A couple months ago we wrote about Beatbuddy’s submission to the IGF. Back then we didn’t know too much about the game other than indie developers Threaks had dubbed it the first music action adventure game. Well, that was enough to draw us in… Now they’ve released their first trailer and it’s pretty much everything I hoped for.
So here’s a bit of funny news for you. Apparently Nokia, the bastion of good business sense in the mobile industry for the past 5 years (sarcasm!), has awarded its “Calling All Innovators” game prize of $250,000 to independent game company 10tons for creating mobile game Sparkle. Cool right? Except that Sparkle is not innovative at all.
As many of you should know by now, I’m not adverse to clones or copying features. It’s a natural step in the gaming evolutionary system. So I have no problem that 10tons created a Puzz Loop clone (probably more popularly known as Zuma) and released it under the name Sparkle. In fact the game has been cloned so many times at this point who cares? It’s a fun mobile game. That said, I do think it’s funny that Nokia thinks it’s innovative because it’s not. Not by a long, long shot.
My first thought was that there must have been some other game/developer who really strived to create something unique and innovative, at which point I was angry. But then I thought… it’s Nokia. The contest itself must have been pretty sparse in the first place. Perhaps Sparkle was simply the best they could have chosen.
Oh and the really, really funny part? Sparkle isn’t even exclusive to Nokia’s Symbian mobile OS. It’s available on damn near every OS: Windows, OSX, iOS (iPhone and iPad) Android, Bada (Samsung’s thing), WebOS (including the TouchPad). In fact, it appears that these versions even came FIRST. 10tons essentially just flushed a new version down the drain to Nokia and walked home with a quarter million dollars.
Oh Nokia… oh sweet, innocent Nokia. If you’re going to spend $250,000 on a clone, at least make sure it’s a clone that’s going to be exclusive to your platform.
I got into a bit of an argument the other day with an indie gaming pal of mine. Essentially we debated the merits of mobile gaming (as many of you should know I’m not huge on it regardless) and which platform serves up better indie games more consistently: iOS or Android.
As somebody who owned an iPod Touch for a few years (and still owns an iPad) as well as an Android phone since October 2008 (I waited in line for a G1) and an Android tablet I felt like I had some authority in the matter. My friend has had experience with both as well.
Ultimately, we ended up disagreeing. He said that Apple’s iOS had the better, higher quality games which made them immediately more enjoyable for gamers of all types. It kind of makes sense. I think you’d have trouble arguing that there are at least more quality games on iOS than Andoird simply due to Apple’s stricter enforcement.
That said, I persisted in my belief that Android was actually better for indie gamers due to the act that many more games were available for free like Angry Birds and that since Google is less strict with their store, there will invariably be more choice. Along with that you have different sized devices (phones and tablets alike) with can cater to a gamer’s individual tastes. More choice has always, in my opinion, been better.
And of of course then you have Windows Phone 7, which we didn’t debate but I feel like should be brought into the equation as well. Despite not having nearly the massive amount of games and apps that iOS or Android has, WP7 strikes up a nice middle ground between the two in terms of design, choice, affordability, etc. That, of course, is combined with Xbox Live which brings with it a host of features gamers have come to know and love on their consoles.
So I leave it with you guys. Which mobile operating system caters to gamers best? If you had to convince somebody right now, what would you say to convince them?
NOTE: This is a hot topic for fanboys/girls. We here at DIYGamer do not condone rampant fanboyisms. Please discuss this politely and intelligently. Thanks you!
[Discussionware is a weekly feature aimed at promoting discussion with thought provoking topics. Each week we’ll be taking a look at a topic that influences indie gamers or developers and we’ll leave it open for discussion by our wonderful readers.]
After waiting patiently for nearly two days, Terry Cavanagh was finally alone. A slight reprieve had finally occurred in the single-file onslaught of adoring fans, aspiring developers, and fascinated media (full disclosure: I am all three) that seemed to be perpetually conversing with the popular indie developer. I had a seam, and took it: “Hey Terry, I’m Erik Johnson from DIYGamer. We met basically one year ago. I heard there was going to be a preview build of VVVVVV on 3DS here.”
The energetic, yet soft-spoken Irishman recognized me after a moment, and produced a 3DS from his shirt pocket. I laughed at my presumptions of how the demo display of his port would be set-up, then focused-in to play one of my favorite (and most frustrating) PC titles on a handheld device.
Terry mentioned the build was close to finished, with just a few bugs to work out. I played for about 15 minutes, escaping out of the first puzzle area in the game to Captain Viridian’s ship. I then enjoyed a tour of the overworld, past a giant crying elephant, and eventually to another puzzle area. Everything looked and felt beautiful as far as I was concerned. The persistent map on the bottom screen is just a perfect match as well for exploring the world map area for teleporters and, of course, shiny things. Perhaps most important of all, the original soundtrack by Souleye is there in all of its glory.
