As its latest title comes with the unique proposition of helping a children’s charity, we thought it time to learn more about Polish iOS developer, Shortbreak Studios.
Who is Shortbreak Studios?
Part of Techland, one of the biggest Polish game developers out there thanks to its work on titles such as the Call of Juarez games, Shortbreak Studios is made up of a core team of 9 passionate developers. A mixture of programmers, designers, level designers, artists and a producer, the company benefits from relying on Techland to work out the finances and allowing the team to focus on the creative side of things. As explained by producer, Pawel Rohleder, it means the combination of “the flexibility and creativity of a small independent development studio with the experience and knowledge of an established player in the gaming industry!”
Why should I remember the Shortbreak Studios name?
There are a couple of good reasons, so far. First of all, they made Sugar High, a game that perhaps owed a little too much to Tiny Wings but still proved to be great fun. More importantly, Shortbreak Studios has worked in conjunction with the Cape of Hope Foundation in order to create oncology clinic for children with Cancer.
How did Heal Them All come about?
Pawel Rohleder explains, “We have been supporting Cape of Hope for some time and it was our mutual idea to create a game about defending the organisms for mobile devices. We thought that fighting microbes inside the human body would be [a] very nice setting for a tower defense game as this genre is very popular on mobile patforms. Another idea was the freemium business model as we wanted to reach as many users as possible by offering a part of our game for free.” Notably, Heal Them All is entirely free to try out with the full campaign unlocked for $1.99.
What’s next on the horizon?
The team has lofty plans, with Pawel happily declaring the ambition that many hold, “Our main goal is to conquer the whole world with our mobile games!” At the moment, though, the firm is mostly working on two different projects that they aren’t able to discuss just yet, as well as porting to other devices. Possible updates for their current titles are also in the works and currently being brainstormed.
Anything else I should know about Shortbreak Studios?
Pawel was all too keen to tell us just what he and the rest of the team love about iOS development.
Pawel: Everything! We enjoy every aspect of mobile game development and we put a lot of effort and passion into every step of [the] production process. We believe this is the only way to make high quality games. One of the most important…[parts] in efficient mobile development is rapid prototyping. Each prototype must convince us that this could be a GREAT game. We cancel the project if we do not believe in its playable demo. And the sooner, the better. The development process itself is also very interesting because of tons of small decisions that the team needs to make in [terms] of hard negotiations or just [our] gut feeling . Personally, I love the final stage of the development where all individual assets turn into a working product and our vision materializes into a real game. This…shows us that it was all worth the effort but…it always makes us come up with a lot of new ideas and changes that we could make to improve the final quality.
Schools rely on fundraising efforts from parents and supporters of their establishments, even more so in recent years thanks to the ever tighter budgets being implemented during these tough economic times. There are plenty of ways to raise money but so many of these are either time-intensive, hugely inconvenient or even expensive for supporters to back. Those people struggling need to check out Shoparoo. It’s a new app that’s set to make things so much easier and more profitable for schools and their supporters.
Basically, the app turns grocery receipts into money for schools. All the user has to do is take a photo of their receipt via the Shoparoo app and watch the “Roo Points” flood in for their designated school. It’s as simple as that. The more spent, the more points awarded with bonuses for clear pictures of receipts and regular submissions.
The folks at Shoparoo have managed to work out a deal that involves information gathered by the app being used to identify trends and general consumer behavior. Shoppers don’t have to worry about any excessive personal information being taken though as no credit card or bank details are required. Users can even cross out certain items on their receipts if they’d rather not disclose it. It’s a great way of ensuring that market research benefits you, not just major companies.
Jared Schrieber, co-founder and CEO of Shoparoo, explained the benefits to us. “The concept of turning grocery purchases into school donations is already widely adopted throughout the U.S.,” he said. “What’s so unique about our approach is that there’s absolutely nothing specific that parents have to buy, sell or collect in order to raise money for their school. This makes Shoparoo an amazingly hassle-free fundraiser and a natural complement to schools’ existing Box Tops and labels collection programs.”
It’s a pretty neat idea and it’s already been backed by numerous major companies such as Dove, Hellmanns and Knorr. Over 200 schools have already signed up to the project with it promised to be simple to join. Funds are then credited automatically based on the Roo Points accumulated.
