Thursday, September 30, 2010

iPhone App Development Vlog #4

Headcase Games iPhone App Development Vlog #4

(you might wanna crank up the audio a little bit, sorry about that)

TinyTechnician - #indieApp
"180 Free" Survey .doc .rtf
Bird Strike (.99) (Free)
FreeAppTracker - developer submit

Thanks for supporting Headcase Games!

Want to win ANY Free App of your choice for your iPhone, care of Headcase Games (LINK)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010



We are conducting a brief survey, aimed primarily at people who've downloaded the Free version of 180. (Players of the Full version are encouraged to participate as well)

Click here (.doc .rtf) to download and fill it out. For your time, we will hold a drawing next week, two winners will win $4.99 worth of iTunes credit (see full details in the download).

If you pirated the game, we request that you not participate in as it will skew the results.

Thanks for your help!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Munch Man

Retro Game of the Day! Munch Man

Munch Man by Jim Dramis for Texas Instruments, released for the TI-99/4A in 1982.

Clearly a rip of the very popular Pac-Man (and released during it's heyday), his game was created to grab a little of that action without ponying up the exhorbitant licensing fees.

Munch Man did operate differently than Pac on a number of smaller levels; most noticeably,
rather than clearing away dots off the screen, you are laying down a chain (or cable) as you pass by. Rather than emptying the screen, the goal here is to fill it. Ah, the things they do to avoid copyright infringement!

Likewise, rather than ghosts you are chased by different-colored "hoonos," which (interestingly) are presented in different shapes for the 1st 20 levels, before repeating. There are some other small differences, but overall the mechanic is very derivative of Pac-man in general. This was fine, and kids at the time loved the game for it. I remember seeing the game on display at Child World toy store, and playing for a moment "It's Pac-man... sort of! In reverse!"

It's a little sad to see that there was a whole subsect of these types of games (ripoffs of early 80s "real games") which, though derivative, were still quite popular and stood on their own. Many of these games are long forgotten and will never show up on any popular "virtual console" type of service, so it's up to those of us who remember these games to celebrate them!

iPhone App Game Development Blog #37

iPhone App Game Development Blog #37

Well, hello there. Gosh-darn-it, but it has been a long time since I've written a development blog update in here. I've had my reasons - mainly, I've been putting out video logs instead, in hopes of getting a bit more visibility. Those are going fairly well, but something does get lost when there is such a drastic format change. Also, sometimes one finds that it is 3 a.m. and they just feel like typing.

180 for iPhone - remember that game? Believe it or not, there's a bit of hubbub in that world recently. Not too much I can go on about, but hopefully something which will give our game a little shot-in-the-arm. The programmer dusted off the code and he is prepping an update, after a long half-year of inactivity. At the very least, we'll have a new icon to show off. Other changes/additions are planned and in various stages of implementation, though I can't say I know when (or even if) they'll ever see the light of day. To be honest, I will just be happy with the new icon release and have that be the end of it. Following that, I am pushing for a last big promotional push in some fashion or other, anyone who has even paid half-attention to what I have been up to can likely put the pieces together. Hopefully inside of a month's time this will come to fruition, for real.

Bizdev - It's hard to mention business development as things are really at a standstill in many ways. I intend to keep this shtick going on as long as possible in some manner or other, but it should be pretty clear that things have been dark and quiet on the "development and release" end of things for some time now. It's a shame - I'd originally hoped to put maybe 3 mobile games out this year, at least - but it's a fair-enough runner up to have people talking about my product, my brand, and have it "feel" current. There's plenty of much more active developers than Headcase, who release a much steadier stream of product, yet no one has any idea who they are or what they represent. Otherwise, I am always talking to plenty of people behind-the-scenes and doing what I can to plan for the future. Right now, finagling the present takes up a great deal of my time.

It is important to mention that we've recently launched a new website called (or "FAT" if you like!) This site is 100% devised and run by me, and to be honest the only real reason I put it up there was so I could have a dedicated place to advertise my product. Free App websites are not yet a dime-a-dozen, but they are getting there. I figured "better late than never" and mashed a bunch of things together and threw it up there. Only a week out, going smooth so far (though it's not done anything for my sales yet!) We will see.. Also, if there are any developers out there interested to partner with us on this, please contact me, we'd love to promote your product (for FREE!) At this point, you can already be assured that hundreds of people will see it, and in a few weeks' time I am hopeful to put a zero or two behind that.

