Tag Archive | "Games"

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Indie Interview: Dogs Playing Poker

Posted on 21 May 2010 by Todd

Today we bring you an indie interview with Kevin O’Neil, the creator of Dogs Playing Poker!

Company: Candywriter
App Store: Dogs Playing Poker $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?
I started Candywriter by developing Mac software in 2006 and instantly became enamored with the Mac community. When Apple announced it was opening up the iPhone to third party developers, we began prototyping immediately and had our first app, Imagine Poker Touch, available on the App Store’s launch day in July 2008. Since then we’ve gradually expanded our interests in the platform and, as of May 2010, have shipped 1.2 million copies of our games via the App Store.

How long did it take you to develop Dogs Playing Poker and how many people were involved?
Dogs Playing Poker piggybacks heavily on our Texas Hold ’em engine from Imagine Poker 2. From a programming perspective, I took the fundamentals out of Imagine and created Dogs Playing Poker in about two months. Our graphics team worked on it for a little while longer. Overall, Dogs Playing Poker was the result of one developer (myself), four artists, one sound guy, one lawyer, and three inspirational dogs!

How did you come up with the idea for Dogs Playing Poker?
My dog, Butkus, is a little thuggish and one day I was lying around looking at him and I thought he epitomized a blue collar poker dog from the infamous C.M. Coolidge paintings. Today his face adorns the Dogs Playing Poker icon!

What inspired you for Dogs Playing Poker from initial concept to formalized game?
We’re an exceptionally creative and humorous group of people are are constantly thinking of new ideas for games. If an idea sticks around long enough for us to start prototyping, it means that we’re really into it and excited for its chances. Dogs Playing Poker was a particularly promising idea as it is self-explanatory, offers built-in curb appeal, and stars man’s best friend!

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
We’re inspired by our search for the perfect game; I feel like we’re getting a little closer each time and continually learning about how to improve our users’ experience. We’re spending more and more time on the little things, whether its custom UI elements or clever little features like “Every Dog has its Day” – its these creative nuances that keep our interest fresh.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
Without a doubt the most difficult aspect of life as an indie developer is the marketing. Its a community of established players, indie cliques, garage developers, moonlighters, and big money investors and the key to each of these parties’ success is the exposure. Its tough to stand out amidst the intense competition.

Can you describe your development process?
We use a rapid application development (RAD) model and start with loose designs and then iterate. We’re able to pull this off because we’re extremely agile, efficient, and motivated.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
Its actually pretty unstructured. We do mockups and discuss extensively but we know that our best ideas come as a result of iterating.

Did you do any pre-marketing before Dogs Playing Poker was released?
We released a very high quality teaser trailer about a month before the Dogs Playing Poker launch and it was noticed and covered by a number of review sites and blogs. We also updated our other apps (user base > 500k) and, in the update blurbs, let people know about our upcoming hit. This strategy ended up paying dividends when Dogs Playing Poker finally hit the App Store.

What are you working on now?
We’re huge believers in the Mac and are hard at work on a Mac version of Dogs Playing Poker. We’re also busy with a sequel to our smash hit word game, Word Solitaire.

Any plans for updates to Dogs Playing Poker?
Absolutely. The reception to Dogs Playing Poker has been amazing but there’s still work to be done. I can’t say enough good things about our loyal users – their iTunes reviews are where we look to figure out where DPP must go next.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Dogs Playing Poker?
There’s only one thing that frustrates me about developing anything on the iPhone and that’s testing on an original (2G/Edge) iPhone! I use an iPhone 3GS and a third gen iPod touch as primary development devices and I’m such a speed fiend that my hands fill with sweat when I think about testing on an older device and watching everything slow down. I recognize that its stuff most people will never notice but the little animation lags drive me bananas (B-A-N-A-N-A-S). I can’t wait for the day when everyone is running speedier hardware.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market Dogs Playing Poker?
The innate curb appeal of an idea like Dogs Playing Poker sells itself. Cross-promotion and getting some attention from the review sites helps but even if the Pope himself tattooed your app’s name across his forehead, it wouldn’t compare to a feature from Apple. We were lucky enough to catch Apple’s eye with Dogs Playing Poker and doing so made the game an overnight success, literally.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
User feedback is huge. We have ideas of our own but once you see two or more users make the same criticism on iTunes, you know you’re missing something important.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
We write games for ourselves because life is short and the self-fulfillment associated with publishing our own ideas is unparalleled. Thankfully, enough people appreciate our visions to keep us in business!

