We recently ran into Barry Dorf, Senior Director of Third Party for DeNA, previously ngmoco:). Dorf mentioned that we just might be surprised what we saw in the App Store this week. And surprised we are indeed. The ngmoco:) classic iOS game Topple 2 is getting re-released!
You may or may not remember ngmoco:), so a little history first. ngmoco:) was the first game development studio set up purely for iOS game development. Heavily funded by the iFund, and founded by industry veteran Neil Young, ngmoco:) was a studio created before its time. Unfortunately, its games were critical successes, but relative sales failures. This was when the market was considerably smaller and focused only on paid games. ngmoco:) tried to make the switch to free to play games with Rolando 2–the first game to take advantage of in-app purchases on iOS. But that was not enough to make the ngmoco:) model a success. In came DeNA from Japan, looking for a US foothold. ngmoco:) was the perfect fit and was absorbed into the company. Initially ngmoco:)/DeNA US released a few games that did well, but not amazing. These were great games, now pulled from the App Store like GodFinger, We Rule, etc. Those have all been archived. Recently the majority of the games released by DeNA in the US have been English versions of games popular in Japan. Rage of Bahamut is an example of an extremely successful import. In my opinion, these are less interesting games, but obviously money makers.
Topple 2 is the now-classic block stacking game first released by ngmoco:) way back in what could be considered the golden age of iOS gaming. All of the early games from ngmoco:) were interesting, designed well, unique, and all sported a very touch-centric control scheme. But these early games are, if nothing else, a huge part of the short history of gaming on iOS. So it’s great to think for a moment that those classics may be updated and re-released for modern iOS devices and playable by the now 400+ million iOS gamers. An iPad version of Star Defense or Rolando would also be amazing.
We spoke with Barry Dorf about the updated classics.
148Apps: So, Topple 2 is coming back?! That’s fantastic. What lead to it being revived from the archive?
Barry Dorf: At DeNA we always strive to delight consumers. We saw an opportunity to bring back Topple 2 from the archives and provide fans a fun gameplay experience while also introducing new players to the game.
148Apps: ngmoco:) has some fantastic games in the portfolio. Some of the first big iOS games from 2009-10. I would even argue that the ngmoco:) games were ahead of their time and that could be why they didn’t make amazing amounts of money. We’d love to see more of them come back, updated for the new screen sizes and for the iPad. Any chance we’ll see Star Defense, Rolando, Dropship or any of the other classics too?
Barry: How come you didn’t mention MazeFinger and Dr. Awesome?
DeNA’s portfolio of games is pretty amazing. We’re going to wait and see how Topple 2 does before we consider reviving more titles. We encourage everyone to download Topple 2 and give us a reason to revisit bringing back other games.
So there you have it, the classics may live on. Hopefully we will all enjoy this updated game from the early days of iOS gaming. Let us know–do you think it was a game before its time, or does it seem dated now? What other ngmoco:) classics would you like to see come back?
Take a look at this video of the original Topple 2 trailer. We’ll let you know when Topple 2 hits the App Store; it could be as early as today.
“We” know that your attention has been diverted by We Farm, We City, and the new iPad release of Farmville, but We Rule has a new add-on out, and it looks to breathe a bit more life into the original “We” game.
We Rule Quests takes you on little side quests through your friends’ kingdoms to gain exclusive treasure for your kingdom. From the looks of things, the quests are all devious little ways to get you to order things from your friends. Here is the example that ngmoco:) gives on its website.
When you go into a friend’s kingdom, you may see a little quest icon hovering above their castle. By clicking on the icon, you get a quest list that you can choose from. On the website, they choose the “Here Piggy, Piggy!” quest. The game then gives three different locations that the pig might be in, the barn, the stables, and the butcher shop (oh no!). Your job from there is to find friends with open orders in these three locations to get your pig back, as well as a special prize for completing the mission. If you don’t have a single friend with a specific building (i.e. the stables), it looks like it may be time to add some new friends from ngmoco:)’s crazy list of We Rule players.