Video logs - this has been an interesting experiment, and let me assure you that it is quite maddening. I apologize to those of you who are not on board with it yet, I am trying to inject some personality into this venture and "putting myself out there" is actually quite exhausting. Thankfully some people have been "getting it" and I'll just say I am trying to put a human face, if I can call myself that (!), on small-time app development. YouTube is a great tool for reaching a potentially large base of people, between how far it can penetrate and it's ease of use, so going this route seems very attractive (especially as I don't see most other devs utilizing it in this fashion) Well, maybe that's for a reason! Anyway, I want to make this more useful. If anyone has any suggestions/ideas about what they'd like to see, fire away. Be critical - if it is turning you off of my brand, let me know. Likewise, if it makes you feel sympathetic to have someone on the home team to root for, let me know that as well! I am doing this to try and make people happy, to do my part to spread the word. Tell me what I can tell you.

What Else is Gong On - Huh? You mean there's more? Well, this is the part where I usually chime in about the industry at large and how I feel about all of that. I have been out of mainstream development for over a year and a half now, and in many ways it feels like good riddance! The game industry is still exciting, wild and captivating, but it also feels like such a crazy unwelcome stew right now. I was just reading about the failure of APB and the closure of Realtime Worlds and it got me all depressed. It got me thinking about what happened not too long ago with Red Dead Redemption (a game that was hugely successful, and yet still at the cost of so many people's jobs). This stuff isn't easing up anytime soon, it seems. A good friend recently lost his job from a former employer (of mine) as well. This is all fairly ludicrous and gets my blood boiling - when people work hard, above and beyond the call of duty, and the only thanks is a pink slip. We bend over backwards trying to put out superior product, but all the success in the world can't save you from crappy management and bad planning, and the video game industry at large is bubbling over with that.

Meanwhile, PlayStation Move has launched, and does anyone care? I am trying to reserve judgement on the device until I get my hands on it, but I must say I am in no hurry. As usual I will jump to Sony's defense in that "yes they are credited with advancing this entire industry in the past 15 years" but then I will slam them as well "they are getting top-heavy and should return to doing what they've always done best!." To be fair, I am just as skeptical about Kinect, I think both companies have really missed the point of what Nintendo was going for with their motion control setup; I think this really is not going to be the successful stop-gap that the HD consoles are banking on. Can that be done? Of course. Is Sony or Microsoft going to nail it? I won't hold my breath. On a side note, as a designer, would I enjoy developing a title for those platforms, utilizing this tech? I sure would!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

TouchArcade Contest Winners

TouchArcade Contest Winners!

This post will be updated daily to list the winners of the new contest Headcase Games is sponsoring on TouchArcade's 180 thread. Check back every day to see if you've won!

This contest has ended. Thanks for participating!

Winner gets ANY iPhone app of their choice, $1.99 or less.

12/31/10 cjsbug
12/30/10 MissLashes
12/29/10 spyky
12/28/10 Lynx-
12/27/10 cloudcastles
12/26/10 jjjmedia
12/25/10 lordbom
12/24/10 songbird
12/23/10 smes3817
12/22/10 jwcasser
12/21/10 cjsbug
12/20/10 raptor200
12/19/10 Lynx-
12/18/10 spyky
12/17/10 acrotran
12/16/10 cloudcastles
12/15/10 Stan
12/14/10 lordbom
12/13/10 brassica
12/12/10 jjjmedia
12/11/10 songbird
12/10/10 kzwen
12/09/10 smes3817
12/08/10 JCman7
12/07/10 Lynx-
12/05/10 jjjmedia
12/04/10 KoOne23
12/03/10 spyky
12/02/10 smes3817
12/01/10 MissLashes
11/30/10 270Kp
11/29/10 Stan
11/28/10 diffusion8r
11/27/10 sk47z
11/26/10 kzwen
11/25/10 Haruhi
11/24/10 jjjmedia
11/23/10 raptor200
11/22/10 spyky
11/21/10 songbird
11/20/10 ChrisL
11/19/10 jjjmedia
11/18/10 Stan
11/17/10 spyky
11/16/10 JJdaboss
11/15/10 spyky
11/14/10 cloudcastles
11/13/10 songbird
11/12/10 JCman7
11/11/10 jjjmedia
11/10/10 KoOne23
11/09/10 Stan
11/08/10 songbird
11/07 /10 cjsbug
11/06/10 Haruhi
11/05/10 ChrisL
11/04/10 camihq
11/03/10 cloudcastles
11/02/10 JJdaboss
11/01/10 raptor200
10/31/10 KoOne23
10/30/10 shaqman923
10/29/10 cjsbug
10/28/10 raptor200
10/27/10 songbird
10/26/10 JJdaboss
10/25/10 JCman7
10/24/10 no posts
10/23/10 ChrisL
10/22/10 Stan
10/21/10 Joey87
10/20/10 no posts :(
10/19/10 raptor200
10/18/10 Daldaris
10/17/10 Haruhi
10/16/10 JCman7
10/15/10 goiMot
10/14/10 songbird
10/13/10 Drsponge
10/12/10 Stan
10/11/10 cloudcastles
10/10/10 JJdaboss
10/9/10 ChrisL
10/8/10 raptor200
10/7/10 Haruhi
10/6/10 jjjmedia
10/5/10 KoOne23
10/4/10 Stan
10/3/10 Drsponge
10/2/10 camihq
10/1/10 Daldaris
9/30/10 Rblacula
9/29/10 jwcasser
9/28/10 cloudcastles
9/27/10 ChrisL
9/26/10 Haruhi
9/25/10 goiMot

