all the mails we get from parents etc.

How much did the art drive the game? The vision of what it was to look like how much of that was the driving force?
We did the game first, and art later.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
A genuine interest, and extremely high standards. Everything can be improved, always. And not to copy from others, let them copy you.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
Civilization, it never gets old.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Go check out or upcoming iPad games; Labyrinth 2 HD and Touchgrind HD on April 3rd! They are going to be awesome, I can promise you that!

We want to thank Anders for his time and we can’t wait to see Labyrinth 2 HD and Touchgrind HD!

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Indie Interview: Battle of Puppets

Posted on 24 March 2010 by TBS

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Today we bring you an indie interview with Juan Diego, the creator of Battle of Puppets!

Company: Small Wonders
App Store: Battle of Puppets $0.99

How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
We have been developing since July 2009 and before that we were just video games lovers with a lot of ideas to develop.

How long did it take you to develop Battle of Puppets and how many people were involved?
About 13 people were involved in BOP. This includes programmers, graphic artists, production team, marketing team, etc…

How did you come up with the idea for Battle of Puppets?
We were thinking about an RTS game, but we needed it to be well adapted for the iPhone. That was the hardest part. We were thinking about crusades, but since we love opera we just thought about developing the first opera game for the iPhone. That’s how it started.

What inspired you for Battle of Puppets from initial concept to formalized game?
We were inspired by games like Little Big Planet, The Legend of Zelda, etc… We just wanted a simple strategy game, available for everyone, and we added things we love, opera, puppets, theatre and of course, video games.

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
We love cute graphics, and we love when a game is very playable regardless the platform. Obviously this inspiration varies slightly depending on genre and platform.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
The most difficult thing is to get noticed. You aren’t able to build a lot of hype and you need to conquer your customer one by one because of the lack of a big marketing budget.

Can you describe your development process?
First we have a general idea about game, style, graphics, etc… Then we create concepts, when we think that we have found the right concept we start to create the whole world. Meanwhile we are programming AI, difficult levels, etc…
When everything is finished we test a lot and we publish the gameplay until we think it is good enough to sell.
After this we have a last test level with non-testers to see their reaction. If this reaction is good enough then we are ready for release.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
The creative process is amazing at the beginning. There are a lot of ideas and a lot of designs. If you look how it first began and how the game ended you would think it wasn’t the same game.

Did you do any pre-marketing before Battle of Puppets was released?
We just wanted everybody to see our characters. We wanted to see people’s reaction so we placed a lot of wallpapers in a lot of sites. Fortunately it was good, people love the art style.

What are you working on now?
We are trying to update Battle of Puppets with a lot of additional features. We want to include more maps, more armies, and if it was possible we would like to include multi-player (everybody asked for it).
We are working on a new title but I can say anything about it except that it will be a cute and funny game. It will not be a strategy game, and it will be released for the iPhone too.

Any plans for updates to Battle of Puppets?
As I told you before we are trying to bring a lot of updates and we ask people about what they like and if it’s possible we’d like to include all these suggestions on the next updates.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Battle of Puppets?
I think we haven’t had a real frustrating task, but the hardest part, I think, was to find the right characters. We have had a lot of different ideas until we found these characters. It took a lot of time.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market Battle of Puppets?
I think the most successful way is the game in itself. Each person who tries it loves it; there are a lot of people asking for wallpapers, extra material, etc… You can place banners, have good reviews, etc… But if people love the game then it works for itself.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
Feedback is very important for us. We are always asking people their likes or dislikes on Battle of Puppets, and we try to improve the game with this feedback.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
We write our games just for us. We want people to associate Small Wonders with a certain kind of game. The best way is to create your own products

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
We use to play games, and we watch a lot of movies too. When I am blocked I do something that has nothing in common with the task I’m doing. It’s the best way to find something new that probably works. You need to see things through different angles to find the perfect way to solve a problem.

