In case you didn’t know, one of our favorite tower defense games, Fieldrunners 2, comes out for the iPad today. In our ecstasy at being able to fight off wave after wave of cartoon army men and their worldly weapons of war, we decided it would be a good time to talk to the Subatomic Studios guys about the process of bringing this game to the “big” screen.
148Apps: Fieldrunners came out on iPhone, then was put on iPad – what did you learn from that process that helped you with the current upscale?
While we had initially hoped for a simultaneous launch, there are some advantages to launching the iPad after the iPhone. The iPad users are getting a more polished experience out of the gate. There have been two balance passes on the iPhone Fieldrunners 2 since launch, and the iPad is starting with both of them. The extra time has allowed us to add new features that players asked for, and really use the space available to the iPad.
It also let us focus on the iPhone experience on that launch, making that as high-quality as possible. When it came down to it, we wanted to put as much polish as possible into the game.
148Apps: Why didn’t Fieldrunners 2 come out as a Universal app? Was this a business decision, a technical one, both, or something completely different?
Basically, we wanted phone users to be able to download the game over the air, without compromising on visual quality on the iPad. Without getting too deeply into technical details, if your app is larger than 50 MB phone users need to connect to WiFi to download it… They can’t just download it over 3G. The iPhone build of Fieldrunners 2 is 49 MB. Due to the super high resolution artwork needed for the giant retina display of the iPad 3, the iPad build is ten times that size. It clocks in closer to a massive 500 MB.
Hopefully we’ve hit the right compromise of broad availability for iPhone users, while still providing the massive resolution that iPad 3 users will appreciate. In addition to that, staggering our launches for different platforms allows us to focus on eliminating as many bugs on each platform at a time. Launching for multiple platforms at once could result in both versions being much buggier than when launched individually.
This was certainly not an easy decision!
148Apps: What were the challenges in taking FR2 to the larger screen? The successes?
The massive size of the iPad retina artwork took a tremendous push to create. Some of the artwork was created in iPhone resolution, and had to be rebuilt from scratch. But even if things like the map files were created in Super HD, they still needed to be cut up into layers again and restructured. I can’t express how nice things look on iPad Retina, but I completely understand why not all developers are supporting it yet.
And the iPad has changed significantly over its lifetime. The iPad 1 had the lower resolution screen and very little RAM. The iPad 2 had more memory, but the same screen. The iPad 3 has a super high resolution screen and a good amount of memory. To make things look and play as well as possible, we actually have 3 separate display pipelines depending on which of the three iPads the user has. That’s crazy.
While we’re on the subject of Artwork, we put a lot of details into every piece we make. The iPad’s larger screen really gives the artwork the space to breathe. And this isn’t just about showing larger pictures: the bigger screen is more precise for touches, allowing us to make UI elements smaller and closer to the edge of the screen. We can really get the interface out of the way, to focus the player on what is happening on the field.
Another nice thing about the iPad was that once we decided to push past the 50 MB limit, we were free to use as much hard drive space as we needed. This let us put in features like the Fieldguide, a compendium of all knowledge about enemies, towers, and items. We added 5 new towers. And for serious fans, we have 1.4 hours of director’s commentary included in the build. The iPad director’s commentary alone takes up as much space as the entire Fieldrunners 2 iPhone build.
148Apps: Best story about the process of iPhone to iPad? Any salacious or “oh sh*t” moments?
There isn’t much that I can share at the moment. But–Subatomic Studios had a central server where all of the artwork was stored. At one point during development, we managed to destroy that server, causing catastrophic failure. That was also when we discovered that the backups had been failing. We spent a solid few days scrambling through desktops, file transfer logs, and anywhere else we could to find those files. Thankfully, we were able to reconstruct what we had. But we had to learn this one the hard way: eat your vegetables and make sure your offsite backups are working.
148Apps: Where will we see FR2 next? PSN? Android? Ouya?
We’re still deciding which platforms make the most sense for Fieldrunners 2, and a lot of that comes down to what the community asks for. Send your platform requests to @Fieldrunners on twitter, or drop by our forums at Fieldrunners.com!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-09-13 :: Category: Games
AppyNation is a publisher that’s a little different from the rest. Just one glance at the company’s website will tell you that. A cheery and vibrant looking site, its main page focuses on the games it has released (such as Fluid Soccer and Ninja Ranch) as much as a look at the indie games movement. Most famously, it has introduced a “Hall of Infamy,” focusing on review sites that charge for coverage.
Describing itself as a “revolution in games publishing that favours independence and collaboration between developers and publishers,” it all sounds pretty exciting and unique within the virtual wall of AppyNation. Most impressively, it’s even been recognized by the British government and described by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey as “exactly what the games industry needs to grow,” which is precisely why we decided to delve a little further into why AppyNation is a publisher that’s very much worth keeping an eye on.
We checked in with Communications Manager Andrew Smith, previously best known for his sterling work on Snake/Geometry Wars crossover, Hard Lines.
148apps: AppyNation is described as a collective of developers. What makes you different from other publishers?
AppyNation: Exactly that – we’re not some monolithic presence that sits on top of a pile of developers telling them what to do. We are a pile of developers. But, y’know, slightly better organised than that suggests. It means our priorities come from the ground floor, from the trenches of development, from where they really should. We then feed everything we learn from every product back to all of the developers in the group, rather than storing it for our own means. The success of the group is down to the group, not just one or two superstars, and we’re not throwing tons of content out on the off-chance we get one or two mega-hit games. That’s just not how the Nation rolls. Boiled down to one word, what sets us apart from the others is love. Or hugs, the popular internet version of love.
148apps: How do you decide what developers become a part of AppyNation?
AppyNation: We were founded by a group of developers identifying a need for a publisher that’s truly on their side, and we’re still a bit young to be out there hunting down new members – but our doors are always open and we often get enquiries about what we offer and what kind of things we do that set us apart. When we do open our doors, it’s only for committed, talented developers with either a proven track record of quality output, or the promise of wonderful things to come in their near future. We also insist on a very open, flat structure and share knowledge 100%. Nothing is kept secret, no tricks of the trade go unshared, and the ups and downs are shouldered by the group as a whole. Again, this came from the needs of the founding members, after years and years of being taken advantage of and exploited by the more ‘traditional’ publishers out there.
148apps: Is it a conscious decision to stick with UK based developers or are there any expansion plans afoot?
AppyNation: Right now we’re all based [in the] UK, but that’s a circumstantial thing rather than something we’ve decided on. The UK is a hotbed of development talent – we’re so proud of our heritage in this aspect and we have a really bright future to look forward to, but that said we’re always on the lookout for like-minded developers to talk to and work with.
148apps: As founding members of O.A.T.S., we’re delighted to see others stand up to app sites charging for coverage, which has been the case with your Hall of Infamy. How did it all come about?
AppyNation: We’re really glad it’s been supported so widely! It all started when a delightful PR lady by the name Charley Grafton-Chuck (who works at Johnny Atom) bemoaned the practice on twitter, and it got us thinking… everyone at the Nation HQ had seen this happen in the past, but had assumed it was dead and gone, nasty thing that it is. Seeing it crop up again in 2012 just seemed crazy. We took it upon ourselves to make a stand. AppyNation really does want to improve the industry for everyone – we fundamentally don’t believe that competition is mutually exclusive to collaboration – and this is just the beginning. We hope to keep publishing informative articles that really get people talking. Debate about issues is the best step towards resolving them.