Friday, September 24, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Super Cobra

Retro Game of the Day! Super Cobra

Super Cobra by Konami, released in the arcade in 1981.

Here is another extremely early game which helped define a trend which would last well past a decade. In the 1970s, you had games like Space Invaders and Galaxian, vertical shooters which took place on a single playfield. These games were hugely popular quarter suckers, and inspired countless imitators. As the years crept past, so too did the technology improve, and this style of game had to evolve into something more complicated to remain interesting.

And so, after some time Konami introduced their novel side-scrolling shooter Scramble, which made its predecessors seem quite antiquated. Rather than battling enemies screen-by-screen, you traveled your craft over a long horizontal playfield, and had to contend with both ground-based and airborne enemies, as well as environmental obstacles. Additionally, a fuel tank needed to be constantly maintained (bombing fuel canisters would take care of refilling). This new style of play was revolutionary and extremely challenging.

Super Cobra was essentially an extension of what had been introduced with Scramble, only all the more difficult. The player had to navigate ridiculously treacherous mazes while suffering a constant onslaught of enemy fire (and the aforementioned dwindling fuel supply). To say the game was stressful is an understatement. In that, however, it was not only challenging but also gratifying. A capable test of the reflexes of the attentive, these games were quite rewarding to the player who would dare to just "try and live a little longer."

Super Cobra and its ilk were short-lived - these games paved the way for more traditionally-remembered shooters such as Gradius, which can trace its lineage directly back to these titles. Sadly, something was lost along the way as the perfect "twitch-rhythm" a player could settle into with earlier shooters was sacrificed in lieu of more memorization-based gameplay and reliance on weapon power-up strategies. That being said, for a gamer willing to look past the archaic presentation of Super Cobra, a thrilling, challenging and rewarding game experience unlike any other still awaits.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Bionic Commando (arcade)

Retro Game of the Day! Bionic Commando (arcade)

Bionic Commando by Capcom, originally released in the arcade in 1987 by Capcom.

One of the most beloved, timeless NES classics is Bionic Commando, a unique platforming adventure that released during the early phase of the console's heyday. Like many games, BC was adapted in some fashion from an arcade original, but for several reasons the console version was a great departure only loosely based on the source material.

Bionic Commando in its original incarnation, then, was markedly different from the eventual home release. A few plays of the game will quickly reveal what was kept in the port, but mostly it will make a player realize that in this case, the home version was the far superior product.

This is not to say that the arcade was not without merit. Playing this back in the day, the arm-swinging mechanic felt extremely novel and gratifying, if a little stiff and clunky. Player control in a game like this is of supreme importance, and for some reason it felt neglected in the game's design.

Another big issue is the overall layout of the gameplay. Compared to the more adventuresome presentation in the NES version, this arcade episode is much more condensed, simplified, even bland. The game looked nice (mid-80s Capcom games always had a lot of graphical attention paid to them) and that made it easy to forgive the other shortcomings of the title, but the forgettable "fall and shoot" play was not enough to keep dedicated gamers coming back for "just one more try."

Bionic Commando Arcade is absolutely an interesting specimen, for several reasons. It certainly planted the seed of what would become one of the major players of the whole NES collection; it may not have much more to its legacy than that, but it is still worth picking up and examining.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Burai Fighter

Retro Game of the Day! Burai Fighter

Burai Fighter by Taxan, released for the NES in 1990.

Ah, Taxan. They were one of the lesser-known companies on the 8-bit Nintendo scene. Always kinda there, putting their games out, everything they made had a certain look to it where it didn't look at all bad.. just not very interesting, somehow or other. That was kind of a cardinal sin, in the days when developers like Konami, Sunsoft and Capcom were truly bringing their A-games to the system.
And that's just the thing; Taxan's games weren't only well-meaning, but they were actually well-assembled, and different enough (if derivative) to merit attention. There were plenty of lesser developers who seemed much more successful with their software lineups. But this is how it goes in any industry, and as usual timing is everything.

