We at 148Apps can’t help but be fascinated by new developers – particularly new developers who have struck out alone, stepping away from their AAA development days. After all, it’s a big risk so they deserve some attention, right? One of the latest teams to arise from such creative bravery is Mighty Mill: a UK based 2-man and a bit team made up of James Trubridge, director; and Jake Gumbleton, art director; with help from Leavon Archer for sound and music. With plenty of experience under their belts, they’ve just released their first title, Tanuki Forest, so we felt this was the ideal time to learn more. Jake was all too happy to answer our questions.
Jake Gumbleton and James Trubridge.
148Apps: What made you decide to go it alone and set up Mighty Mill? Jake Gumbleton (JG): We launched Mighty Mill Games, after a decade each in the traditional game development world. There are two main driving forces behind this: Firstly is creative freedom. In larger organizations, the chain of approval is often daunting and you see so many great ideas get snipped away, particularly in the very conservative ideology that many big budget games are constrained by due to the money at stake on them. Working in a small team has always been our favorite work environment. It just breeds creativity and allows ideas to bounce around and grow.
We also wanted to be there to see our kids grow up. We read somewhere that most men’s dying wish is that they had spent more time with their kids when they were young. We both have children that have been born during [the] making [of] Tanuki Forest. Mighty Mill hopefully allows us to be with them when it matters the most in those early years. We get to play with our kids and experience all their firsts while still making our business work and grow for us.
148Apps: Where does the name Mighty Mill come from? JG: We are based in Long Eaton near Nottingham, England, and the place used to be a big textiles town so it is full of mills. Naming a company is harder than making games. The mills in Long Eaton are not actually windmills, but shhhhhh!
148Apps: How did the idea for Tanuki Forest come about? JG:Tanuki Forest has shifted a great deal since we began on it. It actually started as a brave experiment in asymmetrical multiplayer on the iPad but in the end it just was not fun enough. The aesthetic of the game comes from my fetish for Japan and Studio Ghibli in particular. A few years back I was lucky enough to go to Japan and visit both Nara and the Ghibli museum. It all had a big impact on me, which really came out in the aesthetic and feel of Tanuki Forest. Nara is so brilliant. The deer there have free reign. My wife and I had breakfast in our room one day with deer munching on the grass outside the open window. It was amazing.
I love character design and wanted to develop a main character who was super appealing. I still do not know what he is exactly.
148Apps: What are the most significant differences between working on an AAA project compared to something of Tanuki Forest‘s size? JG: I think specialization is the single biggest factor. Working with a very small team, you just have to do everything so you are constantly forced outside of your area of expertise. There are bits that you love to do but there also lots that you would really prefer not to! Having so little manpower also forces you to make some pretty hard decisions about what you can attempt to do.
The thing we enjoyed the most is the speed that you can iterate at. During our prototyping phase you get to say “what if we do ‘x’?” and then just do it right away. It allows you to really iterate fast and is great fun.
148Apps: What challenges did you face during development? JG: The hardest challenges are the decisions where you have little expertise but the results will make or break the success of the game. Our two hardest things to decide were: do we go with a publisher, and should the game be paid or free. We have opted for no publisher and to go free.
Tanuki Forest is very charming and quite understated for an infinite runner, and although our revenue will have to come from IAP we have nothing to aggressively drive this in the game. Our sincere hope is that people who love the game will spend a little money in the shop. This decision was so hard for us to make as F2P has a real stigma to it for an indie dev. I hate games that constantly bug me to buy stuff! In the end we felt that it was the right way to go for Tanuki Forest as it is an infinite runner. Larger future projects will probably be done on the paid model.
148Apps: What’s next in the pipeline? JG: We have piles of game concepts just waiting for us to add water and watch them grow. Some of these contain robots. We have our fingers crossed that Tanuki Forest will be a first step towards a very exciting future.
Thanks to Jake for taking the time to answer our questions. Tanuki Forest is out now and is free to play. There really is no reason why it’s not worth downloading, as it is rather charming.
Posted by Tre Lawrence on March 6th, 2014 + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
BBC Worldwide has released Top Gear: Race The Stig for iOS.
It’s a three-laned running game cloaked like a racer. Folks familiar with Temple Run will be very comfortable with the gesture-based controls, and fans of the BBC show will appreciate the references. Features include the ability to race cars from the TV show, several arcade-like power-ups, social sharing/leaderboards, and plenty of opportunities for customization.
Top Gear: Race the Stig, while free, does include in-app purchases and is available on the App Store.
