Arguably the most anticipated puzzle game of the year thanks to the runaway success of its predecessor, The Room Two is set for release on December 12. In the buildup to this very exciting time, I had the chance to go hands-on with the game to see exactly what’s to come next week.
Only having had the chance to play the early stages of the game and not wishing to spoil too much, The Room Two is immediately enticing. There’s an easy-to-follow tutorial for those who haven’t yet enjoyed the original (and if so, why not? There’s still plenty of time to lose one’s self to it!), and a gentle introduction to what to expect. As before, puzzles are set to be as tactile as they are logical with a layering of conundrums to keep players busy. The eerie music continues to add plenty of tension to what’s going on. This time there’s set to be a wider variety of rooms to tackle too, which should prove quite enthralling.
The Room Two is set to be the kind of experience where it’s best to go in cold, but it’s looking pretty positive so far. We’ll be sure to bring you a full review next week. For now, we’ve shared a few words with Barry Meade, commercial director at Fireproof Studios, about how development has gone and just how the success of The Room helped pave the way.
148Apps: The first game was commercially and critically very successful. Have you found this adding to the pressure to get the second game right? Barry Meade (BM): Not really, we’re honestly just delighted to get the chance to work on our own games full stop. Having said that I think we’d all be disappointed if the second game doesn’t do better than the first as we’ve put a lot more work into it this time around. But we do honestly feel that if The Room Two is good enough and deserves to do well, it will do well, and that if it fails its because we failed. And so, if the game’s fate is in our hands alone then there’s no point in worrying unduly about outside pressures or expectations. We’ll do the best we can and see how that flies with our audience.
148Apps: How has that success helped with the development of the sequel? BM: Hugely. Whereas The Room had only 1 programmer and 1 or 2 artists on it at one time, The Room Two has had up to 4 programmers and 8-10 artists on it during the course of development. We made The Room Two in the time frame that the design required rather than hurried because we needed to make money by X date or whatever, and we were only able to decide that because of The Room‘s success. But frankly we can’t think of any better way to spend the money we earn than to reinvest it in our creative process. For us financial success means freedom – freedom to do what we think is necessary to make the best version of the game we want to make – not to have to work for or make decisions for somebody else’s benefit.
For instance if we had to work with a publisher, The Room would never have been created at all – it’s a rare publisher that wants to push things forward for gamers and they generally look down on games and developers who do that. No, we needed to listen to ourselves for The Room to happen and thankfully that’s what we did, and put our own savings on the line to do it. Now that it has paid off for us, we’re even less likely to listen to others. We’re in an ideal creative place but we’re very aware that this position depends on us genuinely making novel, new, interesting games that deserve audience attention. I hope we live up to it.
148Apps: How will The Room Two be different from its predecessor? BM: We were all very happy with how The Room turned out as our first game, though the very limited money we had to spend on its development made the game smaller than it deserved to be. So this time around we wanted to give the concept what it deserved in terms of development time, resources, manpower etc. to see where we could take it. In almost every way The Room Two is a more fully-featured game than the first one – taking what worked and building on it, making it deeper, larger and even a bit more complicated. The environments are a lot more interesting, the objects more intricate and interactive.
So it was a harder project to make this time, it had more moving parts, testing it was a bit more fraught etc. but we knew all that going into it – we just wanted to make it bigger and better across the board. Fireproof may never be a flashy AAA developer but as long as we are working on something we are going to make the best damn version of it that we possibly can. It was that attitude which helped us make The Room in the first place and this time is no different. We think its better in every way than the first, let’s hope the audience agrees.
148Apps: After the success of the original, was there the temptation to simplify the game to appeal to a more casual market? BM: Nah. We’re amazingly happy with the audience we have, we have no interest in trying to squeeze squillion$ of dollars from The Room. It would be great to pick up more users with The Room Two as we’ve worked hard to make it as good to play and value-for-money as possible. But for us its very important to make our work with our own sensibilities at the forefront and not to worry too much about what others expect or think. Our audience bought into the love we put in the first game and if we want to please anyone else then it’s those who enjoyed the first game. They will be our toughest critics and rightly so.
