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Jennifer Allen

Senior Writer with the 148Apps Network since September 7, 2010

Jen lives in not so sunny Wales in the UK. A keen games player for the past 25 years, she cites Final Fantasy VII and Goldeneye as 'life-changing', but is just as comfortable delving into the varied world of apps too. As a freelance writer, Jen has found that sleep is an unnecessary complication in life, and isn't entirely sure what she'd do without her trusty iPhone and iPad.

Connect with Jennifer via:
Twitter: @jenjeahaly
Email :: jennifer.allen@148apps.com
Starfly Review

Starfly Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Want a slightly different browsing experience? Starfly is a pretty personalized one but it's also buggy.

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Clips Review

Clips Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Making copying and pasting more powerful than usual, Clips is a great way to move stuff around.

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MonSense Review

MonSense Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Organize your finances with the quick and easy to use, MonSense.

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Angry Birds Transformers Review

Angry Birds Transformers Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Transformed in a way you wouldn't expect, Angry Birds Transformers is a quite entertaining auto-runner.

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The Sagas of Fire*Wolf Review

The Sagas of Fire*Wolf Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Offering four adventure game books in one, The Sagas of Fire*Wolf is some serious value for the money.

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Nightmares from the Deep: Davy Jones Review

Nightmares from the Deep: Davy Jones Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
It's business as usual for the last installment in the Nightmares from the Deep series, but it's a fun ride.

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Tiny Troopers: Alliance Review

Tiny Troopers: Alliance Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
With a Clash of Clans style flourish, Tiny Troopers: Alliance asks you to build a base and destroy everyone else's.

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Monsu Review

Monsu Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Endless running with a collectible card kind of focus works well for the charming Monsu.

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Beatbuddy HD Review

Beatbuddy HD Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
While its puzzles might not be exceptional, Beatbuddy HD's musical score and visual style are pretty great.

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iBooks and the Kindle app do a great job of ensuring that there’s always something new to read while you’re on the move. They work well in complementing the traditional physical book. There’s still room for more interactive and animated fare though, such as in the case of Black Jack – an app that declares itself the “World’s First Moving Novel.” Released in episodic chunks of new chapters every Monday and Friday, it’s an interesting new direction to take for the medium. We took the time to chat to its Emmy-winning author, A.R. Witham, to learn more.

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148Apps: Why not release the book at once rather than chapter by chapter?
A.R. Witham (ARW): It’s an old-school method of building suspense; Charles Dickens released A Christmas Carol in installments, and I thought that was an interesting way to tell a story that isn’t done much in the 21st century. Black Jack has a very vintage feel to the texture of the pages and animations… a vintage release schedule felt perfect for the story.

148Apps: What’s the reaction to the episodic content been like? Has it been as warmly received as hoped?
ARW: The response has been amazing. People love Jack, but for me, their enthusiastic reaction to the side-characters has been the most unexpected surprise. People love Django and Fuji and Valerian and the villains far more than I expected. I’ve gotten drawings of characters from fans, and that kind of reaction is something I really never anticipated.  

148Apps: What challenges have there been in converting the novel to a more interactive format? Has it affected how the novel has been written at all?
ARW: There were 3 Big Rules to building the Black Jack app: 1) The story had to be good enough to pack a whollop without the animations and effects. 2) None of the animations could interfere with the text; if they didn’t help the readers immerse themselves in the storytelling, they were cut. 3) The book had to feel completely unlike any reading experience anyone has ever had. Once I established those guidelines, it became a great puzzle to solve.

148Apps: Do you think this is the future for novels? Or is there still a place for the traditional format?
ARW: I pray traditional novels never die. We all have loved them too much to let them go away. If paper-and-binding is on the decline in favor of screen-reading, I’m okay with that, but a pure tale constructed only with words is the foundation of storytelling; it will always exist, even if it’s just an old man sitting at a campfire telling ghost stories. Digital formats such as the iPad offer a playground for artists to explore the edges of the map and that’s what we are doing with Black Jack. Once you read the first two chapters, you begin to realize there are incredible moments waiting for you. Nobody’s done a book like this before – that’s the fun part.

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148Apps: Do you think it’s a method that would work for all genres or does it particularly lend itself to fantasy/sci-fi?
ARW: Oh, I could see Divergent, Hunger Games, Neil Gaiman, or Harry Potter working very well with the Moving Novel format, but I think also think Raymond Chandler’s detective thrillers, Cormac McCarthy’s Southern Gothic style or Stephen King’s horror stories could all be a fun ride with a little emotional push at the right moments.

148apps: What’s next after Black Jack?
ARW: By day, I’m a Creative Director, and currently working on launching the brand-new CBS affiliate in Indianapolis in 2015, so that may take a bit of time. For Black Jack, I’m working with the next story in the series, tentatively titled “Red Rover.” And at night, I’m just reading new stories. It’s always fun to find something new.


Thanks to A.R. Witham for taking the time to answer our questions.

Black Jack: A Moving Novel is available now on the App Store for the iPad. It’s currently priced at $5.99 for the full novel, with the first two chapters available for free.


FREE!
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2013-12-04 :: Category: Books

Nexticy Review

Nexticy Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Nexticy allows you to make your own forms for research purposes or to organize your business better. It's very useful.

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RGB Express Review

RGB Express Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Guide trucks along their delivery routes in RGB Express, a testing but charming puzzle game.

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Fold the Adventure Review

Fold the Adventure Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Fold pieces of paper to create platforms for a princely rabbit in this puzzle game; something that isn't as beguiling as you'd think.