148apps: There’s a real sense of community about the AppyNation site. Was that a conscious decision in the planning stages?
AppyNation: Absolutely! We’re not interested in being a company that sits between the fans and the developers, or a figurehead, or anything like that. We want to be more of a flag that highlights the way to great games, interesting articles and blog posts, and that sort of thing. The developers we’re made up of are the lifeblood of the Nation, without them we’d be nothing. With them, we can do great things – and that’s why we wanted the website the way it is. Glad it worked!
148apps: Fluid Soccer (Fluid Football in the UK) has been your most successful release so far. How is it performing now that it’s been out for a short while?
AppyNation: We’ve been so happy with Fluid Football, with nearly half a million downloads so far! A couple of weeks and one update down the road, it’s settled a little in terms of sales, but we’re still seeing thousands every day. The initial success was a great way to make a splash and some headlines, and we’re in a great position now to really grow the fanbase (not just installs, we want passionate fans!), expand sensibly into more territories around the world (naturally it’s been doing really well in football-friendly nations already) and really double down on updates. We’ve got another chunky update coming soon (after the bug fix and IAP Sale updates… which is still going on by the way!) and a very exciting plan for the long term. As long as the fans are there, we’ll be pushing out great stuff for them to enjoy.
148apps: What’s the next step for AppyNation? Have you got any other games currently in the works? Able to divulge anything on them just yet?
AppyNation: We’ve got several games in the pipeline, with a really great puzzle game coming up next. I don’t want to tease, but it’s really good fun, a twist on a classic, and we’re all very excited about letting the fans get their hands on it. One thing we don’t want to do is limit ourselves to a particular genre, style, audience or even monetisation model. We firmly believe the game should determine that, and forcing something into such a delicate mix as a good game is asking for trouble – we all know it’s tough enough as it is to make a good game without voluntarily adding more complications. The developers we’re working with are always making great strides, and if the pace keeps up we’re going to be struggling to manage them all properly!
To find out more about the work that AppyNation does, check out its website.
The folks at Grab Games are a versatile bunch. They’re last game, Amoebattle, tasked players with coordinating an army of amoebas to strategically best their opponents. Their latest game, Picsy, is a social photography game. Quite the difference there. I was able to ask the game’s Lead Designers, Greig Carlson, Hans Vancol, and Harold Vancol a few questions about their newest title and their answers have me looking forward to Picsy‘s planned updates.
So, going from a squad-based RTS featuring microorganisms to a social multiplayer photo-sharing game. Was it difficult to “change gears” so drastically?
Not at all! Our game designers are well versed in different game genres. Additionally, we had 2 separate teams working on those two projects
How long did it take for you all to come up with the name “Picsy?”
About 6 weeks. We had several other names but trying to secure a trademark is a huge challenge we didn’t originally foresee
Was it difficult at all to integrate so many photo uploading options (take a photo, choose existing, paste from clipboard)?
Not really. Those are all standard features one would expect in playing a photo game like this. Originally we wanted to include a lot of other options for submitting photos, such as Instagram, but figured we could get to the additional features in future updates. Plus, we didn’t want to give users too much at first as we felt it could become a bit overwhelming.
How exactly are the judges for each round selected? That was one thing I was never entirely clear on.
There is a Single Judge game and a Multi Judge game. In a single judge game, the judge rotates from round to round. In a Multi Judge game, everyone in the game is able to judge the photo submissions.
Were there any features that you wanted to include that didn’t make the cut?
Tons. The challenge is getting a game out with enough features to keep the user happy, while keeping the scope contained so that you can be first to market. Otherwise, we could have been in development for well over a year.
Any that might be added in a future update?
We’re already on our 3rd version of the game and plenty of features have been added thus far. We’re currently working on more features such as photo filters, new word options, creating your own words, sharing options, etc. We’re constantly improving the game so stay tuned for future updates!
I’d think that the ability to copy/paste photos would take some of the fun out of a game if all anyone ever does is Google image searches. Might there be a chance of including an option for custom rules when setting up a game that would disable certain things, such as said copy/paste?
We have considered different game options like copy paste, time restricted games, camera only, 1 vs 1 game modes, public vote games, etc. We made it so that users get more bonus points for taking pictures with their camera as opposed to copy/paste from the web which incentivizes users to submit original photos.
I know there must’ve been at least a few test rounds when Picsy was in development. Who’s the reigning champ at Grab Games? Any chance you can share their best submission?
There were tons of great photos submitted during testing which is why we fell in love with the game. One photo that stands out in my mind was for the word “Outrageous”. Photo has been attached [see above]. As you can see, the UI is temp from one of our early versions.
Both Picsy and Amoebattle are available right now for free and $4.99, respectively.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-15 :: Category: Games
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-04 :: Category: Games
Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down is a colorful, cartoony iOS game about munching fruit with an ever-growing donkey/elephant (Donkeys and Elephants, get it?). It also uses a database to track player animal choices and scores, then tallies them to create a global score and potentially predict the outcome of the 2012 election. Stiven Deleur and his father have been hard at work with updates and a kickstarter project since the game’s release, and have just recently “paired with a starting company” that’s taken a big interest and will potentially have a significant impact on their success. I had a few questions for the young developer, naturally.
You’d mentioned that you decided to use Corona for coding over C++ and Xcode. What was it about Corona that drew you in?
Well my first encounter with app developing was when I heard about a young person who made an iOS app, so I decided to try. I briefly looked online but the Objective-C language seemed fairly hard. There also weren’t many tutorials or explanations. A couple months later my dad proposed making an app, and he told me about corona. I decided to check it out. On their website there were lots of tutorials, guides, and even explanations to every function etc. After seeing that I thought that I could definitely make a game.
I imagine that, even with how easy it was to get started, there were some stumbling blocks. Were there any aspects to the app development process that gave you more trouble than others? Any that still give you trouble?
Everything seemed new and complicated at that time. But the major stumbling block was that corona has limitations. Not all services are available (e.g. ads, game networks, etc.) I always had to work around it somehow. Even now I can’t do everything I want.
The Donkeys vs. Elephants political theme is obviously a focus here, so I have to ask: Donkey or Elephant?
I currently do not have a very strong view, but if I had to choose it would be Elephant.
And while we’re on the subject, was it difficult for you to create a game with a political focus that didn’t seem to “take sides?”
As I said I don’t have strong views so the app is not bias in either way. Still, I tried to make sure everything was equal.
Have there been any items or upgrades that you’ve wanted to add to the store but just haven’t been able to due to balancing/time constraints/whatever?
Well one thing that I have been thinking about are clothes for the characters. It would take about two weeks of work, but currently I am working on other things so I cannot make it happen just yet.
What’s your personal favorite upgrade?
My favorite upgrade is coin multiplier! Even though its not cheap, its worth every credit because you gain money faster and can get more and more upgrades.
I also have to know: between you and your father, who’s got the highest score?
Of course I have the highest score It might be because I spend so much time testing the game, or because I know exactly how it works. Either way I am beating him by a lot!
Tracking player scores across the world and tallying them up must require a fair bit of work. Was it easier or tougher than you’d expected when you first came up with the idea?
