Tag Archive | "Games"

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Mad’O’Ball 3D

Posted on 13 April 2010 by Todd

Tommaso Lintrami
App Store: Mad’O’Ball 3D $3.99

Mad’O’Ball 3D is a really nice marble game with lots to offer. There are 32 levels in 4 different locations and each location includes a new theme and challenges. The accelerometer controls work great and there are also jump buttons which are used at various places to jump across gaps in the track and reach higher locations. The ball and tracks are 3D and the track overview when you start a level is a really nice touch that shows of the 3D environment.

The levels can be very challenging since you are racing against the clock to complete a level. The game warns you when turns or areas that you should be cautious around are coming, but you still need to make good time so be careful! The levels start to offer some really interesting gameplay challenges as you progress through the game like moving platforms.

The game has good sound effects, but I was not a fan of the music. OpenFeint is used for achievements and is again a nice little carrot to keep you playing. The menus are a little lackluster after seeing the nice 3D graphics of the tracks, but that shouldn’t keep you from trying out this game.

I really enjoyed playing this game and there is a lot of content. This type of game is great on the iDevices and worth a look!

[youtube VDZSjzL7Iv8]

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5-in-1 Reflex Game: Super Reactor

Posted on 12 April 2010 by TBS

Vee Games
App Store: 5-in-1 Reflex Game: Super Reactor $0.99

This game packages 5 games in 1. Each one is designed to test your concentration and eye to hand reflex actions. The following games included are:

1. Simple Test – There is a red button on the screen. As soon as the button turns green you must press it.
2. Duck Hunt – Quickly stop the ducks from running across the screen.
3. Sheep Catch – The same as duck hunt. You must stop the sheep from running from one end to the other.
4. Base Ball – A little bit more complicated. There is no visual of a baseball. The pitcher winds up and throws. You must start your swing at the first sign of the pitcher winding up.
5. Brake Test – This one is pretty tricky. There is a car on the road and you must apply the brakes before hitting any pedestrians. Remember to hit the brakes early or you will skid into the people on the crosswalk.

Each of these games are designed to test your reflex skills. I did start picking up a trend on time when it came between intervels of reflex action. Could be just me, and not the game being set to a certain amount of time between actions. Overall a good set of games to test one’s skills.

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OddBlob

Posted on 10 April 2010 by TBS

Astraware
App Store: OddBlob $2.99

OddBlob is a claymation arcade game. The object of the game is to bounce from end of a tile map to the other. Along the way there will be fruit and slices of cake that you can pick up for extra points. When you land on a slice of cake you will be taken to “bonus” round. There you will have to strategize a way of getting a slice of cake with the most combo moves to it. Be careful while jumping your way across the tiles. Some tiles will disappear on you. There are other tiles that will help or hurt you during the process. Arrows will cause you to jump in the direction they are facing. Double arrows will cause you to jump two tiles in the direction it is pointing. The target looking tiles will cause you to jump in the direction you are pointing at the time of landing on it.

The game is neat. I like the concept, and the graphics are really good. The soundtrack gives a good feel to the game. I can’t say that about the sound effects. My only problem was the if I wasn’t precise in the direction of the jump I would accidentally jump to the side. I have big fingers. The game has an overall good feel to it, and I enjoyed my time playing it.

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Indie Interview: Chalkboard Stunts

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Todd

Today we bring you an indie interview with Arshad Rahman and Rav Dhiraj, the creators of Chalkboard Stunts.

Company: Manta Research
App Store: Chalkboard Stunts Free | Chalkboard Stunts Pro $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?
We actually started developing late 2007 with the reverse engineered frameworks, before an official SDK was even released.  We’ve always had a love for low level tinkering, and this seemed like the perfect platform for it.  In our day jobs, we both work at a company where we develop high-end 3D graphics/video hardware and associated drivers for the Apple platform.

How long did it take you to develop Chalkboard Stunts and how many people were involved?
The original proof of concept was actually developed in the fall of 2008, but it sat on the shelf for a long time as we worked on other projects.  We revived it again in November 2009, and we’ve been focused on it since then.

How did you come up with the idea for Chalkboard Stunts?
We started experimenting with in-game physics in late 2008, and as part of that experiment we put together a simple proof of concept vehicle and rudimentary level builder to see how well it worked.

What inspired you for Chalkboard Stunts from initial concept to formalized game?
We saw the success of some of the other racing titles on the platform in spite of what we felt were serious shortcomings in some of these other offerings.  We thought we could do a better job, so we decided that we had to create our own 2D physics based racing title.