Other than that, there’s really not much to say here. It’s all the greatness of PC/Mac/Linux VX6 right there on Nintendo’s latest handheld. It’s a spot-on port of the game from what I looked at, and once publisher Nicalis launches it on the 3DS eShop it’ll simply be a must have for anyone with access to the service. What of the post-launch content though?
That part appears a bit muddy at the moment. Terry was adamant that the 3DS version was entirely in Nicalis’ hands and out of his own, especially when it came to that topic when I pressed him about it. It looks like where it goes from release is anyone’s guess at this point it appears. We do know that the features list for the port includes “future content updates”, but what content that exactly will be is at the moment a mystery. One wonders if any of the player-created content content from the PC version could make it over the 3DS. Wait and see for now.
Here’s my thumbs running around old hunting grounds. The controls definitely feel just as tight as they are on the PC. (When I mess up, it’s definitely my fault):
Welcome back for the third segment of Sense of Wonder 2011. These three games featured today all celebrate life in a special way. DIYGamer has covered them all in some form, however, it’s intriguing to see the games in motion and hear the developers’ thoughts behind them.
First up, Colin Northway of Northway Games works the Sense of Wonder Night with great enthusiasm when introducing Incredipede to the world for the first time. The developer speaks about his travels around the world and how Honduras inspired Incredipede with life teeming from every crack. The seemingly simple tools that are the building blocks of life are also the building blocks in the game. Players will traverse land and sea by constructing a Quozzle with limbs for swimming, climbing, tree swinging, crawling and more.
Goals seem to be to collect the fruit and reach the yellow goal, while avoiding pits and dangers. In the final version of Incredipede, players can send creatures as a sort of puzzle for others to figure out how to use them. Colin is confident in how Incredipede already exemplifies the “incredible variety in life” and “the sheer joy of life.”
For more Incredipede coverage, check out this extensive two-part interview with Colin.
Next up is the augmented reality puzzle game Reflow for iOS from xymatic. I took notice of Reflow back in July, and I am glad that the judges did, as well. The developers explain the solids from reality show up as white images (notice how hands are black in the video).
The object of the game remains the same: to re-flow the flow to its color-corresponding cup. In other puzzles, players have to change the color of the flow first so that it eventually matches the cup. Be sure to jump to the 6:00 mark to see how the guys draw on a piece of paper to solve a puzzle (including a single finger swipe which inverts the black and white in the image and a tilt of the device which controls gravity).
Omni Systems‘ Eufloria has been covered for quite some time, but PSN users finally get to experience the magic thanks to this upcoming port. In fact, Eufloria arrives on PSN this week: October 4 and 5 in the US and EU, respectively.
In this space-bio-strategy or as developer Rudolf Kremers called it, an “intergalatic gardening” game, players must spread seeds to become new trees in other asteroids to expand their colony. The trees literally sprout new life, in this process called panspermia. As the colonies expand, players learn how to make new forms of life.
Players also face adversity from other lifeforms that threaten to infect their own colonies.
Alex May describes how the graphics in the game are created at run-time using procedural content generation. Alex also describes how the procedural art provides feedback to the players, showing them what’s happening with their colony and others’.
Check out the full explanation and some colorful gameplay in the Eufloria presentation before our review of the PSN version this month:
Make sure you’ve watched the earlier SOWN presentations and stay tuned for the final videos.
I just read an article yesterday that said Rovio Mobile is now worth $1.2 billion (“Angry Birds is Bigger than Mario?“). I don’t know what that implies for the rest of you, but when I first heard this statistic, my jaw dropped. Rovio is worth almost as much as my favorite football/soccer team, Arsenal FC (which has been around since 1896). So is the story of Rovio an overnight success that other developers can strive for?
Well, not exactly. What is true is that the market for games has changed drastically in the last few years. The iOS and Android being the biggest proponents of this change, of course, but not the only ones. The mobile platform has become huge. With talk of whether console gaming is dying and where the industry is headed, it’s always important to take a step back and analyze to the best of our abilities what we have seen unfold before our very eyes.
Thomas Killen, one of the minds behind renowned Australian devs The Voxel Agents, has published a very revealing research study into the mobile market. Granted, as the humble Tom will admit, he’s not exactly a market analyst and expert in the field, but given his experience with the Voxel Agents (and the fact he put in an effort to finding out as much information as possible about the topic at hand), it’s fair to take his rather unbiased approach respectably.
There are a number of interesting findings from Tom’s article, like the fact that “every day 500,000 Android phones are activated” and how if every developer received a piece of the mobile pie, they would only end up with around $8,500 each (take into account outliers like Chillingo and Rovio and you’ll understand how skewed this statistic is).
Indeed, Tom’s study answers some burning questions I myself had for the mobile marketplace, but it also important raises new ones. Where do we go from here? What have we learned? I’ll leave those judgments up to you, the reader, consumer, or aspiring developer, because the answers certainly involve all of us. Check out Tom’s research right here. And yes, there are graphs, plenty of them, so do yourself a favor and give it a looksee!
