Last week, I wrote about Playond, a service by Bending Spoons that has been acquiring the mobile publishing rights to premium games and re-releasing them behind a subscription paywall. Since writing the piece, I received quite a few replies about the service, and most of it was negative.
The complaints mostly centered around how certain games didn’t actually verify old purchases properly and would also reset player progress. This definitely makes Bending Spoons seem like a shady player, and so it’s no wonder I started seeing chatter from players wondering why trusted developers would get into bed with such an operation.
Instead of just looking at anecdotal evidence, I decided to follow up on this. Is Playond really that bad? Are developers being tricked? Do said developers actually care about mobile anymore? I started trying to find these answers by reaching out to developers who agreed to be part of the service, and here’s what they said:
Earlier this month, a little game called Flappy Fighter hit the App Store and seemingly surprised everyone. What looked like a simple Flappy Bird send-up actually turned into the little mobile fighting game that could.
It seems like the only person who wasn't surprised by Flappy Fighter's success was the game's creator, Andrew Baxter. To learn more about the creative process that went into this breakout title, I reached out to Baxter. See our exchange below, where we discuss everything from the public reaction to the game as well as what the future of Flappy Fighter might look like:
Sometimes we like to tell you about the awesome stuff going on around mobile gaming, not just about how awesome mobile games are. And this is definitely one of those times. Because what's more awesome than real-life weapons based on things from your favorite games? We can't think of a single thing quite frankly.
So when we found out that King had commissioned Tony Swatton, a legendary blacksmith in the entertainment industry with decades of work behind him, to make a weapon from Legend of Solgard, we figured it'd be silly if we didn't talk to him about the build, his career, and how you might get into blacksmithing yourself.
And that's exactly what this article is. Along the way you'll see some images from the build, and at the end of the piece you can check out a video that shows the process from piece of metal to an amazing looking, finished version of the Heaven's Disk from the game.
If you've not heard of Legend of Solgard, it's something of a departure from King. While it does have match-stuff mechanics, there's some deeper RPG stuff going on in the background, and a host of intriguing characters for you to unlock.
Powerless is a new game that's set to hit the App Store on August 23rd. It's an interactive novel of sorts, with a huge cast of characters and a really intriguing story involving the end of technology as we know it.
The game's got lots of interesting ideas, so we took a moment to have a chat with the co-founder of Narratio, the dev behind the game, Lauren Anne Marie Carter. Carter also designed the game, and has some really interesting insights about tech, life, and diversity.
Louis Castle's title as industry veteran is well earned, having played a major role in shaping the real time strategy (RTS) genre by creating the unforgettableCommand & Conquerseries. Now Castle is onto something new withWar Commander: Rogue Assault, a massively multiplayer RTS on iOS and Anroid. The free-to-play game offers wait-free base building, direct unit control, and sprawling maps to explore, either solo or with alliances.
We talked to Lou about his path to the mobile scene, his thoughts on the state of RTS games today, and how his latest game,War Commander: Rogue Assaulthopes to innovate and influence the genre on mobile platforms.
+Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
Humanity has succumbed to a virus that’s spread throughout the world. Now the dead have risen with a hunger for human flesh, and all that remain are a few survivors. One of those survivors has just called you for help.
That’s the plot in POPCLAIRE’s latest title The Virus: Cry for Help - and if you might be thinking that this is just another zombie apocalypse splatter fest then you’re (un)dead wrong.
The Virus is a real time adventure where you must communicate with Hanna (a survivor trapped in a city infested with the undead) and attempt to guide her to safety.
Your decisions will constantly shape the course of the game, with even the most trivial of decisions having startling consequences on how the story unfolds. Hanna will frequently send messages for you to respond to at anytime either within the app or via push notifications as well.
One of the developers from POPCLAIRE talked to us about how this title separates itself from other zombie related apps.
What do you think your game offers that you can’t get from any other title on the App Store?
Players will find themselves engaged right from the start with The Virus’ cinematic intro and soundtrack. The atmospheric mood and story is what makes the game really stand out, and Hanna’s pulse and mood monitor will keep suspense high.
There are other apps which boast this mechanic, but none of them with such a high impact on a user’s decision. The additional military channel is also another nice feature that helps to give users more background information.
What challenges did you face during development, and how did you overcome them?
We had to do a lot of work on syncing the soundtrack and graphical atmosphere with Hanna’s mood - but the end result is really cool.
Which part of the game are you personally the most proud of and why?
I like the different moods which give you a perfect idea of Hanna’s current situation.
Who would you say is the general audience of the app?
The Virus: Cry for Help isn’t just for zombie fans or casual gamers. We’ve found our audience to be really varied actually, with men and women both young and old enjoying the game. We’ve even found non-gamers have really enjoyed the experience the title offers.
Do you have anything planned in terms of future updates for the game and, if so, can you give us any details of what these might include?
We don’t want to give too much away right now so all we can say is that Hanna will definitely be back…soon.
Do you have any tips or advice to users on how to play the game?
I would recommend checking the military-channel as soon as “new messages” arrive.