When Burai Fighter was announced, it raised some flags (in a good way). Side-scrolling shooters, while passe', were never really overdone in the NES for technical reasons. This one looked like it might sit alongside the best of them, between the features it toughted and the vibe it gave off. Immediately it felt like it could be the NES version of Side Arms or Forgotten Worlds, and at the very least take a cue from what Section Z did (hmm, all Capcom games..) The game ended up recalling elements of those shooters, but (admirably enough) doing it's own thing as well. Bristling with firepower, your fighter could shoot in multiple directions as you floated through each screen - and each level would scroll multiple directions as well, which was quite unusual for this sort of game. Burai Fighter would seamlessly switch between being a side-scrolling blaster and an overhead shooter, and this was something new. The gameplay pulled off quite nicely.

So what was the big problem? The presentation was a little rough. The game just looks funky, and again this is owing to an issue with Taxan games in general. The graphics are detailed, but often garishly colored and the overall feeling is just almost goofy as a result. This might have sailed by, had there not just been so many other very good-looking games of the sort available (particularly, Konami's line of shooters). Adding insult to injury, the game released fairly late into the NES' lifespan, and it was difficult to get excited for the aesthetics of a game like this when compared to many of the much more interesting-looking 16-bit shooters that were starting to blanket the scene.

Burai Fighter is not a bad game at all - it's actually quite fun, have a look at the YouTube video and it's not hard to imagine how much more this game could've sold if they had just spruced up the presentation. There is a black and white GameBoy "deluxe" version (hmm, how does that work?) which is also worth investigating as well.

iPhone App Development Vlog #3

Headcase Games iPhone App Development Vlog #3

(you might wanna crank up the audio a little bit, sorry about that)

Thanks for supporting Headcase Games!

Want to win ANY Free App of your choice for your iPhone, care of Headcase Games (LINK)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! M.A.C.H. 3

Retro Game of the Day! M.A.C.H. 3

M.A.C.H. 3 by Mylstar, released in the arcade in 1983.

Now here was a game that really impressed me. Laserdisc games were quite a spectacle in the early 1980s, as titles like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace looked so phenomenally better than anything else available at the time, with one major caveat; these games were essentially playing back one of two sequences ("continue" or "die"), so the gameplay was fairly limited and not terribly controllable. It was a fair enough trade-off for such unbelievable visuals.

M.A.C.H. 3 rectified this, by superimposing traditional in-game graphics over a prerendered video "background." No one was going to mistake the sprites for part of the actual footage, but the gameplay experience was so enjoyable that it didn't really matter. That's right, unlike other laserdisc games, you actually had full control over this game in a traditional sense (even if the actual "gimmick" part of the game was non-interactive, technically).

To further sweeten the deal, there were two styles of play: some missions were top-down shooting levels, and others were 3-d behind the plane (a la After Burner). This game had it all! Ultimately, the game itself was not much to write home about but the experience of "flying over real footage" was quite the spectacle. I was surprised not to see more games follow up in this vein; especially considering how successful M.A.C.H. 3 ended up being.

We at Headcase Games have launched a new service to help you find great new Apps for your iPhone, for free! Please follow on Twitter and Like us on Facebook; we need your help to spread the word! Thanks a lot!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Power Strike

Retro Game of the Day! Power Strike

Power Strike (aka "Aleste") by Compile, released in 1988 for the Sega Master System.

A little-seen game for an underappreciated console, Power Strike is a bit of a bland looking game (with an uninspiring name to boot). In spite of this, the game is regarded as one of the better Master System games.

A vertical shooter developed by one of the kings of such games, Power Strike opens with a roar and doesn't let up. This is one of the more intense bullet-fests you could lay your hands on back in the day, as Compile quickly demonstrated their mastery of the genre in this first entry of a popular series.

The game had a couple of gimmicks going for it; you could collect various different (time-sensitive) powerups for your secondary weapon, resulting in an elaborate arsenal with which to dispatch your foes. Also notable is the fact that the game's AI adjusts depending on your ability (play better and it will throw more enemies at you!) The game is built such that you will have to rely on keeping your weapons powered-up in order to survive. If they get too low, you won't last long at all.

Power Strike was an impressive game in its day, it looks (and sounds) a bit weary now but it still presents a decent adrenaline rush for the gamer looking to fry their nerves a little. Though later Compile games more famously upped their presentation by a wide margin, earlier titles such as this really put top gamers to the test!