Archive | April, 2010

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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


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!

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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 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
Fox vs Duck
BeeJive IM (i’m assuming I can get a signal of course)
Tweetie 2
The Facebook app
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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Rocket Santa

Posted on 01 April 2010 by Todd

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Christopher Waite
App Store: Rocket Santa $0.99

We are a little late to review this Christmas game, but better late than never! Rocket Santa is a very simple game where you are Santa with a rocket pack. The objective of the game is to drop presents down certain chimney, while avoiding others.  This game is really a lot like Paperboy, but with a Christmas theme.

The pixel artwork is fantastic and alone enough to make you want to check out the game. There is no background music, but you can play your own and there are nice sound effects. The game is pretty short, but I could imagine another update coming out next season that could breath some fresh life into this game.

While you are checking out Christopher Waite’s games you might want to follow what he is doing on his next title here. Looks like this upcoming title is more ambitious than his first two.

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