From the team behind Subway Surfers, with help from internet investor Klaus Lovgreen, comes GivingTales:an app offering a modernised version of classic Hans Christian Andersen tales. And it currentlyfeatures the voices of such talent as Sir Roger Moore, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry, and Dame Joan Collins.
The free-to-download version includes Sir Roger Moore’s reading of "The Princess and the Pea," with further stories available for $3.99. Each story is a short, animated envisioning of the classic tales, making them ideal for young and old alike. Besides being rather charming and great for entertaining kids, there’s an extra reason for paying: 30% of the proceeds are going to UNICEF. The charity helps to create a better world for children via vaccination, education, protection, and food.
We were fortunate enough to have a brief chat with James Bond himself, Sir Roger Moore, to learn about how he got involved with the project.
We’d all love to make video games, right? Odds are you’ve got a cool idea but no way to realize such potential. Well, one Pixel Press' Kickstarter project could be just the thing you’re looking for. It’s called Bloxels, and it lets you build a game out of physical blocks.
Kabam has released their newest action RPG,Spirit Lords. It is a massive four-person multiplayer game with a battle system that has you summoning Spirit allies to come to your aid. You get a lot of options for customization of your character as well as enjoying hundreds of combat abilities, thousands of pieces of gear, and tons of spirits to collect and upgrade.
I had the chance to chat with Daniel Erickson, Senior Director of Design and Michael Dashow, Art Director, about this exciting new game.
148Apps: Hi Daniel! Thanks for taking some time to chat with 148Apps about your game. Spirit Lords looks absolutely huge! What first drew your to the idea of making such a massive ARPG?
Daniel Erickson: I've always loved doing massive RPGs and I've always loved action RPGs. Getting to combine the two on a platform that I truly believe is the future of where RPGs are going was too good a chance to pass up. Mobile enables us to do more content without the backbreaking graphic budget concerns of consoles and reach more people than any other platform.
148Apps: What was the most challenging part of bringing Spirit Lords to life?
The mobile platform is a huge opportunity but also has its own set of challenges. Creating action-packed combat that is driven entirely through gesture controls was a massive undertaking but the results made all the investment of time and resources worth it.
148Apps: You worked as Design and Creative lead on Star Wars: The Old Republic and part of the team for Dragon Age: Origins. Are there any things you learned working on those games that you have integrated into Spirit Lords?
Daniel Erickson: Working on expansive RPGs taught me the joys of creating an epic story for players to uncover and leading design on an MMO taught me how important it is to have a direct channel to your players. There were, however, countless things on both games I would have loved to explore that were impossible due to the complexity of the platforms and the huge budgets involved with every task. On Spirit Lords, we've been able to talk the grand scale and scope of epic console RPGs and MMOs and attempt to recreate that feel on the mobile platform while still having room to experiment.
148Apps: What is your favorite part of Spirit Lords?
Daniel Erickson: The Spirit and combat system. Every Spirit is its own character but also has its own magic ability you can equip and then use in the fantastic gesture-based combat system that Jay Ambrosini, our lead designer, created. So my Spirit sets tend to be a mix of characters I love for their design, ones I love for the ability they provide, and ones that are just great raw power.
148Apps: Michael, thanks for talking with us. I took a look through Kabam's artbook for the game and the design is gorgeous! What originally drew you to the project?
Michael Dashow: Thank you! Spirit Lords's Executive Producer Phil Shenk and I worked together at Blizzard, and we brought the game Diablo II to life together. When Kabam decided that they wanted to create a fantastic action RPG in that style, Phil was the first person they tapped and I joined shortly after. We - and the entire team - were really excited for the opportunity to make an action RPG that played really smoothly on mobile devices, that felt like it was made for that platform and took advantage of the touch-screen controls to be really fun to play.
148Apps:The characters are a great middle ground between realistic and chibi. How did you decide on the design style for Spirit Lords?
Michael Dashow: We set out to make a game that would appeal to a wide variety of players. Easy controls with a lot of gameplay depth were core elements of the game design, and the visual style supported that goal as well. We all agreed from the start that we wanted a look that was a nice balance between casual and core. We knew what the camera angle would be for the gameplay from the start, so I aimed for characters with large, exaggerated proportions that would read really clearly from that perspective. We went through a lot of character iteration to get just the right proportions that looked great both when running around levels and when you viewed them in your Inventory screen and in cut-scenes. In the end, we all really loved the proportions that combined some cartoony exaggeration but still looked tough and able to dish out some punishment to the monsters in the game. And for the monsters themselves, we had a lot more freedom to come up with some really fun, exaggerated designs that all had a lot of personality.
