Wednesday, 28 April 2010

MiniSquadron Special Edition Press

So MiniSquadron SE has been out for a few days now - massive reaction to it, currently it sits at #11 in both Arcade and Action charts in the USA!! Strangely - it's not getting a look in the UK, but I think that's due to the fact I haven't updated MiniSquadron 1 to let people know about it, and also because it hasn't been featured yet (unlike in the US).

I want to actually write down a whole bunch of links to the press that MiniSquadron SE has received, but in particular I've appeared in articles in Edge - which is really fun! Check em out!

Edge Friday Game Studio
Edge How To Make It As An Indie
Cool Interview at NoDPad (mostly about Fox Vs Duck but hey whatever)
Touch Arcade Review
AppAdvice Review
CNet Review
Appera Review
TouchMyApps Review TOUCHED!

Friday, 16 April 2010

G4TV's Electric Playground Interview

At GDC, Electric Playground's Jose did an interview with me about MiniSquadron, Fox Vs Duck and things indie - and I've embedded the video below. Sadly, because I live in the UK, I havent been able to watch this (it has said it'll be available tomorrow for a few weeks now), I have tried all the US proxies etc and none of them worked. In the end I DID manage to watch it - using the following bizarre method:

1) My friend (also in the UK) has an account with SkyFire, and for some bizarre reason he can stream the video to his Windows Mobile Phone (with sound).
2) So, I use my Mac to Skype with him, unfortunately his webcam doesn't work - so I end up listening to the video
3) I then used my PC to use webchat over MSN Live Messenger in order to view his Mobile which was held up to his webcam
4) I then watched the video through god knows how many links of disassociation!

Just an anecdote that amused me more than anything, but hopefully my American/Canadian friends can watch it here (BE WARNED - it would appear I speak waaaay too fast - like some kinda Gibbering Man):

EDIT: And obviously I can watch it in the embedded link below in the UK *doh*

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Submitted to App Store!

MiniSquadron Special Edition has been submitted to the App Store in all its glory! If everything holds up then it'll be done when it's done - it's out of my hands now!

Hint for the future (mainly for self): Making so many games in so little time REALLY HURTS THE BRAIN

When I was working in the real world, the following song is only reserved for very special occasions when a game goes "Gold". This is one such moment - please, ladies and gentlemen:

Saturday, 10 April 2010

MiniSquadron Special Edition -Art Sketch

Just a quick post to show a sketch done by Nils on some rough paper when I was talking to him about the levels and planes in the game. I love silly sketches - especially the blimp thing with a shark face!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

MiniSquadron Special Edition!

MiniSquadron Special Edition has now been revealed to the world! TouchArcade were kind enough to blast out an Exclusive Look here (click). If you want to just check out the action look at the video below (it's a bit blurry - will upload a better quality one soon):

I'd also thought I would post a bit more information regarding price and other things that exist in my brain.

What's new in this Special Edition? Let's use the power of bullet points and lists to show you what they are:

- 8 brand new levels, beautifully drawn and each accompanied with a track by more Dead Composers,
- Helicopters which hover - providing new gameplay opportunities,
- Over 50 more planes to unlock,
- 2 new pickups: "Rapid Fire" and "Freeze"
- A new weapon - Fireballs!
- More animals to shoot down - including Jellyfish, Vampires and Hamsters!
- OpenFeint Achievements!

So there's just as much gameplay in this version again, and hopefully will satisfy fan's hunger for more things to shoot down (come on guys - HAMSTERS!). The inclusion of helicopters changes things up again -you can get them to hover in midair, but they can only shoot left or right. Multiplayer sessions just got a bit more amusing!

I should add here that the background art was done by Nils Porrmann this time round - and you should go and check out his website for more of his other work here. The crazy animals that you can shoot down are drawn by the one and only Rex Crowle. When you shoot them, you can hear the squeaky voice of Whitney Hills - whos another Indie making a mad game called Ghost Chef!

What is going on with the Price man? MiniSquadron Special Edition will be available to download, and have 2 levels to play for FREE. You can then unlock 2 levels at a time for $0.99/£0.59. This way, you can try the game before deciding to go for more, or buy the extra levels at your leisure. Don't forget YOU ARE GETTING 2 LEVELS THAT YOU CAN TRY OUT FOR NOTHING! Everyone can try it out!

When's it out FungFung? The game is currently missing exactly 3 sprites. Yes, that's right and once they're in I should be set to submit. This is likely to be 2 or 3 weeks time, so expect some preview builds in the press before it goes to Apple!

