Posts Tagged Nimble Quest

No one really likes in-app purchases, do they? Sure, sometimes the flexibility is great when they’re done well, but far too often it all feels a bit cynically done and to the detriment of the player’s bank balance. How good would it be to have a new system that aims to make things much clearer and much fairer? That’s the idea behind Play Nice, a system set up by UK-based developer, Strange Flavour, and set to be a particularly eye catching part of their forthcoming game, Any Landing.

We had a chat with CEO and Lead Coder, Aaron Fothergill, to learn more.

playnice11148apps: How did the idea for Play Nice come about?
Aaron Fothergill (AF): We dipped our toes in the freemium games market a few years ago with the free version of Flick Fishing, which went on to earn far more than the paid version had when it was at the top of the iPhone games chart, so it was pretty obvious to us just how profitable freemium could be. The problem was, we also saw some of the crazy side of freemium and noticed a trend in other games that was causing the press to start kicking up stories about games designers “deliberately targeting children” or “iPhone gamer gets sudden $3000 bill” and so on.

As with a lot of other game designers, our initial thought was that it’s really a parenting issue. The controls are in place to restrict your children from auto-buying consumable content and Apple even tells you to set the parental controls. However as the issue grew, we realized that we weren’t thinking the ‘Apple way’. Rather than the industry needing to teach players how to work their phones. If we don’t want players to accidentally run up huge bills while still having the benefits of consumable IAP, we need to redesign how we use consumable IAP to suit the way they play.

From that, we first thought of a simple cap, but realized there were issues with that and the way IAP works and then developed it into what we’ve now got for Play Nice where we can set an upper limit we think is a fair amount players can spend on the game, but where any consumable purchases up to that point are actually deducted from the top price, so you don’t lose anything by trying a consumable item first. (Actually, because of the way the IAP system works, you actually save a few pennies by buying the consumables first)

A work in progress example of how the Play Nice system works.

A work in progress example of how the Play Nice system works.

148apps: How long has the system been in development for?
AF: On and off for about a year, mostly using our upcoming Any Landing game as a testbed. It was planned for release in June originally, but then I went to WWDC and saw a lot of shiny new code things I wanted to play with and of course that took us back a few more months.

148apps: What challenges have you guys faced in its implementation?
AF: The biggest challenge was working out a way to use the current iOS IAP system to get the specific effect we want in a way that’s not confusing to players (the whole point is that it’s meant to be transparent and fair) and not cause issues in approval.

The other issue is actually in balancing the game itself, as when you’ve bought the ‘full’ IAP package, that effectively gives you whatever power ups you want and would drastically change the game’s balance. So a lot of time has gone into making sure that it actually works well as a game.

148apps: Are you concerned about there being any difficulties getting through Apple’s Approval process?
AF: We are. The method is a bit of a jumble under the hood and while it’s not doing anything technically bad as far as Apple’s rules are concerned it could look like it’s trying to abuse the system. Because of that I’ve kept Apple support in the loop to check we’re not doing anything that could be construed as dodgy. It still has to go through approval of course, but we’ve done quite a few unusual new features in the past on iOS, so I’m confident that we can keep everything within the rules.

A work in progress screenshot of Any Landing.

A work in progress screenshot of Any Landing.

148apps: Will the Play Nice system be opened up to other companies interested in doing things differently from the standard in-app purchase way, or will this be a solely in-house endeavor?
AF: This is one feature I’d actually be quite happy if other devs copied it. Once the actual workings of it are out there, it’s pretty obvious (if slightly fun to implement) so we’d be happy if other devs wanted to give it a go.

148apps: What’s your opinion of the conventional in-app purchase system? Are there any titles that you think use it well or particularly badly?
AF: In itself, it’s a useful system. There’s a lot of confusion about IAP, especially about consumable IAP (which is the one that is easiest to abuse) and non consumable. For instance, if you wanted to do a ‘shareware’ type game on iOS where you unlock the rest of the game after playing demo levels, that’s entirely practical with a non consumable IAP item. (the only rule is you aren’t allowed to call anything a demo, as Apple doesn’t allow demos on the App Store).

What consumable IAP does well (and where Play Nice aims to improve) is it lets you design a game where the skilled players who like to put a lot of time into their gaming can play through the entire game without paying for anything extra to speed the game up or make it easier, but players who really want to play the game but can’t afford as much time, or aren’t quite as skilled, can purchase upgrades to adapt the game to the way they want to play. This is one reason why freemium is so successful. It doesn’t pitch one game at everyone with specific skill levels and free time, it allows players to choose how they want the game to play. Two of my favorite examples of this are The Blockheads (by Majic Jungle Software) and Nimble Quest (by Nimblebit) which both have an optional non consumable purchase that effectively doubles how fast you play (in The Blockheads it halves the time everything takes to craft and in Nimble Quest it adds red gems that effectively double the rate you collect gems). Both use consumable IAP in a reasonable and entirely optional way that doesn’t force itself on you.

