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On This Episode:
Carter and Brett discuss Shadowgun: Deadzone's gameplay and its implementation of the free to play model, along with the shift of Punch Quest from free to paid, and how free-to-play is so hard to do properly for both developers and players. As well, new games Micro Miners and Dream of Pixels are discussed.
Jean-Philippe Sarda’s Micro Miners, releasing on Thursday November 15th, is a game with an interesting origin and history on its way to the App Store.
The game has its inspirations in a Java game called Miners4K made by Markus Persson, better known as Notch of Minecraft fame, back in 2006. Notch and Sarda have been in touch before: after the game was created for the Java4K competition, Sarda says he “contacted Notch to get authorization to modify Miners4K with [the] pepere.org scores system...this game has made more than 1.3M plays on pepere.org until today.”
So how did Sarda’s take on the concept come about? He says “when I started developing iOS games in 2009, I still had this game/concept in a corner of my mind as I knew it was really special and so suited for touch devices.” However, this is not a case of unauthorized cloning: he got in touch with Notch to receive his blessing to build out the game. Sarda says “From the beginning I tried to contact Notch by email to get his authorization...Notch was busy with Minecraft and he ignored my 3 emails among thousands of emails he receives every week. Until I sent a link to the gameplay video, he replied ‘Haha, that looks cool! :D’ and tweeted the video. Don’t need to say how happy I was to receive this email.” The project, almost two years after its initial prototype, finally had its official blessing.
However, the game might not have ever made it to the App Store. As Sarda explains: “After 10 days [of] waiting, the game was rejected for low res graphics...I had 3 choices: 1) do another game as Micro Miners’ engine and art is entirely based on pixels 2) Resubmit the game hoping it’s reviewed [by] a smarter guy 3) Request a second review by the appeal board.” The game does have a lo-fi pixel art style, but we’ve all seen one too many crude fart apps for such an excuse to hold water. Also, see the Pokemon Yellow fiasco.
So what did Sarda do? He says “I selected 3) and I waited another 15 days, before I received their response ‘This app version has been approved. All communication regarding your previously-rejected binary is now closed.’ This is short but that was enough to make me happy.” The game’s fate was saved from seeming oblivion, and the release was scheduled for November 15th.
This game is not meant to be just a port of Miners4K, though. Sarda says “Yes it’s inspired by Miners4K for the ”Lemmings+Dig“ idea, but the gameplay is totally different and new, and it took me forever (and 5 beta tests) to tweak/adjust it.” And he has questions about how players will take to it: “...my games are usually really hard to play and appeal most to harcord players. I made a huge effort trying not to discourage casual players...the whole game is guided by contextual help.”
Micro Miners releases on November 15th and we’ll have a review of the game. For Sarda, however, the long journey will finally come to an end, as the world will finally get to check Micro Miners out for themselves.