Following Fox Vs Duck, I really want to give back to the fans of MiniSquadron, and that is also why I wanted to give some content away as a sign of thanks for the great support I've had. MiniSquadron fans really showed they cared and after meeting some at GDC I really hope you guys will enjoy the madness that is in Special Edition! I leave you with some screenshots of the game, and please leave a comment if you like what you see! (^ 3 ~) (I missed my asian emoticons).

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

GDC-gasm and MiniSquadron:Special Edition Levels

Whoops - seems like I only now have time to write a quick post here. I haven't ran away, it's just that as more work is coming up the less time I have to actually write about the work, doh!

Back from GDC a week ago now, was very happy to see lots of love for MiniSquadron and Fox Vs Duck. Big up Jon and Alex from PocketGamer - lovely guys, and also great meeting with Jeff Scott from 148apps. There were also many other people I ran around and met but too many to list here - I should mention Jason Citron and Eros Remininininini (of OpenFeint) as they were pretty fun, just a shame I couldn't hang too long. (Jason has really big hair - it rocks). If I met you or missed you (sorry Keith from Imangi!! and sorry Trevor from AppAdvice!) leave a comment in the blogs and let me pretend I'm still in San Francisco with the crazies!

At GDC itself loads of great lectures and people. Big takeaways were in-app monetisation and "social gaming" in the wider sense of the word. Check out Gowalla and PackRat, social games with real world consequences, that's what really piqued my interest. Also related would be CCP's Eve Online - their talk on the crazy metagames played by people in the real world was both hilarious and exciting. And no piece about GDC is complete without a mention to Uncharted 2!

During the end of GDC I did a quick interview with G4TV - here's a picture taken by Duncan Robson. He was also a lovely man I met whilst at the British Indie Devs meet up. Notice my "thousand yard stare" as I was probably still drunk from the night before (I really wasn't feeling too good then but hell if I was gonna miss being on G4TV!!)

So some new NEWS!! Fox Vs Duck has been out for a while, peaking at a superb position of 14 in Top 25 Paid Apps in UK - mostly down to it being featured in the front page by Apple. Nowhere is it to be seen in the USA though - which is kinda sad. I'll be doing some updates over time for fun as it's such a nice little game, so let's see how dark I can make it as I update..hehe!

MiniSquadron news - I've almost finished the next one, which I think will be called MiniSquadron:Special. It's going through some balance checks and final code bug fixes, and it's still missing some assets, but as a teaser - I want to present tiny pictures of all 8 new levels smashed together in the picture below. WOO! More screenshots will be made available as I get some more time to get them all! (Click through for slightly bigger - STILL haven't figured how to paste in bigger pictures in blogger)

Oh also have a gander at some of the new planes (you may spot some helicopters too!):

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Fox Vs Duck! New Game Alert!

Finally, I can update my blog! The reason I've been away was I was busy finishing off a brand new game called Fox Vs Duck! So far, the only thing revealed about it is a teaser trailer (see it here, although the game is now in submission at Apple so it will be revealed pretty soon what its all about. Currently also moshing a gameplay video together to show how to play it!

So one of the fun things we're messing around with is actually using ChatRoulette to "subversively" advertise the game with a silly video. I just wanted to try it for no reason except that it amuses me ^__^ hee! For those who don't know what ChatRoulette is, it isn't a gambling device with cats invented by the French (as cool as that may sound), but is in fact a video chat program on the web, which randomly pairs you up with people who also happen to be on at the same time as you. It is also well known how to feed a fake video into your webcam (using ManyCam on the Mac for example) so using this bit of knowledege, I decided to ask Artist Dave to make this video of a fox:

On top of that, Artist Dave then went on to write an automated script to type things into the text box - so it "chats" to random people about Foxes and Ducks. We then left this on and let it do its evil work!

I don't really think this is anything serious but it was fairly amusing to read some of the responses :D

So GDC is next week, I will be loitering around the entrance - better get some American Dollars...

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Listen To Me Wang On About The iPad!

Hi. So the iPad is out. Now that I have read everyone else's opinion I can now attempt to offer mine long after anyone has stopped caring. But I tell THE TRUTH and obviously my opinion is far more insightful than anyone elses (ahem).

I'm going to try and approach this in a backward approach and try and understand what the iPad is built for and what the audience is, before seeing if that means anything for what I personally do on the device.

I like the iPad. It's a "thing" that I would consider buying for my mum and dad. They are old people, and particularly my dad, are not very tech-savvy at all. They barely understand email and they definitely do not understand multi-tasking - that's right, they do not understand "more than one thing happening" on an electronic device, and even after you show and explain it to them, they will still not get it. But why will I buy it for them? What is this thing that I would recommend to people like mum and dad? The iPad is a device attacking the eBook market. Mum and Dad enjoy reading and watching movies. Everything else is a nice extra.