Why not give it a try for your school? Let us know your experiences of the service.
Socialvest is the latest app that hopes to give something back to worthy causes.
Previously a desktop based product, the app lets users shop with their iPhones, before receiving money back from each purchase that can be used to donate to over 1.5M different non-profit organisations.
Hundreds of different stores are available through the app, covering a wide range of different wants and needs. Major stores such as Amazon and Best Buy are available, as well as other more niche examples.
Each store offers a different percentage of spend that will go to a charity, making it clear to see what money is going where. It’s then similarly easy to decide on a charity or cause and watch the money go towards helping someone or something less fortunate.
It’s a neat idea and it’ll be fascinating to see how much Socialvest raises for good causes in the long term.
Socialvest is available now for the iPhone, and it’s free to download.
It’s hard to work up sympathy for one of nature’s most efficient aquatic killing machines (a few species, anyway), but I think it’s do-able. Sharks might not be cuddly, and they have been known to attack and/or kill people, but that’s no reason to hunt them to extinction. Especially for some overpriced soup. Which is why WildAid, The Discovery Channel, and Gameloft have joined forces for Shark Week to raise awareness and do a bit of fund raising through Shark Dash.
For the rest of the month and a few weeks in August, players of both the iOS and ad-supported Google Play versions of Shark Dash will be able to purchase special “limited time only” content – most notably a new skin for Sharky – for a monetary show of support. Proceeds will go toward raising awareness and hopefully reducing the demand for shark fin soup; a luxury dish with rapidly growing demand and a rapidly diminishing source. Over 70 million sharks per year, in fact.
The special content will be available until August 18th, and I urge anyone with the means to do their part. Sharks may not be cute, fuzzy, or huggable (I sure as heck would never go swimming with one, except possibly a whale shark), but they don’t deserve to die out over something like this.
PopCap is staging a charity event on Tuesday, June 26th to help benefit charity: water, and to set a Guinness World Record. Two women, Kathleen Henkel playing at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City and Laura Rich playing at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, will try to play the game for 24 or more hours of Solitaire Blitz to set the record for Longest Videogames Marathon Playing a Card Game. They can take breaks while playing, but the rules are very strict about how long their breaks can be.
PopCap is pledging $5,000 for each player, and individuals can pledge money for each hour that the two women play on the Solitaire Blitz Facebook page. Their attempts to set the record can be viewed live on the internet starting at 2:00 PM GMT (9:00 AM EDT), or in person at each location, where PopCap will be handing out free goodies, and taking donations for charity: water.
m-spacemedia, makers of the unexpectedly fun Asteroid 2012 3D, have unleashed another game onto an unsuspecting App Store. This time it’s a pattern-based reactionary puzzle game. Think Simon, but with cubes. It’s a lot like that. Players will have to match the sequence of flashing cubes in order to keep going, but the patterns get faster and more complex the longer they last. Anyone familiar with the concept knows just how crazy it can get.
Floozled is available on the App Store right now for free. But more importantly, 50% of the ad revenue earned from this game as well as Asteroid 2012 Free-D and Honeyrun HD Free will be donated to the James Whale Fund. The proceeds will be donated at the end of July, with the money being used to fund kidney cancer treatment and research, so there’s still plenty of time to download and contribute by tapping on an ad or two. After that, a new charity will be chosen for August through October.
“This is an ongoing push to help raise money and awareness to smaller charities helping those when they need it most.” – Mark Muller
m-spacemedia has already raised close to $50 with close to three months left. Those interested can follow the fundraiser’s progress or donate directly here, and details about the charity can be found here. Anyone want to see if we see if we can add a digit or two (or more) to that number?
On April 10th, people across the country will go barefoot in support of the annual TOMS One Day Without Shoes campaign. The shoe manufacturer, which gives a pair of shoes to a needy child whenever they make a sale, created the campaign to raise awareness of the dangers children living in poverty face when walking around barefoot. For this year’s big event though, EA is bringing the campaign to the digital space by allowing The Sims to go barefoot too.
