Posts Tagged Polymer

Whitaker Trebella, now operating under the company name of Fixpoint Productions for his game and music work, is releasing his second full-fledged game, Pivvot. The development of the game was quite like how it plays: a long and winding path that was fraught with obstacles, but with success waiting at the end.

Pivvot-bannerIt makes sense because he definitely doesn’t take the easy path through life: he’s a music teacher who also does music for a wide variety of iOS games, becoming one of the most prominent composers on the platform. He was self-started, too – music submissions for Tilt to Live eventually turned into greater attention and more work to start making music for games. Then, he decided to learn how to program in order to make his own games, and he created Polymer, which didn’t make him rich but made significant income for him, was extremely successful for a first release, and was a critical success to boot. He even got married to the love of his life, changing his last name from Blackall to Trebella, a combination combined from his and his wife Dana’s last names. So, what comes next?

That was the one thing he just couldn’t figure out.

A screenshot from the final version of Pivvot. It took a while to get to this point, though.

A screenshot from the final version of Pivvot. It took a while to get to this point, though.

Trebella says that “I struggled for quite awhile with what kind of game I would like to make next. I probably had at least 20 totally different ideas running around in my head, fighting for attention. I sketched out a bunch on paper, prototyped a few on the device, and showed various people a couple of the ideas I had. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a long time after releasing Polymer.”

There was one idea that he worked sporadically on at the time, he just never felt all that motivated to work on it because he was struggling to make it work. A talk that Rami Ismail gave, one that wound up influencing fellow Chicago developers such as Dan FitzGerald and Lisa Bromeil of Dog Sled Saga, only helped to sway him toward ditching his idea when he got up to ask about it. His question about whether he should keep pushing with his idea (one he still might pursue in the future) was long-winded, and not exuding much confidence that the idea had a future. “I thought it had potential but it just never struck me. I never had that drive to finish it that I had with Polymer. And because it was a complex idea, it wasn’t even fun to play in the early stages. Eventually, I just scrapped it altogether.”

So it was back to the drawing board. After scrapping his original idea for his second game, he says “I started making a bunch of prototypes. Out of the many prototypes, I decided on one that eventually led to the creation of Pivvot.”

A screen from an early version of the game.

A screen from an early version of the game.

Terry Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon “very much so” influenced Pivvot during its creation. “I just really love the simplistic nature of Super Hexagon‘s gameplay. While it is a VERY hard game, it is VERY easy to understand what to do and how to do it. I wanted to get that same sort of feeling with Pivvot. Someone said to me recently that they enjoyed Pivvot because they knew what to do right away without even playing it. It’s back-to-basics gameplay. I was tempted a number of times to add bells and whistles but I kept thinking back to how awesome Super Hexagon is and how it focuses strictly on that one fun mechanic.” He even has talked to Terry Cavanagh and says “He seemed to think the idea was cool!” when he showed a version of the game to him a couple of months ago.

But curiously, it was also the core technology at work with Pivvot that helped convince him that this was the right idea.”I’m working in Unity with the Futile framework. It took me a long time to really understand how to make cool-looking shapes and objects in Futile. Once I figured that out though, it opened up a ton of options. I was able to create cool-looking obstacles, and maybe even more importantly, I was able to create the winding, pulsating path that is the centerpiece of Pivvot‘s gameplay. Once I had a winding path with some obstacles and some basic collision detection, I was able to play the game and actually have fun.”

“Once I was having fun with the prototype, I knew it had potential.”

He felt like he had nailed the core idea of pivoting around a point traveling along a winding path avoiding obstacles all the while, but making it fun was the biggest challenge. “It took an incredible amount of playtesting on my end. I would create an obstacle, then play the game over and over and over with just that obstacle until I either felt really happy with it or found something that annoyed me about it. For example, if I kept dying on one specific part of an obstacle and it started to feel unfair, I would make that part a bit easier; if a certain part of an obstacle pattern was just way too easy, I would tweak it to make it harder; if an obstacle played well but just didn’t look very cool, I would think about how to make it look better.”