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Shred It! Review

Shred It! Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
It might look lovely, but Shred It! is a pretty shallow endless runner/snowboarding game.

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Anomaly Defenders Review

Anomaly Defenders Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Wrapping up the successful Tower Defense series, Anomaly Defenders is a blast.

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Yeti’s Parole Officer Review

Yeti’s Parole Officer Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Yeti's Parole Officer proves that looks aren't everything in this entertaining, if plain, piece of interactive fiction.

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Kill Shot Review

Kill Shot Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Kill Shot is often satisfying, but its more than pushy in-app purchases will leave you feeling a little bummed.

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Asphalt Overdrive Review

Asphalt Overdrive Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Asphalt Overdrive is a fairly simple auto-running racing game, but one that's clouded by the feeling that there's more to it than that.

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Cursed Treasure 2 Review

Cursed Treasure 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
It's a dependable and fun Tower Defense game, but Cursed Treasure 2 lacks a certain original spark that would have truly made it special.

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Surfy Review

Surfy Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Perform tricks and surf like crazy with Surfy.

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Epic Island Review

Epic Island Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Colorful and not without potential, Epic Island is too slow going when it comes to offering up its wonders.

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Out October 2 is Spirits of Spring, an adventure game that features an anti-bullying, pro-friendship message, and there’s a very important reason why you should be excited. It’s from Minority Media, the makers of Papo & Yo, a great game that focused on the tale of a young Brazilian boy and his abusive, alcoholic father. It’s touching and powerfully done, demonstrating how games can tackle some very serious issues. Spirits of Spring looks set to offer a similar experience, this time focusing on Chiwatin, a Native American hero from northern Canada. The boy is tormented by evil giant crows, until he decides to face them in order to restore the balance of nature.

With Spirits of Spring set to be released on the App Store very soon, we took the time to talk to creative director Ruben Farrus to learn more.
spiritsofspring2
148Apps: What was the inspiration behind making Spirits of Spring?
Ruben Farrus (RF): I see video games as a great way to express ourselves and to maturely explore complex human situations within a safe environment. Having experienced bullying as a teenager, and having discussed it with my colleagues at Minority, I realized that many of them went through it as well. And like me, many of them had to deal with dismissal when they first tried to discuss it as teenagers.

So, I started imagining an engaging story based on our experiences with bullying. While I was looking for the right setting for this new game, Ernest Webb, a co-founder at Minority, told me some tales from his hometown, located in the Canadian North. Ernest is a Native Cree, and the legends he shared with me involve these profound characters that live in a snowy world. Soon, I realized that these characters and the challenging environment they survive in would make great metaphors for this story.

So, it’s these elements – interesting characters, a fascinating wintery landscape, and bullying – that became the core of Spirits of Spring.

rubenfarrus
148Apps: The game is said to not be too preachy or overt about its message. How hard was it to maintain that subtlety?
RF: From the beginning, I wanted to create a world and characters that players care about and empathize with. From my experience with our previous empathy game, Papo & Yo, I knew that if we can make players feel emotionally invested in the story and its characters, they can find meaning and value in it for themselves.

Bullying is a complex phenomenon – it’s not black and white – and we are not experts in the subject. So, what matters to us is to offer an experience that can help players of all ages explore bullying from several perspectives – the bully’s, the bullied’s, and the bystander’s – so that they can come out of it feeling more capable of discussing it openly.

SE_Ipad_Screens_2048_en_02SE_Ipad_Screens_2048_en_01
148Apps: Do you think indie studios are best equipped for dealing with empathetic games and subjects, or do you think such themes could spread to AAA games?
RF: In my experience, it is easier to discuss and explore difficult subjects in a small and open-minded team than it is in a large one. As a result, it is also easier to organize a small group around a common vision, because there are less competing interests.

So, when we come up with a story, we are in a good position to design mechanics that help players empathize with the characters in our games. Many larger developers still work the other way around: creating the mechanics first, then dressing them up in a story, making those games mostly about skill and technical difficulty, with characters that are often disposable.

148Apps: Having looked at addiction with Papo & Yo, and now bullying with Spirits of Spring, what difficult subject do you hope to tackle next?
RF: We are currently experimenting with ways to apply our empathy game design model to virtual reality experiences. We will have more news on that down the line.


Thanks to Ruben for taking the time to answer our questions. Spirits of Spring is set for release October 2 and will be priced at $4.99. We’ll be sure to have more on it when it’s out.

PicoPark Review

PicoPark Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
For those in need of a helping hand when finding their car, PicoPark is a useful solution.

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Robot Rundown Review

Robot Rundown Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
A fairly typical side-scrolling shoot-em-up is improved a lot thanks to an entertaining and funny storyline.

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Kiwi Review

Kiwi Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
If you want to create your own colorful custom keyboards, Kiwi is a handy way of doing so.

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Tictail Review

Tictail Review

iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Tictail is an attractive and stylish way of looking for some great new clothes and accessories, all from your iOS device.

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Sword King Review

Sword King Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Ever wanted to tap on a screen and assume you've killed a monster or two? Probably not, but just in case here's Sword King.

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Race Team Manager Review

Race Team Manager Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Want to be in charge of a racing team but not be overwhelmed by tactics and options? Race Team Manager is for you.

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Cupcake Carnival Review

Cupcake Carnival Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Cupcake Carnival does all the right match-3 things but it's a format we've seen a little too often by now.

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Veditor Review

Veditor Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Want to add stickers and music to your videos? Veditor can do that easily.

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