As gamers we’ve always believed that if we pleased our own sensibilities and standards first, others will pick up on the care and attention we put into it, whereas if we obviously attempt to chase what other people want or expect, the audience will see through it, smell the desperation and move onto something more honest and interesting. As in a lot of things in life, chasing something indirectly is often the way to catch it, so concentrating on our own wishes for the game and by extension our current audience seems the most reliable and sensible way to attract brand new users into the game.
148Apps: Many players wished they had more time with The Room, will its sequel be longer? BM: Yes, quite a bit longer. A lot of people who played The Room thought it was a bit short but well worth the money they paid, in fact the user ratings are amazingly high for it so we’re hoping that adding a bit of length and depth will keep them just as pleased and perhaps tickle them even more. The curious thing about puzzle games is how mistaken everybody can be about other players experiences. Some player who is a freak for puzzle games generally will play the game and complete it in 1.5 hours and will be convinced the game is actually short. But for every one of those Ninja players we know there’s 5-10 other players who took 3-5 hours to play it, and they have a very different view on the length – any longer and they would feel overwhelmed.
Puzzle games are very different to other games in that sense – the experience they give players depends very much on the personality and brain of those who are playing it. It’s this engagement of the brain that makes them so beloved I think – people’s own imagination takes a very active part in the playing. It might explain all the love the game gets – we’re not the biggest selling game by any stretch but people who have played it really really love the game. We are super thankful for that, I can tell you it makes us sleep well at night knowing it.
Many thanks to Barry for taking the time to answer our questions.
Set for release December 12, we’ll have a full review of The Room 2 that day. In the meantime, why not get reacquainted with The Room?
So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just check out Reviews Archive for every single review we’ve ever written.
What was old is new again. Thanks to popularization of crowd-funding services like Kickstarter, many forlorn, neglected, and abused franchises of yesteryear are receiving a new lease on life. One such series seeing a massive resurgence is the strategy RPG and table-top classic, Shadowrun, which finally found its way to iOS in the form of the newly released Shadowrun Returns. Can it somehow live up to the nostalgia laced, sky-high expectations of fans, or will it suffer the same fate as the attempted Xbox 360 reboot? Looking back through the annals of history, the last time that a proper Shadowrun RPG was released, Sega was trying to hock the Sega CD. Thankfully, time has been kind to the genre, and the developer, Harebrained Schemes, has went to great lengths to assure that the title’s mechanics meet up with the expectations of a modern audience. The action itself plays out from a third-person, isometric view, akin to what would be found in most modern tactical RPGs, and is coupled with an extremely organic screen tapping control scheme. –Blake Grundman
Incredipede by Sarah and Colin Northway, is almost two different games built into one title. The first is the main adventure, one where players control Quozzle, a spunky little cyclops gal going through those awkward years where one doesn’t know how many limbs and muscles one has at any given time. There’s not just that, but there’s also the need to collect fruit to save the fellow members of one’s species who have been kidnapped. So the player, serving as the control agent for Quozzle’s muscles, tries to both get Quozzle to the end and to collect the fruit in the levels, which are used to unlock future levels. –Carter Dotson
I suppose a sign that a game is really good is when I lose all track of time; just constantly diving back in, ignoring all other responsibilities, just playing the game again and again until there’s no more game to play. That’s Pixel This! by Mark Brown , a game he created because “Most of the Picross apps on iOS kind of suck, so I made a better one.” Well, he succeeded. –Carter Dotson
As a freelance writer and small business owner, keeping tabs on all of my finances and projects can become quite daunting. Plugging numbers into excel, cross referencing projects and figuring out my profits are just a few tasks that can get overwhelming. Now that there’s an app for pretty much everything, I was intrigued by what Projector Up! had to offer myself and other freelancers. The app’s main purpose is management of accounting. It focuses only on small studios and freelancers and isn’t intended for big businesses. Aside from its simple and clean interface, Projector Up! boasts many features like goal tracking, financial planning and visual tracking. –Angela LaFollette