The abusive part is where games focus entirely on being nearly impossible (or actually impossible) to play unless you keep spending money on consumable IAP. They’re effectively targeted at the same people that would be spending a fortune on gambling games, i.e. children and the surprising number of people with compulsive issues.

Any Landing work in progress screenshot.

Any Landing work in progress screenshot.

148apps: Do you think the freemium model is here to stay?
AF: Absolutely. Developers can’t make a living on just the paid model and the big developers are making a lot of money on freemium. There’s nothing actually wrong with IAP itself (or freemium for that matter), but some publishers are really going to have to be careful to balance making crazy amounts of money with the risk destroying the system that makes all that money by triggering potential legislation that restricts or bans it if it’s seen as too abusive.


The Play Nice concept has certainly piqued our interest. Anything that helps make things clearer for gamers has to be a good thing. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Strange Flavour’s work and Any Landing’s progress. Thanks to Aaron for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Having trouble making sense out of the overwhelming number of apps released each week? Have no fear! Just look to 148Apps for the best app reviews on the web. Our reviewers sift through the vast numbers of new apps out there, find the good ones, and write about them in depth. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many good apps and games with something just a little bit more to offer. Want to see what we’ve been up to this week? Take a look below for a sampling of our latest reviews. And if you want more, be sure to hit our Reviews Archive.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

WB and NetherRealm’s original DC Comics fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us has been adapted for the iPad, and that doesn’t just mean that they ported down a full console fighting game, or just made an Infinity Blade clone like some are wont to do; no, they converted this into an actual touchscreen-friendly game that’s free-to-play, though definitely encourages spending money. The actual combat is dramatically less complex than the Street Fighters of the world, because players have three basic actions: tap to do a light attack, swipe forward to do a heavy attack, and tap & hold with two fingers to block. Combos will call up swiping actions to knockdown the opponent, and special moves will require different inputs to unleash those attacks. The complexity comes in with using the three chracters efficiently; not only is it about letting them go to the sidelines to regenerate health, but also to swap in characters whose special power meters are recharging while on the sidelines. As well, different special attacks have different effects that are useful in various scenarios. I like to keep one character with a power drain effect with me when fighting bosses so as to limit the number of times they can do massive damage. The combat strikes a great balance between being simplified for the platform, while keeping enough strategy to be interesting. –Carter Dotson

Mittens

Mittens, both the name of this app and of the cat which the game revolves around, is the latest physics puzzler from Disney. The company had an extreme amount of success with Where’s My Water a couple of years ago and this is definitely a notable follow-up. As one would expect from a Disney game, the visual assets are top-notch. The cartoony visuals and cute cut scenes definitely feel like something Disney would have a hand in. Players interact with the level components by tapping and swiping, and swiping an electrical wire or piece of wood will cut it. Players can only interact with the level components and can’t directly control Mittens. All of the normal laws of physics apply, so Mittens falls and bounces, and will automatically grab onto ledges. Besides static environmental elements like wires, awnings, and planks of wood, other animals also appear in the levels, like birds to latch onto. Ultimately, the goal is to make it to a floating milk bottle. When he finally gets to it, Mittens does a little dance. –David Rabinowitz

Mailbox

Mailbox represents a perspective shift to email, in that it treats the inbox not as a list of messages hanging around one’s neck like so many albatrosses, but as a list of tasks that need to be completed. So, reading an email and being done means that it can be removed the list like a completed task, meaning it is archived from the inbox. Messages can be ‘delayed’, making them temporarily hidden from the inbox, reappearing at a later time defined by the user to be completed later. But, the important thing is that they are removed from the inbox, making inbox zero a potential daily occurrence. –Carter Dotson

Badland

BADLAND is a quite beautiful amalgamation of side scrolling platform action, with a dash of Endless Runner about it. The latter part comes more from the one touch controls that ensure that BADLAND is easy to play for any ability, albeit not necessarily easy to complete thanks to a series of challenging obstacles. 40 levels pave the way and, while early stages are quite easy, later stages prove rather fearsome and tough. Even better, there’s plenty of replayability through the acquisition of clones which boost the rating of a level, once captured. BADLAND might sound immensely restricted due to its one touch controls, but that’s quite far from the truth. At first, tapping on the screen is used more to keep the cuddly yet mildly sinister creature afloat, thrusting them through each stage and avoiding simple obstacles. Get pushed off the screen and it’s game over, but when early structures simply consist of pillars and platforms, it’s no great hardship. As things progress, however, and the player learns more about how to play, the imaginative nature of BADLAND shines through. Orange colored globes affect the size of the creature, either making him grow or shrink to some degree. Both have advantages and disadvantages, the former allowing him to crush certain things, and the latter allowing him to sneak through small gaps. Other power-ups emerge, too, such as one that allows him to stick to walls or roll at speed through the scenery. –Jennifer Allen