Since its release what you do differently looking back?
I think the only thing we would do different could be to add multi-player to BOP. Everybody asked for it, and it takes a lot of time to implement right now.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
We had a lot of jokes between us, and it’s been very fun. Music is difficult to have a list, for example I love groups like Venetian Snares or Aphex Twin, but people here listen to Led Zeppelin, Kasabian, etc… So you see how different we are.

What was a must have during the development process of Battle of Puppets?
The day when we found our characters was a “must have” day; it was when we realized we had a great game

What games influenced you in your decision to make Battle of Puppets?
Little Big Planet, The Legend of Zelda, Monkey Island (The Secret, The Curse, etc…), for example

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
We just wanted to have more things included, but we almost had 90% of what we imagined when we started, that’s great!

Before the release of Battle of Puppets were there any huge last minute changes?
We needed to fix a bug, but it was when the game was sent to Apple. That’s why we had version 1.1 in just one week after releasing Battle of Puppets

How did you keep yourself motivated?
It’s hard sometimes to get motivated, but we had a vision on this project, and that’s the best thing you can have to get motivated.

How much did the art drive the game? The vision of what it was to look like how much of that was the driving force?
Art is a very important part of the game as well as gameplay. It’s more what we need to feel with art than what we wanted it to look like.
We wanted to feel something cute, we wanted our characters friendly. That was our real driving force.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
You can use a lot of tools, but the only one that is a “must have” for us is Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
This is a real hard question (I can’t live without internet).
Obviously a lot of games, Plants vs. Zombies would be one of them (I love that game)

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
I’d just like to say thanks for this interview, It’s been nice to meet you and I’d like to say thanks to everybody who have supported Battle of Puppets, we work just for you, we love you.

We want to thank Juan for his time and for Battle of Puppets!

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Indie Interview: Enigmo 2

Posted on 23 March 2010 by Todd

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Today we bring you an indie interview with Brian Greenstone, the creator of Enigmo 2 (among may other awesome titles)!

Company: Pangea Software, Inc.
App Store: Enigmo 2 $2.99

How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
Since the day the first SDK became available.  Previously we were doing Mac games, so the move to the iPhone was very easy.

How long did it take you to develop Enigmo 2 and how many people were involved?
The original Mac version took just a few months, and porting it to the iPhone took about 2 weeks.  There was 1 programmer, 1 artist, and 1 musician to make the game.

How did you come up with the idea for Enigmo 2?
Well, it was just an advanced version of Enigmo, but the original idea for Enigmo was inspired by a toy that my grandparents had in the 70’s where a marble would bounce off drums.  In college I thought that concept could work as a video game, but it took another 10 years for me to do it.

What inspired you for Enigmo 2 from initial concept to formalized game?
We were going for an ethereal, space theme for that game, so I guess we were inspired by that.

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
I’m inspired by seeing cool things on the screen.  I like to come up with an idea, execute it, and see how it comes out.  It’s the whole creative process really.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
Getting visibility and exposure.  Everything else is easier being independent, but being small means it’s hard to get seen.

Can you describe your development process?
Usually I’ll come up with a game concept, create a prototype / proof-of-concept, and then I get a team together to work on it and we hash out the details.  Then we’ll spend 2-10 months developing it.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
It looks like a lot of programmer-art.  I’ll often just have cubes and spheres moving around the screen to represent objects as I try to build the prototype.  Then gradually the artist will replace the temp-art with legit stuff.

Did you do any pre-marketing before Enigmo 2 was released?
Not really.  Apple wanted us to keep the iPhone version quiet so that we could get a bigger bang out of it when it went live.

What are you working on now?
Porting everything to the iPad.

Any plans for updates to Enigmo 2?
Possibly.  Enigmo 1 has been updated in some major ways for the iPad, so we may do the same for Enigmo 2.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Enigmo 2?
Dealing with performance issues.  The game is pretty complex and it is important that it runs at a high frame rate.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market Enigmo 2?
If I knew the answer to that… I really don’t know.  It’s hard to market anything for the iPhone.  YouTube videos, reviews, and word-of-mouth seem to be most effective.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
Quite a bit.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
We only do internal projects at Pangea, although we did do an iPhone game called Beer Bounce that we had a different company publish simply because we didn’t want to tarnish our image with a drinking game.

