Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Free iPhone games!

There's tons of great, free games for your iPhone (temporarily) available today.

Brought to you by our iPhone game 180 ($0.99). Pick it up now!

180 is our sophomore effort on the iPhone. It's action-puzzle gaming bliss... perfect to pick up and play for when you have just a spare moment, but habit-forming enough that you'll keep trying "just one more time!" So easy that a monkey could figure out the rules, but there's a lot of depth and strategy hidden in this seemingly-simple little game. Join the thousands of gamers who can't put it down - Give 180 a spin and see what you are made of!
Hardcore Gameplay video (YouTube)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Star Control

Retro Game of the Day! Star Control

Star Control by Toys for Bob/Accolade for the Sega Genesis (and showing up prior to that on a bunch of actual computers, notably the Amiga) in 1990.

I'm still sort of surprised that I ever looked at this game - Star Control was not "my type" of game back in the early 1990s, when almost everything I played was of Japanese origin other than the odd Rare game. In the early days of the Sega Genesis, EA was putting out some semi-decent software, but even that was usually hit-or-miss.. a second-stringer along those lines didn't seem like it would hold much promise. After all, what was exciting about a company like Accolade anyway? Their baseball game didn't look too enthralling.

Even so, when Star Control was announced as a forthcoming port for the Sega Genesis, a few of us stood up and took notice. Electronic Gaming Monthly made no bones about drooling over what was to be the world's first 12-Meg cartridge game (and showing off some shots of the actual EEPROM cart, which was like 3 times as tall as a normal Genesis cart with tons of exposed ROM chips on it!) This was going to be a good-looking game, and for that it warranted at least a rental.

So one weekend my buddy and I picked it up. The graphics were alright - certainly not worth all the attention being ladled out, though there were some nice load screens (but who cares?) Quickly we got to the meat of this game - awesome space combat. What they had done here could have easily been done on a much lower tech system (even a B/W GameBoy), though the presentation only helped things. What we had was a glorified "Spacewar!" with several different space ships, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It was an excellent idea delivered with a perfect execution. They wrapped it around a half-decent strategy game (which was fairly enjoyable in itself), but too often my friends and I would just ditch that and go straight for the 1-on-1 combat. Over and over. Star Control was different, it was bubbling over with personality, and it was actually fairly accessible.

In hindsight it is a game that still holds up very well, even with such a primitive setup. It's so much fun discovering strategies for each ship that you can use (and versus the different ships you'll fight against) and truly one of those games you could still easily lose an afternoon with blasting away at your buddies. If you missed this, I highly recommend you check it out despite the fact that it may not look too modern (and I am sorry to say I never checked out the sequel... for shame!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Deep Blue

Retro Game of the Day! Deep Blue

Deep Blue by Pack-in Video for the NEC TurboGrafx-16, 1989 release.

Here we revisit, once again, the Rogue's Gallery of videogamedom, in a way. Lots of launch titles for different systems are less than memorable, but seldom are they so hated. Deep Blue - an underwater shooter featuring a marine theme -looks innocuous enough. Why all the hate?

Simply put, this game is difficult. So difficult in fact, that most regard it as unplayably unfun. That's too bad, because it had a very unique style to show off when it launch with the system, the name sounded cool, and hey - how hard is it to program shooters, anyway?

I think it is safe to chalk this one up as misunderstood, and mismarketed. Deep Blue looked nice in screenshots, but it was truly a game designed for the more discriminating player. It's not a bad game, but the fact that the player's "fish" ship moves so hellaciously slow compared to the steady onslaught of very speedy opponents throughout the entire episode, made this quite an ordeal for your average gamer.
DB does have some things going for it however, and as a result it does have its fans. This is likely more of a strategic shooter, in a way, than many of it's bretheren. Don't shoot, and your health recharges (this is contrary to the philosophy of most similar games of the period, where you must constantly blast everywhere in order to stay alive). A pretty game at times, it might not have aged well but it's a game I am lad to have and one which deserves to be remembered for stubbornly sticking to it's (fishy) guns, and bringing something different to the table. Whether we liked it or not!

And of course, this is the last thing you see after your A.N.G.E.L. attack sub gets destroyed. "Fin." Get it? Oh ho ho ho! Clever, clever (grimace)

Free iPhone games!

There's tons of great, free games for your iPhone (temporarily) available today - go grab them while you can!

Make sure to grab our game 180 as well, it's priced at $0.99 but worth like... ten thousand million dollars.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

iPhone App Game Development Blog #30

iPhone App Game Development Blog #30

Now proud to be a part of the #iDevBlogADay group started by @mysterycoconut!