Gappy’s Mystery Letters is a charming and effective interactive letters app starring Gappy, the cartoony character from Spinlight Studios’ earlier app Gappy’s First Words. Here, Gappy will be thinking of a letter and asking children to trace with a finger a moving star which engages children to draw a letter that they will then match up with a series of letters to choose from. I believe that the sense of mystery, complete with fun and suspenseful music, will keep children engaged longer than simply tracing over a template which can oftentimes be scribbled over instead of specifically worked with, as this app taps into a child’s sense of wonder as they form these letters. Another nice moment is revealing the gift Gappy receives that corresponds with the letter in question, such as wagon for “W” – nicely stylized as an image later to be used as a coloring page – a nice touch as this cute moment will not register the way it would if Gappy were being given a whole lot of “stuff” like more tangible toys. I would, however, like to be able to control the speed that one needs in order to follow the star as I could see a child new to tracing or printing having difficulty at first – a minor concern really as this is a great app for those new to learning their letters but who are looking for something a little different. Also included is a blank drawing page as well as 52 coloring pages based on the alphabet that can be unlocked by slowly solving the mystery games found within this app. –Amy Solomon
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If you are looking for the best reviews of Android apps, just head right over to AndroidRundown. Here are just some of the reviews served up this week:
Sometimes it is fun just to watch games. Anyone who’s played the Sims knows that watching the drama unfold can be as fun as creating the drama. These types of players will likely love Blood Battalion, a strategic RPG which is light on the gameplay and heavy on the spectacle. Players begin the game by selecting a hero. It’s possible to pick from such heroes as a healer girl who’s fairly useless in a fight, but has the vital ability to keep other troops alive, to a swordsman who has immense power but not much else. –Allan Curtis
Fast Cats and lava. Welcome to LavaCat from PocketCake. The basic premise is what one expects in a side-scrolling adventure: moving from the left of the screen to the right, the main objective is to get as far as possible without getting fried by any of the heat-related dangers that lined the playing area. In the interest of fair disclosure, it should be noted that the playing area is molten lava travelway with falling spikes and steam geysers that can do lethal damage to a poor little puddy cat. The controls are minimalist. One bank has a direction button set that controls “forward” and “backward” movement. There is also a jump button. An hourglass button rounds out the core controls. The cat remains stationary on the bottom surface unless a button is being held; not a lot of momentum is retained when movement in either direction is not engaged. –Tre Lawrence
Ever wanted to build a charming Roman village from the ground up, build a thriving economy and then shatter the peace by recruiting a huge army to crush friends and rivals, then look no further than Total Conquest, a new game from Gameloft where aspiring generals can do just that. In Total Conquest the player starts off with a Town Hall and not much else. From there villas are constructed to generate gold and farms are planted to generate food. Each building can be upgraded multiple times. Temples can be raised to gain blessings from the gods, bestowing faster or stronger attacks and players can also build a bunker like Militia building which garrisons troops in case of attack. –Allan Curtis
And finally, this week This week, Pocket Gamer reviewed The Cave and Transport Tycoon, crowned the best iOS and Android games of September, looked at the most exciting mobile games for this month, and went hands-on with The Room 2, Monument Valley, and Framed. Take a look, in PG’s weekly wrap-up.
Posted by Rob Rich on August 29th, 2013 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
The Room has been entertaining and creeping out iOS gamers with its eerie puzzles for almost a year now, and it’s not about to stop anytime soon.
Fireproof Games has just released a new chapter, simply titled “Epilogue,” for free. Few details have been given since nobody wants to spoil anything but it’s meant to bridge the gap between The Room and The Room Two, which the developers hope will be available “before Xmas.” So if you’re anxiously waiting for the sequel, grabbing this free bonus chapter is probably the thing to do.
Oh, and on top of that The Room is currently on sale for $0.99. So, you know, buy it if you haven’t already. Then get psyched up for part two.
Over the past five years, many thousands of developers have tried their luck in creating the next big hit for iOS gamers. While some were there right from the beginning, others have found success in only the last couple of years. I took the time to chat to four relatively recently successful developers to find out exactly why they were so interested in pursuing the App Store route, and how they’ve found the experience so far.
