All Posts By Ray Willmott
Many understate the importance of feedback. Certainly not ZIO Studios. We reviewed their debut game, Vampire Season, a few months back, and while we enjoyed our experience with it, we did highlight a few issues that stopped it from being perfect.
Fortunately, they were listening. As CEO of the company, Jairo Nieto explains, 148Apps actually helped structure the game that Vampire Season has now become:
The 148Apps review shed some very much needed light on two things: 1- We were still very naive about monetization, to the point where we were trumping the gameplay experience, 2- Our User Interface was still far from ideal. We were glad that the Vampire Season was found enjoyable and charming, but we were aiming to make the best game possible, so we took this feedback and sat down with our team to create what is now known as Vampire Season – Monster Defense. We wanted the economy to feel like part of the game, we didn’t want to force players into purchasing stuff, and we wanted everyone to easily understand the game, and to intuitively know what everything in the interface did.
We decided that the economy should feel like a game by itself. We got rid of all the invasive pop-ups, and we created an additional currency, called Sapphires, while making sure earning them was as fun as everything else in Vampire Season. We integrated Sapphires with the revamped Survival Mode, giving players the ability to earn them by chance in the Roulette, or by beating their friends in timed tournaments.
Sapphires are a logical and unique way to support the microtransaction mobile model. Most importantly, it’s much less expensive, and as Jairo points out, less intrusive than before. Many of the criticisms we made about the previous version of the game have been erased, improving the overall experience, making it feel more natural, instead of invasive. As a reviewer, there is no greater satisfaction to know that you’ve been able to help a developer evolve their product. Jairo continued:
Vampire Season is the culmination of various efforts and expectations, long months of creativity and coding, all wrapped up into this game that we hoped would be as enjoyable to play as it was to make. To our surprise, launching the game was just the beginning of a long (and exciting) learning process for a studio that is passionate about delivering the best kind of product it can create.
The other element we critiqued was the user interface. This is an area the development team seemed to take very seriously. Said Jairo:
We moved forward to tackle the User Experience and Interface as a whole. This turned out to be quite a challenge, as we iterated many times, taking the tutorial as a starting point. We redid levels, balanced many of the monsters and enemies, and then did it all over again. Then we took to the main menu, the loading screen and finally the in-game HUD. After a couple of months of hard work from all our team, we were finally satisfied. The game had reached a new level, as we had as a studio. We now firmly believe that reviewers are not just talking to the audience, but they are also talking to the product. Its our role as developers, to listen.
Solitaire Blitz has taken Facebook by storm with vintage Popcap charm and now it’s shuffling its way onto iOS.
After sampling it at Gamescom, I came to a simple conclusion: It’s portable Solitaire Blitz with the ease of touch, and that makes for a dangerously brilliant concoction.
Players are tasked with clearing their screen of cards by putting them into three separate piles, two of which need to be unlocked during play. Power-ups help players along the way and silver is uncovered as their screen starts to empty, adding to their overall points at the end of each hand.
The translation is spot-on. All power-ups are in place including the time boost and bomb. The squeaking worm still shuffles awkwardly when players are about to run out of time. Most importantly, the core gameplay remains as engaging as ever.
It’s simple, fast-paced fun, and a perfect fit for iOS. Solitaire Blitz launches this fall.
Plants vs Zombies: Talking Zombatar
The idea is to kit your Zombie out in the most imaginative way possible, be it cool, crazy or flat-out creepy. Beach shorts and shades for the hot weather? Why not. Menacing faces and mutilated bodies? Ripe for a reaping. Over-sized wigs and glittery suits for a night of karaoke? Time to tune up the vocals. Talking Zombatar allows for such stupidity, and even lets players have their favourite phrases repeated in Zombish.
While I only saw a limited range of costumes, I was assured by Popcap that there will be rewards for checking on the app daily and purchasable items that can be paid for with in-game or real currency. Talking Zombatar will be totally free, presenting a new direction for the gaming giant, but this was a lot more fun than I was expecting. It’s out this fall!
What started out as a fun pastime for Hello Games has become something extraordinary.
They hadn’t intended to make mobile games. The whole idea of Joe Danger for iOS came about as a portfolio project using previous assets. As it turned out, the ideas came in thick and fast and now the game is in a near-finished state. Joe Danger Touch is not a port. This has been built from the ground up to make the best use of the iOS platform. At Gamescom, I sampled several levels of varying difficulty.
The first thing that struck me was the lack of a virtual stick. Personally, I think that’s for the best. I’m not sure any developer, even Hello Games, would be able to capture the dexterity a console analog provides and Joe Danger requires. Players will use tap and swipe gestures to perform moves and stunts while Joe automatically rides his bike. While some earlier levels merely require players to tap the screen to vault over obstacles, later on, they’ll need to tap obstacles to remove them from their path, as well as duck under obstructions. They’ll also need to change lanes just like the original game.
Each level has an objective, whether it’s beating the time or collecting all coins, and encourages an immense amount of replay value. Of course, it wouldn’t be Joe Danger without stunts. While airborne, players merely need to swipe the screen to perform all manner of death-defying insanity. In my time with the game, the controls were very responsive and accurate on iPad. There were no hiccups and I quickly felt like a natural after only minutes of play.
With Hello Games’ incredible attention to detail and high standards, there’s no reason to think Joe Danger Touch won’t be one of the year’s best on any platform, let alone iOS.
Unfortunately, hunting monsters won't pay the mortgage in these tough times, but thanks to this little title, players will get a chance to see what life would be like if it did
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We've built consoles and video games with Kairosoft, but now Insolita Studios and Thomas Egas want us to make ad campaigns. Is it still appealing?
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