148Apps:Some of the spirits and creatures are adorable like the Grubbins and some are really badass like the fire elemental. Which is your favorite?
Michael Dashow: There are a lot of them that I love - asking me to name a favorite is like asking someone which of their 400 children they love best! But if I had to pick one, it would be Titanic Lord Wampafu Immortal Mountain, a giant warrior Urshin with a big name and an even bigger spiked golden hammer. It's funny you should ask because just a few days ago, I put the same question to the entire Spirit Lords development team and asked them what their favorites were. The long list included Wanpafu, the Grubbins, the Ramm spirit Beneficent SkyShield Marche, the Master of Chains, the Master of the Shield, the Buja, the Prismatic Cephalopop, the Gorgant, and Faragul of the Frozen Heart (the final evolution of Highland Assassin, the first spirit that you get in the game.)
Thanks for the kind notes about the art of Spirit Lords. Glad you like it, and enjoy the game!
Thank you so much to Daniel and Michael. The game looks like a fantastic time. You can pick up your own copy of Spirit Lords on the App Store for free and join the fun.
The Fast and the Furious is an action film series full of fast cars, hard-ass characters, and illegal shenanigans that first came out in 2001. The upcoming film, Furious 7, continues the storyline of the third film - The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Kabam has done a lot of movie tie-in games like The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth, Marvel Contest of Champions, and even Fast and the Furious 6, so it was no surprise to find out that they've developedFast & Furious: Legacy, which proposes to cover all of the F&F movies so far.
Cuz Parry, Creative Director for Fast & Furious: Legacy,took some time to talk with 148Apps about the upcoming game.
Recently, I was invited to check out N-Fusion and 505's upcoming RPG title, Ember. Set in the land of Domus, you'll be embroiled in a rich story with over 70 quests, a ridiculously expansive skill tree, and gorgeous landscapes. You play as aLightbringer who is trying to save the embers - which the world covets to the point of war, of course.Jeff Birns, CEO of N-fusion, walked me though his work and it was obvious that this was truly a labor of love. And he was happy to answer a few questions on his beloved game.
Set for release next month, RAD Boarding is looking to be a pretty fun endless runner in the vein of Tiny Wings. You play a burnt-out 90s celebrity with nothing left to do in life but grab his snowboard, don his shades, and go on one final ride because, oh yeah, the world’s ending. The game promises a 90s inspired soundtrack as well as the inclusion of collectible Milk Caps, which will seem somewhat familiar to fans of Pogs from the 1990s. Plus you can smash through tombstones, if that’s your kind of thing.
Developed by Other Ocean, best known for NBA Rush, and published by the team behind the Super Stickman Golf series, Noodlecake Games, RAD Boarding certainly has some quality pedigree backing it. Intrigued by the game, we were able to talk to Noodlecake Games’ Ryan Holowaty and Other Ocean’s Marc McGinley to learn more.
148Apps: As a Tiny Wings style game, how many areas/worlds are there going to be to explore in RAD Boarding overall? Marc McGinley (MM): Players can unlock new environments by beating Tiny the Bear (the boss). Tiny is a (not-so-tiny) eye patch wearing circus bear who is impressed by performing crazy trick combos. There are four environments in the game at launch: Grasslands, Desert, Jungle, and Ice Lands. Later environments help you earn more coins and collect more frogs.
148Apps: How long has the game been in development, roughly? MM: We started out with a very different game and have gone through a lot of iteration and player feedback to get to where we are today. What you see right now in the game took us around a year to develop.
148Apps: What kind of in-app purchases will be available? Are there any upgrade paths to pursue? MM: All of the upgrades in the game are focused around helping the player get further into the level, or earning them more currency to buy more upgrades. For convenience, players can purchase coin packs to speed up their progress, but the game is balanced fairly for non-paying users. Players can also buy Boost Tokens that multiply the number of coins they earn for a number of runs. We also have ads in the game, we're proud that they're very non-intrusive and players can optionally earn rewards by watching certain ads. Rewards could include Boost Tokens, coins, or Frogs.
148Apps:Regarding the Milk Caps and other types of collectible, are they just visual collectibles or do they offer anything extra? MM: Milk Caps are just one type of collectible which you can find inside a frog. Frogs spawn on the slope occasionally and you have to collide with them to collect them. Milk Caps are mostly for collection, but who knows.... maybe they'll be worth something in the future? Players can also collect costume pieces which unlock new costumes once players have a full set. Tombstones and Tricks are earned by leveling up, and upgrades can be purchased with in-game currency.