Once the campaign begins, players of The Sims FreePlay will be given the option to let their Sims go barefoot for the day. This has no adverse effect on gameplay as Sims will still be able to do what they want and any player who chooses to show support for the movement will be given a pair of free virtual TOMS’ shoes to put on their Sims once the day is over. Best of all, participating won’t cost players anything as The Sims FreePlay is available for free on the App Store now.
A year ago today a massive earthquake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, leaving 185 dead and the lives of thousands in shambles. The country’s second-largest city was horrifically damaged, and to this day aftershocks and unstable buildings have caused large sections of the city to be rendered completely uninhabitable and unsafe. It is a major tragedy, and one which has sadly been too quickly forgotten by the international community.
But out of this darkness comes a light, as at least one publisher is taking action to support those affected by the earthquake. Polar Bear Farm founder Layton Duncan has penned a heartfelt letter on the company blog stating that all Polar Bear Farm apps are going on sale for today only, with 100 percent of the proceeds devoted to earthquake relief. The money will be funneled into a charitable trust with the sole purpose of restoring and rebuilding downtown Christchurch so that the city’s inhabitants can have their city back.
For those unfamiliar with Polar Bear Farms, they make a variety of neat utilitarian apps like Showtime, Face Match, Convert, and many more. For a full list of the company’s apps just pop them up in iTunes and have a look.
If you’re looking to pick up a few new apps this week and also want to do a little social good then this is your chance. Also, please spread the word to friends and loved ones so we can help the people of New Zealand and show them that even a year later they’re still on our minds. I mean, the apps are already on sale AND all the money is going to charity, what more reason can you possibly need to contribute?
The PC indie gaming scene has been known for the Humble Bundles – bundles of indie games that help generate money for charity and publicity for indie developers. iOS is full of indie developers that could take advantage of bundles like these, but bundling games on the App Store is impossible without making just a single app with several games built in to it. So what several indie developers are doing this holiday season is to come together to help promote what they are calling the 12 Indie Apps for Christmas.
These 12 developers, many of whom are part of the iOS indie dev scene on Twitter, are pledging to donate 25% of sales of their games to either Child’s Play or Doctors Without Borders. The games come from all across the gaming spectrum. They include puzzle games Smiles HD and Trainyard, and iBlast Moki. Those looking for a little more action can check out the roguelike remake Sword of Fargoal for iPhone/iPod touch, the space shooter Red Nova, animal-robot hybrid shmup Velocispider, and arena survival game Tilt to Live. Strategy-minded players can check out Harbor Master and Galcon Labs. Fans of turn-based multiplayer can check out Full Deck Word Games, and Disc Drivin‘. Finally, just in time for the holiday season is Christmas Air Hockey!
25% of the sales from these games for the entire month of December will go toward the charity of the developer’s choice. These all go toward worthy causes: not just to help raise publicity for independent developers working hard on their games, trying to find ways to support themselves in a very difficult market, but to also help those less fortunate and truly in need. Plus, there are just few better feelings than buying games and having them go toward a good cause. It’s just a warm, fuzzy feeling that helps to warm the soul during this cold and wet season!
Helping children through charitable causes is always a noble effort. It can be a fun effort too when it comes to games like JetPack Santa.
JetPack Santa has been designed as part of the UK charity Prince’s Trust ‘Million Maker Challenge 2011′ project. It’s an initiative dedicated to raising money to help young people get back into work in deprived areas across the United Kingdom. As anyone who’s experienced the job market around the world recently, it’s tough out there, and young people need all the help they can get. The Prince’s Trust does precisely that.
Developed by volunteers at Hewlett Packard and in partnership with the Serious Games Institute at Coventry University, JetPack Santa isn’t just a honorable purchase to make. It’s also a fun and seasonal game with Santa needing to fly around the world to deliver presents to children. It’s a great way to get into the festive spirit and help some deserving young people too.
Those players of Say What You See: The Collection who downloaded the in-app collection of puzzles, Grace’s Toons, should feel very proud of themselves having raised over £21,000 to help disabled British child Grace Windram.
For the uninformed, Say What You See: The Collection is a game that’s exactly as the title suggests. A hidden object game quite like Where’s Waldo with a hint of Dingbats, players must search each picture for objects while also unraveling their meanings too.