Tracking player scores is actually not that hard. Its not like we hand count them (that would be hard-core!) The scores just get sent to an online database, and then they just get added up. To make that system I had to learn how to use mySQL databases, as well as a little bit of PHP.
I was also wondering, were there any plans to separate the data by region? What I mean is, seeing who prefers what on a global scale is definitely cool, but when it comes down to US elections the folks in other parts of the world don’t really have a say. So is there a chance that Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down might give the totals for the US specifically, as well as the global data?
In the next update the data will be also separated by state. Currently the application is targeted for the 2012 US elections, so the data is not displayed about the rest of the world. However, they can still enjoy the game and be a part of the global score. If the game is a success then that feature will definitely be considered.
So how impressed are your classmates? I imagine there aren’t a whole lot of iOS developers sharing a homeroom with you.
Most of my classmates couldn’t believe it. I had to show them the app, and my name in the credits.
Once you’ve finished with Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down, are you planning to dive right back in and work on another game or take a little breather? And if you are planning a new game, would you care to share any details?
I will still work on applications, mainly improving this one, but I wont focus all of my time on it. I am starting my freshmen year in next week, so I will need to do lots of school work. There are no plan for the next app yet, but it will definitely come
Donkeys and Elephants: Chow Down is available now for $0.99.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-06-14 :: Category: Games
As Spiderweb Software’s fantasy epic hits its 18 year anniversary, the final game’s App Store debut is looming on the horizon. But it’s not just the second iOS release for the series, not counting Avadon as it’s a separate thing, it’s the final chapter to a second trilogy. That’s six games, total. And I was lucky enough to be able to ask series creator Jeff Vogel about it.
First and foremost, what made you all decide to create a role playing game in the first place?
I’ve been obsessed with role-playing games since I first learned to play Dungeons & Dragons, around 32 years ago. Sometimes there is something about a genre that just grabs you and doesn’t let go.
I have to ask, when you all began work on the first Avernum, did you have plans for a 6-part series?
Avernum is a rewrite of my very, very first game, Exile: Escape From the Pit, which I started in 1994. When I began it, I honestly thought it was just a hobbyist thing, and I didn’t look for one second past the first title. Happily, the world I created turned out to be very versatile and have a lot of stories in it.
And why six games specifically?
Two trilogies. I think three games is a really good length for telling one epic story. So the whole series is two almost self-contained arcs.
I imagine you’ve learned quite a bit from working on so many titles, and not just the Avernum series. Were there any particular bits of experience you’ve gained along the way that have been more useful than most?
I have learned so much since I started, and 18 years in, it feels like I learn more every year. Things about how to design, to code, to test, to market. It’s a huge, complex field, and there is no shortage of mistakes and foolishness on my part I need to correct.
In that vein, have there been things that you know now that you wish you knew back at the beginning?
I wish, when I started, I knew to pony up the money and find good freelance artists. I made a lot of the art in-house, and I should have had real people doing it. Especially the interface.
Have there been any unique challenges in developing any of the Avernum titles for iOS as opposed to Mac or PC?
Adapting from a mouse/keybords interface to a touchscreen was difficult and required a lot of thought. Touchscreens don’t work as well for hardcore, tactical games. Happily, people seem to be happy with the interface we developed.
I imagine iOS distribution is fairly different than Mac/PC. Have you found there to be any specific hurdles in releasing, selling, and supporting a game on the App Store?
Marketing. Visibility. It’s a hugely, HUGELY busy and competitive platform. It’s so hard to stand out from the teeming masses. Happily, we are about the only ones writing this sort of game for iOS, which helps.
Has there been more notable success on one platform as opposed to the others?
Avadon: The Black Fortress continues to do really well for us. I recommend it. It’s fun.
Now that the final game in the series is coming to iPad, might there be plans to bring earlier titles to the platform?
Yeah, a few. I’m adapting Avernum 6 now, and I hope to have it out in October. However, the older games use an old code base that would be extremely difficult to adapt to iOS.
On a similar note, are there any plans to make the series available for iPhone?
No. The screen is too small. I will need to rewrite the engine from scratch to adapt to it.
I hope to someday write games for the iPhone. I’m really thinking about it. But that sort of thing needs to be baked in from day 1.
Lastly, how’s Avadon 2 coming along? I noticed the little blurb about it on the website. Will that be available for iOS alongside the first one?
It’s going. Slowly. I want it to be out next summer, but I’m having a little bit of mid-life burnout. But it is happening. And it will absolutely be out for the iPad.
Avernum 6 HD is slated to hit the App Store on October 10th. Avernum: Escape From The Pit and Avernum 6 are also available from the Mac App Store.
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-04-03 :: Category: Games
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we’ve been focusing on the romantic aspects of the App store. Alongside reviewing Boy Loves Girl, the tale of a boy keen to woo the lady in his life, we had the opportunity to interview Dr Danny Pearce, Company Director for the game’s British developer, Grubby Hands.
One particular question that’s bound to be on everyone’s mind was just why the name Grubby Hands?!
“Grubby Hands is a name that came from some subconscious activity when thinking about gaming. I think it’s connected to the NES and SNES days when pad swapping was commonplace, like Mario or Street Fighter with friends,” said Pearce. “I always had a problem with getting a sweaty pad handed to me from a friend with ‘grubby hands’. I had a ritual that involved a five second wipe with my t-shirt before every round. I guess that image stuck and resurfaced 20 years later.” An experience that I’m sure all gamers can empathise with.
Moving onto just what a change of pace Boy Loves Girl is compared to David Haye’s Knockout, Pearce explained just what hook Boy Loves Girl offers: “Boy Loves Girl follows a young boy’s journey as he tries to impress a girl. I really wanted to make a game that was sweet and captures something truthful. Then the idea of a boy going to the end of the world for a girl and giving her the moon on a piece of string stuck and the game grew from there.”
As Pearce explains, “It starts off as a pleasant experience. Everything is calm and relaxing, while the player gets used to the game and the controls. It then gets progressively more challenging as the girl gets more demanding, to the point that it really requires a lot of skill, mental attention and physical accuracy to complete,” but fortunately that’s not all we should expect from Boy Loves Girl, with Pearce promising Game Center to be integrated ‘really soon.’
So, what’s next for Grubby Hands? Dr Pearce was understandably guarded as to exact details but there are discussions in terms of “either a sequel or a huge update to a ‘previous game’ in the near future.” Pearce also informed us that Grubby Hands is currently “prototyping something original and probably [our] most ambitious game yet.” Don’t get too excited yet, though, as he also went onto explain that it’s “easily the biggest game we’ve attempted to make, so will probably take until the end of the year to complete.”
On a final note, we thought it was only friendly to see just how the Grubby Hands guys are planning on spending Valentine’s Day. “We’ll start the day under a mild spring sun, listening to a calm stream, break the still to eat strawberries and cream and then proceed to whack the keyboard trying to finish off the next ‘Boy Loves Girl’ update!”
Given the cold and rainy spell that much of Britain is suffering from at the moment, here’s hoping that the 14th brings with it plenty of sun for Grubby Hands!