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
All the good Apps that have found some success in the App Store.  It gives us hope that investing time to create a fun and polished game will be worthwhile.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
Well both of us have full-time day jobs, so all of our iPhone development is done in the evenings and weekends.  There’s a tremendous amount of effort (over a thousand hours) that goes into putting out a game like Chalkbaord Stunts, and it means making a lot of personal sacrifices with our families so that we can pursue this.

Can you describe your development process?
Generally, it’s broken down into three stages: 1) prototyping and design discussions/notes 2) concentrated development of features 3) testing and iterating on design elements.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
We do a lot of brainstorming and playing around with different proof-of-concept experiments before we actually get down to writing a game like Chalkboard Stunts.

Did you do any pre-marketing before Chalkboard Stunts was released?
Not really.

What are you working on now?
We’re continuing to make improvements to Chalkboard Stunts, and are also working on another game that we hope to bring to market in the near future.  We also have a popular application called “AppSniper” which we’re also in the process of updating.

Any plans for updates to Chalkboard Stunts?
Absolutely.  We have a ton of ideas on how to improve the game, the level editor, offer additional in-app purchases, etc.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Chalkboard Stunts?
Balancing overall project development time with feature creep.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market Chalkboard Stunts?
We tried a few different things without much success.  Sales were very poor, and it was a very frustrating experience for us because we genuinely felt that we had a good product that we had put a tremendous amount of effort into.  At the end of the day, what worked for us was to pay for a spot with FreeAppADay.com.  It was a big risk, and we ended up paying almost as much as we had made since launch (6 weeks worth), but we felt strongly that it could do well if it just had some visibility.

After the promotion, we shot up the charts and we kept gaining momentum all the way to the number 1 spot on the free list.  Of course we didn’t make any money from giving our product away, but we had over a million downloads in this period, and since then we’ve released a “pro” version which is selling reasonably well.

Since we never planned on making the game free, one of the problems we ran into was that our server did not scale well to suddenly having a million people trying to submit scores, vote on levels, and download new levels.  In fact, it completely flattened our server such that all requests were timing out.  We scrambled with our ISP to increase the resources, and make changes to our back-end server queries to help reduce the load, but this only helped a little bit.  We eventually ended up migrating to a MUCH more expensive load balanced dedicated server, but now things are zippy again.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
A lot.  We pride ourselves on our customer support and responsiveness to user feedback.  We are constantly evaluating the suggestions that people send us, and we always try to incorporate any good ideas that people send our way.

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
A little bit of both.  We both love gaming, and we both love programming… and if we can make some extra cash doing it on the side, then it’s a win-win situation 🙂

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
Usually playing other games. 🙂

Since its release what you do differently looking back?
We spent a lot of time beta testing the game internally with a group of friends, but unfortunately all of them were hardcore gamers.  All of them loved it, and had no problems with the controls, but at launch the biggest complaints we got were on the control setup and the difficulty of the game.  If we could do things over again, we would have launched with the configurability and ease of driving that we have now.

The other thing is that we would have been better prepared for the sheer number of downloads and the server scaling required to handle that.  At the number one spot on the free list, we were getting over 200k downloads EVERY DAY!

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
Most of the development was done late at night, so dark and quiet (no music).

What was a must have during the development process of Chalkboard Stunts?
Support from our families!

What games influenced you in your decision to make Chalkboard Stunts?
We looked at all of the games in the same genre, and also games that offered in-game level creation and sharing.  This included games like Jelly Car 2, Monster Truck Nitro, Line Rider, MX Mayhem, iStunt, Labyrinth 2, and iBlast Moki to name a few.

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
The basic premise was still the same, but we ended up adding a lot of things to the final game.

Before the release of Chalkboard Stunts were there any huge last minute changes?
Not really.  We actually spent the final few weeks fine-tuning the game physics and creating levels.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
Feedback from our beta testers and knowing that the core gameplay was fun.

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 had a few different ideas for the look of the game (including a doodle look which we will be releasing shortly as a new theme).  The art assets sort of fell into place as we went, and the chalkboard look just made a lot of sense.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
XCode, Photoshop, Fission, HTTPscoop, TextMate, Screenium, SoundTrack Pro.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
The “Message in a Bottle” App. 😉

Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Thank you for the opportunity of letting us tell the world a little bit of the behind-the-scenes effort that went into making this game 🙂

We want to thank Arshad Rahman and Rav Dhiraj for their time!