The developers describe The Silent Age as a minimalist game, involving time travel to solve puzzles. The adventure takes you back and forth between present day 1971 and an unsettling future in 2012. Helpful items can be transported across time, and puzzle solving involves using items from one point in time in the other.
The developers are aiming for a Q1 2012 release and have priced the game at $0.99. While they say The Silent Age is best viewed and played on a tablet, modern Android and iOS devices should be able to play the game. A non-gameplay trailer has been released, showing off the evolution of the art style since the team began work on The Silent Age in the beginning of 2011.
Linda Randazzo, Uni Dahl and Thomas Ryder of House on Fire are designing something pretty to look at for sure. Fingers crossed it will play as well as it looks. This is a little of track, but I poked around the team’s website and found one title pending approval on iOS and Android devices: a puzzle game called Neon Zone. I really like this team’s style!
GDC China will play host to the 3rd annual IGF China awards (a smaller version of the Independent Games Festival that happens at GDC every March). This week the student and main competition finalists were announced. IGF China’s main competition covers Excellence in Audio, Technology, and Visual Arts, as well as the Best Mobile Game and Best Game awards. Winners will be announced November 12, 2011.
Today, we’ll look at the main competition finalists and spend time tomorrow looking at the student finalists.
Billy Makin Kid by SLAB Games looks like a tower defense game that I’ll go ahead and call an evolutionary defense game since it’s humans versus primates (and dinosaurs?). I can appreciate the art style and general silliness of the game; unfortunately the developer’s website doesn’t go into much detail about what separates this gameplay wise from the hordes of other tower defense games other than the item combinations.
Clay’s Reverie by Super Glue Studio looks like a charming platformer for iPhone where players don’t control the actual character directly. By controlling the platform itself (a platform platformer?), players avoid death and collect stars, typical of the genre.
One Tap Hero by Coconut Island Studio looks to be another gorgeous platformer where players collect stars. As the name seems to suggest, the mechanics are probably restricted to one button. The character moves automatically, but there are portals and arrows/walls that change the direction of the character.
Dual character action RPG Pocket Warriors by Wit One Games has possibly the most luscious of all the 2D art featured. Players can apparently upgrade both characters along their quest; only one is controlled at one time, while the A.I. controls the other. Pocket Warriors is available on the iTunes store, though it doesn’t seem to have caught on with users. It’s possible the game has changed or will change since people reviewed it.
Super Sheep Tap by aBit Games doesn’t look so baaaaaaaad (wooly humor). This is a multi-touch rhythm game, where different colored sheep help or hurt players. Super Sheep Tap is also available on iTunes. I am rhythm game addict, but I can’t quite hear the rhythm in this video, it’s possible I’m distracted by the tagging noise.
The Line HD by Ant Hive Games is certainly due for some praise; DIYGamer covered The Line HD on iPad a few times. This is an engaging puzzle game with stages that last longer than the typical touch game. Players can draw or erase lines between dots to create a safe path.
There are two other games, which I can’t get media of right now: FTL (Faster than Light), by Matthew Davis & Justin Ma, China [Website] (video and game build are only available for IGF judges presently) and Pixel May Cry, by Feng Li, China [apparent Video] (not easily accessible video. The developer has action game and Bayonetta as its tags, so one can imagine something stylish.)
We’ll look at the student finalists tomorrow. Good luck, everyone!
Orange Pixel’s Stardash is a challenging platformer available now on Android and iOS (universal app). These GameBoy inspired aesthetics are definitely for those who have missed (either in the nostalgic sense or the being born into gaming a little bit later than us old folk) good ole fashioned, knuckle-biting game design.
Stardash presently spans four worlds, with nine levels and one temple in every world. The game offers replay through earning multiple stars; players have to collect all the coins in a level and run through the level within the time limit to earn extra stars.
Don’t be turned off by the virtual control scheme shown in the header picture above. The Android version is playable with Touch, Hardware keyboard, GameGripper, Xperia-Play, or Wii-mote (how cool is that?!). The iOS playable with Touch-screen, iCade / iControlPad, or the Joypad app.
We don’t get to hear about PlayBook games often enough. Fortunately, I am 1 for 1 when it comes to stumbling across indie PlayBook games that deviate positively from the norm. AlmostLogical Software has released today a puzzle within a puzzle game called Maze Mover for both the PlayBook and the iPad.
For $1.99, players are treated to over 60 puzzles with challenges beyond solving the puzzle; there are rewards for both the fastest time and the fewest moves. Maze Mover has some interesting twists to help it stand out among other puzzle games: the puzzle itself can be manipulated by both the player and the environment.
As seen in the trailer, players can move the puzzle pieces to help the ball escape, or they can use markers on the environment such as the arrows to spin the pieces around. I wished the trailer showed a little more so I could tell people more about it, but at $2, the mechanics look fun enough for me!
Maze Mover was created by a team of three: the game by Devin Reimer, graphics by Calin Reimer, and music by Liam Berry. Devin seems rather pleased with using Adobe’s AIR to develop the game, and hopefully he will exapnd on his experience with that in the future.