Many thanks to Dr. Danny Pearce for taking the time to answer our questions.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-12-21 :: Category: Games
Buttonless: Incredible iPhone and iPad Games and the Stories Behind Them is coming out December 21 (and available for pre-order now) to bookstores and online retailers everywhere. It’s a book about iOS games and their stories by Ryan Rigney, a freelance journalist who has covered the video-game industry from every angle for publications and sites including Gamasutra, PC Gamer and GamePro. We managed to talk with him for a bit about the inspirations for the book, among other things. Click through to the post for the interview AND an exclusive chapter from the upcoming book, all about Fruit Ninja.
Continue reading Get the Inside Scoop And An Exclusive Fruit Ninja Chapter from Buttonless »
Earlier this month, I had a sit down with the Vice President of Business Development at Ideaworks Game Studio, Phil Waymouth. Ideaworks has developed some of the App Store’s most popular applications, for some of the most recognized names (EA and Activision to name two) in the industry. I asked Phil about Ideaworks and its latest port, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light.
Hi Phil, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us! You work for Ideaworks Game Studio, the highly successful video game development company that’s created some of the world’s most recognized titles for mobile devices, including Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies. What do you specialize as within the company?
I head up business development at Ideaworks Game Studio. So, day-to-day it’s my job to work directly with our customers & publishing partners, identifying new game opportunities and planning our portfolio of work. This encompasses everything from sourcing new projects, negotiating contracts & release schedules, and then working closely with the rest of the Studio team both during development and after release to support our titles.
So, for the games you mention above it would be my responsibility to work with the EA & Activision/Treyarch teams respectively to deliver mobile versions of their premium titles.
The cross platform development area of Ideaworks focuses on porting games from different sources into an SDK called Airplay (not to be confused with Apple’s Airplay). Can you elaborate on what Airplay is and how it works?
Certainly. Airplay SDK is a flexible, multi-platform development solution created by our sister company Ideaworks Labs. Airplay SDK allows us to create high performance applications for multiple mobile platforms at the same time, and we’ve used it for all our games to-date, including Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Call of Duty, Backbreaker Football, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and many others.
Basically, Airplay SDK allows a developer to compile a single codebase and deploy easily to iOS, Android, bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and webOS devices. It’s worked fantastically well for us as a development team and is now being used by thousands of developers & publishers around the world to develop their own titles.
“Airplay SDK allows a developer to compile a single codebase and deploy easily to iOS, Android, bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and webOS devices.”
Your latest port, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, continues work that you began back in 2003 with an initial port of Tomb Raider onto the N-Gage and Windows Mobile. How challenging was it to port GoL onto the iPad, which operates under a much less graphically powerful framework in comparison to the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 or PC (where GoL was initially launched)? The game was only released in August for these platforms – and then last week for iOS – is three to four months a good turnaround time for a game of this size?
It’s a huge challenge! Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light is a massive mobile game that actually includes most of the levels, weapons, enemies & puzzles you’d find in the console & PC versions of the game.
To be strict, our version isn’t a port of the console game: we re-wrote the codebase specifically for mobile devices and re-created most of the art assets too, so we were very fortunate to work closely with both the Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics teams who offered support and reference materials for the game. We actually used the beta version of the XBLA title as our design document, playing & recording every level, character, weapon and puzzle. In the end, the game’s scale wasn’t identical but the level designs themselves were taken directly from the console game.
This is often the way we work. In most cases we believe it delivers the finest quality result for a premium brand like Lara Croft. Remember, for something like iOS you’re not actually writing a game for a console (since you get interruptions such as phone calls & low-battery warnings) but you’re also not writing for a phone (since the iPod Touch isn’t one), and we’ve found that using previous experience and working closely with your partners help create games that get the best out of these devices.
“For something like iOS you’re not actually writing a game for a console but you’re also not writing for a phone (since the iPod Touch isn’t one.”
The game did take us a little longer than 3-4 months to make (it’s a large game with lots of complexity) but we’re very proud of the outcome. One issue a game like GoL does highlight is the pace at which mobile platforms moves – a lot of our team come from console backgrounds, and the rate at which new devices and new OS features comes out is both fantastic but a real challenge – especially when you’re deciding what features a flagship game should target in advance!
When porting GoL, what goals did you have in mind? Did you want to maintain it as authentic as possible to the original, or take your own angle to suit the iPad directly?
When we first spoke to Square Enix about the opportunity to bring GoL to iOS, we started from the position of “why don’t we re-make the game as-is?”. We could see the title was shaping up to be a great game on console and PC, and of course we didn’t want to throw away all the design work that Crystal Dynamics had done on the title to date.
Our goals were to keep the mobile version as authentic as possible, especially in the areas of cooperative multiplayer and high production-quality. Of course, there are always considerations you need to make for a new form factor (for example, around controls, cameras, etc.), but we wanted to keep the gameplay as similar as possible and I think we’ve succeeded in doing that.
Our game shares the showcase features that Square Enix advertise for the console & PC versions (high quality gaming, co-operative multiplayer, the ability to drop-in to running games, voicechat between players, leaderboards & achievements, etc.)
What do you think the future holds for cross-platform games? Could we ever see games like Half-Life 2 or Portal being played on a future generation iPad? If you look at the technological progress between the first iPhone and the iPhone 4, the gap is significant. We can do things now that we just didn’t have the technology to do then, at least not within the iPhone’s size. Have you been surprised at the power of iOS, now that we’re playing titles like GoL?
It’s certainly feasible that experiences such as Half-Life 2 or Portal could be delivered on mobile devices, and FPS’s have already been extremely successful – our work with Activision on Call of Duty is an example. You’re absolutely right about the technology too: the rate of progress is startling, and the latest generation of mobile chips with 1GHz, dual-core chips & fast graphics are unbelievably powerful considering their size.
You need to be pragmatic about hardware differences though: despite being 5 years old the Xbox 360 probably has 5 times the CPU power of a high-end smartphone, and perhaps the same on the graphics side. So, will the graphics be quite as rich? No. Will the physics be as explosive? Perhaps not. Does the touchscreen mean controls will be a little different? Yes. Will it feel like the same game, though? Definitely: smartphones are powerful enough to support modern game design.
The challenge remains over finding gameplay that’s best suited to a mobile device: you can’t assume that just because we can take a successful console game to mobile that it’ll be a hit. As an example, we see a lot of players playing our games for either ~6 minutes (say, if they’re commuting) or for ~60 minutes (say, if they’re playing at home). Designing a game that allows that menu of experiences is a real challenge, and we’re fortunate to have a history of mobile game development experience we can draw on. The trick is to design a game that feels like the original while being sympathetic to the way the gamer uses the device.
Finally, regardless of technology I think customers appreciate high production quality, and that’s a big focus for our development. A benefit of our long history is that our technology base allows us to concentrate on making the game, rather than fiddle with every last setting of the hardware.
“We see a lot of players playing our games for either ~6 minutes (say, if they’re commuting) or for ~60 minutes (say, if they’re playing at home).”
And finally, do you see iOS as the new leader of portable gaming? In Steve Jobs’ iOS4 presentation, he announced that the iPod Touch alone outsold Nintendo and Sony sales combined – creators of the DS and PSP respectively. Will iOS play a key component in the porting side of Ideaworks?