Say What You See: The Collection offers plenty of different in-app themed packages with Grace’s Toons, launched in September, involving 50 well-known cartoon names amongst a Road-runner-esque backdrop. In the 8 weeks since release, £21,000 was raised through the in-app package enabling Grace Windram to have a much happier life.
Little Grace suffers from Spastic Dyplegic Cerebral Palsy, affecting the tone in her legs and arms as well as core muscles across her body. The money raised means she can have a life changing operation in the USA called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, which will remove the tightness in her legs and will eventually enable her to learn to walk.
A fantastic effort indeed!
The money might have been raised but why not give Say What You See: The Collection a try now? It’s free to download with plenty of in-app packs available to extend the fun.
Far too often gaming is heinously thrust under the microscope of the media by organizations like Fox News and CNN. In most circumstances an ill-informed host or reporter with an obvious bias is very outspoken and condemning of an hobby that more and more of us have come to know and love. Sure, recently PopCap received quite a bit of good press for their work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, but more often than not things lean towards the negative.
Five teens from the rural community of Rye, Colorado, along with Phil Hassey of Galcon fame, thought that it was time to once again show the positive side of gaming. After deciding that they wanted to try to help raise funds for a new community center in Rye, the team spent two days designing a brand new game from scratch. When the dust settled, The Exterminator was born.
So how does one decide to make a game about a motorcyclist that is humanity’s last line of defense against mutant bugs? Here is a snippet of Hassey’s rundown of the project’s creative process:
“Wes really wanted to do a motorcycle oriented game and Shamoa was interested in some kind of game where we’d destroy mutant bugs. By combining those ideas we came up with ‘The Exterminator.’ From there we spent two days developing the artwork, music, sound effects, and the actual game. Matt put together the electric guitar soundtrack using GarageBand. Wes, Shamoa, Shadrack, and Cameron all worked on the artwork. Most everyone did some sound effects. We also spent a lot of time eating food and generally goofing off. We wrapped up the project with some solid play-testing and tweaking and we were all really happy with how it came out.”
First of all, hats off to Phil for making this project possible. I’m sure these creative teens brought tons of amazing ideas to the table, but it takes the experience and expertise of a professional to bring all of those ideas together into a cohesive product. Secondly, it is awesome to hear of the selfless generosity of Wes, Matt, Shamoa, Shadrack, and Cameron, all in the name of a good cause. Well done to everyone involved.
If you are interested in supporting this very charitable cause, you can download The Exterminator when it goes live on the App Store, August 17th. All of the proceeds from the game will go towards the efforts to establish a community outreach center in Rye, Colorado. If you would like to learn more about the project and their progress towards raising $200,000, you can check out their website or like the game on Facebook. Also, be sure to check out the trailer below to both see the game in action and meet the teens that made this project possible.
Finally, a game for the British part of me to sink my teeth into. Postal Panic is welcoming to all but its primary focus is on the humble British postcode (the British equivalent of zip codes).
Developed by a bunch of students as part of the Train2Game programme, Postal Panic is all about delivering mail as fast as possible. As the postcode speeds things along, it makes sense that this game requires players to match the corresponding postcode to the parcel.
The game starts out in the London area, increasing across the country. Throughout, an accurate coverage of British postal codes is offered adding a slight educational element to things.
Ultimately though, it’s simple but compelling to play. Right now, it’s also available for the grand price of nothing! Although once it switches to $0.99, 50% of the revenue will be going to the British youth charity, the Prince’s Trust which is a very worthy cause indeed.
Asking a Drag Queen for advice might not be the first thing to spring to mind, certainly not when it comes to new app ideas. However Ask Some Drag Queens could well be a quirky hit with many users who are looking for something a little different. Even better, it’s in aid of charity.
Ask Some Drag Queens enables users to ask The House of LeMay (a comedy drag performance group from Vermont) for advice. Over 100 snappy and unpredictable answers are on offer making the app a kind of quirky eightball game.
10% of the profits from the app go towards the I’m Too Young for This! Cancer Foundation as the app was created in part by a young adult cancer survivor. So users are guaranteed to help raise money for a very worthy cause.
Ask Some Drag Queens is a thoroughly quirky app and it’s available now priced at $0.99. Oh and even better, it’s an universal app too.