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
Creative block is fortunately not a problem for us.

Since its release what you do differently looking back?
I am in the rare and admittedly enviable position to say that I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Dogs Playing Poker is on the top of the Card and Casino categories and among the highest charting card games since the App Store opened.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
Like brains fuel zombies, trance fuels Candywriter. Podcasts like Dance Department, Gareth Emery.

What was a must have during the development process of Dogs Playing Poker?
Patience, attention to detail, and a love for dogs!

What games influenced you in your decision to make Dogs Playing Poker?
The success of our own Imagine Poker gave us the confidence to invest in Dogs Playing Poker. In Imagine Poker, instead of dogs you face off against characters from history like Napoleon, Cleopatra, and Genghis Khan. I thought we could make a “mainstream” version of that game.

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
In all honesty, it came out nicer than we imagined.

Before the release of Dogs Playing Poker were there any huge last minute changes?
Not really.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

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?
The art was huge. We pride ourselves on pixel-perfect graphics and the more you add to the game, the more excited you become to show the world.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
Xcode, Photoshop, TextWrangler, SoundStudio, Springy, Skype, Fetch, Snapz Pro

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
I think TextEdit could have helped Robinson Crusoe.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Thanks for taking the time to find out a little more about Candywriter!

We want to thank Kevin for his time and the great work that he and his team are doing!

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Indie Interview: Edge

Posted on 14 May 2010 by Todd

Today we bring you an indie interview with David Papazian, the creator of Edge!

Company: Mobigame
App Store: Edge $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 develop for the iPhone OS since September 2008. Before that we were working for other mobile handsets. Me (David) and my associate Matthieu Malot met at Gameloft in 2002.

How long did it take you to develop Edge and how many people were involved?
At first, Edge was made for J2ME handsets. We started it at the beginning of 2007. One year later it was working for around 100 different handsets (Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Nokia, etc.) and we signed a distribution deal with an English company: Connect2Media. It took again 6 months to make it work with all J2ME handsets, and 3 more month only for the iPhone version, which was really improved from the J2ME version and we publish this version on our own. So it took 2 years to develop Edge for Matthieu (as Game Designer and Graphist) and me (as Developer). 4 musicians helped us to make the music, and Ninomojo (Romain Gauthier) made the sound design and some amazing tunes (http://ninomojo.blogspot.com/)

How did you come up with the idea for Edge?
Matthieu had the idea a long time ago. He was looking for something very simple, something intuitive, and one of the core idea is that everyone played with a cube when he/she was a kid.

What inspired you for Edge from initial concept to formalized game?
The initial concept was a cube moving on its edge with a kind of analogic control. We thought a lot about the level design, the atmosphere, the graphics, the difficulty curve. Matthieu wanted something very pure, very polish. Some ideas like the mini cube come from the game Kid Dynamite, and one name came very often in our discussions: Tron. I guess you know this movie, if you don’t you must watch it!

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
We make the games we want to play. For now, Matthieu and I made 2 games: Edge and Cross Fingers. Both ideas come from Matthieu, and for the next games I am more involved in the game design. We share our ideas and we try to keep only the best ones. Matthieu is a Sega fan, and I am a Nintendo boy.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
You are dependent on the distribution channel, and you don’t have anything to say. For example, we had a legal issue with our game Edge last year. This year EA had exactly the same issue, but Apple did not react the same way with them. Indies are very dependent to the big companies, we have to follow and take opportunities. In a way it is great, but we have no security. Big companies do not share their secret about the future of the industry with us.

