Posts Tagged Organ Trail: Director’s Cut

Image Source: Friends Wiki

Image Source: Friends Wiki

At this point in the month, you or at least a few people you know are probably getting ready to scramble around (or are already scrambling around) for Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s a hectic day of precise oven utilization, but there’s also the whole family and camaraderie thing.

We’ve already put together a handy list of useful apps that should make your Thanksgiving a breeze, but what if you want to unwind while staying in the holiday spirit or practice for the insanity that is to come? Well you’re in luck, because now we’ve got a list of a half-dozen iOS games that evoke all sorts of Thanksgiving feelings – both heartwarming and… well, not so heartwarming.

Continue reading Six iOS Games to Get You Ready for Thanksgiving »

 

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

appstoreevo01The 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

appstoreevo02aappstoreevo02bThe 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.


Continue reading 5 Years and Counting – The App Store Then and Now »

148Apps’ Best Games of 2012: 20-11

We enter the middle portion of our rundown of 2012’s best games, covering numbers 20-11 of our favorite games. Have an opinion of your own? Let us know in the comments!

20. Girls Like Robots: Based on quality, Adult Swim Games probably had the best 2012 of any mobile publisher, with a succession of high-quality games with absurd premises. The silliness made it a great fit on a surface level for the publisher. The high quality of the game, which transcends its silly people-organization concept by just continuously iterating and evolving on it throughout the game, made it something special.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-11 :: Category: Games

19. Polara: This endless runner mixes in the color-switching of classic shmup Ikaruga with endless runner gameplay. But it shines because it is never content to keep throwing the same tricks at players, as Eli Cymet explains: “Polara boasts tight and varied gameplay, and consummately constructed stages. Rather than rest on the laurels of novelty and squander the core mechanic, developer Hope This Works Games offers a new way to think about color matching in almost every level.”

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-11 :: Category: Games

18. Polymer: Play the “One Polymer” mode in this unique sliding puzzle game from indie-musician-turned-developer Whitaker Trebella to see its genius: it encourages long-term strategizing and planning to make a high-scoring match, not just quick reactions like in other puzzle games. Sure, there’s modes that require quick thinking as well that are plenty of fun, but the premise of One Polymer is what kept me coming back.

$0.99
$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-26 :: Category: Games

17. Pocket Planes: Nimblebit hates our free time. Last year’s Tiny Tower was addictive. So was Pocket Planes, thanks in no small part to the fact that there was more surface strategy to employ, and the ability for players to have a say in their fate as they expand their airline’s reach into a globe-traversing empire. Plus, what other game has people in frog suits flying planes? It’s the only game on this list, for sure…

FREE!
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-06-14 :: Category: Games

16. Need For Speed Most Wanted: If one game was to define how far iOS gaming came this year, EA and Criterion’s racer, adapted to iOS by Firemonkeys, might be it. From being packed full of features, and looking absolutely amazing to boot, it’s showing that the difference between consoles and mobile, at least on a technical level, is a rapidly-shrinking gulf. Yet despite the good looks, it is definitely a keeper for its gameplay according to Blake Grundman: “Even with the most critical of eyes, Need for Speed: Most Wanted is still easily one of the best racers on the platform to date. You would have to be crazy not to take this hot rod out for a nice long joy ride.”

$4.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-10-30 :: Category: Games

15. Organ Trail: Director’s Cut: Often times, pixel art is used just as an art style, and not to convey an actual retro feel. Not so here. By combining the look and feel of an 80’s PC Oregon Trail game, and combining its mechanics with a modern-day zombie apocalypse, the elements brilliantly wind up informing each other and forming a sublime take on a classic. Rob Rich feels the same way: “Virtually every aspect of Organ Trail: Director’s Cut oozes style and cleverness. Also pus. It’s a game that’s likely to please zombie fans as well as anyone who remembers the one without the green-skinned shamblers fondly. And it’s with no hesitation or trepidation that I suggest that everyone reading this should buy it. If they haven’t already, of course.”