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
Play other games to get inspired.

Since its release what you do differently looking back?
Nothing.  I’m very happy with Enigmo 2.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
That game was done so quickly that I don’t really thing a development atmosphere had time to develop.  We knew we wanted to a full 3D version of Enigmo, so we were pretty focused on that.

What was a must have during the development process of Enigmo 2?
Nothing in particular.

What games influenced you in your decision to make Enigmo 2?
Well, Enigmo 1 obviously, but Enigmo 1 was inspired by The Incredible Machine.

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
Pretty much spot-on.  I was actually surprised how well it came out in the end.

Before the release of Enigmo 2 were there any huge last minute changes?
Nope.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
Kept thinking how well it might do since Engimo 1 did so well.  In the end Enigmo 2 hasn’t done anywhere near as well as Enigmo 1, but it still sells quite well.

How much did the art drive the game? The vision of what it was to look like how much of that was the driving force?
Well, it drove the theme, but not the game itself.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
Maya and Photoshop.  We use all internal tools for just about everything else.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
The US Army Survival Handbook!

We want to thank Brian for his time and look forward to seeing what Pangea comes up with next!

1. How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
Since the day the first SDK became available.  Previously we were doing Mac games, so the move to the iPhone was very easy.

2. How long did it take you to develop Enigmo 2 and how many people were involved?
The original Mac version took just a few months, and porting it to the iPhone took about 2 weeks.  There was 1 programmer, 1 artist, and 1 musician to make the game.

3. How did you come up with the idea for Enigmo 2?
Well, it was just an advanced version of Enigmo, but the original idea for Enigmo was inspired by a toy that my grandparents had in the 70’s where a marble would bounce off drums.  In college I thought that concept could work as a video game, but it took another 10 years for me to do it.

4. What inspired you for Enigmo 2 from initial concept to formalized game?
We were going for an ethereal, space theme for that game, so I guess we were inspired by that.

5. What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
I’m inspired by seeing cool things on the screen.  I like to come up with an idea, execute it, and see how it comes out.  It’s the whole creative process really.

6. What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
Getting visibility and exposure.  Everything else is easier being independent, but being small means it’s hard to get seen.

7. Can you describe your development process?
Usually I’ll come up with a game concept, create a prototype / proof-of-concept, and then I get a team together to work on it and we hash out the details.  Then we’ll spend 2-10 months developing it.

8. What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
It looks like a lot of programmer-art.  I’ll often just have cubes and spheres moving around the screen to represent objects as I try to build the prototype.  Then gradually the artist will replace the temp-art with legit stuff.

9. Did you do any pre-marketing before Enigmo 2 was released?
Not really.  Apple wanted us to keep the iPhone version quiet so that we could get a bigger bang out of it when it went live.

10. What are you working on now?
Porting everything to the iPad.

11. Any plans for updates to Enigmo 2?
Possibly.  Enigmo 1 has been updated in some major ways for the iPad, so we may do the same for Enigmo 2.

12. What was your most frustrating task while developing Enigmo 2?
Dealing with performance issues.  The game is pretty complex and it is important that it runs at a high frame rate.

13. What have you found to be the most successful way to market Enigmo 2?
If I knew the answer to that… I really don’t know.  It’s hard to market anything for the iPhone.  YouTube videos, reviews, and word-of-mouth seem to be most effective.

14. How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
Quite a bit.

15. Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
We only do internal projects at Pangea, although we did do an iPhone game called Beer Bounce that we had a different company publish simply because we didn’t want to tarnish our image with a drinking game.

16. What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
Play other games to get inspired.

17. Since its release what you do differently looking back?
Nothing.  I’m very happy with Enigmo 2.

18. What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
That game was done so quickly that I don’t really thing a development atmosphere had time to develop.  We knew we wanted to a full 3D version of Enigmo, so we were pretty focused on that.