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Buster Red

Posted on 08 April 2010 by TBS

Iskandar Inc.
App Store: Buster Red $0.99

Where to start with this game? After the last couple of games played I was ready to throw in the towel, but Buster Red turned it around. This game was really fun. Brought back some memories from when I was a kid playing Gradius hour after hour. Yes, I know, it is not Gradius. You can’t go wrong in a game when you have to fight waves of enemies like a scene out of a nightmare. Thankfully there are no firing buttons. Your one saving grace. The ships auto fire making your life semi-easier or harder, depends on how you want to look at it. The object is to survive 30 levels of onslaught. You have powerups or busters that you can collect through each level. Use these wisely.

As far as fun factor is concerned this game is awesome. The graphics are good except that the background tends interfere with the game play. The controls are easy enough. Drag the ship around to avoid death. My only gripe, I was blessed with huge fingers, and dragging something that has disappeared beneath my finger is not fun. Makes dodging projectiles challenging. The game is fun, and will keep you entertained for plenty of hours.

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Melvin The Menace

Posted on 07 April 2010 by TBS

Adam Kehoe
App Store: Melvin The Menace $1.99

The school bully, you gotta love ’em. The game is a shooting gallery style. The goal is to cause as much problems without getting caught by shooting, throwing and spitting at all the kids. You must choose from three different tools slingshot, projectiles and a straw. In order to use your preferred weapon you must hold and keep the ‘D’ button down while selecting your targets. When the authority makes a noise it means it is time to hide your weapon before he/she turns around and catches you. The game offers different locations and bonuses through out the levels during the week.

I did notice a bit of a lag time between targets and shots. The awkwardness of the controls were a drawback. I was hoping for some sort of endless level mode. This is my first shooting gallery game on the iPhone, and I did have some fun with it.

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Boiler Blast

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Todd

Netistry
App Store: Boiler Blast $0.99

Boiler Blast is a pipe connection game that includes an original twist. There are 48 levels with various difficulty settings and your objective is to connect the pipes before the time limit runs out and the boiler blasts!

The original twist to this pipe connection game is that the levels also contain rats that run around the screen randomly. Mr. Rat isn’t that much of a problem on the first 10 or so levels, but eventually he becomes a problem as you have to help move him out of areas that you need to lay pipe in! There is also a fun hammer tool that you can use to to sun the rats.

You lay pipe by selecting the type of pipe you want and then tapping onto an open tile. The pipe can be rotated by tapping on that pipe. Once you have connected all of the pipes you can tap on the boiler and the pressure will be released!

This is really a great game. The graphics and sound fit the game perfectly. I really like puzzle type games and this one is very well done. It might be nice to have some achievements and in app purchased level packs, but other than that Boiler Blast is very complete. Boiler Blast is a great deal at $0.99 and if you don’t already own the game give it a try today!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lskn8QqXulk

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Silent Swords

Posted on 04 April 2010 by Todd

Oniric Games
App Store: Silent Swords $2.99

Silent Swords is an action packed stealth game done right! You are a ninja and it is your mission to make it to the door without being detected. There are guards, lights, mines, and lasers to keep you from reaching your objective.

The main obstacle is the guards and you must stay out of their view until you can take them out. You are able to use gesture-driven sword attacks and Chinese throwing stars to kill the guards. There are also some levels where you can hide under things and move as the guards are not looking.

The graphics, music, and sound effects are awesome. Controlling the ninja using the on-screen controls and the different swipe gestures works very well. There are tons of levels and even some additional levels that you can unlock after beating the main game. The developer just recently added OpenFeint achievements, which really keeps things moving!

Silent Swords is easily worth the $2.99 price and is a very fun game! It looks like there is a sequel being developed. It would be great if the sequel included guards being able to hear sounds and maybe even an alert system similar to the Metal Gear Solid games.

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Sheeple HD

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Todd

Tomato Factory
App Store: Sheeple HD $2.99

This is not a review, but rather an announcement for my new game Sheeple HD for the iPad. I myself am an indie developer and that is where the thought for this site was birthed. I recently, like the droves of other developers, decided that it would be an opportunity not worth missing to have an iPad application available at the grand opening of the iPad App Store.

I didn’t want to just do a direct port of my game Sheeple and then charge the user 2-5x more, just for larger resolution graphics. I actually find it amusing how many $0.99 game developers are just creating larger resolution graphics and changing $4-$5, for no additional gameplay variation. That being said, I do think that the $0.99 price point is much too low to keep indie developers motivated long term to create quality games as the number of applications continues to surge in the App Store.

