Posts Tagged Game Dev Story
Over one million apps have made their way onto the App Store during its five years of existence. A million. That’s a pretty miraculous number when you think about it. However it’s not the amount of apps we have to pick from that I find so fascinating, but rather just how much things have changed since 2008. Pickings were comparatively slim at first, and many developers were just starting to dip a toe in the waters of Apple’s new smartphone.
On top of that, the technology itself has changed tremendously in a relatively small amount of time. It makes me wonder if anyone from 2008 would even recognize current iOS devices, and by extension the App Store. Would a newer Apple initiate have any idea what they were looking at if they somehow managed to take a trip to five years ago? I think it warrants a look at how the hardware, the App Store, and the apps contained within it have evolved.
2008 – The Beginning of the Beginning
The App Store’s first year was a rough but promising one. The iPhone 3G rolled out to coincide with Apple’s new software venue and the original iPhone was still viable. The iPod touch was also present and accounted for, while the second generation appeared closer to the end of the year. Even at this point many developers were eager to push these early iOS devices to their limits, to make them more than just a phone or an .mp3 player with a fancy screen.
Handy apps like Pandora Radio, Last.FM, Facebook, and Yelp were to be expected, but that didn’t make them any less impressive to have on a handheld platform. Others such as the intuitive personal organizer Evernote, the eerily accurate song-identifying app Shazam, eWallet’s convenient and secure account password management, and MLB At Bat with its extensive baseball coverage further capitalized on the particulars of the hardware and its general portability. Of course there were also some pretty unnecessary options out there, too. Flashlight kind of served a purpose but was also fairly pointless. It wasn’t as bad as stuff like More Cowbell!, though.
At the same time, the games available on the App Store were beginning to show people that “mobile” didn’t have to equal “mediocre.” Sure there were a few simple ports of the odd classic such as Ms. PAC-MAN, Vay, and Scrabble, but there were also some impressive iOS renditions of popular console games like Super Monkey Ball coming out. Potential mobile gamers also had a few really special titles such as Galcon and Fieldrunners to tide them over. When all was said and done there were over 7,500 apps on the App Store by the end of the year, with more being added every day.
2009 – Moving Right Along
The following year saw even more impressive releases as Apple’s digital marketplace began to expand. The second generation of iPod Touch was the bright and shiny new toy at the time, but it was followed shortly by the iPhone 3GS in June while the latest and greatest third generation Touch closed out the year in September. It all meant better processors, better CPUs, more advanced operating systems, and so on. All stuff that developers needed to acclimate to, but also stuff that meant they could push their boundaries even further. There was no loss of steam when it came to content, either: the App Store finished off 2009 with well over 100,000 apps available.
Many of the basic smartphone necessities were covered, but there was room for so much more. Especially while the technology was improving. Plenty of people used their iPhones as phones, sure, but with the addition of Skype they were able to enjoy the added functionality of instant messaging and voice chat without cutting into their data plans (so long as a wifi connection was present). Big companies were really starting to take notice as well. That same year Starbucks and many other big businesses threw their virtual hats into the ring with their own apps designed to make life a little bit easier for their iOS-using customers. Practicality was also becoming an even bigger focus. The Kindle app gave iOS users a practical e-reading option, and Dropbox was there being Dropbox. By which I mean “an awesome and super-convenient way to transfer files between multiple platforms.” And this same level of refinement could be seen creeping into the games as well.
So many of the App Store’s most notable games and franchises came out around this time. It was almost a mobile rennaisence of a sort. This was the year Real Racing first blew mobile gamers’ minds, even causing some of them to question the legitimacy of in-game video footage until they were able to see the finished product for themselves. Zenonia was just a fledgling action RPG at the time, and while a lot of people liked it I doubt they knew just how many sequels it would spawn. The same goes for Pocket God, although with updates rather than multiple releases. Flight Control began to eat away at peoples’ free time, Angry Birds and Doodle Jump hit it big (like, super big), and Myst and The Sims 3 further displayed the potential for major releases on mobile platforms. Oh, and Canabalt almost single-handedly invented and popularized a genre.