Over 2 weeks later and it’s still almost impossible to comprehend the terrible disasters that have befallen Japan. However it’s been heartwarming to see just how much people have rallied around the stricken country. The games industry has been no different, understandably so considering video games’ fantastic history within the country. SEGA did its bit offering a price cut to its Sonic the Hedgehog iOS titles as well as Football Manager Handheld 2011, while vowing to donate all the proceeds to the Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Japan.
Today, SEGA announced just how much was raised: an impressive total of over $250,000, all of which will be donated directly to the Red Cross in order to help the Japanese people.
It’s fantastic news and will no doubt help many who are still suffering.
If you didn’t get a chance to participate in this drive, you’ve still got plenty of time to donate something towards the cause. There’s Play For Japan which enables you to either contribute directly or bid on various auctions for some great rare gaming memorablia. SEGA employees themselves have provided some great bits and pieces available on eBay at the moment.
Do take a look and don’t forget to donate what you can to help the poor people of Japan.
Let’s take a step back from this materialistic world for a minute, and put things back into perspective. It’s time to give something back people. If you’ve ever made an excuse not to donate to charity .. (do you stamp on little kittens while you’re at it?) .. well, frankly, now you don’t have one. Launched on Monday, ShopKick Inc have announced they’ve partnered with both Citibank Inc and Kraft Foods to bring a modern charitable experience to the iPhone that you’ll just want to get involved with – and trust me, you will!
Available for FREE from the App Store, CauseWorld allows you to collect “Karma” when you either come close to, or on entering a retail store. Here’s how it works. On your trip into town, or into the city, you visit a bunch of retail stores and open the CauseWorld app near or inside the participating store(s). By doing so, you’re rewarded with a certain amount of “Karma”. This “Karma” actually represents a small chunk of the $500,000 fund both Citibank and Kraft have each provided together. You the user then get to spend this virtual “Karma” on real world charitable actions, and the best bit is, you get the choose which ones.
I know what you’re thinking .. I have to buy products at the store to gain this Karma, right? Wrong! Simply opening the app at any participated store will result in receiving a whopping chunk of Karma. So far, there are nine charities taking involvement in what CauseWorld is trying to achieve, including the likes of American Red Cross, Feeding America, American Forests, GlobalGiving, DonorsChoose.org, Prevent Child Abuse America, Carbonfund.org, American Humane Association, and Room to Read.
Recap: You get to help real-world causes by simply walking into a store. It’s not even your own money and you get social credit for doing so. So, If you do do one thing today, make it this: CLICK HERE to re-tweet this and spread the word about CauseWorld to your followers on Twitter. Heck, why not put a link to it on your Facebook profile? If only a small amount of you download and start using this app in your day-to-day routine, the world could be seriously better off for it.
Strange Flavour, the developer of such games as Slotz Racer and Flick Sports Fishing, both released by Freeverse, want to send a message to the Japanese government about its sponsorship of the illegal whaling industry. Here’s a note from them:
With Japanese government sponsoring illegal whaling in the Antarctic whale sanctuary, Strange Flavour no longer feel that they can trade in a country where tax money from sales of their games is sponsoring the illegal extermination of endangered species.
Recent attacks with military acoustic weapons and metal projectiles on Sea Shepherd crew and their helicopter as well as multiple attempts to ram the Sea Shepherd’s ship the Steve Irwin have shown just how violent the illegal whalers are prepared to be.
As such, Strange Flavour Ltd. will be donating all their proceeds from their games, including the best selling SlotZ Racer and Flick Sports Fishing from the Japanese iPhone app store to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
“While donating our proceeds from the Japanese App Store is very minor in the scheme of things, we’d like the Japanese government to see that the antics of its illegal whaling industry are both embarrassing Japan and its people and causing it to lose face in a world where modern nations are realising the need to protect the environment and work together to avoid the extinction of critical species. All we can do is show our disgust at the illegal whalers and the government that wastes its tax payers money in propping up their loss making industry.
We hold our Japanese gamers in the highest respect, so we decided to do this rather than penalise them by removing our games from sale in Japan.” – Aaron Fothergill, Managing Director Strange Flavour Ltd.
A very good cause. Here’s hoping that it brings a little more light on this issue.