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-09 :: Category: Games

14. Ski Safari: There are endless runners, and then there’s Ski Safari. I’ll let Rob Rich explain why it made our list: “Penguins, snowmobiles, eagles, and yeti can all be used to put some real distance between the accident prone man and the avalanche. Not only are they useful, they’re also pretty funny. Watching the yeti run wildly or slide along on its stomach never gets old. The same can be said for seeing a penguin ride along on the fuzzy mythological beast.” If a man and a penguin riding a yeti while outrunning an avalanche ever gets old, I will weep bitterly. An easy choice for this list.

$0.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-04-26 :: Category: Games

13. Super Crate Box: It would be easy to forget that this was actually a 2012 title, since it came out in the first week of January. I don’t forget sitting for hours on end, either on touchscreen or at my iCade, trying to last just a little bit longer, cursing out that disc gun, the giant walking green skulls, or the stupid fire pit at the bottom. Yet, after those countless hours, no game revealed itself to give the players the control over their fate, to be about pure skill far more than randomness, quite like this one did.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-01-05 :: Category: Games

12. Fieldrunners 2: Remember 2008? That’s when the first Fieldrunners came out. 2012 is like an eternity since then, but Fieldrunners is still a ton of fun. As Rob LeFebvre writes: “Fieldrunners 2 HD is a brilliant combination of action and strategy with a depth of gameplay that’s hard to ignore. I find myself thinking of solutions to particularly difficult maps while I’m driving, or showering, or making dinner for the kids.” Just don’t burn the food while protecting your base.

$2.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2012-07-19 :: Category: Games

$4.99
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-09-13 :: Category: Games

11. Mikey Shorts: The laser precision of the controls is a significant part of what made this so good: trying to shave fractions of seconds off one’s time in order to beat a friend on the leaderboards could be nigh-impossible with virtual controls, nay it should be. But instead, it’s about as perfect as it could be. Not bad for a first-time effort, and challenging friends to try and one up their times added a ton of value to this one. Plus, there’s silly hats.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-23 :: Category: Games

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.

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-09 :: Category: Games

Mission Europa
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.

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-15 :: Category: Games

$1.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-03-16 :: Category: Games

DragonSlasher
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.

FREE!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
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.

$4.99
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-10-09 :: Category: Games

I make no attempt to hide my adoration for Organ Trail: Director’s Cut. I love this game and I’m proud of it. So having the opportunity to ask The Men Who Wear Many Hats – specifically Ryan Wiemeyer, co-owner and designer – a few questions was quite exciting. From the Flash game with over half a million fans to their new Greenlight venture, it’s all fair game for these enterprising haberdashers. Okay so they don’t necessarily make the hats but you get the idea.

So, Oregon Trail with a brilliant twist. It must’ve been fun conceptualizing the original Flash game and putting it all together, huh?
Yes.

You probably want more than that, huh? It was really easy since we were just making a 1-to-1 conversion of the game with new art and text. It really helped keep us in scope since we had an exact playable target of what we were aiming for right in front of us at all times.

And then there’s the Kickstarter project that resulted in the iOS Director’s Cut. What made you decide to try and adapt/improve the original version into a mobile game?
The fans. We included this feature in the flash version where you could easily leave comments for us about the game. A large number of people told us they wanted it for mobile. And as the number of players for the flash version broke half a million, business people started to tell me we REALLY needed to make a mobile version. But I didn’t feel comfortable just porting and selling it when there was a free version on our website. So we devised a way to make the game bigger and worth paying for while also moving away from the source material so we could proudly call it our own.

Were there any significant hiccups along the way such as platform constraints to adjust to or other issues? Anything you were expecting to be a problem that actually wasn’t?
Our biggest issues have been dealing with the Kickstarter backers. We found out the hard way the android doesn’t do gifting and iOS won’t let you gift internationally so we had scramble to make sure the backers that had pre-ordered it were going to be happy. Not to mention the month or so we couldn’t touch the game because we were dealing with all the reward shipments. Most of the platform specific issues were handled by Unity, our development engine, or Michael Block, the lead programmer.