What do the following iOS apps and games have in common? Well, they all surprised the heck out of us when they were released. That’s saying something, considering we’re all jaded journalists and such.
Apps that come along and knock our socks off are rare, so we’ve put together a list of ten of the most surprising apps from the last five years of the App Store to commemorate that fact, and to maybe show you some cool stuff you might have missed.
These are the apps that came out of left field, making innovative use of iOS hardware and software to bring us a truly unexpected experience.
Hipstamatic – The grandaddy of hipster photo apps, Hipstamatic created the crop and filter genre, with switchable virtual lenses and film types to apply to your ironic images.
Word Lens – Aim your iPhone camera at a sign in another language and see it magically transformed right on your device. If this isn’t transformative tech, I don’t know what is.
Cycloramic – This one lets you set your iPhone down on a hard surface, then uses the built-in vibration feature to spin around in a circle, taking a 360-degree video of the entire process. Wow!
Dark Sky – This innovative weather app does one thing really well: warn you when it’s going to rain. You can even get a 5 minute warning, which is enough to get your umbrella out and stay dry!
Star Walk – Astronomy apps have been all the rage, especially since the iPad came out. But this one lets you hold your iOS device up to the sky, and it will show you what stars and other heavenly objects are up there, in real time. Heck, you can even track Santa with it during the holidays.
These games either came out of nowhere and burned themselves into the collective unconscious, or were so bizarrely fun and successful that they had to be mentioned here.
Game Dev Story – We’ve spent entire days in thrall to this cleverly addictive saga of video game development, putting our retro-styled pixel people through their paces to push out the next great hit.
Candy Crush Saga – What’s so surprising about a match-three game becoming the top-grossing app in just a few weeks? Well, it’s a match-three game.
Tiny Wings – One indie dev, Andreas Illiger, sat down and created this brilliant piece of game design, popularizing the one-touch game genre and garnering a ton of copycat and clone apps in the bargain. Plus, he made a lot of money, which we like to talk about, too.
Angry Birds – Did you ever think that flinging birds in a slingshot at pigs in bizarre structures would turn into a global hit, spawning way too many tie-in items, like fishing lures? Us, neither.
10000000 – Small, brutally difficult indie game that became a smash hit overnight. That’s pretty surprising, right?
Being asked to sum up the past five years of the App Store, on a personal level, is tough. Partly, because I have the memory of a goldfish, but also because so much has happened in those few years. How do you highlight what’s so great about a device and service that you can’t imagine being without? My iPhone and the App Store, by proxy, has been immensely important to me in this time. It’s given me so much information, enjoyment and even been a great outlet in times of need. Here’s a feeble attempt at trying to sum up how vital it’s all been for me.
Launch day: Despite the goldfish analogy, I do remember when the App Store first launched. I’d had an iPhone for a couple of months previously and had dabbled in jailbreaking, but didn’t feel too comfortable with it. The day the App Store started was genuinely exciting stuff. It’s hard to believe, for those newer to the Store, but it was possible to browse from start to finish, thanks to there being a mere 500 apps available. I did that, regularly, until it got to a point where there were just too many titles to look at. Like with any launch day event, these apps didn’t show off everything the technology could do, but they did offer a glimpse of a thrilling future.
Flight Control: Excluding a dabble with the no longer with us, Bejeweled 2, Flight Control was my first great iOS love. It showed me how great the touch controls of the iPhone could be, and how quickly one could gain satisfaction from a phone game. My past experiences with mobile gaming had been fun, but lacking that certain something that made me think it could rival handheld consoles. Flight Control changed that, for me, and I loved spending ages battling to improve my high score. Not that I was any good at it, though!
Exploration: I like apps that enhance my life, and I’ve used many in the past. Star Chart sticks in my mind, however, thanks to it enabling me to learn more about an area. While at the summit of an ancient ridge, Cefn Bryn, I could load up Star Chart and work out exactly what stars were above me and where. It was pretty magical.