ComiXology, the consummate companion app for the serious comic fan, has announced that it’s discovered a security anomaly during a recent security check. More specifically, an unauthorized individual gained access to sign-in credentials and cryptographically stored passwords.
According to an email sent out, ComiXology is exercising an abundance of caution in requiring users to change their passwords. “Even though we store our passwords in protected form, as a precautionary measure we are requiring all users to change their passwords on the ComiXology platform and recommend that you promptly change your password on any other website where you use the same or a similar password,” the email states. “We have taken additional steps to strengthen our security procedures and systems, and we will continue to implement improvements on an ongoing basis.”
ComiXology notes that payment account information is not stored on its servers. To change your password, go to this page or use the big red link on the top of ComiXology’s homepage.
Disney Interactive’s Disney Infinity: Toy Box has received an update with a ton of new features, including many that were previously exclusive to the game’s full console version. In version 1.4, players will now be able to add toys to their Toy Boxes without being required to tether to the full-fledged version of the game. Additionally, the update adds “waves one and two hexagonal power discs,” more pre-made Adventures, all of the game’s Mastery Tutorials, and more features previously exclusive to the Disney Infinity console and PC game.
Additionally, the app now features a rewards program; log-in and play Disney Infinity on iPad, Windows Tablet, and PC at least 4 times within the week to earn a variety of new pre-made Adventures and additional toys. Finally, the update boasts the addition of a plethora of new in-app purchases including the “Ultimate Toy Box Experience,” character bundles, and power disc bundles as well.
You can get Disney Infinity: Toy Box on the App Store for free.
Tonight, Crescent Moon Games releases their Metroidvania-meets-Minecraft adventure game, Mines of Mars. Featuring procedurally-generated 2D worlds, players must dig through Mars to try and discover the secrets beneath it. Josh Presseisen, founder of Crescent Moon Games, joined me on 148Apps Live on Twitch to discuss the game’s origins, how Crescent Moon’s publishing helped shape the title into something radically different from a year ago, and how PC gamers approach titles in totally different ways from mobile gamers.
Catch the recorded broadcast below. (Pardon our dust -footage may be choppy due to technical issues)
Supernauts is a pretty spiffy looking hybrid of Minecraft and Clash of Clans that we were able to get an early peek at last year. It’s still a bit of a ways off from a worldwide release, but if you’re hankerin’ to get a leg up on your eventual competition you should head over to Pocket Gamer and check out the new Supernauts Hub that just went live.
What can you do in the Hub? Well you can check out a bunch of exclusives, guides, and news items for one. And if that’s not enough, you can also add your own content. Get help from the community when you have questions, share your work (assuming you’re already playing Supernauts, you lucky duck), publish your own walkthroughs, etc.
You can check out Pocket Gamer’s Supernauts Community Hub here.
LEGO Minifigures Online looks to be a combination of the LEGO adventure-style games you’re no doubt already familiar with, along with the ability to collect and even improve a bunch of different characters. Finding stars earns you more bags, more bags means more figures, and more figures means more abilities. Plus it seems like a pretty solid reason to keep playing.
You’ll be able to get your hands on LEGO Minifigures Online later this summer. Although if you’re going to be in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 18 – Thursday, March 20 (i.e. during GDC), you can also try to swing by The Westin San Francisco Hotel for a live demo, or possibly some hands-on time.
Hipstamatic’s Oggl is one of the best options on the App Store if you’re looking for a great app to help you take amazing photos and explore those of other photographers. Recently though, Oggl got a huge update that brings more features to this fantastic photo discovery app; making it even better with the inclusion of iPad compatibility, the new “SurfMode,” and other great additions.
If you’re a fan of Oggl but would prefer to use it on an iPad, this update should be pretty exciting for you; the app is now universal and “runs beautifully on iPad” according to the update notes. Secondly, the update adds a feature called “SurfMode,” which allows you to view any feed within Oggl as a slideshow–just turn your device sideways. “SurfMode” works over AirPlay too, allowing you to “present any feed on Oggl to your Apple TV and have a live photo feed for any event or occasion.”
The update packs many more features, and if you’re interested in reading about them head over to the app’s iTunes page. You can grab Oggl on the App Store for free.
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, which actually received the honor of being a 148apps Editor’s Choice game, was recently updated to include a new “Promo Pack;” a purchasable upgrade that packs a variety of new cards. Instead of charging you outright for the game, the developers behind Ascension have decided on a free-to-play model, including a variety of packs and features within in the game that are only obtainable as in-app purchases.