Well, it’s pretty apparent that iOS has done amazingly well in pushing forward high quality mobile gaming. I can’t comment on sales figures for the devices – we only get the same Internet reports as you guys! – but the market they’ve created for top-tier gaming is remarkable. Apple have done a fantastic job by combining an intuitive UI, high-quality devices, and a simple-as-pie billing & delivery mechanism (both for purchases and updates).
So, in that regard, iOS will continue to play a key role in our work. Having said that, there are a huge number of Android devices being shipped, and platforms such as Samsung’s bada & HP/Palm’s webOS all offer high-quality devices and rich marketplaces for us to release games. For those markets, we’ll certainly continue to use Airplay SDK to target as many different platforms as possible.
One last mention should go to Windows Phone 7 too which, although a little later to the party, appears to have a strong push behind it from Microsoft, and has attractive Xbox Live integration which I think people will enjoy.
Thanks Phil for answering our questions! All of us here at 148Apps wish you well for 2011!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-12-16 :: Category: Games
Real Racing 2, possibly the most ambitious app to hit the App Store launched today. It’s a new version of one of the best racing games ever seen on a mobile device, and better than many seen on consoles. Firemint, based in Australia, has a lot riding on this game with a reported 2 million dollars spent on it’s development. We fired off a few questions to the fine folks down under to get some of their thoughts on the iOS platform and development of Real Racing 2.
Q: Real Racing 2 integrates Game Center for multiplayer, leaderboards, and achievements. How have you seen the performance of the Game Center multiplayer system? You’ve been able to do something others haven’t by bringing 16 player multiplayer to iOS.
Game Center has been great for us and we are big supporters of it. Beyond just leaderboards and achievements, we can use your Game Center ID to locate your save games and link to other services like Youtube uploads etc. The awesome thing about Game Center is that it provides an easy way to create peer to peer multiplayer connections with up to four players at once. We have supported this in Flight Control, Real Racing, Flight Control HD and Real Racing HD.
For Real Racing 2 we have implemented a hosted solution because we wanted to support our 16 car single player grid in multiplayer games as well. We also wanted to make it really simple to find and play multiplayer games, on every device. This is something we have been working on for a long time. It is more difficult for us to do things that way, but it means we are able to support all devices.
Q: A few months ago you released a story about how you had tuned the AI in your bots to such an extent that they were cheating. Are you sure they aren’t still cheating? Some of the AI race drivers seem awful good! Tell us more about the AI in the game for the computer drivers.
Well the Real Racing 1 AI weren’t cheating as such, it was more that they were finding exploits in the physics engine, the same exploits that human players could find. An example of that was that the AI found if they hit a certain corner at exactly the right angle, they would explode down the track faster than any car could drive. Needless to say, we fixed that bug before release!
In Real Racing 2, we have gone to great lengths to make sure the AI are competitive without cheating. Some games allow their AI to have faster or more responsive cars, or add catchup code so that they are competitive. On release, our game has none of this, the opponents never drive a car that out performs the ones the player can drive in the game. However, they may take you to the cleaners if you enter a hard career race under-spec’d. So choose a car with as high a performance rating as possible and ideally well suited to the particular track, for example top speed is pretty critical on an oval but it’s not so helpful on a winding track. If the AI is driving a car that you know has a higher top speed than yours, then you can be pretty sure that they won’t be so good on the corners.
The AI have been written to use the same inputs that the player has, accelerate, brake and steer. The down side of this as developers, we have to make our AI really smart to keep up with a human player.
One advantage that the AI do have is that they are precision drivers, the best AI can hit a precise racing line every time, so while it may seem like they are cheating, they actually take great lines through the corners and may come out of them faster than you if you make a small mistake. So just like when you are down at the track, winning at the high levels in Real Racing takes precise driving.
Even with all our effort into improving the AI, we would still rather take on the fastest AI we have than try to compete with a top ranked Real Racing player!
Q: What can we expect in the future for Real Racing 2? Any planned updates? An iPad version perhaps? Voice chat like we’ve seen you recently add with Flight Control?
You can be pretty certain that we will do an iPad version and we want to do something special, but definitely not until next year. We also have the online save game system now so that we can share your progress across versions of the game including from iPhone to iPad.
We do have all sorts of ideas and plans for Real Racing 2, however they are just ideas at this stage. Announcing things is easy, but delivering is hard, so we are cautious about announcing too much at this stage. Hopefully then, when we do deliver something, we will have over-delivered
Q: You’ve developed your own 3D engine for Real Racing 2, Mint 3D. Can you tell us a little more about it and what are the advantages of a custom engine over a pre-built one?
Mint3D is a powerful and highly optimized rendering engine designed to get great performance out of the current iOS platforms, particularly iPhone 4 and iPod Touch 4. It supports standout visual effects like shadow mapping, depth of field, motion blur, detail textures, reflections, level of detail, specular highlights, glints, flares, particle effects, animation and even some improved real time shadows, whilst being able to push large quantities of polygons and models through the hardware each frame. The cool thing is, we have a very optimized legacy engine within Mint3D that was developed along with Real Racing, which is how we are able to continue to support earlier devices, albeit without the same high level of effects possible on the newer hardware.
We have to render a 3 mile track being traversed at high speed, from any angle with 16 cars, sometimes all on the screen at once, all with unique textures, see through windows, reflections, shadows, damage etc. It all has to look great regardless of what the player is doing with their car or with the camera or where they are driving. Everything moves by very quickly so dealing with a large object count is very important to a racer, and when you have 16 cars with physics and AI on top of that, there is a lot of variety to deal with. Mint3D is designed to handle this and to do a large variety of things well and at consistent framerates.
The choice of going with a custom engine over something pre-built is something that should be made for each game and each developer individually. It is not just an economic choice, sometimes a pre-built engine is the right choice for creative reasons. In our case, we design the game first and the engine has to keep up with that. By using our own engine we have the freedom to do whatever it takes to make it deliver for our particular needs. It feels like that is the best way for us to build signature titles and make them stand apart.
Q: How about some racing tips? Do you have any tips our readers for getting the best times on the Real Racing 2 tracks?
Generally, the fastest race times can be achieved by turning and braking as minimally as possible: a good race line with the goal of taking straight lines through corners, sufficient but minimal braking (losing traction washes off a lot of speed) and trying to maintain a high, constant speed throughout the race will hold you in good stead.
Every car handles differently, and braking and acceleration in and out of corners can count for a lot. Learn to exploit the varying performance attributes of each car and practice the techniques listed above. Driving with assists can be a very helpful way to learn to get your braking and racing line right.
Thanks to the folks at Firemint for answering our questions. Real Racing 2 is out now, and I strongly suggest you grab it if you enjoy a good race. Feel free to add me in Game Center, I’m jeff148apps — I’ll see you on the track.
$4.99 iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-12-16 :: Category: Games
I usually do some investigative digging before I start an interview, just to be prepared. Well, I guess more accurately I search for the person’s name in Google. I’ll typically come up with a Facebook page, a Linkedin page, and maybe a page or two about the person on various websites.
After searching for Rolf Fleischmann, I found a bunch of nothing past the website for his app development company, Vol. 2. After playing No, Human, the debut game from Vol. 2, I had to know more about this upstart app dev “team.” I dug around the site for a bit until I found a shocker.
In the FAQ section, the last question is, “Who made this?” followed by this simple answer: “It’s an independent production created by me.”