A career path: It’s a pretty significant one, but if it wasn’t for the App Store, I wouldn’t be writing this. In fact, I’m not entirely sure what I’d be doing, given throughout my freelance career thus far, the App Store and iOS have played a very big role. It’s changed my life for the better. It’s been nearly three years since I wrote my first review for 148apps, Carnivores: Dinosaur Hunter, and I’m immensely grateful for how far I, and the site, have come.
The indie uprising: I always passively appreciated the efforts of indie developers, before the advent of the App Store, but my love for them has definitely grown. Perhaps more excitingly, I feel enabled to give it a go myself at some point. While I haven’t yet found the time spare to really pursue it, Xcode, Stencyl and Gamesalad are waiting for me, reminding me that the era of the bedroom coder has returned. That’s got to be a good thing for creativity, right?
Beloved Apps and Missed Titles
Favorites: I’ve struggled to narrow the list down. Really struggled. The memories of one Saturday morning avidly playing Game Dev Story in bed, before realising it’s practically lunchtime are particularly strong. Much the same as my hundreds of hours spent with Fairway Solitaire are fond, if tarnished by the time it inexplicably lost all my data and progress. Or how about the time I demonstrated the power of the iPad to my mother with the double whammy of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and XCOM: Enemy Unknown? The former being one of my favorite games of all time.
Out of them all, though, a select bunch are used nearly every day. I take photos each day to track my life and have some fond memories to look back on, so Instagram is a must have for me. I like to back up such things, as well as my social networking sharing, so Momento is always at the forefront of my recently used apps. As a writer, iA Writer completes the selection, thanks to its cloud syncing ensuring I can always write up a quick idea, no matter where I am. New Star Soccer remains the key game that I regularly find myself returning to, living my fantasy as a world class soccer player.
Apps I miss: There are a couple of apps I miss, though. Puzzle Quest being one such title, given my love of the Match-3 genre and the fact I’ve played it to death on all other formats. Similarly, I adored Big Blue Bubble’s use of the Fighting Fantasy license, although at least Tin Man Games is doing a brilliant job of taking over that mantle.
It’s been a fun five years, and given how far the App Store has come in that time, I’m excited to see what the next five years will bring. It’s looking like a pretty rosy future to me!
I play games on my iPhone a lot, as I’m sure many of you reading this do. The thing is, while many iOS games are great in their own right and function well for gaming in small bursts or extended sessions, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot that can be picked up, played, and stopped at the drop of a hat. Oh sure most can be suspended but I’m talking about games that actually allow you to quit entirely and come right back to where you left off no matter how long that may take. Games that auto-save constantly, can be saved at any time with a single button press, stuff like that. Here are our picks for four of the best.
Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil
Most of Playdek’s card games fall into this category but I’ve chosen this one because it’s the most recent. And because I happen to really like it. Gamers vs. Evil tracks progress in each match, however many there might be at once spread out over single and multiplayer modes. This means you can play a single hand or even stop in the middle of one, quit for whatever reason, and then start it right back up again from wherever it left off. It’s as perfect for micro-gaming sessions as it is for lengthy ones.
Released: 2012-12-19 :: Category: Games
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this 2D Minecraft-like since its release for many reasons, but it’s the save system that’s always impressed me the most. Pausing the game at any point will save progress automatically, so stopping at a moment’s notice is never a problem. Even more impressive is the way Jack’s inventory can be saved and transferred between worlds, so even if you get tired of your current game you can always start a new one and keep all your cool stuff.
Game Dev Story
Kairosoft’s first iOS release continues to be their greatest as far as I’m concerned, but really all of their games are perfect for quick starts and stops of game time. That big Save button sitting on the main screen for every single one of their titles that saves progress instantly makes it incredibly easy to stop what you’re doing and get back to actual work. Not that I’m condoning that sort of behavior, of course.
Much like Kairosoft, GAMEVIL also has the handy Save button down pat. Their action RPG series is plenty of fun and this most recent release is absolutely packed with features, and yet they’ve (thankfully) kept the one that makes it the easiest to play whenever and wherever. It’s comforting to know I can tap once to save and then bolt off of my train without having to worry about losing all that progress.