Can you describe your development process?
It is very simple. When we have an idea we make a prototype. If we like it we push it further, we add news ideas, we keep only the best ones. We can call this iterative game design. It is pretty long, and you don’t have the full game design at the beginning, but at the end you may have a great game.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
Our team is very small. We were only 2 on Edge, and today we are 5. I mean, with a small team everyone give his ideas. When everyone is enthusiastic we try it. Sometimes we play old games which could answer to some questions more quickly, but in the general case we try all ideas. The initial stage is very exciting, everything is still possible. But for us the most important is the gameplay. Everything in the creation process must help to improve the initial gameplay.

Did you do any pre-marketing before Edge was released?
Not really. We released a video on YouTube one week before the release, and I sent an email to some journalists when the game was released.

What are you working on now?
We have just finished a new game. It is a very fun old school racing game for the iPhone. Now we are finishing another game, a very ambitious one. it is 3D game with lighting effects and physics and a very innovative gameplay, still for the iPhone. We are also porting Edge for the PSP and we are working with another company to bring Edge on the Ds, Wii and PC.

Any plans for updates to Edge?
There are many options, we want to do more levels, but we also want to add new gameplay elements. We also want to improve the graphics. Should we do a HD version for the iPad with more levels? or should we do a sequel with a lot of new stuffs? Anyway, we have a lot of idea and we will continue to work on Edge.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Edge?
We worked with iterative game design. But at some point, you cannot add new ideas easily, because it will need too many changes in the engine, or because you have to release it soon. At this point you start to think “ok let keep this for Edge 2”, and you hope there will be an Edge 2. The final stage was the most frustrating.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market Edge?
The awards, or the video. I mean, the game won some awards before its release, it was announced as a triple IGF finalist when it was released so I am sure that helped. Also the video, Ninomojo made an amazing soundtrack for the video (Kakkoi) and the trailer has been seen more than 100,000 times in the first 2 weeks, that’s pretty good, but this video is unique, the game is innovative and the music is great, it is not something easy to reproduce, and Apple promoted the game on the store.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
A lot! We answer to all our customers’ emails, we do our best to make our games better. For example, we add 2 controls types to Edge because our customers asked for them, and we add 20 levels since the initial release! I think it was a good move, some companies prefer to make a sequel, but making a free update create a special link with our fans. For future projects we are looking at where the market goes, what people want, and what we want to do, and we try to fit everything together. But we also want to surprise our customers, one of our next game is something never seen before on the iPhone, we don’t know how people will react, but we have a lot of fun with it. We try to have a good mix between artistic and commercial games.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
It is a hard one. We write games that we want to play, but we write them for others, because we want to share what we like. I will give an example, When Matthieu makes a new level for Edge, I am the first tester. And Matthieu look at me when I play it, sometimes I laugh when I die in a trap, or sometimes I feel it’s too hard. It was the same with the sound design. Each one of us make his partition to share it with the team, and the team make the game to share it with the world. I hope it makes sense.

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
We have no secret for that, we take our time, we stay away from the game and we wait until the solution find its way through our minds.

Since its release what you do differently looking back?
We would do everything the same way.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
The atmosphere was pretty cool. Sometimes we were really excited about what we were doing, and sometimes we were afraid of what the people would think about the game. We listened to very different musics, I like to code with Ennio Morricone, Pink Floyd, Archive, Led Zeppelin, Placebo, etc. One track that Matthieu and I listened to a lot is Planisphere by Justice, this track is amazing, if you want to give it a try you can download it here: http://www.zmemusic.com/other-genres/electronic-music/download-justice-planisphere/

What was a must have during the development process of Edge?
Rubik’s Cube, and not only one! You need a minimum of two of them to simulate all mechanics. And you can also use it to relax, yes solving a Rubik’s Cube when you know the algorithms is very relaxing, for me at least.

What games influenced you in your decision to make Edge?
None. And that’s probably why Edge is unique. During the creation process we thought to some games, we also find out some other games featuring cubes, like Cube on PSP which was released after we started working on Edge. But no game influenced our decision to make Edge.

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
The end product is really really better. The gameplay goes really further, especially with the “Edge Time” which was not present in the initial concept (it is when you hang on the Edge of a moving block to cross a gap). We are also very happy with the esthetic, the shade of grey of the levels with the colorful cube. At the beginning the cube was only blue, the levels were made of white and grey blocks, and the background was white. But one thing did not change, the cube and the way it moves.