Thanks to Ryan and Marc for taking the time to answer our questions. RAD Boarding sounds like it could be a pretty cool endless racer. It’s set for release March 5 and, of course, we’ll have a review for you then.
Ahead of the release of ZeptoLab’s King of Thieves, we were able to ask ZeptoLab’s co-founder, Semyon Voinov, a few questions about the inspiration behind the game and what that means for the Cut the Rope franchise.
148Apps: What was the inspiration behind combining so many familiar genres into one package? Semyon Voinov (SV): The initial idea was brought up by one of our team members. We created a quick prototype, and suddenly many people around the office were eagerly competing with each other, building their defenses and breaking into the opponent's dungeons. There was plenty of laughter and cursing in the process - and we immediately realized that the game had the most important component for success: it drives emotion!
You can find plenty of games in the App Store with the strategic "attack and defend" gameplay (including the famous Clash of Clans), but our game is vastly different because of the arcade skills-based experience at its core. It’s something we haven't seen in any other games and while building King of Thieves, we discovered why: it's a very challenging type of game to build. It took two years of time, dedication, and extensive testing to create a balanced and highly enjoyable game.
It’s the 10th anniversary of the modern classic teen comedy Mean Girls, and what better way to reach out to young fans of the film than on the mobile devices they are constantly staring it. After proving just how fabulous they could be with their RuPaul mobile games, So Much Drama Studios is now preparing to launch a new tower defense Mean Girls game. We spoke with Jeff Meador, head of the studio, about surviving the high school jungle on the go.
148Apps: How did the studio first get involved with making a Mean Girls game? Were there fans on staff that wanted to do it? Did it seem like a good fit for the studio after the RuPaul games? Jeff Meador (JM): We were thrilled at the opportunity to work on a Mean Girls game. Who wouldn't be? It's such an amazing movie. When the possibility came up, we buckled down and made sure we had a really strong concept for the game so that we could do the project.
Working on the RuPaul games definitely worked in our favor for this. We had worked with licensed content and licensed talent before, and Paramount saw how we took the spirit of that show and really made it shine in Dragopolis. They were excited to see how we could do the same for Mean Girls.
148Apps: The game celebrates the 10th anniversary of the movie. Did the studio work with anyone from the movie while making the game? JM: We worked very closely with Paramount throughout the process, and they've been great partners. They handled all of the communications with the talent that appears in the game.
The characters in Mean Girls are so iconic and well-loved. We wanted to make sure that when we were using them, we were staying true to their personalities. One of the hardest parts of creating the game was ensuring the dialog and scenarios were on-point. In the end, we think we’ve been able to capture the spirit of the movie in this game. It’s fun, it’s funny, and, to quote Gretchen, “so fetch!"
148Apps: Of all the genres to choose from, why did the team decide to make a tower defense game based on Mean Girls? JM: We did a lot of internal brainstorming on different ways that we could use Mean Girls in a game. The movie set us up for a great jumping off point with its final lines of dialog: "And if any freshman tried to disturb that peace... Well, let's just say we knew how to take care of it."
We started by looking at a lot of the different characters in the game. We knew up front that we had access to a lot of the likenesses, so we wanted to make sure that these people were front and center. We kept coming back to Janis’ map of North Shore High School and really wanted to bring all of the Cliques into play. The game that we came up with really lets us show each Clique’s personality. We brought in characters like Cady and Regina who, in our original design, gave a fairly passive bonus to the Cliques. However, in early play testing we discovered that we could really use those characters more, so now you need to move folks like Gretchen around the play field to answer questions about the movie and deliver a bonus to the Cliques. It’s a really fun layer that we’ve created on top of a more traditional game style.
148Apps: Many people probably don't think a movie like Mean Girls and a video games go well together. Why should fans of the movie check out the game? JM: Oh my God, Karen, you can't just ask people why they should check out the game!
But seriously, this is a game that’s made by some huge Mean Girls fans. The game has a lot of memorable lines and moments that pop up, but with an added twist. Being able to recognize things like Regina’s mom’s dog or Karen’s Halloween costume gives you a small boost in the game. We’ve spent a lot of time crafting different aspects of the game to really reflect the Mean Girls spirit.
Mean Girls: The Game will be launching soon. Thanks again to Jeff Meador for his time.
We recently got our hands onHeavenstrike Rivals, an intriguing upcoming strategy game from Square Enix and Mediatonic that's currently in a soft launch phase. To learn more about the game and the East/West collaboration that created it, we spoke with Masanori Ichikawa, a game producer at Square Enix, and Paul Croft, Director of Games at Mediatonic.