Apple are not creating a new market here - that would be an extraordinary move. It's one of the hardest things to do - to create a new market and convince people to buy something completely new. Much like the iPod is a very nice MP3 player, the iPhone is a very nice Cell Phone and the MacBook Air is a very nice laptop, the iPad is basically a very nice eBook. Taking the examples of the iPod, iPhone and the MacBook - they are high end, user friendly products in (at the time) quickly establishing markets with extremely steep trends for sales. Right now, if you look at Kindle, I've read somewhere (a business news site I can't remember) that basically the first and second year sales figures are beating first and second year sales for iPod. This is a *rapidly* growing market - or at least it appears to be, and it's one I think Apple would like to dominate in.

What does this mean then? This piece of information guides me in one concrete area - I know what the mindset and the type of the majority of people who would buy this thing. I also know how they will most likely use it. I can also form my own model of how to answer the often thrown about criticisms of it as "it's not that portable" and "it's not as powerful as a netbook" etc. It is AS PORTABLE as an eBook, and it is AS USEFUL as an eBook. And *that* is how the device will be used around the home, and when moving - such as being taken out in trains to read or on holiday lying on the beach. It will also guide me in what to expect of market size too. I think it will be very interesting tracking the iPad against Kindle and Sony's efforts.

Do you think I'm a complete crazy? Shove a comment and tell me what you think. And buy MiniSquadron - its an IGF Mobile Finalist baby so I actually have a *reason* to be at GDC now other than just loitering near the entrance as I was planning to do :oD

Friday, 22 January 2010

MacBook Fail! GDC Win!

Well, seems like my MacBook's hard drive has decided to die! Which means I can't actually code anything, but it does mean I can write a small blog entry! I haven't really lost anything of note - everything is source controlled up - just today's few bits and pieces on BlueTooth code are gone. (Note to self, hurry up and buy that Terabyte Drive to back up the source control every week or something!).

So news is, Project FvD was going well, but is now obviously delayed. MiniSquadron Extended is also delayed - but there isn't too much to do on that except wait for the new art to arrive and to balance up the new levels.

As I mentioned before - I shall be at GDC and will be happy to meet up with random indies/publishers or whoever - just leave a message or email me and we can hook up on a free evening. It's quite a tight schedule so book early to avoid disappointment! (as if there will be a lot of people dying to meet me - Massive Eagle Alert).

Now....time to get that haircut while I wait for Genius (Al Harding The Hero) to get my new harddrive

Friday, 8 January 2010

Award Thingybobs And SNOW

Right, I'm a bit slow in getting this posted, but it looks like people like MiniSquadron - enough for them to put it through to no less than SEVEN categories for 2009 Best App Ever! It's up again some monstrous big boys in them though - and I would be very surprised if it actually won anything - but hey let's not give up without a fight eh? Vote for me using the GIGANTOR buttons I have created below - and hopefully I'll have another thing I can show my mum which she can understand!

Vote for
Best App Ever

Vote for
Best Game Graphics

Vote for
Best Game Controls

Vote for
Best Multiplayer Game

Vote for
Best Retro Reborn Game

Vote for
Best Action Game

Vote for
Best Arcade Game

Wow ok, thats a really long list of buttons! In other news I made it at No. 48 in PocketGamer's Top 50 iPhone Developers of 2009! That's something my mum *almost* understands. And finally I even made it as No .3 in AppAdvice's Top 100 games of 2009!

Seom Dev news too:

1) My 3 day "Krapp" Project with codename "Indigo Gun" is semi-canned, it will be converted to something less than what it was before and will be released. This is a piss-take app and only peeps who read this blog need know about it in time :o)
2) Working 80% full time on New Game with codename Project FvD.
3) Working 20% in getting next MiniSquadron "redux"/"remaster" out. Which is basically more levels and planes as a separate sequel/app. This way - it's actually EASIER for me to code (instead of breaking the current game) and will turn out cheaper for you guys cos you get a whole pack of levels & planes and don't have to pay piecemeal for every little thing. BARGAIN BUCKET - *but* you have to wait!

Finally - SNOW IN UK! Purty:

Friday, 1 January 2010

2010 - What's Going On Man?

Hey look - it's 2010! And also quite a while since my last post. Well things move fast in the world of iPhone gaming so let's see what has happened in the interim 2 weeks - again in brains spurts:

* Appvent Calendar Giveaway! So on 20th of December 2009 (soooo last year) I gave away MiniSquadron for FREE for one day only. I was originally approached to participate in the Appvent but had actually responded too late - but someone had dropped out at the last minute so I decided to give it a shot. A number of people have wondered how that works and so I thought I'd give out some STATS. In one day (less than 24 hours) MiniSquadron was downloaded a total of 77,000 times. Hey that's a massive number man! So that was pretty cool - and I guess really helped to spread the word of the game to a lot of people who just wouldn't have given it a go. Interestingly, the app was never in any Top 25 lists anywhere - so I presume a lot of people were actually watching the Appvent Website. So that's great for PR an' all - costing me exactly one day of sales, but what did it actually do for me AFTER I put the price back to £1.79/$2.99? Well...not much it would seem. There was a little bump (like 20 or so extra copies being sold than the average the following day) but then it continued to do the good ol' Logarithm Decline in sales.