Other 148Apps Network Sites

If you are looking for the best reviews of kids’ apps and/or Android apps, just head right over to GiggleApps and AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews these sites served up this week:

GiggleApps

Alex The Handyman

Alex The Handyman – Kids Educational App is a cute and fun app allowing children to use various tools to help friends with a variety of home repairs. Ten scenes are included, each one bright and colorful to look at as one meets a friendly animal character who needs help. From fixing fence posts and ladders to a tree house, to inflating a tire on a car or mending a tear in a dress, Alex the Handyman is a true jack-of-all-trades as he takes on tasks such as sewing, painting, spot-cleaning stains or light gardening. Children will need to choose the correct tool for the job, such as wrench to tighten a leaky faucet or screwdriver to repair a toy, that will become highlighted if help is needed. –Amy Solomon

Zachy the Robot: Quest for the Museum Treasures

Zachy the Robot: Quest for the Museum Treasures is a terrific interactive app that delves into different topics of natural history in a way that is sure to captivate children and their adults. This is the second Zachy the Robot app. This one takes place again in Robocity, focusing on a group of robot friends, the Robocity Repairbots, who help their town with their problems, as their wheelhouse is fixing structural issues in buildings, as seen in the first app which focused on engineering. Here, the gang is brought back to add exhibits to the newly built and empty Robocity Natural History Museum, explained in the bright, colorful and fun animated intro. I love how excited these characters are by the topic of natural history – an enthusiasm that parents will hope rubs off on their children. –Amy Solomon

Gro Memo

Most adults remember playing “memory” – also known as “concentration” – as children, where cards or tiles are laid out in pairs face down and players have to take turns turning over two cards looking for mates, remembering where the other cards are in order to create matches. This style of game is also a very popular one in an application form, be it the app’s main focus or an additional section found in a storybook so it is very nice to see a “memory” style game that really stands out from the pack in terms of game play and overall quality. –Amy Solomon

AndroidRundown

Nimble Quest

Nimble Quest, the latest from NimbleBit, starts off with an immediate nod to its direct influence, Snake. Before mobile games exploded, everyone enjoyed Snake on a Nokia mobile phone, because what else was there to do besides play Snake? So, immediately, it seems like there may not be much to this at all. Nope. Nimble Quest takes that simple concept and makes it deeper and more fun than it has any right to be. It starts by adding a bit of strategy to the standard Snake gameplay of turning left and right, avoiding walls and enemies. See, players control a character that has a special attack ability that triggers when near enemies, and they use that to take out enemies. Other heroes can be collected as drops from enemies that form parts of the snake, and can use their own individual attacks. Now, enemies can attack as well, so it becomes about staying out of danger, as the heroes have health bars that will quickly diminish, and if the lead hero dies, it’s game over. So, there’s a strategy to approaching the enemies, one that is about taking as little damage as possible. –Carter Dotson

MiiPC

This week’s KickStarter Spotlight focuses on an ambitious, and impressively polished product that is squarely aimed at parents who are concerned about their child’s computer usage called MiiPC. It is not so much the content as the amount of time wasted that most parents worry about, and it is a fact that technology can be a major distraction for young people with homework. I can attest that even in the course of writing this post, I have looked away to a USA Today update and watched a few YouTube videos that were sent to me by a few Facebook friends. What MiiPC aims to deliver is a computer that, in all honesty, is not much more than a converted, overpowered tablet in a box. The main feature is the complete control parents have over the device. From setting time restrictions on apps or websites, to monitoring exactly what activity a user is doing at any time; MiiPC allows a parent to have total peace of mind while still ensuring their children get an appropriate introduction to the vast wonder of the internet. –Joseph Bertolini

Fate of the Pharaoh

Fate of the Pharaoh is a fun simulation set in, well, ancient Egypt. In this game, I worked as an Adviser to Pharaoh, tasked with rebuilding the empire after a victorious but devastating war.
To make it easy, it’s a G5 game, so I expected nice graphics. I wasn’t disappointed. I found the rich graphics, sharp animations and fine detail that we all have come to expect from G5. There were two modes: Adventure Mode (timed) and Relaxed Mode. Anyone who has read my reviews knows I am a sucker for tutorials, and thus, this gamee found a way to my heart early on. The teaching section allowed me to use taps to get a basic understanding of gameplay: accruing money, and the different ways you can spend it. I learned that to progress, I had to finish tasks and manage resources.–Tre Lawrence

Nimble Quest Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
NimbleBit has another free-to-play winner on their hands, with a combination of Snake and RPG elements in the new Nimble Quest.

Read The Full Review »
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