How is The Virus performing so far, and has it been meeting expectations?
The Virus got a worldwide feature on the Apple App Store, and so far the performance has been great. The game is free to play and if you like the story, you can support our work and purchase the full story for €1.99.
You can download The Virus: Cry for Help on iOS and Android for free now.
This article is sponsored as part of Steel Media Preferred Partner's.
Ateam’s Unison League was released last year, giving fans of JRPGs the chance to venture across a dangerous land, gathering friends to take on monsters in real-time battles. The game features highly customisable characters, a competitive guild system, vibrant 2D graphics as well as five different classes of hero to choose from.
This latest update gives you would-be heroes brand new content to get your thumbs racing. But it’s not just any old update. Teaming up with Evangelion, Ateam has created a package of content inspired by the hit Japanese anime.
From the team behind Subway Surfers, with help from internet investor Klaus Lovgreen, comes GivingTales:an app offering a modernised version of classic Hans Christian Andersen tales. And it currentlyfeatures the voices of such talent as Sir Roger Moore, Ewan McGregor, Stephen Fry, and Dame Joan Collins.
The free-to-download version includes Sir Roger Moore’s reading of "The Princess and the Pea," with further stories available for $3.99. Each story is a short, animated envisioning of the classic tales, making them ideal for young and old alike. Besides being rather charming and great for entertaining kids, there’s an extra reason for paying: 30% of the proceeds are going to UNICEF. The charity helps to create a better world for children via vaccination, education, protection, and food.
We were fortunate enough to have a brief chat with James Bond himself, Sir Roger Moore, to learn about how he got involved with the project.
We’d all love to make video games, right? Odds are you’ve got a cool idea but no way to realize such potential. Well, one Pixel Press' Kickstarter project could be just the thing you’re looking for. It’s called Bloxels, and it lets you build a game out of physical blocks.
Kabam has released their newest action RPG,Spirit Lords. It is a massive four-person multiplayer game with a battle system that has you summoning Spirit allies to come to your aid. You get a lot of options for customization of your character as well as enjoying hundreds of combat abilities, thousands of pieces of gear, and tons of spirits to collect and upgrade.
I had the chance to chat with Daniel Erickson, Senior Director of Design and Michael Dashow, Art Director, about this exciting new game.
148Apps: Hi Daniel! Thanks for taking some time to chat with 148Apps about your game. Spirit Lords looks absolutely huge! What first drew your to the idea of making such a massive ARPG?
Daniel Erickson: I've always loved doing massive RPGs and I've always loved action RPGs. Getting to combine the two on a platform that I truly believe is the future of where RPGs are going was too good a chance to pass up. Mobile enables us to do more content without the backbreaking graphic budget concerns of consoles and reach more people than any other platform.
148Apps: What was the most challenging part of bringing Spirit Lords to life?
The mobile platform is a huge opportunity but also has its own set of challenges. Creating action-packed combat that is driven entirely through gesture controls was a massive undertaking but the results made all the investment of time and resources worth it.
148Apps: You worked as Design and Creative lead on Star Wars: The Old Republic and part of the team for Dragon Age: Origins. Are there any things you learned working on those games that you have integrated into Spirit Lords?
Daniel Erickson: Working on expansive RPGs taught me the joys of creating an epic story for players to uncover and leading design on an MMO taught me how important it is to have a direct channel to your players. There were, however, countless things on both games I would have loved to explore that were impossible due to the complexity of the platforms and the huge budgets involved with every task. On Spirit Lords, we've been able to talk the grand scale and scope of epic console RPGs and MMOs and attempt to recreate that feel on the mobile platform while still having room to experiment.
148Apps: What is your favorite part of Spirit Lords?
Daniel Erickson: The Spirit and combat system. Every Spirit is its own character but also has its own magic ability you can equip and then use in the fantastic gesture-based combat system that Jay Ambrosini, our lead designer, created. So my Spirit sets tend to be a mix of characters I love for their design, ones I love for the ability they provide, and ones that are just great raw power.
148Apps: Michael, thanks for talking with us. I took a look through Kabam's artbook for the game and the design is gorgeous! What originally drew you to the project?
Michael Dashow: Thank you! Spirit Lords's Executive Producer Phil Shenk and I worked together at Blizzard, and we brought the game Diablo II to life together. When Kabam decided that they wanted to create a fantastic action RPG in that style, Phil was the first person they tapped and I joined shortly after. We - and the entire team - were really excited for the opportunity to make an action RPG that played really smoothly on mobile devices, that felt like it was made for that platform and took advantage of the touch-screen controls to be really fun to play.
148Apps:The characters are a great middle ground between realistic and chibi. How did you decide on the design style for Spirit Lords?
Michael Dashow: We set out to make a game that would appeal to a wide variety of players. Easy controls with a lot of gameplay depth were core elements of the game design, and the visual style supported that goal as well. We all agreed from the start that we wanted a look that was a nice balance between casual and core. We knew what the camera angle would be for the gameplay from the start, so I aimed for characters with large, exaggerated proportions that would read really clearly from that perspective. We went through a lot of character iteration to get just the right proportions that looked great both when running around levels and when you viewed them in your Inventory screen and in cut-scenes. In the end, we all really loved the proportions that combined some cartoony exaggeration but still looked tough and able to dish out some punishment to the monsters in the game. And for the monsters themselves, we had a lot more freedom to come up with some really fun, exaggerated designs that all had a lot of personality.