Before the release of Edge were there any huge last minute changes?
Not really, we took 2 years to make it, and we released it only when we were happy with it. We polished it until the last minute. There was no deadline, so no hurry at the end.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
We trust in our potential, we believe we are doing good games and that’s enough to keep motivated. It is easier when you are not alone. When Matthieu make a great design, or when the musician make a great tune, or when I add a great feature in the game, everyone else is more motivated than ever.

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?
It was really important. Some people does not understand it, they said we should have added a blue sky, grass on the ground and this kind of stuff to make it more casual like a Popcap game. But Edge is a piece of art, it has his own esthetic, and I can say that because I am not the designer. Matthieu had a vision and it is exactly what you can see and listen to in the game, there was no compromise.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
The code was made with Emacs (a free and powerfull text editor) and Xcode. The art were made with Promotion 6 (I highly recommend it for pixel graphics). The music were made with different tools, Cubase, Fruity loop, etc. For the levels and other tools we made our own software with Visual Studio.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
If I could take a game, I would play Heroes of Might & Magic 3, it is one of my favorite game of all time. And if you give me a C++ compiler and Promotion, I will probably code a lot of strange games or effects, that’s my demomaker side.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Our industry is changing. Indies are becoming more important, and we need some people who will help to connect developers, together we are still indies, but we have a voice that our industry’s leaders will listen to. When we add all our legal trouble last year, The Chaos Engine and IndieVision helped us a lot, and we discovered that developers were a kind of family. That’s important to me, and that’s why I really thank you for what you are doing here at IndieAppolis.

We want to thank David for his time and the great work that he and his team are doing!

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Dogs Playing Poker

Posted on 11 May 2010 by Todd

Candywriter
App Store: Dogs Playing Poker $0.99

The name of the game says it all: Dogs Playing Poker! You are a dog playing Texas Hold ’em against four other dogs. The graphics, sounds, and gameplay are absolutely excellent! The concept of the other players being dogs really gives life to what would have otherwise been another card game.

You start off the game playing a tutorial round, which is one of the better tutorials that I have seen in any game in awhile. You are even given an option to bail from the tutorial once you have learned the basics or stick around for some more advanced instructions. The game offers everything you would expect for a game of Texas Hold ’em, but the dogs are a really great twist. Each dog has it’s own tell, so pay attention and learn each tell. There are quite a few different locations and also unlockable dog breeds.

The game has really good AI that can adapt to your playing. There are online leaderboards and various ways to brag about your poker skills. This is simply a great game that is a steal at the current price of $0.99. The various dog personalities and the great gameplay make this a game that will be worth playing for a long time!

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Red Conquest

Posted on 10 May 2010 by Todd

Cat in a Box Games
App Store: Red Conquest $1.99

Red Conquest is a real-time strategy game that is chalk full of story, features, and fun! The game is easily worth $3.99 and now includes both Episode 1 and Episode 2. This is simply the best RTS game for the iPhone! You need to invest some time to really grasp all that this game has to offer.

The game was actually a bit confusing to me at the beginning and the tutorial felt more like an advanced level. I was still trying to grasp the story, controls, and such while the tutorial level made me feel like I had fallen behind in class a bit. I kept with the game and actually after the first 3 levels I really started to enjoy the game. I do not typically like the space setting for RTS games, but I really got into this game. There are interesting cut scenes between levels and they are a little hard to follow at first, until you get a better grasp for the story.

The controls are really great, once you get the hang of them. There are a good number of unit types and learning how to properly control and filter the different types of units is key to success. Make sure you take the time to visit all of the different “Tutorial Screens”.

There are three modes of gameplay: Campaign, Challenge, and Local Multiplayer. This game would be a blast in a little LAN setting! The graphics and sound are well done. I would recommend this game to anyone that is a fan of RTS games. You should give the game a try now while it is on sale for 50% off the normal price!