19. What was a must have during the development process of Enigmo 2?
Nothing in particular.

20. What games influenced you in your decision to make Enigmo 2?
Well, Enigmo 1 obviously, but Enigmo 1 was inspired by The Incredible Machine.

21. How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
Pretty much spot-on.  I was actually surprised how well it came out in the end.

22. Before the release of Enigmo 2 were there any huge last minute changes?
Nope.

23. How did you keep yourself motivated?
Kept thinking how well it might do since Engimo 1 did so well.  In the end Enigmo 2 hasn’t done anywhere near as well as Enigmo 1, but it still sells quite well.

24. How much did the art drive the game? The vision of what it was to look like how much of that was the driving force?
Well, it drove the theme, but not the game itself.

25. What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
Maya and Photoshop.  We use all internal tools for just about everything else.

26. If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
The US Army Survival Handbook!

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Indie Interview: reMovem

Posted on 22 March 2010 by Todd

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Today we bring you an indie interview with Matt Martel, the creator of reMovem!

Company: Mundue LLC
App Store: reMovem $0.99

How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
My history prior to doing iPhone development is that of a long-time Mac and cross-platform developer. Absolutely nothing to do with games. Mostly desktop applications for video editing, workgroup collaboration, application development, that sort of thing. I was one of the few developers initially accepted into the program, when the pre-release 2.0 SDK was first made available. The company I worked for at the time decided to do an iPhone app in April of 2008. Thus my first iPhone app was a file uploader/feed reader for a social networking site.

How long did it take you to develop reMovem and how many people were involved?
After finishing the app for my day job I started to work on my own stuff. I completed the original version in less than a week. My wife and partner Trish did the testing. We’ve done about 20 updates to the free and paid versions in the last year and a half.

How did you come up with the idea for reMovem?
It’s based on games known variously as SameGame/Jawbreaker/ChainShot. I wrote a Mac version in 2005. I rewrote it a couple of times, but never released it to the public. I was experimenting with different cross-platform frameworks (such as Qt), but in July 2008 I realized that I should build the Cocoa version for the iPhone.

What inspired you for reMovem from initial concept to formalized game?
Once I realized the Mac to iPhone conversion would be relatively easy, I wanted to perfect the touch-based gameplay and release it as quickly as possible. I spent the most amount of time experimenting with different puzzle piece sizes. From the beginning I’ve tried to keep the game as simple as possible, which is a big part of its appeal.

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
Definitely different for each game. I frequently get inspired by the feel of another game. For example, lately I’m interested in time-based games like Compression, in which the tension is palpable. Very much in the Frenzic vein. Hats off to our friends at Little White Bear Studios for perfecting that format.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
It’s awesome working for myself, but I do miss the constant interaction with my peers. The need to wear so many hats (developer, artist, marketer, spokesman, etc.) is challenging. Last summer I quit my day job (I was working on an iPhone app for a medical software company near Boston) and went full-time on Mundue LLC. Seems like I work just as much now with one job than I did before with two!

Can you describe your development process?
I’m always working on one or more projects, so my schedule is flexible. Occasionally there’s a deadline for a holiday release or something like that, but I work all hours of the day if I’m making good progress. I try to block off features and hand them over to Trish for testing when they’re ready. We each have our own lists of tasks to ensure the updates are ready in time.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
Lots of sketching. I love using whiteboards, graph paper and the iPhone Sketchbook. I try to rough out a few screens on paper and figure out how to hook them together. Only then do I begin to place some elements in Interface Builder or try to write any code.

Did you do any pre-marketing before reMovem was released?
None.