Today’s update to Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer brings Promo Pack 4, which is said to be a “a digital exclusive ready to challenge how you play Ascension!” The update packs “3 new Heroes, 1 new Construct, and 1 new Monster,” according to the game’s version 1.6.0 update notes. This pack is the fourth Promo Pack to be released, but actually one of 7 sets of additional features which are purchasable in-game.
You can get Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer on the App Store for free.
Tabasco Interactive, the independent studio behind upcoming space action game Star Horizon, has yet to release a game at all if its website is to be believed. But this new dashingly beautiful 3D space shooter that they’re about to throw at us looks to be a very promising first entry into the App Store.
In a similar visual style to EVE Online (and notably without the ridiculous massively multiplayer online aspect), Star Horizon tries to set itself apart with beautiful graphics, “dynamic and intuitive handling” of your spaceship, and the ability to “write your own galactic story” among many other features. The game is on-rails, an aspect that apparently was decided on to make the game “more about pure action and not flying around trying to catch the target,” according to a post made by the developers on TouchArcade.
Expect the game to be released on March 20th with a price tag of $3.99; Tabasco says the app will be free of in-app purchases.
Doggins, a new game from indie studio Brain&Brain, was nominated for the SXSW Gamer’s Voice Award; an honor given to the best indie game as voted on by gamers on the floor of the SXSW Gaming Expo. But what makes this game worthy of such an awesome nomination?
In Doggins, you play a dreaming terrier in a battle of wits with an evil, monocled squirrel who intends on reversing the progress of humanity. The game takes you to the moon to complete classic “item-based” puzzles in the style of a “quiet adventure” focused on presenting the world and story in an immersive and beautiful way, with gesture-based controls and minimal UI.
The game is going to be released sometime during the month of March, but there’s no word yet on how much Doggins is going to cost you. The developer has made clear, though, that the game will not have any in-app purchases nor ads.
Games Insight, the development studio behind a plethora of iOS free-to-play games such as Tank Domination and Dragon Eternity, has announced X-Mercs: Invasion; its upcoming turn-based strategy game. The story sounds familiar (fighting aliens and saving the human race), but this iPad-only free-to-play game might just the refreshing change we need to see in the realm of turn-based shooters if the game lives up to the quality and fun-factor of its siblings.
The details are scant at this point; it’s not yet clear when the game will be released nor what kinds of in-app purchases you will inevitably need to buy to get the full experience. But, as is the case with all Games Insight games, the game will at least be free to download. Be on the lookout for X-Mercs: Invasion later this year.
Nozoku Rush, a game from indie development studio Chaotic Box and successor to the original Nozoku, is primed to hit the App Store this Thursday. The premise of the game, while simple, seems to be exciting and fast-paced if the below video is to be believed. Essentially, the player must tap and drag over numbers on the board, racing against to clock, to make combinations that subtract down to zero.
“Swipe tiles that subtract down to zero to clear them off the board. Set up big combos to maximize your score and dominate the leaderboards,” says the game’s official website. The game features three modes including “Rush Mode,” where the tiles fall faster as the game progresses, “Race Mode,” which pits the player against the clock, and “Extreme Mode,” which you should turn on to “crank up the intensity!”
Nozoku Rush will be available for purchase on the App Store at a price of $2.99 on March 6.
Posted by Tre Lawrence on March 3rd, 2014 iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Learnist has released an iOS version of its popular crowdsourced information app of the same name.
The iOS app is the packaged iteration of the service: featuring shared knowledge from regular users on a wide variety of topics. The basic, tangible concept behind Learnist is that everybody is an expert in something, and collaboration makes this knowledge even more valuable.
Learnist has premium content, but is available to download from the App Store for free.
With iOS 7 came much better support for third-party gaming peripherals, and the MFi (Made-for-iPhone) controller seems to be all the rage lately among accessory makers. Mad Catz is one of many manufacturers that plans to release more controllers for iOS 7 devices, and Engadget reports that the company recently unveiled its latest development: the C.T.R.L.i.
The controller is the first from Mad Catz to natively support iOS 7 and, while it’s still in active development, Engadget had the opportunity to experience the peripheral and confirm that it’s indeed in fully-playable condition. The device features a “spring-loaded mount” to holster your iOS device, and said mount is attached with a screw – meaning users who wish to use the controller with a device too big for the clip can remove it altogether.
Although many MFi-type controllers have been known as of yet to be expensive and of low build-quality, Mad Catz hopes to break that trend this Spring with the C.T.R.L.i. The device is expected to launch for $80 and come in black, white, blue, red, and orange variations.