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Pocket Legends

Posted on 23 April 2010 by TBS

Space Time Studios
App Store: Pocket Legends FREE

Finally an MMO that has me excited. This review is for the iPhone version. The differences between the iPad and iPhone are minimal. You choose from three different classes to play the game. The game is in 3D and offers some good camera control with zooming and rotating. The three classes are an archer eagle, bear warrior and an elven mage. It is not an open world type MMO, my first disappointment, and you are forever stuck to play instance after instance. There isn’t much of a story line, but what is there ties itself to the action. With it not being an open world I found it to be a fun and addicting MMO. There are plenty of players as I have yet to play an instance alone which is nice. Having other group members to help makes it fun.

The game is free to download, but after level 13 it will require you to purchase packs to advance in level. The price for the packs are reasonable ranging from .99 to 1.99. You can still play without purchasing the packs you will just not be able to level and acquire weapons.

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Solomon’s Keep

Posted on 22 April 2010 by TBS

Raptisoft
App Store: Solomon’s Keep $0.99*

This has got to be my most favorite game right now. I cannot put my iPhone down. Snatch this up while it is still .99 cents. *I can guarantee you that it will not be this price for much longer. You take on the roll of an apprentice magician. It is time for you to shed yours robes of an apprentice and become a full fledged wizard. Your teachers will not bestow the title upon you until you have proven yourself outside of the school of wizardry. You must go to Solomon’s keep and defeat the evil wizard. You must make your way up to the very top of the keep and face Solomon Dark. You will encounter all sorts of evils. You control the apprentice with your left thumb and fire your offensive spells with your right. Leveling up lets you choose what to upgrade. I haven’t figured out how to see the complete list to upgrade. As of right now it will only show me three skills to upgrade. Besides the controls there are four small icons on the screen that serves as your menu: Help, skill change, inventory and overhead map. This game is a cross between Diablo and Zelda.

I am thoroughly enjoying this game. The graphics are very good. The sound effects and music really add to the game play. I am keeping my fingers crossed for an iPad version.

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Jimmy Pataya

Posted on 17 April 2010 by Todd

Paladin Studios
App Store: Jimmy Pataya $0.99

Jimmy Pataya is an adrineline junkie that decided he couldn’t wait to strap on a parachute and would worry about that later, it was time to jump out of an airplane! You control Jimmy as he is free falling to Earth and you tilt your device left or right to rotate Jimmy around a pole that goes down to the ground. There are various platforms attached to the pole that you have to avoid as you fall and see how far you can make it!

The graphics are awesome and there is an effect that really makes it feel like you are rushing towards the ground. The game also has great sound effects and music.The controls really work well for this game and are easy to pickup. There are high scores and you can Tweet your score. Paladin Studios created Jimmy Pataya in just two weeks, so there are no achievements or other challenges other than trying to see how far you can make it before hitting one of the platforms. This is a fun game for $0.99 and hopefully the developer will release an update that adds more challenges or something along those lines.

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Indie Interview: FaceFighter

Posted on 16 April 2010 by Todd

Today we bring you an indie interview with Paul O’ Connor from the team that brought us FaceFighter.

Company: Appy Entertainment, Inc.
App Store: FaceFighter $1.99 | Lite

How long have you been developing for the iPhone/iPod touch? What did you do before you started developing for the iPhone/iPod touch?
Appy Entertainment was born on Halloween 2008 to develop games for iPhone and iPod/touch. Prior to founding Appy, we were mostly VP-level guys at High Moon Studios, a developer we helped to found and guide through acquisition with Vivendi. While at High Moon we developed next gen console games like Darkwarch and The Bourne Conspiracy.

How long did it take you to develop FaceFighter and how many people were involved?
The FaceFighter core team was our CTO Marc-Antoine Argenton and Project Director Emmanuel Valdez, with Farzad Varahramyan, our Creative Visual Director, also devoting significant time to the project. Steve Sargent was Executive Producer.  At various times about a half-dozen other folks were on the project in full or part time capacities. Total development time was in the neighborhood of five months.

How did you come up with the idea for FaceFighter?
Em had a background in fighting games, and we wanted to do something game-based with our face and photo tech from our first app (Appy Newz), so FaceFighter was a natural choice.