180 for iPhone - Almost 2 months to the day our game has been released. All things considered, I am happy with how it has all played out. Today I'd like to talk a bit about follow-up promotion and "where do we go from here."

The app is no longer fresh, everyone who would have been excited about it has got their hands on it by now and played a few rounds. There's still a whole casual market out there to crack, but breaking through to that point takes a good amount of luck and/or a huge amount of money. This means, you can never count on it to get to that level, but try to keep the fires burning while working on whatever is next.

To promote our app and give it some legs, we've been running a pretty big contest that we've been promoting through various means. In some way I have felt that promoting the contest needed to take precedence over the actual app's promotion, and in hindsight I wish I followed through with that idea much more strongly. I was expecting the contest to be a big hit (they are unusual, and therefore special) but like everything else I have learned, the real work starts when you are trying to sell the idea, not coming up with the idea itself. Had I been more aggressive in pushing the matter, and more creative with it, then it could have paid off more.

I would definitely do another contest in the future (and would like to do one with an update of this game, at least) but there's definitely many things which I will do differently next time. I don't regret how things played out, because "you learn by doing" and there's so many little nuances to how all of these things go that it is impossible to predict them all - just gotta chalk them up to experience, and move on.

Looking forward to seeing some post-E3 followup promotion for our game, as usual it's all a bunch of vapor until something comes out. We are talking to some big guys, we are talking to some little guys, we'll see how it plays out in the coming weeks. Expect to hear some more noise from me on some front or other. Meanwhile, the Anime Expo LA is just a week away or so, and I will attend it in some capacity or other and distribute some more swag. Comic Con is also coming up in San Diego, but it's looking less and less likely that I will be pimping the game there (we'll see how things play out in the meantime).

At this point I want to open the floor up to my readers. I have spent a lot of time in this column detailing my plans, what I have done, what I have been planning to do. At this point I am going to seek some advice, "where should we go from here" with 180? This question is posed primarily to other devs, but I welcome anyone with an ounce of marketing sense to chime in as well. This has all been an experiment, and part of that is seeking some feedback/fodder from the outside world. With that in mind..

-The app has been reduced from 1.99 to .99. The sales are the same. Should we stick to a dollar or go back up a buck (or two?)

-We have a free version available, and it demo's the game quite nicely without giving too much away. This is my opinion, however. Have you played both? Did the demo upsell the game to you? Did you feel that the 90-second mode, for free, was all that you needed?

-Is it a sensible, in this period, to have a .99 app on the store and a Free version as well? With the price being so low, are we cannibalizing sales?

I am tempted to play with things a bit (futz with the price, maybe remove the free version for a few days and see what effect it has on things, etc). If we got half the number of free downloads for our paid version, I'd be fairly happy. It is bad to be erratic on the appstore and experiment with this stuff; since we are so far from the spotlight, would anyone even notice?

ALSO - be sure to get in there and compete for a high score, there's still a few days left to place in the contest!

What Else is Going On - that's really all for now. I am just waiting and watching, and in the meantime as we wrap up the contests (and the main thrust of our promotion) I am settling in and doing some work on other things. It's a strange time, not a bad time, but definitely a very busy one, and I have a lot of thinking to do on "what is next." I have another game I'd love to get prototyping, but realistically that won't likely happen for at least another 6 weeks.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! R-Type II

Retro Game of the Day! R-Type II

R-Type II by Irem, arcade release in 1989.

"But wait, Retro Game of the Day, didn't you already cover this game before?" Yes.. and no. Super R-Type did release for the SNES a couple of years later, that much is true, but this game is different from that version ("II" is the original, whereas "Super" is a remix of sorts).

That being the case, it would take a clueless person to overlook the fact that this was the first (ahem) sequel to the phenomenal shooter R-Type, released a couple of years prior to this version. II wasn't a huge advancement over the first one, more of a refinement than anything - but it did have new levels, and a couple of new weapons to play with.

Like most folks who played thru Super, there might not seem much reason to revisit the arcade original, but some completionists might argue otherwise. Different bosses, different music, altered levels (and level designs), a smoother playing experience (the SNES version is well known for having heavy slowdown) are all good arguments that R-Type II might deserve your attention.

Still, there's a few bones to pick with the game. Whereas the first one was more epic, and certainly fresher and more original at the time, in some ways this sequel seems a bit lazy and conservative... bland even. It looks good, with lots of detail (as Irem games usually were) but the background scenery wasn't quite as enthralling at it's predecessor, and the level themes seemed a bit less inspired this time around.

Nitpicking aside, there's some good blasting to be found in this somewhat-overlooked R-Type. It may not measure up to some of its brothers, but it's still a very solid episode in one of the true classic series of gaming.