The conclusion I came to was it was basically a very good way to get PR, and from what I can tell a lot of people enjoyed the game (well it WAS free), but they wouldn't have paid for it. Which actually brings me onto the second thing to talk about -

*) People who downloaded the game for free (and some who didn't) but "expected more". I think a lot of people are expecting too much for iPhone games and are either completely spoilt - or literally don't know how much it costs to produce a game. And the truth is they don't and shouldn't be expected to - this isn't common knowledge. Combine this with the fact that in order to realistically reach Top 100 you have to set a $0.99 price for any new iPhone game without a big fat publisher and the future for small companies look really difficult. The way I see it, the iPhone economy has now given us it's own idea of what games are to be expected and what is possible - cheap, short, "distractions"/small-scale games not costing a lot to develop, leaving the longer, fuller on games to be taken on by larger studios with fat marketing budgets to make sure it sells. If you like that kinda thing great - but if like me, you like quirky, fun and individual efforts that aren't just a single level or a 60 second diversion, and if you don't like the shit games that get peddled out with a big name license - it might be a lot harder for them to come by. But don't listen to me - have a look at the UK Top 25 Paid charts right now - 1/1/2010:

1) Doodle Jump $0.99
2) Where's Wally $2.99
3) Moto X Mayhem $0.99
4) Tetris $2.99
5) Bejeweled 2 $2.99
6) The Moron Test $0.99
7) Crash Bandicoot $2.99
8) Flight Control $0.99
9) iBeer Special $0.99
10) Who Wants to be a Millionaire $4.99
11) Scrabble $2.99
12) Talking Carl $0.99
13) Alarm Clock Pro $0.99
14) Flick Fishing $0.99
15) The Simpsons $4.99
16) Cartoon Wars-Gunner $0.99
17) The Sims 3 $LOTS
18) Ronnie Osullivan Snooker $0.99
19) Call of Duty: World At War $LOTS OF $$
20) Need for Speed
21) Fifa
22) Jelly Car 2 (Walt Disney)
23) 2XL ATV Offroad
24) Tom Clancy's Something or other
25) Pocket God

From this TINY SAMPLE you can see that all the indie/small games are at the cheapest price. If you look at the Top Grossing you can see mostly its the big companies with the muscle that can charge more money for a well established brand.

I guess it's just disheartening to see that what was once a great outlet for small indies trying their luck - it's now so much harder without lots of MONEY to PR their stuff, or they'll have to keep their ideas short and sweet. Looking at that chart now I dont think I would have bothered doing MiniSquadron to as full an extent as it is.

SO, with all that - what is happening next? Well I've cut back on a lot of things I was gonna put out for MiniSquadron as free updates, mainly because they take a fair bit of work, and the updates are FREE and bring me no income or any new sales, and ALSO because there are now a significant amount of pirated copies out in the wild and I sure as hell don't want to KEEP giving them free stuff. Do expect a few more bits - but I will be saving the best ideas for another day. There's enough ideas and tech that I want to build up for maybe a second game since so much of it requires big rewrites of the code anyway.

Away from MiniSquadron - Studio FungFung/ Mr. FungFung / Me is currently working on a couple of secret titles and some RnD into what the iPhone can do. There may be stuff coming out on other platforms too. For sure it'll be a busy year ahead!! I've also gone and booked myself a plane ticket to SanFrancisco for GDC to maybe hook up with some Giant Publishers, interesting to see what comes out of that. Interestingly I haven't actually booked the GDC pass OR accomodation - I think I'm probably making a lot of this up as I go along....

Finally - thank you to everyone who reads this blog, enjoys MiniSquadron and believes in the possibility that the little guy can still take on the big guy with great ideas and a bit of heart. It is because of your support for this that gives people like me a reason to keep making games as opposed to working for a bank.

Bring on 2010 - lets risk some more and take no prisoners!

EDIT: I have to make clear one thing - MiniSquadron did well in terms of Sales for what it is, and also did very well critically in terms of being an actually fun and full on game. In a recent TouchGen Games of 2009 MiniSquadron was nominated as Best Arcade game losing out to Space Invaders and Pac Man. I can tell you it feels GREAT to go up against giants like that!