Development blog sixteen! So, pardon me, I have taken a break for a couple of weeks. For shame!
Things are going well. Development on 180 is proceeding as usual. It should not come as a surprise to anyone who reads this column with any regularity, that the procedure in this case has ben one of much irregularity. iFist - our debut app - was much easier to develop as the scope was much smaller. 180 isn't a particularly "larger" game just by looking at the screen grabs, but there is a lot more going on under the hood and so a fair deal of extra work has had to be done (and several concerns to be dealt with). We came very close to releasing it recently, but decided to let it sit in the oven for awhile longer and push it towards more of a "deluxe" version.
I feel it is the right idea, as this is really our opportunity to make a splash with the community at this point. iFist was getting our feet wet - 180 is diving in headfirst! I'll conclude by saying the gameplay is rock-solid, even after some months of development it's become quite refined and I still get lost for hours with the game. It is easily my favorite puzzler on the iPhone. "Sure you will say that, it's your game you are trying to promote!" Prove me wrong, alright! We've been testing a lot with friends (and strangers) and many people are describing it as addictive. I have trouble getting them to give me back my phone..
Outside of 180, things are fairly quiet around Headcase Games. Originally the plan was to release 3 games by the end of the year, due to extenuating circumstances we won't even have our second available until early 2010. As for next year's plan? It is actually very exciting, a lot of things will be coming out of us next year. It is still rather early to tell, and of course a lot of things depend on the reception of 180. If the game does really well, we have lots of plans to soup it up and do a sequel. The rough ideas are already in place, and I'd love to charge into that immediately. At the same time, it would be very gratifying to shelve all of that and go forward with a different game altogether, and we've got lots of things on the boards for other exciting projects. As we are a small operation, we must concentrate on one thing at a time before planning our next move.
It is worth noting that Ben and I are working to help out some friends with a small game development startup (howwwwww many startups have I been involved with this year?!) and you can bet that it is certainly affecting everything else..
Socially, things are going quite well. We are closing in one 10,000 friends on Myspace, 150 Fans on Facebook (Facebook fans are hard to come by! Especially when you've not released any products for months) and just shy of 3,000 followers on Twitter. This is all very important to us, in that our connection with the outside world is going to absolutely make or break our success. We have been working hard to build (and maintain) strong ties with the community out there, to give you all reasons to look at our page and see what we are up to. It sort of goes without saying, but this is really our main line when we release a game since we aren't putting out lots of paid advertisement for our productions. It's all a big experiment, but so far the results (in the set-up) have been very satisfying. It will be very interesting to see how the follow-through plays out.
And so, we move on to "iPhone App Reviews," such as they are. What's spinning on my iPhone lately? Besides 180?
Drop7 - yeah, still. Since I first mentioned it, this game has completely sucked me in but good. I play it every day now. It is a marvelously designed game and the masterminds behind it must be quite proud. I am eager to see what else they've got up their sleeves. I think my high score on hardcore is 400,000
Squareball - this has been described as "love it or hate it," do tell! The screens screamed "stylish and retro" to me so of course I picked up the lite. It's nice - I like the idea. But I got frustrated in about 1 minute. I feel bad to say, but after a couple of tries, I can't see myself trying this one any more.
OneStrokeShare - Supposed to be a ripoff of "Polarium" from DS, right down to graphics rips. I tried to load it up but the instructions were confounding. There were like 6 pages of "how to play" - no thanks! I'll leave it there and give it a try sometime as I have heard I would love Polarium, but man..
Pac-Man Remix - I did (and do) love the screen grabs of this. I am a sucker for pac-things and so have had my eye on it for awhile, Namco dropped it to like $1 for Thanksgiving so I finally bit (though, I was wary!) I was suspect of the controls, and they didn't disappoint in that they are awkward. Still, not as bad as could be and I will play it some more. I would be so much happier with a joystick though. Pac just doesn't play right with touchscreen, no matter how you slice it!
ADD - Addictive Dumb Distractions - one of my thoughts was to make an iPhone version of Wario Ware - someone beat me to the punch! I barely played this at all yet, but the moment I spent with it led me to believe it was worth the couple of bucks I parted with for the purchase. My heart goes out to the poor dev, this thing was in submission hell for like NINE MONTHS. Holy crap.
Ramp Champ - heard it was free so I jumped on it. This is a highly-rated app that people have been talking about for awhile (and I have always admired the design/screenshots) so a free DL was a no-brainer. After a couple of moments of play, I quickly realized that I don't care. Ski ball (the "official one") is supposed to be pretty fun, or so they say - I hope it is more fun than this! I don't mean to piss on the dev, this is one of the most beautiful applications I have seen and the attention to detail is fascinating. I just wish they applied all that TLC to a more worthy gameplay experience. Tossing balls on my iPhone is not such a blast at all.
Scramble 2 - my friends just turned me onto this title the other night. A free download, I'll say this is the recommendation of the week. So addictive, so clean, so easy to pick up and play. The game is not without it's issues, but the game is so good (and so full-featured) and it is free that I feel bad even complaining. Basically it drops a bunch of letters, and you have 2 min to drag your finger to connect adjacent letters into words. It takes a little while to get your brain around it - even after a couple of days I am still trying to adjust. it's not easy, and not for stupid people, but I like the way it makes me think. The most irritating aspect of it, is that there are so many "non-words" in there - you will see what I mean. A must-download!
Cobra Command - Another very recommended app, with a bit of explanation - many people will dislike this game. It is a port of an old 1980s laserdisc game, it looks (and sounds) like an old episode of GI Joe. It is very charming, and brings me back to the old days! There is a bit of a trend with these lately, which makes me happy, but then these games can also be quite frustrating with their very binary gameplay. It is irresistable to DL this as it is currently only $1 on the Appstore down from $4 (after only a few days!) and "they say"they are gonna bonk it up to $10. Who knows - but absolutely worth a dollar, hands down, for anyone to try (especially if you are over 30!) Warning, a beefy download (shy of 300 Mb). Also, I must note that EA just released Dragon's Lair, "the king of Laserdisc games!" I am waiting for M.A.C.H. 3, personally..!