What inspired you for FaceFighter from initial concept to formalized game?
We knew FaceFighter would be funny, that it would make people laugh, that it would compel them to share the game with each other — we knew if we made a game that created a picture of your friend all beaten up that it would have a viral component to inspire word-of-mouth, which is critical to continues sales of any app.

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
All of our games come from the same place — our games need to be something that will use the unique elements of the iPhone, whether that’s Multitouch, or the camera, or connectivity. Games also need to be strong in key areas — they need to have a social dimension, they need someplace to grow through continuing sales and updates, they need to create something players will feel compelled to share with each other. Not every game hits every one of these elements to the same degree but they’re all viewed and evaluated through this lens.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
Fear of the unknown. Everything we do is entirely on our own dime, without any kind of publisher-level access to Apple, so margins for error are slimmer and capacity for disaster is greater than if we were doing projects for an established publisher. At the same time, we have greater freedom and the upside is considerably greater. Being an Indie is like being on a pirate ship, while a publisher gig is more like an ocean liner. Both are ships, both do essentially the same thing, but they get there different ways and with different attitudes. One isn’t better than the other — it’s really more a matter of deciding where your individual temperament will give you the greatest happiness and satisfaction.

Can you describe your development process?
We’ve got seven full-time guys inside Appy, we all suggest ideas and kick things around. Some of us do it more than others, but we’re all part of the process. Once every several weeks we have a day where we head up to the loft and cull our idea file (thirty or forty pages long by now) and get a few of the most promising ideas onto the whiteboard. Then we fight with each other a bit about what idea has the most merit.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
Coming out of the whiteboard session an idea will be “green lit” for further development. At this point we’ll document the design a bit and try to get a clearer idea of what tools and code will be required to bring the idea to market. We’ll trim scope at this point and try to get a schedule. Then we work toward first prototype, which is proof-of-concept, and that’s kind of the time we need to put our hands on a rock and decide we’re really going to make this idea work. Not every game survives this step and we have spiked games that got to prototype when we decided that the game just wasn’t going to prove viable.

Did you do any pre-marketing before FaceFighter was released?
No … we kept everything dark right up until the game came out. We didn’t have a big customer base for promotion at that point, and there didn’t seem any point in promoting the game through the press until the game was actually available for download.

What are you working on now?
Continuing development of FaceFighter is our first priority — we have 3 million downloads of the game out there in all of its forms and the game continues to sell well. We just released FaceFighter Face2Face for iPad, and we have iPad versions of Tune Runner and Zombie Pizza on the way. We’re doing new fighters, weapons, and finishing moves as downloadable content for FaceFighter on iPhone and iPod touch. We have continuing plans for FaceFighter that we’re not ready to reveal right now. We have two new original projects in development for release later this year, and we’re looking at a couple licensed properties in entirely new areas for us. We’re also continually tweaking our existing games, adding new content (we just added email, Facebook, and Twitter connectivity to our free FaceFighter Lite), improving our ad networks, adding OpenFeint, that kind of stuff … it’s largely invisible to our fans but these adjustments are important to the long-term success of our apps and they cost real money and schedule time.

Any plans for updates to FaceFighter?
Yep — two or three new weapon/foe/finishing packs should be out by mid-year.

What was your most frustrating task while developing FaceFighter?
There were a whole host of things, but connecting to Facebook and dealing with that system was probably the most frustrating.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market FaceFighter?
Word-of-mouth … nothing counts more than getting the game into someone’s hands. They always laugh and they always show the game to their friends. So getting the game into the hands of people who will write about it and show it around has been critical. That’s why our game really took off after we were free for a week — we shipped a million free copies of FaceFighter in six days and we’re still riding the wave of sales from that event thanks to customer referrals.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
We take it seriously. We answer all of our email. We keep an eye on App Store reviews. We try to figure what will get us another star or half star on the App Store.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
We’ve concentrated entirely on original and wholly-owned projects at Appy but would consider outside development if the deal made sense for everyone.

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
We look at our bank balance.

Since its release what you do differently looking back?
I think we’ve ended up updating and tweaking stuff in smaller chunks than we anticipated. We’re more likely to do two small updates in six weeks than one big update in four.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
We’re above a pub so there is plenty of noise and music and drunkenness down in the parking lot. Inside the office we watch a lot of Team America: World Police.