Do you have an aspect or mechanic in Organ Trail that’s your favorite? I personally enjoy the little detail of putting a party member down. Love the contextual bullet impact animations.
Yea everybody loves killing their friends. In the flash version it was just a text popup but we wanted to embellish on it. We added the animations and made it so you had to pull the trigger yourself. And then we went the extra mile and added hit zones so you can actually put your friend down by shooting them in the crotch. People seem to enjoy that. I also like that we managed to add like… 10 or 12 new combat modes to the game. It really helps with the monotony of the flash version, which was the goal.

I was also pleasantly surprised with the boss fights. Were there others you had in mind that never made the cut (save the theorized zombie squid)? Any chance there might be more added in the future?
Honestly the boss fights feel off to me right now. The bear is unkillable and most people don’t know that so they die trying to shoot it down. And the dogs are way too hard, last time I played. There is also no pay-off for defeating them which is a big missed opportunity. I think the boss fights might add more frustration than fun in their current state. We might try and balance them better. Boss fights was actually one of the $500, “Buy a new mechanic,” rewards on Kickstarter. The original suggestion for a boss fight was actually a giant zombie octopus. I though it was too silly for our sometimes-serious-game. But at this point I think it would be really cool and exciting for the end boss fight so I’m eager to see how it could work out. I’m a huge fan of Resident Evil and they always have giant crazy boss monsters that end up being really memorable. So, I figure I should take a note from my favorite zombie franchise.

And now Greenlight. Are you finding this endeavor to be any more or less stressful than the Kickstarter project?
Greenlight has been a real pain but probably also a blessing. The only reason it could be considered less stressful than Kickstarter is because there is no real time deadline and no real failure state. We just kinda sit in there until we get greenlit. Again, my biggest concern is getting it out on PC/Mac for the Kickstarter backers. I feel bad every day they have to wait. The advantage to greenlight is that we’ve had around 70k hits to the page. Not to mention this Content Campaign we are running which is getting us some another odd 30k hits here and there from press attention. More eyeballs on the game is always good.

One of the strange elements we are tackling is the total lack of accountability for people who are supporting us. We cannot reward them or talk to them directly like we could on Kickstarter. So we had to come up with rewards that everybody can enjoy. This is why we mostly went with adding new content to the game. The downside is that we get people thinking that we are doing this “hostage voting” thing where we are holding back content. That’s entirely not true. The game is done and we were set to never touch it again but we decided we would be willing to jump back in if the community can help us out and we know we can get more sales and justify going back into this finished product of ours. It’s easy to say that some people are less enthused.

The Kickstarter was a lot easier to run because there was an established system with live updates and it’s a great community that people can get behind. For “The Greenlight Trail” We have to introduce our game, what we are doing and greenlight (Which most people who are using it have no idea what it is yet.) It’s a hard sell. And on top of that… We currently exist in this strange black box where we get very little information about how we are doing. No on I know has changed rank for over a week and we don’t know how to update our fans on how we are doing because we don’t really know…

I’m really liking the tiered rewards – although I think the aim assist is for wimps – however I noticed that most of it seems to be intended for the PC/Mac/possible Linux releases. Just how “for now” do you think that will be? What I mean is I wants it on my phone, too!
We get a lot of complaints about the controls being too hard to use. My girlfriend can easily beat scavenging with deadly zombie activity, while pitching the game idea (at PAX) while playing upside-down. So yes… some people are wimps. But we want wimps to be able to enjoy the game too. So we will just reward people who don’t use the aim assist.