The first question I asked Rolf, naturally, was, “I was looking at the vol-2 site, and would I be correct in saying that No Human was created by yourself? Just a one man team?”
So No, Human, the excellent game that has been picked up by just about every app news site on Earth, as well as appearing all over the App Store’s main page, was created as a means to learn how to code on the iPhone platform. Not only that, but when I asked him about his initial marketing strategy, something that other devs pour countless hours and dollars into, he responded with, “I had none. I just wanted to make a game.”
“When it was ready, I read a lot of blogs and forums to see how people did their marketing. I didn’t read enough though, because it was not of that much interest to me. I read somewhere, that you have to be prepared to spend as much time with marketing as I did creating the game so I sat down one eve and wrote a long list of websites and blogs and people I wanted to send the game. I sent out a lot of emails with promo codes and stuff.”
When the game finally launched, Rolf told me that only his closest friends knew the game existed in the App Store. In fact, the first high score on No, Human came from one of Rolf’s friends that was playing the game in a bath tub with his iPad.
So what’s in future for the unlikeliest of App Store stars?
“Well, currently I’m working on an update to the game. It was very often said that the game is too short and that people would like to have more levels. So that’s what I’m doing in the near future. Further away, in a not so distant future, I’d like to do another game with what I’ve learned so far. I know that I made many mistakes in development and in marketing, so I want to know if I could do better!”
I sat for a second and wondered what would come next. If No, Human is what comes from Rolf when he doesn’t know what he’s doing, what happens when he does? I asked him if he had any projects in mind for the future, and he said that he hadn’t thought about it much because of all the craziness that has happened in the last few weeks.
When asked about a sequel, he responded with, “I always thought the cool thing about being independent is that you can do whatever you want. So why do a sequel when you can do something completely new that maybe hasn’t been done before?”
Well count me as someone who’s excited to see what’s next. I’m just glad that he’s gotten his “learning experience” out of the way. Sheesh.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-08-24 :: Category: Games
I’d say that the average American is happily employed by one company, goes to work around 9, and gets home at 5. They probably make some dinner after they get home and watch some TV.
“Sometimes I do like to ‘veg’ and do ‘nothing,’ just put a movie on. Balance, ugh! That’s the absolute challenge of life.”
Paul Papasavas isn’t your typical individual. A simple Linkedin search shows that Paul is the Owner of Athos Consulting, which does programming, network, security, infrastructure work, and a dabble of app development, and is a full time medevac pilot in New Jersey. While I can hardly walk and chew gum at the same time, Paul is doing PR work while waiting for emergency flight calls.
The app side of his company is quite small, with Paul and his brother Alex, the resident “master game developer,” leading the way. Athos Consulting has been around since 1999, but has just recently gotten into app development. Their first app, Toy Physics, is a great physics puzzler that has garnered almost universal positive reviews from fans and critics alike. Alex says that most fans send messages to him saying things like, “I’ve been playing it ALL morning and got to level xxxx”, so making the app successful is just “a matter of getting the word out and allowing people to actually try the application.”
So how does one make an app successful without big company backing?
“The important thing is to pay very close attention to user feedback. After all, this is THEIR application. For example, we added level select and scoring in the iPad version based on user feedback – we’ll be pushing that to the iPhone in the coming weeks. There’s just a human element that cannot be ignored. We can come up with the initial concept but we have to introduce features based on user requests. They’re pretty much our boss when it comes to how the application evolves.”
Currently, Toy Physics is looking to add a bunch of multiplayer features, including leaderboards, achievements, and best of all, “a head-to-head type challenge mode where you’re actively playing against someone live, where you could do something to affect the other user and are influencing the other player’s gameplay.”
The real challenge, it seems, is to find time.
“The type of flying I do, Medevac helicopter, involves a lot of down-time… that’s to say unless we’re requested on a flight, I’m at the base doing whatever it is I want to do. Of course, the flying and safety aspect of what we do always comes first…pre-flight, crew brief, or any applicable training for the day. Because our base is an “IFR” base (that means we can fly in the clouds), we often have to do even more planning and organization for the day and closely monitor the weather. So, knowing what the priority is and not scheduling anything critical on my flight duty days, things generally work out. There are days when we’re flying all day long. Accident after accident … We just go with what the day brings us, I suppose.”
Along with working on Toy Physics, flying around Jersey to save lives, and doing consulting work, Paul is also working on a medevac aviation safety application that works with Departures and Landings which may be soon sold to the general plane flying public.
In case you were wondering what Paul does in his “free time” (what free time?), he says that he “loves sitting at the piano at 2AM writing music when (he) should be sleeping hoping (he’s) not waking up the neighbors.” I guess some people’s free time is more productive than others.
As I was saying bye to Paul, he told me to give him a call whenever, unless he’s flying. He ended the interview by saying, “in fact, I have to fly (a private plane) to DC in 1/2 hour … so I better start the flight planning!”
Oh the life of a serial multitasker.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-05-26 :: Category: Games
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2010-08-31 :: Category: Games
I had an interview scheduled with Josh Scott-Slade from JohnnyTwoShoes (Plunderland) at 9AM, about two hours after my dog wakes me up in the morning to go outside. Remember, two hours to go.
I figured that I would hang around and prep for the interview by doing all the company research that I could do, so I hopped on to their website hoping to find something interesting. What I found was Heist 2, one of their many online games… and it sucked the life right out of me. Then what seemed like 10 minutes later and it was 9AM (where did the time go!) and the interview was on.
Still in shock over where my time went, I made a comment to Josh saying, “I didn’t know that you guys made other games until today.” I was expecting a new, indie game house with a seriously legit design team, but was certainly not expecting a three year old online game outfit. They did have another iPhone game that came out about a year ago called High Speed Chase 2, but it must’ve gotten lost in the deep sea of App Store apps.
“Ah yeah, we’ve been making games since we were kids.” He went on, thankfully. I was still in shock over my Heist 2 induced time warp, “The company has been around as JohnnyTwoShoes for about 3 years now. It started off as a portfolio when I was at university, then it turned into a gaming site and became our company. My brother Max was a site designer by profession anyway, so it all just worked out.”
So how, after years of online games, why did they get into the App Store?
“Well we always loved the iPhone and when the App Store came out it just seemed like the perfect idea for what we wanted to do. The App Store allows us to be more ambitious and support bigger ideas. There’s only so much time you can put into a free web game.”
After 3+ years of practice making games at a rapid-fire pace, it seems that Johnny Two Shoes is off to bigger and better things with Plunderland and then moving forward. They apparently have a “ridiculous amount of ideas for games”, but are aiming to make their games as good as they can possibly be before moving on. There’s something to be said for that kind of dedication to a games success, but it’s nice to know that the company won’t stagnate on one idea for two years (cough, cough, Fieldrunners).
“We intended to release Plunderland to support ourselves while we updated and fulfilled its full potential. We tried out new ideas and reacted on feedback, hoping that it would push up the charts slowly, allowing us to make a name for ourselves on the platform. Now the reaction is so fast to everything we do with it, it’s kind of scary.” He goes on, “at the same time it feels amazing to know we can do what we always wanted. To build on the game and make it even better – bring fresh new ideas to the experience. We hope people will see it as something they can return to and have that fun and excitement brought back every time we add to the game.”