148Apps: First, could you give a brief overview of Heavenstrike Rivals? Masanori Ichikawa (MI):Heavenstrike Rivals was created as a joint effort between Square Enix and Mediatonic, a studio in England. It’s a brand new tactical RPG. One of the game’s key features is the real-time PvP multiplayer.
148Apps: You described the game as a tactical RPG with PvP combat. What does that mean exactly? What would you compare it to? MI: It means that you can battle in real-time, like if you were playing chess, over the internet with other players.
Paul Croft (PC): I would compare it to many multiplayer games you might find on PC. We have multiple types of leagues and tournaments, similar in structure to those in Starcraft 2 or League of Legends. Players can compete directly with others across the world for the top places and earn promotions into new divisions if they perform well.
Indie games development can be tough, especially when you’ve got a good idea for something but you’re not quite sure what way to take it. Having heard about Booya Squad, a Wisconsin-based team keen to turn their childhood comics into a mobile card battler, we wanted to learn more about their journey.
Booya Squad is a joint effort between Mike Bloom and his brother-in-law, John. They’re currently working on a social card game called Mario Italiano Four Families, but the story starts much earlier than that. Based on a comic book world they created over ten years ago, it’s been a long time coming. In that time, they've had to juggle big moves across country, raising a family, job changes, health issues, and many more challenges. The team’s blog explains the full story, such as how Mike skipped on a regular sleep pattern in order to get work done, but we also had a chat with him to learn the pertinent details behind everything.
148Apps: How much have various free internet resources helped you in your quest to go into game development? What would you recommend to other aspiring developers? Mike Bloom (MB): We used the internet to learn how to do everything we needed to know. When we started, we were very naïve to the amount of knowledge and skills we would need to complete the game. So as we progressed through the project we often came upon an obstacle where we needed to learn or come up with something. So we would Google it or search for it on YouTube. We were constantly amazed that if we dug deep enough into these sources, we would always find exactly what we needed. The trick is to use different search phrases. We did this for everything from balancing stats, building a clean UI, all the way to marketing methods.
The idea here is to not be scared to start down the development path because you don’t know how to do everything you will need to do, or better yet you don’t even know what is all needed. Since we went in half blind, we just found the answers when we needed them, and that was actually fun. It was like, oh we have to do that? Well, I’ll do that one, learn the skill and put it to use right away.
One of the more exciting gaming developments that has come about thanks to the rise of tablets and the iPad in particular is the resurgence of the adventure game. Touchscreen gaming lends itself perfectly to this kind of experience, and various indie developers are embracing its potential.
One such development studio is that of Belfast-based Billy Goat Entertainment. The studio is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for their upcoming title, Her Majesty’s Spiffing, which is a quirky space-based adventure. While the campaign is focused on rewarding PC owning pledgers, there are plans for an iOS release. We took the time to learn more from founder, William Barr.
148Apps: How did Billy Goat Entertainment come about? And why the quirky name? William Barr (WB): The company came about out of necessity seeing as I carelessly decided to leave a job I wasn’t fond of (despite the meagre yet reliable monthly paychecks) and no one else would hire me! As for the name, I’m very much a child of the 90s, a time when every company needed to have some form of anthropomorphic cartoon animal mascot. I’m also incredibly conceited - Billy is of course a common abbreviation of William. These two factors contributed to the choice of name and the fact that we have a Cashmere Goat as our mascot!
Marvel and Kabam have joined forces to create Contest of Champions: a fighting game based on the Marvel Universe that sets players against the Collector, who has trapped heroes in crystals. And so, players must beat the Collector's team to gather crystals and unlock heroes to form their own super-powered team.
During New York Comic-Con I had the pleasure of sitting down with Cuz Parry (the game's Creative Director) and Writer Sam Humphries to discuss their new creation.
148Apps: Contest of Champions looks like a fantastic fighting game. Could you give us an overview of the story?
Sam Humphries (SH): The comics and the cartoon are very good angles on the Collector. He's a little badass, very mighty, and inscrutable. His motivations are not always understandable. That's been a lot of fun to play with because since day one Kabam has been very adamant in keeping the priority on the story and not just make a game to button mash and curse. They wanted to entice players with a really strong story with escalating stakes, reveals, mysteries, twists and turns, cliff hangers, and all that kinda stuff. So having someone like the Collector, we asked "What are his motivations?" "Why is he doing this?" That's an important mystery that we build over time, and as we pull all the layers back what we've come up with is something that, story-wise, stands up against a Marvel Comic, Marvel Movie, and Marvel TV show.