What are you working on now? Any plans for updates to reMovem?
I’m working on a major revision to reMovem, an iPad-only version, which will probably combine the free and paid versions, and all their variants, into a single model. After that I’ve got three more unannounced games in the preliminary (sketch) phase. In addition, I’ve been working on an informal basis to help promote other indie developer apps. During the Christmas holiday I ran some cross-promotional ads for about 20 other apps inside my reMovem free game. We’ve got a large installed base and I feel there’s a big opportunity here.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market reMovem?
We found having a hugely successful free app first helped when it came to selling the paid version. Things are different today, but early on developers routinely took popular free apps and ‘flipped’ them to paid in order to capitalize on the popularity. We never flipped, but came out with a paid version LATER, and it slowly and steadily caught on. Now we use in-app reminders for the free version to point folks toward the paid versions. This causes a consistent number of paid conversions.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
When reMovem first came out we received many comments and suggestions. We updated frequently with many minor enhancements, always cognizant of the need to keep it simple. Then we updated with new language support, eventually reaching 13 different languages. That all began with a suggestion from a fan in the Netherlands. Thanks, Luc!

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
Usually for myself. It’s nearly impossible to get it right if you don’t make it for yourself. When I wrote our Keno simulation game, iKeno, I was not so enthusiastic about it at first. We did a little research and concluded there was an opportunity for a Keno game on the iPhone, so I decided to do it. As soon as I saw the first screens come to life I was hooked. Once I got into it I made the changes that I thought it should have, and was very pleased with the result.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
For the early reMovem development it was all classical. Specifically Mozart. Don’t really know why, but the music without lyrics really helped me focus at that time. Now I’m back to a mix of alt/folk/prog/classic rock. Anything from Muse to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to Porcupine Tree. With a good dose of guitar blues as well.

What was a must have during the development process of reMovem?
In order to concentrate I turned off the TV. I honestly did not watch a single bit of the Beijing Olympics, sadly.

To what do you attribute to reMovem success? Did you expect this level of success?
Being first to the AppStore was a big help. Having a simple yet addictive game was crucial. We knew reMovem was fun but were totally unprepared for the response. It was in the top ten list of all free applications within 36 hours, and rose to first place on its fifth day!

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
It was nearly identical to the Mac version, which was our goal.

Before the release of reMovem were there any huge last minute changes?
No.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
If I’m stuck on a problem I usually take a break and go for a walk or hike in one of the many parks near where we live.

How much did the art drive the game? The vision of what it was to look like how much of that was the driving force?
There’s not much to reMovem except for the bubbles! Choosing the right colors was the hardest part, and in fact we needed to make changes to accommodate our colorblind users. That’s something I wish I had done right in the first place. I see it as an issue in so many other games now.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
My main system is a MacBook Pro 17″ with SSD, a wireless keyboard, and a 24″ LCD Cinema display. Tried the Apple Magic Mouse and don’t like it so I’m sticking with my Logitech 6-button mouse. I use Xcode and Interface Builder for building things, Versions and Changes for source control, and Acorn for graphics. For audio I use Fission and Audio Hijack Pro. I have also used iShowU, Stomp, and Jing for grabbing screens. For music I have a nice pair of Sennheiser HD 280 headphones hooked up to iTunes.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
I’ll be using Xcode to build things. And Chopper to blow them up.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Being an indie developer has allowed me the flexibility to work anywhere I wish. Having spent my entire life in New England, my wife and I recently decided to relocate to Colorado and the view is awesome! This is what keeps me going.

We want to thank Matt Martel for his time and for reMovem!

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Fly Away Rabbit

Posted on 20 March 2010 by Todd

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Jonathan Parsons
App Store: Fly Away Rabbit $0.99

Fly Away Rabbit is a relaxing and fun physics puzzler. You have been called upon to help a bunny fulfill his dream of flying to the stars using a helium balloon (don’t ask him how he plans on getting back down).

There are various blocks blocking the way and it is your job to help remove these obstacles and help the bunny realize his dream. The different types of blocks have different ways of reacting when they are removed and can affect the balloon from landing peacefully on the cloud. You must guide the balloon to the cloud where it has to rest for a small period of time before you successfully pass a level. This is fairly easy for the first third of the game and then becomes more challenging.

There are 48 levels and this is really a fun game that actually kept me playing until I beat all of the levels. The art and music are great. The game is priced well at $0.99, but I could see additional levels being added and really increasing the value of this game in the future. This is a great game and the sequel could include getting the rabbit to the ground from the clouds?! 😉

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