Tuesday, March 30, 2010

iPhone App Game Development Blog #24

iPhone App Game Development Blog #24

Game Dev Blog.. where do I begin?

As usual, with 180 Development - what's up with our flagship title, you wonder? Well, it's slightly closer to being wrapped up than it was last time I have spoke of it (several weeks ago). We had hoped, and tried our damnedest, to get the Full + Lite versions through submission in time for the PAX East game convention in Boston, so we could do our big launch at the show. I started hyping the thing through my networks, I went out and printed up new business cards, and also crafted some very nice looking postcard handouts to promote the game. Our promo girl was also at the show (for various reasons) and she talked up our game. I attended the show and met with a few people to discuss (and show-off) the project.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to submission in time and we missed the opportunity to take advantage of the convention. It's a shame, but I am thankful of the people I got to talk to and the new connections I have made (some very valuable!) as it will help smooth things over in the future. Demonstration-wise, the game performed very well and I stopped several convention-goers and asked them to give it a spin. Each random person "got it" and wanted to purchase it, so I know I made the right decision to try and do a show launch.

As for thee current state of things - obviously, when the game enters (and successfully passes) submission then I will trumpet pretty loud and far about it, in here if nowhere else. As things stand we have a very close candidate, a few bugs are being squashed and the openFeint integration is getting wrapped up (it's become quite difficult dealing with the different OS configurations.. this is forgivable as the system is still quite new). Still, the longer we wait to submit, the harder it will be to sell this product; iPad launches just days from now and the entire focus of this arm of the media will be on that product. As our game is not iPad-specific (and hardly even relevant, honestly) I know we'll hardly have the benefit of launching during a "slow news period." To further complicate things, our Lite version still has a bit of work to be done and I absolutely feel it is critical to launch both versions at the same time. In reality, I think a best case scenario will see us submitting a week from now, and available for sale the week following that. With some seriously heavy-handed luck, we will be able to shave a week off of that schedule; but at this point, so long as it comes out in the next few weeks, I will be satisfied.

Bizdev - Understandably, things are extremely quiet outside of the impending release of the game. I am helping another developer wrap-up his own project, and following that I'd like to rush headfirst into development on a new title with him. It's another 2-man crew project, and I'd expect that it should go a lot more smoothly than the past few projects I have worked on due to a number of reasons, but you never can tell! Anyway, of everything in my life right now, I am eager to get moving with "what's next" following the current game's launch and wrap-up, and so this tops the list of things that I am excited about. It is too early to tell if this project will fall under the Headcase Games banner or something different.

What Else is Going On - what do you mean "what else!" There's not much room for what else, we're just trying to neatly wrap things up over here and move forward with as little distraction as possible. PAX East has been an interesting experience for me, as the only game convention I have ever been to has been E3 in Los Angeles (several times) PAX has been quite unusual for me. I was disappointed not to attend many of the panels, as several of them seemed quite interesting, but I am here for work, not pleasure! This does bode well for the future of PAX and I'd love to be involved again, we'll see how things go. In that vein, I was excited to meet many prospective fans, as well as other people I'd love to partner with in some manner or other. business-wise. Being an independent operative can be very interesting as it's often all about "how far do you wish to go with things?"

The game industry chugs merrily along in the meantime, I have not been so laser-focused on it lately as my mind has been elsewhere. The new Nintendo 3DS announcement has caught my eye, so to speak, and I am very interested to see what they have to show for it. I have such respect for that company, in that they always zig while everyone else zags; always a step ahead, even if their tech is often more gimmick-laden than everyone else's. They manage to cover their backend with an admittedly short list of quality software, which is often more than good-enough for their audience. As for this 3D idea, I can't quite conceive how it is going to work yet, but I expect it will be a lot more satisfying than their last go-round (Virtual Boy). Personally 3D gaming is extremely intriguing to me (it's something I have thought about a lot recently, prior to this announcement) and I think Nintendo is the perfect company to step into this arena.

What Have I Been Playing?

Naturally, I was pretty excited to see a unique puzzle game making the rounds on the iPhone "hip scene" lately. Not sure how far this one's got, but it has made some headway (featured on Toucharcade, made the New and Noteworthy list). A simple game, quite easy to learn to play and it's got a little bit of technique to it as well. I have to admit I got myself a good bit addicted to this game for a while! I want to place in the top ten on the global boards (last I checked I was
ranked #11, I am sure I've dropped quite far by now!) It takes a little getting used to, but this game is absolutely worth investigation if you are looking for a new take on the action-puzzle genre. No lite version here, but spend the buck and you will agree!

I just downloaded the lite version of this game recently, and it's quite fun. Essentially a Magical Drop clone, I can't say how much since I am not too heavy into that game, but that seems to be the case. Very nice presentation, really clean, I admire their work. The style is a little odd (the blank zombified stares of the pieces don't do much to keep me coming back for more!) but the game is fun and I can see myself playing it a bit more. I only bought the lite and saw no reason to buy the full, I wonder if there is more to it?

The new entry by HcG buddies Race2theMoon! A "Canabalt"-style game, you must tap the screen in order to make your little Blue Block jump over pits and avoid obstacles. Sounds easy, but the design is devilish! This game has my kudos as the designer used a special tool ("Gamesalad") to do all the programming himself - and he's not a programmer! I look forward to see what he's got up his sleeve next, and I am very inspired to try this route as well. I am watching..

A new fan-favorite making the rounds, TTL is a unique game who's premise is described in the title. Simply move your iPhone to keep your protagonist out of harm's way, dodging the unspeakably evil Red Dots. Pick up temporary powerups to turn the tables. A very smooth, nicely presented experience that will keep you coming back for a few extra plays.

A neat little idea, Ikaruga-style. Tap the screen and "good becomes bad" and vice-versa. You always want to touch the positive color (yellow) but avoid the negative color (red). Tap the screen and all colors will reverse. How many can you snag/avoid? It's a great idea, unfortunately the execution leaves a bit to be desired. If it sounds intriguing, I would say it is worth the price.

Here's a weird little game. I picked up the lite version, and for that I am happy - this is not worth a purchase! It's not a bad game, it just reeks of "we can take a so-so idea and wrap it in wonderful presentation and make a lot of money!" Yeah, the presentation here is A+ for real, but unfortunately the half-baked puzzle gameplay leaves me cold. Download it if you wanna see some nice visuals, but delete it after to free up some space on your phone for something fun.