“First and foremost it was the ease of development and getting things…running quickly, with no development kits and long processes of approval,” explained Simon Flesser of Simogo (most famous for the rather exceptionally spooky Year Walk). “That coupled with us being interested in the iPhone as a gaming platform and the different features it provides, touchscreen interaction, motion controls, constant internet connection…”
Simogo’s Year Walk
Barry Meade of Fireproof Studios (makers of BAFTA award winning The Room) had similar views: “As a small team with little resources to draw on, the fact you could self-publish on the App Store was a huge enabler for us…The Room might never have been made if we’d had to rely on a publisher as it was a bit too unusual…they would not have believed in the game like we did.” As he pointed out, “the App Store allowed a team from nowhere to make a small game and see big success.”
The Room‘s Fireproof Games is one such team made up of ex-AAA developers, with the studio formed by six ex-lead artists from Criterion Games’ Burnout franchise. Similarly, Warhammer Quest‘s Rodeo Games came from such a background. Formed from executives previously working for the likes of EA, Lionhead, Criterion and Codemasters, Rodeo Games were provided the opportunity to pursue something new, thanks to the App Store.
“Well, we’d been in the AAA games industry for many years and had been talking about how to take steps in setting up our own company. The App Store was just flourishing at the time. It was this awesome, new, bold place for smaller dev teams to put their games in-front of a huge audience. So we crafted a plan with the mindset of making the very best turn based strategy games on iOS, and Rodeo Games was the result,” Ben Murch, co-founder, explained.
Fireproof Games’s The Room
Neil Rennison of Fighting Fantasy developer, Tin Man Games, enjoyed a similar revelatory moment, after a move to Australia, gave him the chance of starting his own indie development studio, just as the iPhone and the App Store came to fruition: “I was originally running a small games art outsource company in the UK and then…I…moved to Australia with the dreams of starting my own indie and making my own titles instead of working on other people’s games.”
How different do they all think things would be if the App Store didn’t exist, though? “Very! Certain types of business models and certain types of games would probably not exist without the App Store,” Simon reckoned. Ben offered similar views, although noted the loss of the “middle tier” of gaming: “The gaming world would be a very different place right now. Just think about how many small companies and jobs have been created just from iOS gaming alone. Before the App Store, there was this surge towards “middle tier” gaming, i.e. titles coming out in the £10 – £20 bracket. I guess that market would have grown more and become an eco-system in itself. However, thanks to the App Store, creators who were interested in that model shifted into the mobile market, effectively crippling the whole “middle tier” gaming sector.”
Rodeo Games’s Warhammer Quest
Mention was also made, by Neil, of the fragmentation of the mobile phone operator universe, something that was a significant problem before the advent of the App Store. “Apple’s stock would be worth a lot less”, noted Barry. All quite rightly pointed out that none of them would be in the position they’re in today, if it wasn’t for the ease of the App Store.
For the most part, all four of our interviewees were very positive about the App Store’s impact. Each citing how it’s “paved the way for many small developers”, as Simon eloquently put it, and enabled them to try riskier material. As Ben pointed out, “Without the App Store, it would be nigh on impossible to get your strange little game idea in front of….well, thousands of people would be a struggle. Suddenly, anyone can release something that has exposure to HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of potential buyers. Just thinking about that blows my mind.”
Financial barriers are also lowered, as Barry explained: “The relative cheapness of mobile games development allows niche ideas to thrive.” Neil reinforced that point, citing how the games industry “was slowly becoming a bloated AAA only console game market and traditional game developers were beginning to struggle as the mid-point of the market was getting squeezed. The app revolution helped give developers options and in a way created its own new market in which everyone had the same opportunities from the big publishers to the lone bedroom coder…[it] was a perfect springboard for budding entrepreneurial devs like us.”
Tin Man Games’s Fighting Fantasy: The Forest of Doom
Simon was slightly more cautious, enjoying the risks that were possible to take, but also citing how it’s “paved the way for some very questionable money-grabbing schemes… the market place has been somewhat flooded with low-quality software. It might have lowered the quality bar for what is considered to be a release-able piece software.”
That’s clearly a thought that runs through each of the developers’ minds, given that each recommends changes that make it easier to find good apps and games. Ben would appreciate a better quality Related Apps section and a twist on the Genius section, “Some form of “We recommend these Apps for you based on what you’ve downloaded already” type thing.” Discoverability is a big thing for Barry too, “There should be a lot more ways to format the lists of games when browsing the store. A chart by user rating is very needed for those smaller companies who make great games but get buried by the marketing clout of richer but arguably less skilful publishers.”