The obvious question here was, what kinds of things were they going to add to the game? It’s one thing to fix glitches, and an entirely different thing to go “Pocket God” and make the whole experience change with every update.
Josh nonchalantly wrote back, “Yeah, new levels, campaigns, game modes etc. Anything we think would be fun or addresses peoples feedback.” He went on to tell me some more specific details about upgrades, but what I gathered was that their experience with online gaming has made them quick movers, unafraid to try out any idea thrown at them. They thrive on customer feedback, and I honestly don’t think that Plunderland will stop being supported until the feedback stops coming in.
I just had one more question, because, you know, I’m an industry professional (whatever that means). I noticed when I was on their website that their logo was a space man, so I asked them why Plunderland wasn’t set in space.
“The basic idea behind the game is to create the sense of adventure and unknown. It could totally be set in space, but coming from a family of pirates, it just felt natural.”
Well nobody is going to argue with that, with them being pirates and all. These people mean business.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-07-22 :: Category: Games
“Once I saw that the iPhone 4 was going to have an LED flash on it…a light bulb turned on in my head….how’s that for cheesy?”
Mike D’Ulisse and his brother Matt have a knack for creating gold out of the most simple ideas. They’ve done fairly well with other strong apps such as Pocket Labeler, Ransom Letters, and Star Blaster (previously called iPhaser), but their new Flashlight app has turned out to be the biggest app yet.
My question was, how do you hit it big with an app that anyone and everyone can/will recreate?
“I figured that every developer out there was thinking the same thing…it almost didn’t seem worth the time, so I brought it up to my brother and business partner, but he wasn’t exactly on board because we are in the middle of a different project and we don’t like putting things aside to work on new ideas til the current idea (app) is on the store. So as the release of iPhone 4 approached I started pushing to do it, and we finally decided we would make the app.”
Being the Chief Marketing Officer of the company, Mike knew that he had to get the ball rolling if the app were to have a chance with publicity. It’s not exactly the easiest thing in the world to get a flashlight app publicized, so timing is everything. He had already gotten press coverage from some prominent app news sites, something that is almost necessary for a successful app, but it was what happened after the submission of the app is what separates Mike of More Blu Sky from the typical flashlight developer.
Aside from guzzling a pot of coffee a day and only sleeping 4 hours a night, Mike works two other jobs and somehow fits in a (very understanding) girlfriend. I asked him how he did it, and he replied with one word, “passion”. Apparently it’s this passion that gets things done, and getting things done is what he did.
“After submitting, I was told that flashlight apps were being turned away. I’m not one to accept no as no, so I decided to email Phil Shiller because I had seen that he helped developers out before.” “He assured me that the would take it up with the review team… but of course that wasn’t good enough for me, so I bugged Apple a bit with a few phone calls, a few emails. I even sent them a video from WWDC that told developers to get creative with the LED flash. Suffice to say…I was a real pain in the butt”
Because of all the hellraising, MacRumors.com wrote up an article that got some attention… while also making him out to be the hero of the flashlight app developers. In Mike’s own form of modesty, he said, “Well, when someone makes some noise, people tend to listen. And when they listen, sometimes they reevaluate stances on things. Can I take all the credit? No, it would have been discussed internally at Apple.”
With all the publicity generated from various sources, the app was in the top 30 of utilities in the first 30 minutes and “within 45 minutes it was in the top 100 in the whole store.”
Again though, how does a person decide to buy one flashlight app over another? Flashlight – For iPhone 4 was the top flashlight app at launch even though another flashlight app was being featured by Apple. It just didn’t make sense to me.
“I suspect that might have something to do with the fact that the (competitors) icon doesn’t scream LED Flashlight to customers.” “It’s not just another flashlight app and the icon had to say that.”
He went on, quite possibly driven by the end of a days worth of caffeine. “Duplicating the camera icon is very popular with camera apps so I didn’t want to focus on the camera lens ..but I wanted to show it. The main focus is the LED, but is still has to look like the back of an iPhone. I spent maybe an hour on it. I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to icons but we didn’t have time for 10 revisions of he icon so it had to be a winner the first round.”
“I think we did good.”
Was there any other reason for the apps success, other than the icon?
“It’s built how I feel Apple would have built it if they were in the flashlight app making business.” “The graphics just feel right on the app. it’s almost like holding a real flashlight in your hand, and the UI is very clean”
It became very clear to me that More Blu Sky is successful because the team slaves over the most minute details. It’s a common trait that is found in successful development teams, from the team at tap tap tap all the way to Bolt Creative, creators of the meticulous Pocket God. Get the details right and people tend to notice.
“Look at things from the users perspective and build apps around their perception of an average user. That’s how Apple does it.”
When asked about the future of Flashlight – For iPhone 4, Mike went on and said “we are working on SOS right now and we are looking at Morse Code…but we are also in the middle a development cycle for another app, so we are going to try and finish that app and continue to support Flashlight – For iPhone 4 for as long as people are still interested in buying it. I get emails all the time about features that people want. I would love for it to turn into a flashlight app with 10-15 different features. I have ideas in my head and I even have a rework of the UI that I would love to execute if the feature list grew.”
He never stops. It must be the passion… or the coffee.
If you want to get your hands on Flashlight – For iPhone 4, Michael is giving out promo codes to the first 60 people that send him a request. Send the emails to mbskypromo at gmail dot com. Let him know of any new features you’d like to see too… he’d probably appreciate the input.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-07-07 :: Category: Utilities
We had a chance to sit down with Ken Case, CEO of the OmniGroup, during the recent WWDC. We talked all things OmniGroup including the process they followed bringing their apps to the iPad, their plans for OmniFocus, and what else the future might hold.
Q (Jeff Scott – 148Apps): Tell us a little about how the decision was made to start bringing your applications to the iPad.
A (Ken Case – OmniGroup): When we started hearing rumors about Apple doing a tablet, we thought that could be interesting. We didn’t know if it was going to be Mac OS X based or iPhone OS based. The touch part made us lean toward the iPhone OS, the larger screen size had us leaning toward Mac OS X. Didn’t really know what to expect. So we decided to just be ready to evaluate it when it comes out. And when we saw the introduction and particularly when we saw the Keynote demonstration we knew yeah, this is a place we can put some real apps. So we made a decision that day and started working that week to bring some of our apps to the iPad. From the time we saw the announcement to the time we had to submit the apps for launch day there were lots of 18 hour days. One interesting way to measure how the apps were progressing was how long we went between code commits. There was a period there where the longest we went, between code check-ins, was 37 minutes. It was a lot of hard work obviously, but a lot of fun. It’s not often you get a chance to do something like this for a new platform.
Q: One of the most interesting aspects of the release of OmniGraffle for the iPad was that you utilized the device to the edge of it’s capabilities without ever seeing a device.
A: We were pretty worried about that. The QA team particularly. Apple did some testing and we asked them how well it works. They could tell us that it launched and that it worked, but they had no time to do any real testing of the performance.
Q: Let’s talk a little bit about OmniFocus for the iPad. As far as I’m concerned you can’t get it done quick enough!
The plan had been to submit the final version to Apple around June 18th, but some things got in the way. It will still be submitted soon.