Sheeple HD for the iPad shares a lot similarities with Sheeple for the iPhone, but contains all new levels, much larger levels, and a completely new scoring system. The levels are actually much more challenging and are really fun to play with more elements on the game board. Please give Sheeple HD a try if you have an iPad and let me know what you think!

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Indie Interview: Ground Effect

Posted on 02 April 2010 by Todd

Today we bring you an indie interview with Glenn Corpes, the creator of Ground Effect. You need to go get this game now if you do not already own it!

Company: Glenn Corpes
App Store: Ground Effect $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?
Just over a year, although I bought a mac and registered as a developer about a year and a half ago.

How long did it take you to develop Ground Effect and how many people were involved?
Almost a year, the team were:

Pam Douglas: a constant source of inspiration and sometime source of stress, by the time we had finished she had become quite an expert on the subtleties of the iPhone game market, I’m sure half of Ground Effect’s sales are because of her efforts.

Andrew Cakebread: Long time friend and programming colleague from 15 years ago at Bullfrog and several other places since. He did a couple of months work on the game in return for a copy of my library which he went on to use to develop Tilestorm and Eggbot’s Irish adventure.

Jack Corpes: My 15 year old son. Designed several of the levels and craft paint jobs and was the primary source of feedback in the early days of the project.

Mikey Corpes: His 13 year old brother. More paint jobs and level designs though his speciality turned ou to be the more evil levels later in the game.

Tartan Monkey: A highly talented artist with a day job. Hence the pseudonym.

Ben Carter: His name should probably be higher on the list but his work was done so long ago, he ported our library to the iPhone at around the time I registered as a dev. This really smoothed the transition to a new platform for me.

How did you come up with the idea for Ground Effect?
I worked on a game for the PC, original Playsation and Sega Saturn called Hi-Octane. About half way through it’s development time it was a great driving game but stopped being fun when the guns went in and the controls were dumbed down. I wanted to do a driving game that focused on that pure hover-racer with momentum feeling for 14 years. I also calculated that the iPhone would also be able to display a very detailed landscape, that had been an ongoing research project for almost a decade itself. The two ideas just came together

What inspired you for Ground Effect from initial concept to formalized game?
Just the fact that I was sure both ideas could come together on the iPhone. The idea was that it was relatively risk free and should have been possible fairly quickly.

What inspires you? And is it different for each game?
I have a background in 3D graphic technology. Most of the game ideas I have are based around a bit of technology, taking it in a hopefully fairly unique direction but keeping the game idea simple. I’m not into huge epic games myself, I much prefer games that take a simple idea and explore it.

What have you found most difficult about being an indie developer?
The responsibility and lack of support, the days wasted trying to get my head around the way photoshop handles alpha channels. The cutting and pasting bits of Objective C without taking the time to actually learn the language. Stuff like that.

Can you describe your development process?
That’s a big question. Ground Effect was built on a simple cross platform Library, my programming tasks were split between challenging technical problems to do with the graphic engine, boring formalised stuff to keep the cross-platform stuff working, the fun of actually tuning the handling system and the AI drones and the relatively mindless drudgery of the front end menu stuff. I sort of worked on which ever bits fitted my mood that day.

What does the creative process look like during the initial stages?
It started as a camera flying over a simple heightmapped mesh, multitexture was added, support for objects loaded from 3DS max, the level of detail (LOD) system. After a few months it was possible to fly a basic camera around a random rocky landscape.

Did you do any pre-marketing before Ground Effect was released?
We uploaded a couple of videos to Youtube and started threads on all of the iPhone game forums we could find. Only the Touch Arcade one got any attention. We managed to get articles on a few other iPhone gaming sites. Sadly this was all started a little too early as the game took a few more months to finish than we’d been hoping.

What are you working on now?
I’m working with Josh Presseisen (of Ravensword fame) on a completely different game based on some of the same tech. It’s a bit too early to say much about this yet but graphically, it’s going to be way beyond Ground Effect. I’m also doing contract work on a few console games.

Any plans for updates to Ground Effect?
Yes, we are working on new levels, these will be available in an update very soon.

What was your most frustrating task while developing Ground Effect?
The whole process was refreshingly painless. I guess if I did have to pick one thing it would be the time spent trying to get various little bits of Objective C to work but that was kind of my own fault for just jumping in without taking any time at all to learn the language. Also, switching back and forth from PC to mac took a while to become natural.