In regards to the PC/Mac/Linux only stuff, since we are working in Unity and all builds are basically the same… there is little reason to hold content from the mobile version. Unless, that is… it doesn’t work for the resolution or touch controls. We are saying “for now” on certain things because for instance… the nude patch… although hilarious and not really obscene in any way… could easily get us pulled from the app store. So we might try and call it “pink baby mode” or something for mobile… if people really want to see it.

The CRT filter will only work well on a monitor since it will be a somewhat high def effect and might cause some distortion for some of the buttons and combat… We aren’t really sure how that will work out, haha. We just though it might be a fun idea.

We plan on charging more for the Steam version and a some Steam users are getting up in arms since there isn’t really any extra content for it… so how can we justify the price? Well I’ll tell you the mobile version is well under-pricedb for the amount of content and time that went into that game. But we needed to be realistic for the market. So, I was trying to find some way to justify giving Steam users something extra. But it’s so hard since there are so few reason to not put something the mobile version… it costs us almost nothing to do so. So… I still don’t know how that will all turn out. I think if something cool is in the game… everyone will get it. That’s probably what will happen.

Short of jumping on Steam and thumbing-up for Organ Trail for Greenlight, is there anything else any of us can do to help make all the awesomeness a reality?
It’s less about the voting… which obviously we need you to do. But more about sharing it. Getting the word out. Telling people about our game and all the cool stuff we want to do and mostly share this link with everyone you know: http://www.hatsproductions.com/organtraildc/greenlight.html

Another weird hurdle: There was no way to integrate the Content Campaign into the Steam page so we had to make it on our own website and a lot of people just end up sharing the steam page… which means no one sees the cool stuff we are trying to do. There is this frustrating disconnect.

We easily get a thousand people to the greenlight page a day… so it’s strange because if you get someone to tweet about it… that might get a friend or two to see it and vote… which at the end of the day isn’t really make a big a dent as I would like. So we are trying to find bigger ways to reach more people. This… no money, twitter only marketing approach isn’t working for us as much anymore. This is sort of the big leagues. So… if you know anyone famous… get them to tweet about it for us, thanks! Haha.

As of writing this… we only have 13 days left to make a big splash and get out by October… (yikes)

Assuming everything goes according to plan and the ultimate edition of Organ Trail becomes a thing and we have a begrudgingly made *other* zombie game to tide us over, where to from there? Even more content updates for Organ Trail? Revisiting other projects? An altogether new project? A much needed break?
I don’t get a break. I quit my job to do this full time. We have a lot of idea we are prototyping and talking about. We’re trying to find ideas that excite us but right now there is this nagging, “I have to pay rent,” feeling. So time and money are currently a factor in our designs and I hate it. I would love to get to the point where we can just make whatever we want without having to limit ourselves because I only have 6 months of money left. I know that’s probably pretty selfish but that’s the reason I quit my job; so I can be selfish and enjoy myself.

I guess the other goal is to become someone in the indie scene. I would love to have one of our games in the IGF or Indiecade or anything like that. This is less about fame and ego… although I have a pretty sizable ego, but more about accountability. I feel like if people expect great things from you… you tend to raise your own bar a little. So I’m hoping to use outside pressure to turn us into a diamond… or something like that. Also I just love indies and want to meet more of them. Great folk.

Finally, is there any sage-like advice you’d be willing to pass on to other independent game developers out there?
Those moments where it’s hardest to focus, when you feel like you have writers block or just can’t make any progress; those are the most important chances you have to becoming a better developer/person and push yourself. Set a new standard for yourself.

Also, advice I think about every day: “Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sort of good at something.” -Jake the dog.

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut can be had on the App Store right now for $2.99. You can also “demo” the game in a manner of speaking via the original Flash version. And don’t forget to vote on Greenlight!

$2.99
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-08-09 :: Category: Games

Organ Trail: Director’s Cut Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Organ Trail: Director's Cut might just look like an Apple 2 classic with a "fresh" coat of Zombie Paint, but it does more than simply re-skin a classic gaming gem.

Read The Full Review »
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