148Apps:Some of the spirits and creatures are adorable like the Grubbins and some are really badass like the fire elemental. Which is your favorite?
Michael Dashow: There are a lot of them that I love - asking me to name a favorite is like asking someone which of their 400 children they love best! But if I had to pick one, it would be Titanic Lord Wampafu Immortal Mountain, a giant warrior Urshin with a big name and an even bigger spiked golden hammer. It's funny you should ask because just a few days ago, I put the same question to the entire Spirit Lords development team and asked them what their favorites were. The long list included Wanpafu, the Grubbins, the Ramm spirit Beneficent SkyShield Marche, the Master of Chains, the Master of the Shield, the Buja, the Prismatic Cephalopop, the Gorgant, and Faragul of the Frozen Heart (the final evolution of Highland Assassin, the first spirit that you get in the game.)
Thanks for the kind notes about the art of Spirit Lords. Glad you like it, and enjoy the game!
Thank you so much to Daniel and Michael. The game looks like a fantastic time. You can pick up your own copy of Spirit Lords on the App Store for free and join the fun.
The Fast and the Furious is an action film series full of fast cars, hard-ass characters, and illegal shenanigans that first came out in 2001. The upcoming film, Furious 7, continues the storyline of the third film - The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Kabam has done a lot of movie tie-in games like The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth, Marvel Contest of Champions, and even Fast and the Furious 6, so it was no surprise to find out that they've developedFast & Furious: Legacy, which proposes to cover all of the F&F movies so far.
Cuz Parry, Creative Director for Fast & Furious: Legacy,took some time to talk with 148Apps about the upcoming game.
Recently, I was invited to check out N-Fusion and 505's upcoming RPG title, Ember. Set in the land of Domus, you'll be embroiled in a rich story with over 70 quests, a ridiculously expansive skill tree, and gorgeous landscapes. You play as aLightbringer who is trying to save the embers - which the world covets to the point of war, of course.Jeff Birns, CEO of N-fusion, walked me though his work and it was obvious that this was truly a labor of love. And he was happy to answer a few questions on his beloved game.
Set for release next month, RAD Boarding is looking to be a pretty fun endless runner in the vein of Tiny Wings. You play a burnt-out 90s celebrity with nothing left to do in life but grab his snowboard, don his shades, and go on one final ride because, oh yeah, the world’s ending. The game promises a 90s inspired soundtrack as well as the inclusion of collectible Milk Caps, which will seem somewhat familiar to fans of Pogs from the 1990s. Plus you can smash through tombstones, if that’s your kind of thing.
Developed by Other Ocean, best known for NBA Rush, and published by the team behind the Super Stickman Golf series, Noodlecake Games, RAD Boarding certainly has some quality pedigree backing it. Intrigued by the game, we were able to talk to Noodlecake Games’ Ryan Holowaty and Other Ocean’s Marc McGinley to learn more.
148Apps: As a Tiny Wings style game, how many areas/worlds are there going to be to explore in RAD Boarding overall? Marc McGinley (MM): Players can unlock new environments by beating Tiny the Bear (the boss). Tiny is a (not-so-tiny) eye patch wearing circus bear who is impressed by performing crazy trick combos. There are four environments in the game at launch: Grasslands, Desert, Jungle, and Ice Lands. Later environments help you earn more coins and collect more frogs.
148Apps: How long has the game been in development, roughly? MM: We started out with a very different game and have gone through a lot of iteration and player feedback to get to where we are today. What you see right now in the game took us around a year to develop.
148Apps: What kind of in-app purchases will be available? Are there any upgrade paths to pursue? MM: All of the upgrades in the game are focused around helping the player get further into the level, or earning them more currency to buy more upgrades. For convenience, players can purchase coin packs to speed up their progress, but the game is balanced fairly for non-paying users. Players can also buy Boost Tokens that multiply the number of coins they earn for a number of runs. We also have ads in the game, we're proud that they're very non-intrusive and players can optionally earn rewards by watching certain ads. Rewards could include Boost Tokens, coins, or Frogs.
148Apps:Regarding the Milk Caps and other types of collectible, are they just visual collectibles or do they offer anything extra? MM: Milk Caps are just one type of collectible which you can find inside a frog. Frogs spawn on the slope occasionally and you have to collide with them to collect them. Milk Caps are mostly for collection, but who knows.... maybe they'll be worth something in the future? Players can also collect costume pieces which unlock new costumes once players have a full set. Tombstones and Tricks are earned by leveling up, and upgrades can be purchased with in-game currency.
Thanks to Ryan and Marc for taking the time to answer our questions. RAD Boarding sounds like it could be a pretty cool endless racer. It’s set for release March 5 and, of course, we’ll have a review for you then.