Higher “quality control” is an important wish for Simon, while Neil would appreciate a way to reply to App Store reviewers.
Rodeo Games’s Hunters 2
For the most part, though, all four developers were, understandably, happy with how the App Store is performing, both in terms of business and personal use.
“I think Apple does a marvellous job at finding and promoting good games. It’s so nice that they can give small developers, such as us, a big spotlight if they find something that is good…it’s almost…unbelievable that something as strange as Year Walk can get the same type of exposure as a mainstream game from a big publisher,” beamed Simon.
The “open territory” of the Store was appreciated by Barry, also, “You can upload a game to the store and be published in 150 countries within 24 hours – this is really quite incredible when you compare it with how difficult it was to get a game onto other platforms only a few years ago. It’s pretty much a revolution in terms of enabling creativity,” with Neil offering similar views.
Simogo’s Bumpy Road
As a consumer, it’s also proved quite the hit with Ben pointing out, “it’s that feeling of being able to browse a huge catalogue of games from your sofa, eventually finding something that’s right up your street. They have great landing pages in the App Store making it easy to find great games that you may not have heard of previously.” Neil appreciated the vast wealth of games, too, “it’s enabled me to play games that I haven’t played in over 20 years and also experience new innovative game designs from some truly talented people that wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to shine.”
While it’s clear that the App Store isn’t perfect, mostly in terms of offering great visibility to the titles that deserve it, these four developers have clearly found it an overwhelmingly useful experience. Each of them, from different backgrounds, have found great and deserved success, highlighting the best of what can come out of the App Store in terms of original efforts.
We’re certainly fascinated to see what will come next from these relatively new developers, part of the next generation of exciting game makers.
Fireproof Studios announced today both an expansion and a sequel for its multiple-award-winning iPad and iPhone game, The Room. According to the development team, The Room will get an expansion early this coming summer, with a sequel shortly thereafter. The expansion promises to continue the story from the original game, with some foreshadowing of the second. The sequel to The Room plans to take players to an even more spectacular place.
It’s hard to say exactly when it happened, but Halloween has undisputedly crept up on us to become a big league holiday. The kind where preparations begin over a month in advance, with horror movie marathons, costume discussions, and decorations. With that in mind, it would be a grave mistake to go in ill-prepared, so we’re here to do our part to help ring in the festivities. Here are four spooky games that will have horror-lovers shambling on over to the App Store and coffin’ up their dough.
Perhaps not the most obvious pick at first, The Room makes up for a lack of blood and gore with an ample amount of atmospheric tension. What starts off as Myst-like series of interlocking, symbol-filled puzzles soon emerges as an implied storyline filled with spine-tingling mystery. Much goes unsaid, but plumbing the depths of the unknown backed by eerie music box chimes is a meticulous thrill all its own.
iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
Released: 2012-09-19 :: Category: Games
From one nontypical experience to the next, Papa Sangre is a video game with no…video? Tasked with saving the soul of a loved one, players will take a frequently terrifying first-person audio journey through the palace of the titular demon. With an elegant interface and gripping story, Papa Sangre is a truly unique title that speaks to the power of sensory deprivation. The horrifying, horrifying power.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-12-18 :: Category: Games
The Walking Dead
For a game filled with zombies, The Walking Dead’s horror derives almost entirely from the heart-breaking failings of humankind. Telltell Games has earned a mausoleum full of critical praise for its serialized interpretation of Robert Kirman’s graphic graphic novel, which uses the point and click adventure genre to force players to make tough, lasting decisions about life, death, and the brainless hereafter. All episodes can be purchased from within the app, so start this gripping tale right now.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-07-26 :: Category: Games
As far as mobile horror goes, this one may be an oldie, but it’s most definitely a goodie. One of the best, in fact. Not only is it a faithful translation of Visceral Games’ flagship survival horror series to the small screen, but this version may just be scarier. In a dark room, with headphones in, the game’s brilliant tension between all-out action and edge-of-the-seat inaction is brought to the forefront, all backed by a methodical, shriek-worthy soundtrack. Player beware: Necromorphs may induce device dropping. (iPhone version also available.)