What have you found to be the most successful way to market Ground Effect?
We have been very impressed by the extra attention the game has been getting since we promoted it through www.freeappaday.com in early March. It really is all about people knowing your game exists and the half a million extra people who got to play it seem to be making that happen like nothing else has.

How much does user feedback affect your planning of updates and also future projects?
It’s a complex relationship. We had a lot of feedback from people demanding guns and to be able to update their craft but we also got a lot of people who clearly appreciated the game for what it is, a pure racing game. I personally believe that weapons ruin racing games, I could be wrong but I’ve stuck to it and Ground Effect will never have them. On the other hand, if people want weapons, big explosions and a hell of a lot more happening on the screen, they will not be disappointed in what is coming next. It isn’t a racing game though 🙂

Do you write games for yourself or for others? And why?
I find it completely soul destroying to work on a game that I don’t even like, I’ve done it enough times over the years. I believe that the only way to do it is to explore the areas of my own gaming taste that might actually appeal to others. My taste isn’t that weird…

What process do you go through to overcome creative block?
One of the advantages of doing so much of the development on my own is that when I didn’t feel inspired enough to work on a creative part of the game, there was always plenty of less exciting stuff or messing around in Photoshop to do. I was alwats too busy to ever get properly blocked.

Since its release what you do differently looking back?
I’d make it very clear that the first two levels are tutorials as it’s kind of depressing to see (via Openfeint stats) how many people never get past them and onto the levels with jumps, exploration and high speed banked turns.

What was the development atmosphere like? What kind of music did you listen to?
For a lot of the time it was kind of unhealthy, me at home, sat at a desk surrounded by 3 monitors for far too many hours at a time. Music was mostly my 24 hour super-playlist on random. The bands on this list with the most tracks are The Pixies, The Gang of Four, The Fall, The Cure. From that list it looks like I only like bands starting with “The”, there is a lot of other stuff honestly…

What was a must have during the development process of Ground Effect?
Not sure what you mean by this. Keeping the PC version going alongside the iPhone version was vital for debugging, it also would have been impossible to design levels without it. Away from the computer being able to get out on my Mountain bike or go skateboarding with my kids once in a while stopped me from growing to completely fill my chair…

What games influenced you in your decision to make Ground Effect?
It seemed to me that the iPhone was a platform where simplicity worked like no platform for a few decades. I thought a simple arcade style racer where the controls had been designed around the accelerometer and the graphic engine looked good (I knew I’d have a huge draw distance with a smooth frame rate at least) was bound to work. Of course it didn’t quite work out like this, a lot of customers wanted to know where the guns and upgrades were but you live and learn…

How close was the end product to your initial conceptualization?
Very close, almost exactly what I was hoping for.

Before the release of Ground Effect were there any huge last minute changes?
Very late in the testing phase one of the testers found you could get a better time by jabbing the boost button very quickly rather than long, well planned boosts. Fixing this was a complete nightmare and involved rewriting part of the code that had been fixed for many months. It also broke all of the AI opponents.

How did you keep yourself motivated?
Fear of the ever increasing quality of the apps released every day since I started the project.

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?
A lot of the look of the game is driven by algorithmically generated graphics. The islands are fractals, the tracks are extruded along a spline, the lighting, shadows and texturing of the level are done at load time by a few hundred lines of the most fun-to-write code in the game. The way the trails dissipate and fade is done with custom code. I’m mostly a graphics programmer with an ancient history as an artist (the last game I did the graphics for was Populous in ’87!) but I can’t claim it was all in my head at the start of the project. It doesn’t really work like that. It was in my head but the picture was very fuzzy, more of a potential picture based on experience and, I dunno, crossed fingers and hope maybe. I’m very pleased with how the final game looks though.

What tools of the trade are a must have for you when it comes to programming, art and music?
The code was done in a weird mix of XCode and Microsoft Visual Studio. Everyone who had any input into the art used Photoshop and the guy who designed the craft used 3DS max.
The music came from Pam talking to Diefenbach (the Danish band) and getting the instrumental version of a Rock in a Pond.

If you were stuck on an island with a laptop and no internet access what apps would you have loaded?
Autodesk Sketchbook
Google Earth
Weather Pro
PuzzleManiak
Fox vs Duck
Beatmaker
Geocaching
BeeJive IM (i’m assuming I can get a signal of course)
Tweetie 2
The Facebook app
:Shift:
Noiz2sa Free
Boost 3D

We want to thank Glenn for his time and can’t wait to see what comes next!

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