What was a must have during the development process of FaceFighter?
Time. Time time time. A lot of lost weekends and nights on that project.

What games influenced you in your decision to make FaceFighter?
The greatest influence was probably Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, which was also created by Em … that game was kind of the touchstone for our FaceFighter mechanics, in as much as we compared everything to that game in terms of execution and difficulty levels.

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
The game took a casual turn during development. It started off as a more serious and “gamerly” game but we realized that FaceFighter would enjoy greater success if we guided it more toward a pick-up-and-play audience.

Before the release of FaceFighter were there any huge last minute changes?
The “Immortal Judgment” finishing move — at first just dropping a rock on your enemy, but later a whole range of goofy finishes — that went in very late. Basically, Em just announced that he’d come up with the idea and was putting it in, I think he came up with it entirely on his own and basically sprung it on the rest of us. And he was right — the game needed a comical climax and that’s exactly what the Judgments provide. But it was a pretty major addition for the home stretch of the project.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
We’ve burned our boats. There is no sailing back to where we came from. We make this work, or we fail. That’s all the motivation we require.

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 one of the strong suits of Appy Entertainment — we have monstrously-talented artists in-house to drive our animation, production design, and look and feel of our games. If we can’t make it look great, we don’t do it.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
Heavy use of green screen for our animation and image capture. Other than that, the usual stuff.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
No apps. We’d unplug, watch the waves, get some sleep.

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Thanks for thinking of us. Go buy our games so we can keep doing this!

We want to thank Paul for his time!

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Steam Wars

Posted on 15 April 2010 by TBS

Illogika
App Store: Steam Wars $1.99

Steam Wars is a 3D game between two steamed powered robots battleing it out. Your objective is to destroy the enemy robot on the other side of the planet. Remember, each move will cost you some steam power. Each weapon consumes a certain amount of steam. So choose your strategy wisely. You have three weapons at your disposal. Each weapon can be upgraded during your game play. Your trusty go to weapon is the cannonball. Does the least amount of damage, but requires the least amount of steam power. The steam propelled rocket is the next best weapon you can use. The final weapon is the satellite. Nuke’em from space just to be safe. During game play you will able to move around for strategic positioning. Moving around also takes steam, so be careful.

The graphics are awesome. Game play is a lot of fun. Multiplayer would have propelled this game to the top, but it was never included. Lack of story and some sort of campaign mode would have made this a polished game front to back. Repitition does make the game short lived. Despite all that, the game is still fun to play and look at.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji3Ggr_K62Y

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Ground Effect

Posted on 14 April 2010 by Todd

Glenn Corpes
App Store: Ground Effect $2.99

Ground Effect is really fun racing game that is similar to whip’Eout”, but more realistic! This game is simply awesome with incredible 3D graphics, challenging tracks, and is very smooth. If you are not familiar with the concept of ground effect vehicles then you should read up about them on Wikipedia here. This is not sci-fi and this game does a great job of bringing this really cool vehicle to the iPhone.

You have the option of selecting from many really well designed 3D crafts with various paint jobs. There are 14 levels and they get challenging really quickly and offer a lot of replay as you try to get the best time possible. You must place in one of the top three finishing spots to unlock the next level. You use the accelerometer to turn left and right, while using two peddle buttons as boost and brakes. The sensitivity of the controls takes a little getting use to, but the controls work great once you get use to them. You gain more boost over time or by passing through gates (between two flags). If you miss a gate then boost is taken from your meter, so be careful!

The tracks are really well done and offer awesome terrain. The jumps are amazing and really add a lot to the gameplay. There are three modes of gameplay: Race, Ghost Race, and Just Cruise. Ground Effect uses OpenFeint achievements and leaderboards. The music and sound effects are great. There is also the option to play your own music, which is always nice.

This is one of the best racing games that I have played on the iPhone and I would highly recommend giving this one a try. There is a lot of gameplay here and as Glenn mentioned, in our interview with him, more levels are on their way!

[youtube 30UBj6vfshU]

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