Sunday, November 1, 2009

iPhone App Game Development Blog #13

iPhone App Game Development Blog #13

Yup. Sunday night. Time for another development update, on with it then.

Things are alright in iPhone-land. Steady as she goes! Development on 180 is coming along well. As noted recently, we've got the final gameplay elements in place and have been concentrating on the polish and presentation. The big hurdle now is "make the game understandable from the first-play" - up until now, when showing the game to folks Ben or I would try to give brief description "here's what you do..." There's been a "how to play" info card in place for awhile now, but people tend to breeze by that. We've spent time simplifying it (UBER-simplifying it!) and even still, people zone out when they look at it. The trick is to make the game accessible without that, even. It's tough! We have come up with a decent method to get around this, and it's planned out fairly well, technically - as anyone with an engineering mind knows, implementing anything takes time/resource and so we have to make sure we can pare this down enough to fit in the schedule. Otherwise, there's still a fair bit of presentation work to be done-

Otherwise, the gameplay is - addictive. As HELL. I have been playing the game for ~2 months now through it's various iterations. It's flowed and ebbed at parts, but I can say assuredly that where the gameplay is right now, it is spot-on. It's a completely satisfying game, for the state it's already in, and I would feel very comfortable releasing it in the current form and expect that it would hold its own. The way things are now, though, when you release a project you are going against a stiff wall of competition - and so it's necessary to go that extra mile and put in some bells and whistles. I can say this, however - it feels great, as a developer, to be at this milestone.

One thing I want to make clear - in this development blog, I go on and on about this game a bit "oh it's so great, blah blah" and I expect that would be met witha bit of criticism, "you're just saying that to pimp your product." I'll be frank - we geta fair amount of hits on our blog, but not so many for the actual development stuff - and those that do read this, my long-winded ramblings, I'm gonna make a bet that if you're in it this deep with me that you're already pretty sold on parting with a couple of bucks to see what we have been up to over here, "no matter what it is!" I am not worrying about selling to you, and therefore I have no need to go about proselytizing about our game in this manner. I am just going on and on about it because I am genuinely excited! When you put a bunch of time and energy into something, you want it to do well, sure. But when the product is coming out really well, to some greater degree that is its own reward. I have worked on lots of games during my tenure as a developer - some wonderful, some atrocious. This is one of the much smaller projects I have ever been involved with, and for that, it lacks a lot of "high level production value" - but for pure gameplay and enjoyment, of what constitutes a great gaming experience, 180 is easily ranking among the top. I can't wait to put it out there for people to enjoy.

Anyway, here's some other apps I have crossed paths with recently-

- Great Leaping Lambrettinis - a wonderful game, and criminally neglected. This is intended to be an homage to the great Nintendo Game & Watch games of the early 1980s - what they have crafted here is original however. Very simple and perfectly executed, the game was a little frustrating to play at 1st - once I got the hang of it, it became a blast. Absolutely worth the $1 asking price, and I wish they'd change the name (it's a great name, but horrible to market with!) Support these guys and pick it up, you won't regret it.

- Payday Roulette - just what it sounds like. A $1 purchase gets you a roulette wheel for your pocket. No-frills, but it is nice to fool around with. Each session starts you of with $500 for you to wind down with. The board is pretty, a little inconvenient to use but it's not bad for what it is. I am sort of a simple man, I enjoy playing with this. If I could find a more captivating experience I would jump on it though (other virtual customers at your table, etc)

- Critter Crunch Lite - I haven't felt the need to upgrade to the $2 full version, but the lite isn't a bad way to go. It's a nice little puzzle game, sporting beautifully rendered graphics - this game is oozing with production value. As for the gameplay mechanic; I have heard many people sing its praises. I give it a solid "meh."

- Grabimo - heard it was free, thought the screens looked interesting. I won't ever boot this game again..

- SeaGlass - sooo.... what is it? Another Tetris Attack knock-off, apparently. Unlike Puzzle Panel (the other "definitive" iPhone game of this nature, from what I can see), this game lets you speed up the panels by dragging on-screen, which is a nice touch. Overall - I love Tetris Attack, always have and will, but this game lacks personality and is so uncaptivating. People seem to like it, I say don't bother.

- Spheric - a strange, -almost- rewarding little game. They had some good ideas with this accelerometer-based physics puzzler, however it's neither intuitive nor gratifying enough to get past the starting gate with me. I did fiddle with it a few times, and got a few minutes of "oh, this is neat" enjoyment out of it - but I haven't looked back.

- Aurora Feint II: Lite - This is one of the iPhone App Grandaddies.I finally checked it out to see what all the fuzz was about, supposedly it's got a bit of a following. I wasn't really into all of the social stuff, so awkwardly found my way to the "mining" (gameplay) segment. Ummm.. it was alright. I might try it again, but overall it's not really floating my boat.

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