Downloading the new add-on is a snap. All you have to do is download the new We Rule Quests app and then sign in with your normal ngmoco:) login. Since the games are all web based, your city will appear as if you’d been playing We Rule Quests from the start. No data will be lost – your kingdom will be fine.
Fans of We Rule and games like it can download the app for free in the App Store. Enjoy!
We have known for a long time that the iPhone was far beyond just just a viable gaming platform, it was the future. One of the biggest examples of that to date has gone down this morning, with Ngmocoannouncing their purchase by Japanese gaming company DeNA for a staggering 400 million dollars.
Ngmoco, best known for their early successes like the critically acclaimed Rolando, has recently embraced the social gaming space, releasing games such as their “We” series including We Rule, We City and We Farm. While these were viewed as a departure from some of their back catalog, they were more appealing to an organization like DeNA, which has made their fortune developing social games focused on a Japanese market.
Though DeNA does very little business in the west, the New York Times reports that the company managed to rake in $640 million in 2009 alone and are (without this recent acquisition considered in the equation) on pace to earn a projected $1.5 billion in 2014. Their big hit, Mobage Town, is a traditional social networking structure that earns most of its income from clothing and accessory purchases for in-game avatars. Plus, as a point of comparison, it is also reported that compared to Facebook’s 500 million user accounts, DeNA paltry 20.5 million accounts record an amazing 25-to-1 return on income per user.
It is being reported by Mobile-ent.biz that plans are in place for DeNA to integrate Mobage Town into Ngmoco’s Plus+ community, to further expand the reach of their empire into the mobile space. This now pits the companies head to head with US-based Zynga and their numerous Facebook and recently expanded portable social gaming presence.
Once again speaking with the New York Times, CEO of DeNA, Tomoko Namba was quoted as saying:
“We’re only active in the Japanese market, and we haven’t figured out how to cover the Western market. We want to enable developers to go cross-device, and to go cross-border. And we need this to happen quickly, in about the next one or two years.”
If expansions into western markets is the aim of this acquisition, this may be a great chance to finally see that be successful to its full potential. Plus, when you consider that Ngmoco’s Plus+ platform recently expanded to the Android as well, DeNA is now primed to be accessible on virtually every modern handset available in North America. Now the question remains what will be left of Ngmoco after this take-over is complete? We just hope that they will be able to keep making the games that we have grown to know and love.
Most importantly, this monumental purchase validates the assertion that there is quite a bit of money to be made in the iOS development world. We are no longer the minor leagues of game development, because with money like that being thrown around, soon everyone is going to want a piece of the action.
Carter speaks with One Man Left’s Adam Stewart and Alex Okafor about the upcoming Tilt to Live HD, and how they adapted the game from the iPhone to the iPad, including a reworking of the Gauntlet mode. Tangents are also gone off upon.
Carter speaks with Vijay Thakkar, Technical Director at Newtoy, talking about the challenges of working with server-based architecture with their games, and he sets the record straight about any alleged cheating anyone might have done in Words With Friends.
Who Are We:
Host: Carter Dotson
Guests: Alex Okafor and Adam Stewart, One Man Left
Farmville has only just appeared on the iPhone, and ngmoco is already testing the waters with their own farming sim, We Farm. If you thought We Rule was the developer’s answer to the Facebook farming phenomenon, you were only half right.
Everything about We Farm should be immediately familiar to We Rule fans; from the plot of land you are originally assigned, to the farms (called gardens) you have to maintain, to the Gro (think Mojo) you have to purchase to speed up various processes, there is little initial difference between the two games.
The differences become more apparent as you play through the tutorial which quickly progresses you to a level 6 farmer. Building a coop allows you to raise chickens (and later ducks and, I assume, other fowl as you progress in the game) which you must pet to keep happy. This latter innovation brings a simple type of Tamagochi pet management to We Farm, but it remains to be seen if this is developed at later levels in the game. I’m currently building some of the other farm areas available during the early stages in the game, so it remains to be seen what other new features We Farm will surprise me with.
