EA Mobile and subsidiary publisher Chillingo were on hand at GDC to demo some of their upcoming mobile titles, including the sequel to one of the biggest iOS franchises, and a couple of interesting new independent titles.
EA Mobile showed off Flight Control Rocket, Firemint’s next entry in their popular path management series. The core gameplay is the same as the original Flight Control: draw lines from ships to their landing points. However, the game now takes place in space (and it boasts a 70′s-esque sci-fi theme to go along with it), and new elements like snake ships that are connected, ships that split in two, and ships that drop drones as they fly by. The game also has bots that can be leveled up, and used as game modifiers, to enable bonuses or to make the game slightly easier. The game is planned for iPhone and iPad, and will be available later this month.
Chillingo and React Entertainment showed off The Act, which is inspired by games like Dragon’s Lair where the graphics are all hand-drawn animation. The game has its origins in an arcade game that was canceled in 2007 that was recently revived for the iPhone. Unlike Dragon’s Lair, where the player had little control over what the protagonist did, in this one, players can swipe left to right in varying degrees to control what they do. For example, in the demo’s opening sequence, the player must try to woo a lovely woman, the object of the protagonist’s affection, at a Casablanca-esque club in a dream sequence. The player must swipe left and right to control the intensity of his actions, from pretending to ignore her, to eventually dancing for her, but not going too far as to jump on her, or to perform the always-classy pelvic thrust.
Next, there was another Chillingo-published title, Air Mail. This game has players flying around beautiful fantasy worlds, performing missions in their biplane. There is no direct combat, no guns being fired, as missions involving dropping off packages, putting out fires with a water bucket that must be refilled, and similar missions of that ilk. As well, there are high score modes that involve limited-time and endless missions, and a free exploration mode with secrets to discover. This game was developed in Unity, and there are plans to bring it to non-iOS platforms as well.
Toki Tori 2 is well underway, and Two Tribes’ Martin Reujvers and Collin Ginkel demoed the Mac version of the game at GDC’s Hollan Pavilion. The game ditches any kind of item usage as in the original, instead focusing on stomping and whistling actions that are used to interact with the environment. For example, by stomping, it can scare one creature into the mouth of a frog, who then produces a bubble that Toki Tori can ride in.
The team is striving to not lock anything artificially; everything in the game will be possible from the beginning. They are calling this a series of “knowledge-based unlocks” where the player is taught new things throughout the game, that they can then go back to use in earlier sections to find new collectibles and discover new paths through levels. They demonstrated this in several points throughout the demo, like in one area where players could discover a hidden area at the very beginning of the demo by using what they learned later on in it.
Toki Tori 2 will be released for iOS later this year, utilizing similar touch controls as the original iOS game. The PC/Mac versions are expected to launch in June, with iOS and possibly Android versions launching after that.
Tuesday at GDC, Engineous Games showed off Sketch Nation Studio, their long-awaited game creation tool kit. The followup to Sketch Nation Shooter, this game was in development for the past year as Sketch Nation Jump before they took some extra time to enhance the game, and now it is just about ready to hit the world.
This will allow budding game creators to create their own endless platformer game of one of five types; endless jumpers like Doodle Jump, an endless descent game, horizontal jumping games, endless runner, and an endless flier, similar to Jetpack Joyride. Other genres are planned to be added at some point in the future.
There are two ways to create games: Simple mode, which allows users to choose a genre, add some player and enemy art, and create their game; this process can be done in under two minutes, as was shown off in our demo of the game. Advanced mode allows users to create games in about an hour, according to developer estimates. Platforms with specific behaviors can be created, along with various enemies, powerups with a variety of effects, various scoring systems implemented, and advanced art effects applied.
Sketch Nation Studio will be free to download, but will have in-app purchases. What this currency, entitled Sketchbucks, will be used for is to download games from the service. Users will start with 1000 Sketchbucks, and will spend 50 or so Sketchbucks to download a game. However, it will be free to upload games to the Sketch Nation networks, and users will get Sketchbucks for every game they ‘sell’. The developer, Engineous Games, is trying to create a social network with news feeds and shared activities so users can see who among their friends is playing what, and to try and beat their high scores.
The app’s most defining feature may be the ability to submit games to be sold as separate games. These must be created separately from the Simple and Advanced modes, and do not feature the ability to import user-created games or user art from the network at this point. The games will then be submitted to the developers for review, and if approved, will be sold on the App Store for $0.99, with 50% of the price after Apple’s 30% cut going to the game creator. Payment will be handled through PayPal initially, though there are plans to partner with another payment processor in the future.