Cuz Parry (CP): In the Marvel Gaming universe there's this substance called Iso-8. That's the resource that basically everybody uses in all the marvel games, such as in Ultimate Spiderman you use it to level-up your characters. We're telling the story where there is this big, powerful weapon: the Iso-Sphere. We go to the source of the Iso-8 and the mystery behind it.
SH: What we find out about the Iso-Sphere and Iso-8 is that they are directly tied to the battle realm where you play the game, and to what the Collector's doing and why he's doing it. Also, maybe there's someone behind the the Collector pulling his strings and making this happen.
Angry Birds Transformers recently transformed and rolled out worldwide. This run-and-gun title is a hit with young Transformers fans, but the ample references to classic Transformers fandom has also earned it a place in the hearts of long-time admirers of Optimus Prime. Nick Harper (Game Director for Exient Entertainment) and Mika Rahko (Executive Producer for Rovio) kindly took a few minutes to talk to 148Apps about the problems and inspirations that came to them while cross-breeding birds and robots.
SimCity BuildIt has been teased here and there, but specific details have been a bit sparse. That is, until now.
We recently had the chance to ask EA Mobile’s Vice President and General Manager, Jason Willig, some questions about the series’ new mobile outing. I was also able to get a live demo at EA’s recent Naughty & Nice event in New York, so I’ve got some serious impressions to share. After the questions, of course.
Monsu looks to be a cute and cuddly little runner/platformer from Angry Birds alum Boomlagoon. I was able to get my hands on it for a bit and I can confirm that it is, in fact, cute and cuddly. It's also got a lot of cards to collect and equip, which is a bit different for the genre. Good different, form what I've seen.
In between choosing a card to bring into battle, smashing houses while collecting coins, and generally laying waste to those who would oppose me, I had the chance to speak to Boomlagoon's CEO, Antti Sten, about the interesting hybrid.
148Apps: Would you say Monsu is a runner/platformer with card collecting elements, or a card collector with platformer/runner elements? Antti Sten (AS): It's like a platformer, endless runner, with this card-collecting aspect. Basically you get to collect 40 different cards, and you can equip three of them at a time. All of them bring this really cool visual and helping aspect to the game, so you can run with these companions and buddies that make it like a whole different experience depending on what cards you choose.
The core game is the runner, of course. You can play the game without the cards but you can't play it without the running.
148Apps: What was it like to hybridize two very different genres? Were there any particular challenges? Anything easier than you'd expected? AS: We thought we'd have trouble figuring out what the cards would be, because we wanted each of them to be richer than some power-up. There are some like that but most of them are really game-changing. It went pretty smoothly, really. We had a few challenges with other mechanics, like for example the social mechanics. We currently have leaderboards and you can share with other players, but we've been trying to figure out what would be the most convenient features to include.
148Apps: Where did the idea for a runner/card hybrid come from? AS: It's always hard to say specifically when the game idea was born. At one point we were trying to figure out how to make a different kind of endless runner - we had all kinds of ideas, like what kind of controls could you have, should there be attacking - and at one point we started to wonder "What if it was more like a platformer?"
Of course with platformers you're thinking about Super Mario Brothers, and one of the key aspects of that game is that you can get these power-ups that really change the way that you play the game; for example, when you get the fire flower you play totally differently than when you get the star. We wanted to create something like that with Monsu's cards. And of course we went overboard and now we have around 40 of them.
148Apps: Did you learn anything from the development of Angry Birds or Noble Nutlings that helped with the development of Monsu? AS: Simplistic UI is always something that we want to have - let users get straight to the game, and not have too many screens to handle. And of course there's the graphical style, which we've carried over from previous games.
148Apps: I imagine the climate of the App Store has changed a bit since releasing Angry Birds and even Noble Nutlings. Do you think that may have changed the way you approached Monsu? AS: Yeah, I guess that one of the things that really has changed for us is that now we require much more depth. We wouldn't want to publish a game with just like one mechanic and X amount of challenges or levels, so there has to be some kind of progression - something to fiddle with. That's one of the things that's going to be very different from Noble Nutlings.
148Apps: Have there been any trends or reactions you've seen in the App Store lately that have you concerned about how Monsu will be received? AS: The genre itself - really casual, easy to play games - there aren't many that have been all that successful. If you look in the App Store, the Top Grossing games based on revenue are usually like casino, resource management, and licensed games, which Monsu is not. But Monsu is a fun game, and there's always been room for these types of games!
Thanks to Antti Sten for his time. Monsu is available to download on the App Store now, for free.