I wasn’t expecting the pixel doubled iPhone apps to look as as bad as it turned out. I was hoping that they would have done what they are doing on the iPhone 4 and pixel double the artwork but scaled the text. Perhaps once iOS4 comes to the iPad they will clean up some of the edges. Certainly going forward, everybody who is developing now for the iOS is expecting a whole range of screen resolutions which should make it easier for Apple in the future.
We got a little more information from Ken about future plans for OmniPlan and OmniOutliner for the iPad. But those plans are all still really early and we’ll get back in touch as those get closer.
For now they are going full steam ahead on OmniFocus for the iPad — and I can’t wait for it. OmniFocus 1.7 for the iPhone/iPod Touch was just released with iOS4 updates to support local notification, some background processing, and instant application resume.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2008-07-11 :: Category: Productivity
Steve Robert, producer of Electronic Art’s Skate It, released May 10, 2010, is a former pro-skater who helmed the development and creation of the game’s port to the iPhone. I sat down for a phone interview with Steve and spoke at length about the game and its subsequent port from the Nintendo DS to the iPhone. Steve provided us with much insight on the game’s development and how it came to fruition on the iPhone.
– First of all, thanks for putting time aside from your busy schedule to talk with me. I’m stoked to be speaking with you. For people who aren’t familiar with you, what’s your background and how did you get involved in skating?
Steve Robert (EA) – Well, I grew up in Huntington Beach, CA, which is a coastal town in Southern, CA and, probably as early as 6th grade I got immersed in the culture of skateboarding. It was a very popular hobby in my neighborhood and I had a bunch of good friends who were all into skateboarding. We kept pushing each other to learn and get better and then it sort of evolved as some of my friends, like Jason Lee, who’s a good friend of mine, went on to become a famous actor, was the first of us to go on and get sponsored and turn pro. I skated with him all the time and he got me sponsored by the same company he was. From then on, I started entering amateur contests and then we shot a video in 1989 called Rubbish Heap and everything just unfolded from there. I was attracted to the culture and it was fun learning tricks and being competitive with my friends and progressing in the sport.
Jason (148apps) – It’s easy to hit a plateau if you don’t have people around you who you can learn from.
Steve Robert (EA) – Yeah, absolutely. I think being surrounded by people like Jason Lee, Ed Templeton, Mark Gonzalez and the older, big pros, they all came from Huntington Beach and we would all gather at night at Huntington Beach High School or these schools you see in all the videos, while others were out partying, we would be spending our nights skating at the schools together and you just kind of get obsessed with it. It was everything I did until I graduated high school, it’s all I really cared about. Skating was just kind of a sub-culture because it wasn’t as mainstream back then, as it is now.
Jason (148apps) – How did you come to get involved in developing Skate It?
Steve Robert (EA) – Well, I’ve been working in video games since 1997. I slowly got out of skateboarding and went to college. When I graduated from college, I got my first job at Interplay in 1997. I found it interesting because the culture was very similar to skating in many ways. It’s obviously less physically active, but the people were the same.
Hit the jump for more with Skate It Producer Steve Robert.
Continue reading 4Q Interview: Skate It Producer Steve Robert »
If you have been waiting for your iPhone and your real life to collide, the time has come. Sure, we’ve had some augmented reality and social gaming apps come out in the past year, but none have put anything solid in my hands. On March 1, DreamWalk will become the first app of its kind, using the iPhone as a treasure map of sorts to put you on a quest to win real world prizes. Sometimes when I wake up I feel like a pirate, but never have I come so close! Today I talk to Joseph Russell, CEO of DreamWalk about this very exciting project.
Continue reading 4Q Interview: DreamWalk »
After the surprising success of Rasta Monkey, the #1 hanging game in the App Store, Nitako went on to make Eco Punk, the only game I know of that lets you “take the role of the insane blood-thirsty eco-friendly, skating punk bunny”. Being the “investigative” journalist that I am, I reached out to Noam Abta to really find out what in the world is going on at the Nitako studios, and who would win a battle of environmental superstars.
Continue reading 4Q Interview: Nitako – Eco Punk »
With all the iPad mumbo-jumbo going around, I decided to ask an industry vet about the situation. I got in contact with Keith Adair, I-play’s VP of Sales & Marketing to ask some questions about where I-play is going, where the App Store will go, and most importantly, where Waldo is. You’d think he would be easier to find with those stripes!
Continue reading 4Q Interview: I-play »
It’s no secret that the App Store economy is artificially deflated, but none have been quite as outspoken as the guys over at ustwo™. Their blog proclaims that “UK studio ustwo™ have launched a tongue-in-cheek (yet serious) campaign against 59p app pricing (that’d be 99 cents in the US, obviously). “F*** 59p. I’d rather nothing than that insult price.” Inspired by their tongue-in-cheek rage, I decided to send a few questions over their way to get the real scoop.
Continue reading 4Q Interview: ustwo™ »
We first saw Agharta’s Rogue Planet at WWDC, but then it vanished into thin air. What was once expected to be a July release soon became a question mark, but behind the scenes, Agharta and Gameloft were getting together to make Rogue Planet all that it could be. Well now that the possibly soon to be classic turn based strategy game is soon to be released, we talked to Aurelien Kerbeci, CEO of Agharta Studios, about the game and and all the buzz around it. Enjoy the interview!
Continue reading 4Q Interview: Gameloft – Rogue Planet »
Touch Pets Dogs is ngmoco:)’s newest causual app, has been causing quite a stir in the app world. Being one of the first “pay to play more” apps, the iTunes reviews have been quite mixes, with half being extremely positive siting the great gameplay and half hating it because of the game imposed limited playtime. Being the big app at the moment, we sent some questions to Andrew Stern of Stumptown Game Machine, who worked with ngmoco:) to create Touch Pets Dogs. Being the previous creator of Vitual Dogz, Catz, Babyz, and now Touch Pets Dogs, Andrew may be the top virtual animal mind in the world.
Continue reading 4Q Interview: ngmoco:) – Touch Pets Dogs »
Being a huge fan or geoDefense Swarm, I decided to dig a bit deeper into the diabolical mind of one of the most challenging games in the app store. For this four question (4Q) interview, I snagged David Whatley, the President of Critical Thought Games and the President/CEO of Simutronics Corp, developers of the Hero Engine which was used most recently in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The questions meander from app store longevity to iPhone MMO’s, but most surprising are his plans to save the world from aliens!
Check out the full four question interview after the break. Enjoy!
Continue reading 4Q Interview: Critical Thought Games – geoDefense Swarm »
As I sat back and thought about things last week, I realized that the site was missing something. Every news source worth their salt partakes in long form interviews, which are great, but for the most part aren’t read all the way through due to their length. Being the busy guy that I am, I completely understand, and in my understanding I’ve decided that four questions (4Q) is the length that interviews should take. So with that, I’ll leave you with the interview.
Being a lifelong fan of skee-ball, I decided to reach out to Freeverse via e-mail to get some important questions answered about their new app, aptly named Skee-Ball (how was this not used already?). Fortunately, my desperate pleas for answers were answered by none other than Lydia Heitman, marketing director extraordinaire, and Justin D’Onofrio, senior producer/pizza guru.
Check out the full four question interview after the break. Enjoy!
Continue reading 4Q Interview: Freeverse – Skee-Ball »