The overall presentation of We Farm is, if you can believe it, even more cartoonish and exaggerated than We Rule, and the sound effects and music complement this approach perfectly, with frequent interludes of hayseed, down home banjos and harmonicas. It definitely has its charms, but will fans of We Rule want to build a similar mini-society in a similar way? The two games are very much alike.
We Farm is currently available in Canada. Look for it to hit the US iTunes store soon.
We got a chance to stop in ay the new office of ngmoco:) recently for a quick rundown on some of their upcoming apps. As you may remember, they made a business switch recently and are moving completely to the free to play model where the games are free to download and play, but have some form of in-app purchases to give you a better experience. Their latest creations all fall into that model and include a spin-off from Touch Pets Dogs, Eliminate, and two from We Rule.
First up is ngmoco:)’s answer to Farmville. Built from the We Rule engine, this game will look familiar to those of you who have played We Rule. But this time around the focus is on farming. Both raising crops (like in We Rule), and raising livestock are the prime methods to earning in-game cash. To keep things a little friendlier though, animals are never sent off to slaughter. Instead, after raising them they are sent to be judged.
Next up, also built on the We Rule engine, We City. While We Farm is fairly similar to We Rule, this one changes things up a little bit. Instead of building a farm/kingdom, you are building a city. Think of this is a very simplified, friendly and social version of SimCity.
In both We City and We Farm, you can visit your friends creations and interact by purchasing services and goods from them, much like in We Rule. It should be noted that ngmoco:) have made the odd decision to have each individual game, even though they are very similar and are targeting a similar audience, have their own unique version of We Rule’s mojo. Players would, I’m sure, greatly appreciate a common in-game bonus currency so that if you excel in one game you can speed up another. But alas, this is not to be.
Touch Pets Cats
Touch Pets Cats is the answer to Touch Pets Dogs for you feline lovers. Similar game, but there are a few small changes in how it’s played. For one, since cats generally stay inside, the whole experience is indoors. You have the option to decorate your living space with earned and purchasable items and furniture.
The Next Version of Eliminate
By far the most interesting title we saw was the next version of Eliminate. Currently without a final title, this version will be set in the current time instead of the future — think US military fighting in the middle east. Much like Eliminate, it’s multiplayer over the Internet and works butter smooth. The game itself reminded me very much of Counterstrike and had some really good action. No images of the game yet, but keep an eye out for full details.
Update 5/1/2010: gokbert is our winner — check your email and respond and we’ll send you the iTunes gift card code.
We Rule from ngmoco:) is one of the more popular community trading games. A genre of game most popularized by Farmville. This type of game revolves around building things and trading goods and services with other players. In We Rule one of the best ways to gain experience points and in-game currency is to sell and buy services with other players. Both buyers and sellers gain in these transactions.
To sell services, you just need to build buildings that sell goods and services. This is basically any of the buildings other than farms and homes. Users can then come to your kingdom and order from those buildings just by touching them. This is the same way that you can order services from other kingdoms. Visit other kingdoms and look for open signs to see what’s available.
So let’s use this post as a place to share each our Plus+ Network usernames so that we can start trading with each other. The idea being that we build a community within the We Rule community all trading with each other to build our XP as fast as possible. I’ll start, I’m jeff148apps.
Add your Plus+ Network username below, in the comments. We can then all add each other as friends and start building up experience points and gold. To make it a little more enticing, we’ll pick a random user from below for a $15 iTunes Gift card so you can buy more mojo in the game. We’ll give away the gift card next weekend.
Also, make sure you have the latest version installed. Ngmoco recently fixed some bugs related to open businesses that should make things easier for us all.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Posted March 31st, 2010 by Ryan Wood Our Rating: :: BUILD A KINGDOM
We Rule is a solid entry into the freemium genre. While the potential for greatness is there, serious time and consideration needs to be taken on the server and game play issues for We Rule to stay popular with fans.
