Wednesday, January 20, 2010

iPhone App Game Development Blog #20

iPhone App Game Development Blog #20

Hello fans! And fans of fans! Wait, that doesn't make sense. On with the report:

180 development - we are almost at the finish line! Well, I say that, and then I look at where the game is at and wow, there is still so much work left to be done. As has been the case for a long time, the gameplay is super-sweet tight, but the presentation is undergoing a lot of reupholstering. It definitely looks good enough to release immediately, but good enough isn't good enough.. you dig? That being said, we've been adding a lot of touches to the game to make it easier and more appealing for people to get into from the get-go. A lot of work is being put into sound effects, shell work, and social connectivity.

We've been testing the game a lot (this is crucial at this stage!), just handing the iPhone to random people and getting feedback from their first experiences with the game - and then tweaking it accordingly. My number one goal is to get it to a point where the player will be able to understand the rules of the game in the first half-minute, and see some of the potential for the deeper gameplay after experiencing from even a brief first session.

iFist - it has been a month since we conducted our free promotional period, happy to say we got a large amount of downloads out of this and a very positive overall reception. If you're a fan of us - and that production - please do us a favor and write a review of the game on iTunes, and give a rating. Every little bit helps! We've been doing some decent follow-up sales after all of that, but now we need our fanbase to pitch in and do their part if they can spare a moment of time..!

Bizdev - ever on the periphery, this is ultimately one of the most important aspects of any company, large or small. Ben and I are being much more social and attending as many gatherings as we can relative to what we do (and in Los Angeles, there's a few!) This is not traditionally our strongest suit, but it's something we are comfortably growing into and honestly - it's a pleasure to go out into the field and talk to interested people who are excited about the same things we are. The games we make - the money we could make - the future for us all. As developers, it's a big deal for us to connect with the business people, the promotional people, the potential investors. This is all important because not only is it nice for us to receive compensation for our efforts, but honestly - keeping in mind that we charge next-to-nothing for iPhone games - we want to see our software out there. We want to know that people our enjoying these games that we make, every time I get a piece of feedback email from a beta tester "I'm enjoying your game, I can't stop playing it" that makes me feel very happy! I stay up until 4:30am, when I hear the neighborhood sprinklers kick in, agonizing over all these little touches in the game. That stuff adds up. I want this game to ooze love and care and I want everyone to love it! Or at least, give it a try!

I need to give big thanks to friends on Twitter and sites like Gamasutra. Most of these people I don't even know in "real life" - but they read and enjoy our promo stuff (this dev blog, our Retro Game of the Day). It's so helpful to us when people enjoy it enough that they retweet, or post on their own blog, or even just email it to a friend or anything. Anyone who helps get the word out about who we are, and what we do - I salute you, and Ben and I are gonna keep delivering what you want us to!

Shout-Out Time - I need to mention my new buddy Joe over at - I have spent the last few days in this guy's mom-and-pop home-office trying to resuscitate my ailing device. My iPhone suffered a power surge and the internal USB interface got fried! I went to Apple - they said "no help. Pay $200 for a replacement." They sent me to some smaller repair shops, who in turn hooked me up with Joe. Joe popped the thing open and diagnosed my issue immediately - he then worked double-time to get things working properly, in serious Frankenstein fashion. We went through 3 chassis and 3 brains, the only thing that remains of my original is the touchscreen! It took three days of me driving out to the West Side, but it was worth it - and all for a fraction of what it would cost to replace the "traditional way." I paid him for his efforts so I am not shouting-out in return for service - but as one small-time house to another, I need to support my fellow indie operators (especially when they've helped me out in the first place!) You got a cracked screen? You dropped your phone? You need something customized in there? What, you ran over your phone? Call Joe! He'll hook you right up for a fraction of the price (and no wait time at all!), with a smile!

What have I been playing?

Okay this is a little rough as my iPhone is still re-synching everything, so gonna spit out from memory here. Let's see then...

Drop7 by Area Code

Are you tired of hearing me talk about this yet? Too bad. Play this game. It rules and that's all there is to say. No I do not know these guys! Yes I am competing against them in a competition! Yes their game looks aesthetically dull! Who cares! It plays amazing!

MiniSquadron by FungFung

Okay this thing is white-hot. I was lucky to DL this when it was free, and now it is back up to $2 and totally worth it. One of the best examples I have seen of "start the game, understand the rules right away." Easy, fun, hectic, and it's a perfect iPhone diversion. I played 'till my thumbs were sore (or they were.. "soar..." groan!) I love how you can unlock lots of different aircraft each with different strengths and weaknesses. It suffers some balancing issues, but overall this game is a treat. Anyone who loves colors, fun, and killing evil bad planes needs to grab this app post-haste.

Dark Nebula by 1337

Yeah. it's another "guide your ball with the accelerometer"game, and I am sure there's like 900 of those. But this puppy's got some gorgeous polish. I wanted to dislike it upon startup, but what can I say - it has it's charm. People put a lot of effort into this game, and the level designs are not bad at all. Worth a look!

Cabby by Hidden Games

It's tough, because the screens of this look nice - and the premise is cool too. Someone worked hard on this game! Something doesn't gel though.. maybe I just didn't play it long enough. The problem with iPhone games, they need to grab you from the moment you game-on. This might be for you, check it out. I may try it again (I love what they are going for) but it might be a little slow for my tastes. Balance is everything!

Blimp the Flying Adventures by Craneballs

Damn it if that is not one of the prettiest iPhone games I ever did see.. holy crap. It pains me to see this game selling for only a dollar. Screw you, America!!! Really, this is a work of art.. a masterpiece. So much has gone into the presentation here, it really is trying to be a full "big boy" game. Gameplay-wise, it is smooth and I can see why people enjoy it - but for short burst-play, it's hard for me to squeeze in when I'd rather play something so uninvolved and just easy-in/easy-out. Still, there's lots of folks who would love this. Check the demo, and grab the full game if it intrigues you. A solid effort indeed.

Cartoon Wars - Gunner by Blue G&C

Ummm.. okay what do I say about this? In general I am opposed to these "stick figure guy" games. The fact that the interface is kinda sloppy and amateur doesn't help either. And then - the cardinal sin, they spelled the name of the game wrong in the actual game. Come on.
But - this game rocks. For all it's little quirks, it's just really fun, so easy to pick up and just kill stuff. Kill and be rewarded with cooler implements with which to kill. I could (and I have) just sit on my couch for hours and just blast away waves of monsters and soldiers to see what's next. It is kinda cute and charming in a way. The animations are simple and crude, and yet everything has its own little personality. I have to give it to these guys, they've won me over! A great iPhone experience!

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