In keeping with the recent mass transit theme, this Favorite 4 is all about maintaining personal space. While many of us might enjoy occupying our commute time with bird-flinging or hack n’ slash action this can sometimes invite some unwanted attention. Lining up that final shot can be difficult enough without some complete stranger leaning over us and watching our every move. This is where games that appear uninteresting, but are actually quite fun, can come in handy.
Organ Trail:Director’s Cut
Like it or not, a number of people dislike “retro” visuals. Whether it’s a general lack of appreciation or some self-imposed snobbery depends on the individual, but regardless not everyone thinks pixels are neat. It frustrating, sure, but it can also mean the difference between someone you don’t know trying to awkwardly start up a conversation on the bus about the game you’re playing and being left alone.
Released: 2012-08-09 :: Category: Games
I’ve gone on at length about how much I love Mission Europa, and also about how downright ugly it is. But that’s the “beauty” of it. It’s a fantastic action RPG with some incredibly deep and rewarding systems, but it looks so bizarre and low tech it won’t draw much attention from the guy standing in the doorway just over your shoulder.
Released: 2011-03-15 :: Category: Games
Released: 2011-03-16 :: Category: Games
DragonSlasher is another game with visuals that belie a much more complex experience. It looks like a simple action game with solid color cutouts for characters. It’s most definitely not much to look at and at best might draw a curious glance or two for a moment before any would-be gawkers shift their attention elsewhere. And while they’re busy reading some other poor commuter’s newspaper, you get to enjoy what is essentially a side-scrolling portable Demon’s Souls in peace.
Released: 2011-04-03 :: Category: Games
Game Dev Story
This really applies to all Kairosoft games but I wanted to stick with the one we all fell in love with first. Although it’s certainly cute to look at and sports some pretty colorful visuals, Game Dev Story is only really interesting when you’re playing it. Watching it, especially when you have no idea what’s going on, is much less interesting. Which means less random people breathing down your neck and more planning a new console launch.
On This Episode:
Who We Are:
How to Listen:
Apps Mentioned in this Episode:
Released: 2011-03-01 :: Category: Games
Released: 2011-02-18 :: Category: Games
If you haven’t already played Game Dev Story then you probably shouldn’t. It’s not that it’s a bad game, quite the contrary actually, it’s that once you get started playing you’ll likely never stop. Now chances of ever getting actual work done again have become even more dire, as franchise developer Kairosoft has officially launched Waiwai! The Game Dealer in Japan.
Where Game Dev Story put players in the roles of a studio boss trying to make an amazing game, The Game Dealer tasks you with getting the products off store shelves and into the homes of consumers. Unfortunately, our Japanese skills are virtually nonexistent, but it seems the game will have players managing aspects of a game store such as inventory and employees, while also trying to come up with ways to entice new customers and drive up sales. It may sound mundane on paper, but then so did Game Dev Story, and that one is chock full of win.
While there’s no word if The Game Dealer will see play outside of Japan it’s a safe bet to assume that it will. Kairosoft has already localized Game Dev Story for English-speaking audiences, and is currently hard at work getting Game Dev Story 2 ready for an American launch. We’d say there’s about a 95 percent chance that The Game Dealer will make it to other markets, but you never know in the crazy world of app development what will happen next.
We’re also hoping that The Game Dealer is just as wacky and irreverent as Game Dev Story. I mean, in that game would hire an actual, honest-to-goodness code monkey, so please tell me there’s going to be some sort of equivalent in The Game Dealer. At any rate we’re very excited about the release of this new game, and only hope that we won’t have to learn Japanese in order to play it.
[via Touch Arcade]
On This Episode:
Who We Are:
How to Listen:
Apps Mentioned on This Episode:
Released: 2010-04-20 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-08-10 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-02-24 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-10-21 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-06-17 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-12-16 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-02-15 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-10-05 :: Category: Games
Released: 2010-09-30 :: Category: Games