The App Store is a busy place, and every week brings a slew of new apps. Keeping up with all the new releases is almost impossible at this point. To that end, we’re going to be starting a weekly round-up of five new apps that have caught our interest for one reason or another. Hopefully, you’ll be interested in each member of the “Friday Five,” too. Please note that this list is not at all exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with your own suggestions!
We Rule by ngmoco
There was no way that We Rule wasn’t going to make this list. ngmoco is the powerhouse behind popular games ranging from Rolando to Eliminate, and like most of their recent games, this one is freemium. We Rule is a kingdom-building game that bears something of a resemblance to the Facebook hit Farmville. The goal is to build up your kingdom as much as possible, which involves planting and harvesting crops among other things. There’s also a strong social aspect, as you can visit friends’ kingdoms and interact using ngmoco’s Plus+ network.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2010-03-19 :: Category: Games :: Adventure
Yahoo! Sketch-a-Search is a recent release from the well-known search engine. Instead of web search, however, this one’s for restaurants. The app narrows in on your location, and then you can “sketch” a boundary line with your finger. The app will return a list of restaurants within your sketch. Though it might seem gimmicky, this could actually be useful—all too often, a simple radius search won’t cut it. For most of the listings, the app also provides phone numbers, ratings, directions, photos, and menu pricing.
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-23 :: Category: Travel
Flick Bowling 2
Freeverse is another studio that’s had a lot of strong hits on its hands: Skee-ball and Flick Fishing come to mind. Their latest title is a bowling game with a decidedly bizarre story mode that involves travel through time and space. If you can grin at the game’s spontaneous and nonsensical plot twists, you’ll also be able to appreciate the improved touch controls. Flicking the ball with your finger gives you a surprising amount of precise control. If you’ve tried the original Flick Bowling, be sure to check out this sequel!
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-23 :: Category: Games
Group Text is a free app that does what you’d expect: it lets you text a bunch of people at once! Like many other texting apps, it gives you free, unlimited texts by using your data plan, but the main draw is that you can hold “chat” conversations via text even if your friends don’t have iPhones (or the app, for that matter). When one person replies, everyone receives a text with the update. Group Text certainly isn’t a new concept, but it’s free…so why not check it out?
iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad
Released: 2010-03-19 :: Category: Social Networking
And here I thought that Digg was getting old. Digg is a community where users can “digg” links that they deem to be awesome and worthy of promotion; the idea is that, theoretically, the best stuff rises to the top, whether it’s from a major news site or an obscure blog. If you’re still using the website, be sure to grab the recently-released free app. It actually does a lot of what the full-fledged service does: you can browse the usual popular categories, digg stories, save stories for later reading, and more. And besides…it’s free!
It’s hard not to love ngmoco. From Rolando to Eliminate, their catalog is bursting with App Store classics. It’s exciting, then, to hear that they’ve got a new game in the works…specifically, a “social game” entitled We Rule.
ngmoco might be calling it a social game, but the first word that jumped to my mind was “simulation.” Here’s an excerpt from ngmoco’s announcement:
In We Rule, you will govern your very own kingdom. You will act as a city planner and landscaper—customizing your realm with buildings, banners, and botany. You’ll decide what crops to plant and ensure they are harvested on time. You will collect taxes from your citizens and manage a variety of shops and businesses – from bakeries and inns to lumber mills and ore mines.
It sounds like the basis for an excellent simulation game, and some sort of social aspect will obviously play a key role. As to what exactly it will be, well, we’ll have to wait to learn more.
Also of note is that ngmoco will be partnering with Newtoy for We Rule. Newtoy has a pretty solid pedigree—the games they helped create range from Halo Reach to Words With Friends—and coupled with ngmoco’s own talent and finesse, We Rule is almost guaranteed to be great. We’ll update you when ngmoco releases more information!