The app will be submitted to Apple soon, and will be available as a universal app. Canadians will get a head start on the creation, as the app is planned to launch there in a brief stress test before the global launch. A lot of these details are subject to change, especially as the app may push the boundaries of what Apple allows in their review guidelines, but this app and its technology should be available to the general public in some form soon.
Halfbrick’s mega-hit Jetpack Joyride is getting a major update in the coming weeks that will bring some big changes to the gameplay. As shown to us at GDC by Halbrick’s Phil Larsen, the game is adding Gadgets. These will be items that can be used in order to bring new skills to the game. For example, one of the initial items, the Air Barrys, can be used to jump off the ground higher, about halfway up. There’s the ability to ride Mr. Cuddles at the start of the game, bursting out of the wall at the beginning, with the new Free Ride powerup. The Ezy-Dodge missiles make for easier obstacles to dodge, as per their name. Powerups will be tiered, where multiple in a tier must be bought before the new tier is available, and two powerups are available to be activated at a time. The 1.3 update is scheduled to hit in April, and we have screens and a trailer for the game. As well, Halfbrick are working on animated shorts like the game’s launch trailer to comically flesh out the story of the lab and its origins.
We sat down with publisher BulkyPix today to talk about a slew of upcoming games for iOS, including The Sandbox, Lightopus, Kung Fu Rabbit, Saving Private Sheep 2, and Gnu Revenge.
Pixowl led off the meeting with The Sandbox, previewed on 148Apps here. It’s exactly what its name implies: an open-ended game with retro-pixel charm and a TON of things to do, play with, and create with. We’re pretty excited about the potential of this little toy/game, and look forward to it’s release, hopefully in May of this year.
Lightopus, developed by Appxplore, comes out this coming Thursday, and has a neon-colored look with some surprisingly subtle gameplay mechanics. Players take on the role of a protozoan-like creature who must gather its babies, while avoiding and attacking enemies with those very same babies. The gameplay feels a lot like fl0w or the initial level of Spore, which isn’t a bad thing, and has a relaxing electronica score. Stay tuned here for a review soon.
Kung Fu Rabbit features a cute but dangerous rabbit with all the right kung fu moves. Previewed here a week or so ago, the game tasks players to take on the role of the aforementioned rabbit, out to save rabbit babies from the evil shadow man. Kung Fu Rabbit looks adorable, but make no mistake, it’s a tough platformer to beat. This combination of tough yet cute could be a winner when it releases March 15.
Saving Private Sheep is getting a sequel, the cleverly named Saving Private Sheep 2. Militant sheep aim their hedgehog at the exposed parts of their nemesis, an evil fox. The mechanics may look familiar; aiming and powering the slingshot full of hedgehog feels a lot like Angry Birds. However, the actual content is more puzzler than physics destruction, as players need to find the best way to pass the hedgehog ordinance from sheep to sheep.
Gnu Revenge is a humorous puzzle game that uses the concept of gravity and acceleration as its main, pardon the pun, thrust. Players shoot a wacky-looking gnu at a dastardly crocodile in a spaceship, saving fellow gnus from some horrendous-yet-unspecified fate, shooting around planetary bodies with various amounts of gravitational pull. Using just the right amount of boost to avoid crashing into planets or flying off into space is tricky yet strangely compelling at the same time. Look for this one to come out at the end of March.
Three other titles, releasing in April and May of this year, include a hidden object game based on the point and click PC game, Runaway, and a darkly mysterious app titled Yesterday, which features a serial killer and the homeless with some beautifully gritty graphics.
We will, of course, be keeping our eye on all these titles as they release. Our thanks to BulkyPix for spending time with us at the conference today.
Remember iSwifter and its impressive capabilities in terms of bringing Flash to the iPad? That same cloud-based technology has gone one step further now, with news coming out of GDC, that the firm will now be offering a licensing program for PC-based gaming applications to be streamed to iOS devices.
As co-founder of iSwifter, Rajat Gupta, explains “It is virtually impossible for developers to bring PC games to mobile as quickly as we can through our lowest cost streaming cloud service, and to provide a native-like user experience with automatic enablement of touch gestures,” so this is potentially huge news for iOS device owners. The lofty ambition, according to co-founder and Chairman, Peter Relan, is to “do to applications what Netflix™ did for movies.”
As always, we’ll keep up to date on the latest progress with such a move. While waiting for companies to embrace this concept, why not check out the current iSwifter app?