Everything with the game’s art is actually generated through code. Pivvot has a very minimalistic look, consisting mostly of lines and geometric shapes. This wasn’t always the case, though: “the obstacles used to have outlines and other details on them. At first, I thought it looked very cool, but the more I played it, the more I realized the extra details really distracted from the minimalistic look of the game. Having said that, I needed to make sure it looked ‘artfully minimalistic’ rather than just ‘flat.’ ”

Continue reading Whitaker Trebella’s Long Voyage to Completing His Second Game, Pivvot »

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.

$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
$6.99
+ 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

Whitaker Trebella’s Polymer has gotten its first big update since its release back in May. The game is now universal for the iPad, supporitng retina resolutions, to go along with its new icon. Content unlocks will sync across devices using iCloud, ensuring no lost progress when installing on new devices. The developer recommends launching the game on the original device first and letting it sit for a couple of minutes to ensure data is properly uploaded, then it may take a few seconds for progress to synchronize on the new device, but it is confirmed as working.

Several changes and additions have been made to gameplay. Game Center online multiplayer has been added, where two players compete on the same board to try and make the biggest polymer in 2 minutes. The Two Minutes mode is now available in 5 and 10 minute increments, configurable from options, with individual Game Center leaderboards for each mode. A stress-free endless mode has been added. Want to see how much a polymer is worth before detonating it? Just long-press on it to see its point value. The free universal update is available now.

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

The most hirsute iOS podcast in the world!

On This Episode:

  • Carter and guest co-host/beard-enthusiast Jared Nelson discuss the recent Sonic 4: Episode 2 release, and just what kept it from being a truly great game.
  • Carter and Jared discuss games with in-app purchases, in particular regarding comments on games like Polymer and Hero Academy and their IAP practices.
  • Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Co-Host: Jared Nelson, Touch Arcade
  • Contact The Show: Email | Twitter

    Music:

  • “Beatnes7 (Theme to The Portable Podcast)” by The Eternal – Download on iTunes here:
  • “Nanocarp” by The Eternal
  • How to Listen:

  • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
  • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.
  • Listen Here:
  • Apps Mentioned in this Episode:

    $2.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2012-05-17 :: Category: Games

    $2.99
    iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
    Released: 2011-12-21 :: Category: Games

    $2.99
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2011-12-15 :: Category: Games

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

    FREE!
    + Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
    Released: 2012-01-11 :: Category: Games

    Cats and abstract shapes!

    On This Episode:

  • Carter discusses Whitaker Trebella’s App Store debut, Polymer, talking about what went into the creation of the game.
  • Carter talks about Cannon Cat with developers Loqheart, discussing how they tried to make a game for touchscreens, and what they did to try and make the game appeal to players.
  • Episode Cast:

  • Host: Carter Dotson
  • Guest: Whitaker Trebella
  • Guests: David Ngo & Don-Duong Quach, Loqheart
  • Music:

  • “Beatnes7 (Theme to The Portable Podcast)” by The Eternal – Download on iTunes here:
  • “Nanocarp” by The Eternal
  • How to Listen:

  • Click Here to Subscribe in iTunes:
  • Click Here to Subscribe via RSS.
  • Listen Here:
  • Apps Featured On This Episode:

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

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

    Polymer Review

    iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
    Polymer is a puzzle game where players must slide pieces around a board to form large connected shapes, across 3 different game modes.

    Read The Full Review »
        Advertisement    





    Featured Apps

        Advertisement    


    Categories

    Developers

    Would you like your application reviewed on 148Apps? See the About page for information.
        Advertisement    



    Steel Media Network

    148Apps - iPhone app reviews and news. The best gosh darn iPhone app site this side of Mars.
    http://148apps.com :: @148Apps

    Android Rundown - Android news and reviews. Where you get the rundown on Android apps and hardware.
    http://AndroidRundown.com :: @AndroidRundown

    Best App Ever - Yearly Mobile App Achievement Awards.
    http://bestappever.com :: @BestAppEver

    Pocket Gamer - Mobile game reviews, news, and features.
    http://PocketGamer.co.uk :: @PocketGamer

    Pocket Gamer.biz - Mobile games industry news, opinion, and analysis.
    http://PocketGamer.biz :: @pgbiz

    AppSpy - iOS game news and video reviews.
    http://appspy.com :: @appspy